Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Yuletide Fruit Bread

This very, very old recipe was apparently a forerunner of our traditional Christmas Cake. While it is called a bread, it is far more cake like, than bread. You will note is has a very high butter content, making it rich and moist and so therefore keeps very well - for 2-3 weeks. That is if you can keep your hands off it!! Just wonderful. Try it spread with Cornish butter, although I have left it unbuttered to show you what it is like. It is quite delicious as it comes too!  Oh my! Perfect for Christmas tea time if you don’t like rich fruit cake. The dough is fairly soft and it is far easier to knead in a food mixer with a dough hook.

I will give you the quantity for a medium/ large ish size loaf. I used a large box shaped bread tin.

Butter your loaf tin and pre heat your fan oven to 160C

12 oz strong white flour
pinch salt
6 oz softened butter
1½  teaspoonful of quick dried yeast 
scant 6 fl oz warm water
1 medium beaten egg
5 oz caster sugar
9 oz currants
4 oz sultanas
2 oz mixed peel, finely chopped
½ teaspoonful each of cinnamon and nutmeg

In a medium bowl [or the bowl of your mixer] rub the butter into the flour, add the spices, salt, 1 heaped teaspoon of the sugar and the dried quick yeast. Whisk the egg into the warm water and add to the flour mix. Bring together and knead until you have a smooth dough [8 - 10 mins] . This is a fairly wet dough, so try not to add too much flour, if you are kneading by hand. Place in a warm spot for about an hour until it is almost double in size.

Leaving the dough in the bowl, knock it back and then work in the sugar and fruit until nice and evenly distributed. When mixed turn it out onto a floured surface and continue to knead for a few minutes. Place in your prepared tin and set in your warm spot. The loaf will need a further 1 hour proving. Maybe a tad more.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 70-75 mins. I covered the top with foil after 45 mins. Cool on a rack then store in an airtight tin. Will freeze perfectly. 

Just delicious. Leave for a day before cutting, if possible!! Is it called Yultide because the ingredients would have been out of the reach of most people, so was only made for a special occasion?

Note: I love Doves Farm Quick dried yeast. So good, so easy! I also think you could substitute half the flour for wholemeal, if you wish, but I have not tried it.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Apple and Cinnamon Buns

A very simple idea. You might have gathered I like simple and old fashioned. I am still inundated with the autumn apple crops. Try to use a firmer apple than Bramley. When I made these I doubled the recipe as I was making a contribution to afternoon tea at one of the Bridge Clubs I attend. You will need some paper cases or a lightly buttered bun tin and pre heat your fan oven to 160C

Makes about 15 small buns or if using muffins cases, about 9. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

4 oz softened butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 large beaten eggs
6 oz SR flour
ground cinnamon to your taste - I used a heaped teaspoonful
3 heaped tablespoonfuls grated raw apple [large grater]
a small dash of milk [I used part buttermilk]

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg. Add the flour and cinnamon then the apple. You will need a soft dropping consistency, so use a little milk if necessary.

¾ fill your cases and bake for about 18-20 mins. Simply delicious, especially warm!!!!!

While they are lovely left plain, you could sprinkle a little demerara sugar over the tops before baking to give a little crunch., or chopped nuts.  Or mix a little icing sugar with some apple juice and green food colouring then decorate. Maybe add some chopped dried apples or slices, I also used some toasted chopped hazelnuts. So many ways…….

Note: To dry apples, slice them thinly, after coring etc. Have a bowl of lemon juice and water handy and leave them soak for ten mins or so. Pat well dry on some kitchen paper and then place on a rack, on a baking sheet, on the coolest setting on your oven. You could also sprinkle over some cinnamon.  Bake for around 4-5 hours. A great snack too!! Store in a airtight jar or similar.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Figgy Bake

Using figs in baking is pretty unusual, but this tray bake is so good, it is worth buying the dried figs to have a go! My husband loves them anyway, to snack on and calls them tea bags. You can buy the fig packs very cheaply in Lidl.

You will need a Swiss roll tin, about 12 x 8 inches, well buttered and lined, with the parchment hanging over the long edges. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C. Makes about 20-24 squares.

This tray bake has three parts.

