Saturday 8 December 2018

Get Festive with Orange & Cranberry Cake

This is a very simple recipe for a seasonal Orange and Cranberry Cake adorned with glazed fruit to enjoy at Christmas. Get ahead and freeze the cake prior to decoration. You can also make it with fresh cranberries and use pistachios to decorate. I can guarantee there won’t be a piece left!
What you need …
For the cake
8oz/225g butter
7oz/225g caster sugar
Zest of 1 orange
4 eggs (beaten)
8oz/225g self raising flour
2oz/50g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
5oz/150g cranberries (dried)
20z/50g mixed peel
How to bake …
Pre heat the oven to 180C (Fan 160c)/Mark 4/350F. Cream the butter, caster sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour,baking powder and ground almonds. Fold the cranberries and mixed peel. Place the mixture in a well greased Bundt or Kugelhoph tin or a lined round 8 inch/24 cms cake tin. Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning out.
For the topping …
150g icing sugar
Juice of ½ orange
Glazed fruits
Put the icing sugar in a small bowl and add the orange juice. Spoon the icing over the cake. Allow to set for 10 minutes then decorate with glazed fruits.
Whatever you are doing and wherever you are at Christmas, 
I wish you a very Happy Christmas Baking season! 

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Yorkshire Moggie Cake knows how to purr..

Yorkshire Moggy Cake is a bit like our famous Yorkshire Parkin but lighter in texture. It’s not a Yorkshire breed of cat but it's thought the name Moggy or Moggie may be from Old Norse 'múgi' meaning ‘flour’ or ‘corn’. 
What you need …
50g/2oz butter
2 tbsps golden syrup
4 tbsps black treacle
4 tbsps (golden) caster sugar
250g/9oz plain flour
1tsp baking powder
3 tsps ground ginger
1 egg
150ml/5fl oz milk 
A square or round 21cm/8 inch cake tin lined with baking paper.
How to bake …
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/gas 3. Melt the butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar gently in a pan. Sieve the flour, baking powder and ginger into a bowl. Stir the melted mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg and milk together and add gradually until all is incorporated. Pour into prepared tin and bake for around 50 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Meryl says : If you can wait 3 or 4 days, the cake becomes sticky like Parkin and well worth it. What do you think? 

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Gateau Basque proves a popular choice

I came across le Gateau Basque whilst staying in a small village  called Sare in the Pyrenees Atlantiques, just inland from St Jean de Luz and Biarritz. These traditional cakes are very popular with locals who come and stock up for a family get together and are standard fare on the dessert menu at the hotels in the area. 
The cake is made up by mixing up a butter and sugar pastry dough or ‘pâte sablée’ with a choice of fillings of almond or vanilla crème patissier or a local black cherry jam preserve. In some ways it's similar to our Bakewell Tart and makes a simple but stunning dessert served with custard (crème anglaise) or crème fraiche. 
Get the recipe for Gateau Basque in French 
Recipe for Le Gateau Basque
200g butter
6 egg yolks + 3 whole eggs
320g caster sugar
450g plain flour
1 sachet (7g) baking powder
½ tsp salt
500ml milk
2 tbsps golden rum
1 vanilla pod

Preheat the oven to 180C, Mark 5, 350F.

For the pastry dough
Put 100g butter (cut into small pieces), 200g caster sugar and the salt into a bowl. Rub in well and then incorporate 4 egg yolks and 2 eggs. Work to a smooth (not sticky) dough. Sift 400g flour and baking powder together and mix into the dough, forming a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes minimum.
For the filling

Pour the milk and vanilla pod into a pan. (Tip : Rinse the pan beforehand with water to prevent the milk from sticking). In a bowl, beat 120g caster sugar, 2 yolks and the remaining egg until it is frothy. Bring the milk and vanilla pod to the boil and then remove the vanilla pod. Remove from the heat and then gradually pour half of this onto the egg mixture, stirring all the time. Then pour this mixture onto the remaining milk in the pan and heat gently, again stirring all the time until the mixture becomes thick. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Cover with clingfilm and allow to cool at room temperature.

To assemble the Gateau Basque
Roll out the dough to about ½ cm (¼ inch) thick and cut 2 circles to the size of the 20 cm/8 inch tart/flan dish. Place the first circle in the dish and pour the filling to 2 cms from the edge of the dish. Lay the second pastry circle over the top. Brush with beaten egg and make a pattern with fork prongs over the top. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the Gateau is a golden colour. Allow to cool before serving. (Tip : It tastes better the following day if you can wait!)
Meryl says : I discovered that there is a Fete du Gateau Basque at Cambo les Bains every October where local pâtissière, Marianne Hyrigoyen invented the original recipe in the 1830s. You can visit the Gateau Basque Museum in Sare to learn how to bake this gorgeous cake.  
Bon appetit !   On egin !

Monday 18 June 2018

Bilberries or blueberries - take your pick!

I discovered  La Tourte aux Myrtilles (bilberries) during a stay in the Pyrenees. It’s a delicious cake which we were offered at breakfast by Muriel at MaisonDarrouy.  You’ll need a charlotte mousse or brioche style cake tin to achieve the same cake shape but you can bake it in a loaf tin. I tried several recipes as Muriel suggested to suit our taste with less sugar.
La Tourte aux Myrtilles
150g/5oz butter
3 eggs
75ml milk
130g/4½oz caster sugar
225g/8oz self raising flour (or plain with 1 tsp baking powder)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rum (optional or adjust to your taste)
200g/7oz bilberries/blueberries or blackberries
2 dsps demerara sugar for topping (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Butter and flour the cake tin and place in the fridge. Melt the butter gently in a pan. Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs. Whisk the yolks with the melted butter and the sugar until the mixture thickens. Gradually add the milk. Fold in the flour, vanilla extract and rum (if used).  Whisk up the whites of eggs and incorporate them gently. Finally mix in the fruit gently. Pour into the cake tin and sprinkle with demerara sugar if used. Bake for about 1 hour until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool then turn out.
Meryl says : I remember eating wild bilberries when I was young but they are not easy to find in the wild as the season is short. So, although La Tourte aux Myrtilles is usually made with (wild) bilberries, you can take your pick of blueberries, blackberries. Can you tell the difference between bilberries or blueberries?

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Snow Cake on a spring evening

Here’s the final recipe from Cusworth Hall's recent Museums at Night event. It was a fine late Spring evening with no snow in sight other than Snow Cake another recipe from one of my Grandma’s old recipe books called The Best Way. 
Snow Cake
110g/4oz arrowroot (cornflour)
110g/4oz plain flour
110g/4oz butter
50g/2oz ground rice
110g/4oz caster sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Lemon extract
2 tbsps milk

Pre heat the oven Mark 4, 350F, 180C. Cream the butter, caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Mix in the arrowroot (cormflour), flour, ground rice, bicarbonate of soda and a few drops of lemon extract. Add enough milk to soften the mixture. Grease a 7 inch/ 18cms cake tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes until risen and firm on top.

Meryl says : This cake is very similar to a recipe for Ground Rice cake from Grandma’s collection. Ground rice gives a cake a grainy texture so it’s not a soft sponge like Victoria Sandwich.  Since it already has a hint of lemon flavour, it would be good to serve with homemade lemon curd or raspberry jam.

Here are all the recipes from the Museums at Night event.

You’ve heard of wine tasting but cake tasting is just as much fun! What’s your take on Snow Cake?

Monday 28 May 2018

Make it special with this French Gingerbread

Cake tasting at Cusworth Hall's Museums at Night event continued with a French take on gingerbread during the time of Queen Victoria. The recipe came from one of my Grandma’s old recipe books called The Best Way.
Special French Gingerbread
450g/1lb plain flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
50g/2 oz soft brown sugar
340g/12oz (black) treacle
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsps warmed milk

Pre heat the oven Mark 2, 300F, 150C. Mix the spices in the flour. Warm the treacle and the sugar in a pan until the sugar is dissolved. Gradually add the treacle and sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the milk and add this and the eggs. Mix well. Grease a 9 inch/23cms square tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes until firm on top.
Meryl says : It’s a very dense gingerbread but once the visitors got used to the texture, the majority loved the spicy taste of the ginger. 
I’ve one more recipe to complete the ones I baked so keep a look out. You’ll find the other recipes from Cusworth Hall's #MuseumsatNight by clicking on the links below.

It’s all about tasting something new today, even if these recipes were all the rage over 120 years ago! What do you think?