The figgy filling:
7 oz dried figs, chopped quite finely
½ pint water
the juice and rind of a lemon

The base:
7 oz butter
11oz plain flour
3 oz caster sugar

The top:
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoonfuls baking powder
2 oz caster sugar

You must prepare the filling well beforehand and allow it to cool. I do it the night before baking in the morning. Place all the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and allow to gently simmer until thick but still soft enough to spread - about 30 mins.

In a medium bowl rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and divide this in half.

Press the first half onto the base of your prepared tin, getting it as even as possible.  Spread over the figgy mix.

For the topping, beat your eggs, bp and caster sugar into the remaining base half, until well mixed and you have a soft dropping consistency. Place little dobs carefully over the figgy mix then spread as evenly as possible without disturbing the figs,

Bake for about 40 mins and leave in the tin for a while to firm up. Lift out using the parchment hanging over and allow to go cold on a cooling rack before cutting into little squares.

Keeps well for several days and freezes well too. Yum yum. Trust me, you will love them!

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Leeks in Red Wine

I love collecting different veggie side dishes and was thrilled when I found this in an old recipe book from the 1970s. Being Cornish, leeks are one of my most favourite veggies, I use them in pasties, [makes them so moist] and as for Likky Pie….. Another of my family favourites is chopped leeks just stir fried in a little oil with peas, for a tasty side dish. But this takes them to another level!! I cannot describe to you how brilliant they were. I used baby leeks, but ordinary are good.

Who was it who said that if a wine is not good enough to drink, then don’t cook with it! I have updated the recipe slightly to modern [and my] tastes.

Leeks, more or less the same size if possible and not too large
a little olive oil
1 oz butter
about 5 fl oz of a good, full bodied red wine
5 fl oz good vegetable stock [I used Marigold Veg bouillon]
Seasonings to your taste

Trim the leeks and make sure there is no grit between the top layers. Heat the oil and butter in large wide, shallow pan and lay the leeks, side by side. Gently turn them over until they are slightly golden on all sides. Pour over the wine and allow it to bubble away. Pour over the hot stock until the leeks are just covered. Season. I used a generous amount of fresh milled pepper and a small amount of sea salt. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the leeks are soft and tender. [see note]

Remove the leeks to a hot serving dish and boil the liquid rapidly to reduce to about a ¼ pint, then pour over the leeks.

I cannot tell you how scrummy these were, trust me!!  A wonderful side for so many dishes.
Not pasties of course!!!!  

Note: if using small or baby leeks, cut down on the cooking time. Once I covered the pan to simmer, they took no more than 4 or 5 minutes. But full size ones would take ten or more.

Another Note: This sauce is delicious. it is great as an accompaniment to meats eg steak and chops. Make extra to serve with the whole meal.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Little Brown Buns

Very old fashioned, basic simple baking at its best, heaven knows where this recipe came from, I have had it on a scrap of paper for so long! But they are good and the smell as you lift them from the oven is wonderful! This is one of the easiest recipes I know. For some reason they get better a day or two later. Take care not to overcook!!

You will need some proper small bun tins - the quality below will make about 12. Each one, a couple of mouthfuls. My husband can eat 2 or 3 at a time! Hey ho

Pre heat your fan oven to 160C. You can use bun cases if you wish or lightly grease the tins, as I did, although I used a spray.

6 oz plain flour
½ teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda
3 oz sultanas
3 oz caster sugar
a pinch of grated nutmeg
about ½ - ¾ teaspoonful cinnamon [or a little more if you like]
2 oz treacle
2 oz butter
1 egg
a little milk - I used about 2 tablespoons

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Melt the butter and treacle in a small saucepan [or microwave], stir in the well beaten egg then use this to combine the dry ingredients until it forms a fairly soft batter. Add the milk if necessary to form a nice dropping batter.

Fill your bun tins until they are about three quarters full and bake for about 16-17 mins, until just firm to the touch.

MMMMMMMMmmmmmm, won’t last long. I love the intense smell and taste of treacle.

Note: Be careful you do not over bake. It is pretty difficult to see if they are cooked because they are brown already!

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Whiskey Cake

When I mentioned this cake to my husband, he was quite keen for me to get cracking and make it! Those ladies of the WI come up with some very interesting cakes. In the book I have, it is described as the easiest cake in the world! It is great as a dessert too, served with clotted cream.  The black treacle, honey and whiskey blend so well!