Thursday 24 May 2018

Cake tasting at Cusworth's Museums at Night

Visitors to Cusworth Hall's recent Museums at Night event had the chance to taste some of Queen Victoria’s favourite cakes including the cake named in her honour 
I baked some lesser known ones but popular at the time. I reminded visitors that Queen Victoria had a very European family including her husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg so it was quite natural to see the European links.
I adapted a recipe for Coburg Cake from one of Grandma’s old recipe books called The Best Way. It’s a simple cake made with golden syrup and flavoured with cinnamon and ginger spices. 
Coburg Cake
75g/3oz butter
75g/3 oz caster sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
3 dsps golden syrup
175g/6 oz plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ oz/12 g baking powder
2 dsps milk to mix

Pre heat the oven to Mark 4, 350F, 180C. Cream the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and syrup. Mix in the flour, spices and baking powder. Add a little milk to soften the mixture. Grease an 8 inch/21cms cake tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes until risen and firm on top. 
Meryl says : Coburg cakes can also be baked as small cakes or buns. I’ll be adding more of the recipes I baked at the event soon so keep watching out for my next post.

Monday 23 April 2018

A Slice of Paradise

A slice of Paradise 
Treasured family recipes are always the best and the recipe for Paradise Slices from Jenny in Chesterfield is no exception. She writes to say that my talk at her Social History group about Grandma Abson inspired her to look out an old exercise book of her mum’s and bake a few recipes. She says that she used to bake Paradise Slices with her 3 children when they were little as they were so easy.
Paradise Slices 
4oz/110g chocolate
4oz/110g coconut
2oz/50g raisins
2oz/50g sugar
1oz/25g chopped dates
1 egg
Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Mark 4. Grease and line a 7inch/18cms square tin. Melt the chocolate and pour into the tin. Mix all the other ingredients together and spread over the chocolate. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Meryl says: This recipe is a great one to bake with children as Jenny suggests. Who will be licking the bowl out for the last of the chocolate?

Thursday 12 April 2018

Nothing sour about Vinegar Cake

There is nothing sour in the Vinegar Cake recipe which Pat’s friend Sheila wrote out for me. It’s actually a WW2 recipe where a dash of vinegar replaces the egg. 
I made her original recipe using double quantities to make a cake to take to my talk about WW2 rationing and how it affected baking. Sheila was a school girl at the time but remembers the recipe from her School Cookery in 1942. Dried fruit went on the rationing list in January 1942 so making a small cake like this would be quite precious. The vinegar replaces eggs which were also rationed and in short supply unless you kept hens!
Vinegar Cake
8oz/225g flour
4oz/110g butter (or margarine)
3oz/75g mixed fruit
3oz sugar
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
4 tsps vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
½ pint/275ml milk
Pre heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the fruit, sugar and bicarbonate of soda. Mix well. Add the vinegar and enough milk to make a stiff dropping consistency. Place in a greased/lined cake tin. (I used a 2lbs/1kg loaf tin but you could use a 7inch/20cms round or square cake tin). Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes.

Meryl says : It’s a very simple cake which works well and useful as a light fruit cake if you need an egg free diet. Don’t let the Vinegar in the name of the cake put you off!

Thursday 29 March 2018

Easter Biscuits make happy bunnies

Easter Biscuits
I always love these simple Easter Biscuits. Grandma usually made a traditional version, rather like Georgian Shrewsbury Biscuits. Sometimes she would make a plain iced version. She would never use artificial colouring but natural flavourings such as lemon or orange juice.
Easter Biscuits
8 oz /225g butter
4 oz/110g caster sugar
12 oz / 340g plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 lemon zest grated
2 eggs (beaten)
2oz /50g currants

Pre heat the oven to 375F, Mark 5, 190C.  Cream the butter and sugar. Mix the cinnamon, mixed spice and lemon zest into the flour. Then mix the flour and egg alternately to the creamed mixture. Divide the dough into 2.
For traditional biscuits
Add the currants to half the mixture and knead lightly.  Roll out the dough ¼ inch/5mm thick and cut into Easter shapes (e.g. bunnies, chicks and eggs) place on trays lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven to a golden colour for about 12-15 minutes.  
For iced biscuits
Omit the currants. Roll out and bake in the same way as the traditional biscuits. To make the icing mix 6oz/175g icing sugar with 1-2 tsp lemon juice, adding it gradually until you have a smooth mixture. Either pipe or simply spread the icing on the biscuits once they are cool.
 Wrap them up as an Easter gift. 
How long will they last in the tin?  

What's going to make you a happy bunny?