After you put over the whiskey concoction, and cools, it forms a lovely hard sugary crust.

You will need a lined, buttered 9 inch round cake tin. Pre heat your fan oven to 160C

5 oz butter
2 eggs
8 oz SR flour
4 oz soft light brown sugar
2 oz black treacle
2 oz runny honey
1 tablespoon water
2 oz golden syrup

Take a large saucepan and tip in all your ingredients, except the eggs and flour. Over a medium heat stir until everything is dissolved. Allow to cool, then add the beaten eggs. Add the flour and beat well then tip into your prepared cake tin. Bake for about 55-60 mins until set and firm. When ready leave in the tin.

Meanwhile….. ten minutes before the end of baking…

2 oz caster sugar
1 measure of whisky
3 fl oz water

In a small saucepan, boil the above ingredients for 5 minutes.

When the cake comes out of the oven, prick the cake with a fine knitting needle and pour over the whisky sauce. Leave to cool in the tin.

Well I never. How scrumptious. 

Monday, 1 October 2018

Vinegar Cake

There are many versions of this traditional cake, some very old and I have tried a few, with disappointing results. I was about to give up and THEN found this recipe! And it is just lovely. So moist with a lovely flavour and texture. Trust me, I never post a recipe until it is tried and tested and passes with flying colours. The recipe does not tell me what vinegar to use, so I plumped for malt. Our forebears would never have had many of the types we use today? 

You will need a 7 inch cake tin, well buttered and lined. Pre heat your fan oven to 150C

8 oz SR flour
5 oz caster sugar
3 oz butter
3 oz currants
3 oz raisins
1 oz very finely chopped mixed peel
1 tablespoon vinegar
9 tablespoons whole milk [I used buttermilk]

Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the dried fruits. Mix to a soft ish dropping consistency with the vinegar and milk.

Tip into your prepared tin and bake for about 1¼ -1½ hours. Mine cooked in 1 hr 20 mins. Cool in the tin for a short while then turn out onto a rack.

A winner.  At last a Tick for this old recipe, I am so pleased I did not give up. It keeps well and stay moist for several days too.

Note: I decided to add a little vanilla extract. Ingredients like dried fruit I almost never weigh, unless it is a special recipe. I have been baking too long to be bothered and reckon I can approx judge! I think I might have added a few more currants though.

I will try and keep up with any queries while I am away, but please forgive me if I miss anything.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Coconut Topped Tray Bake

A delicious very simple Tray Bake, made easily and quickly, then cutting into squares or slices. I love simple recipes - it is all about the ingredients! An “all in one recipe”, this is such a good idea that I found in an old cookbook and I cannot begin to tell you have scrumptious it is.

Will cut into about 20 squares. Pre heat your fan over to 160C

6 oz plain flour
6 oz caster sugar 
1½ teaspoons baking powder
6 oz very soft, but not melted, butter
3 large eggs, beaten
a little milk, maybe 2-3 tablespoons

Butter and the line the base and sides of a Swiss Roll tin approx 11 x 7 inches. You will need it to be about 1½ inches deep.

Place all of the above in a medium bowl and mix well until nice and smooth. Tip into the tin and level off as best you can then bake for about 25 mins. Meanwhile…….. get going with the the topping

2 oz soft butter
3 oz soft light brown sugar
4 oz desiccated coconut
vanilla extract
4-5 tablespoons milk

Place all of the above in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has melted and almost bubbling.  It needs to be slightly soft to allow you to spread it quickly. You might need to add another tablespoon of milk. Spread over the sponge quickly, then place back in the oven for a further 12-15 mins.

Allow to cool in the tin, then lift out with the help of the lining parchment. Cut into squares or slices. Yum.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Tomato Fish Cakes

Here is a novel idea and I was absolutely delighted with the result! I found this recipe idea in a very old book but have so many tomatoes at present I am desperate to find ideas with which to use them! You can only make so much tomato soup! But I was pleasantly surprised, as I hope you will be. The original did not use the amount of seasoning that I have, to build up the flavours. It sounded quite bland, as so many dishes did long ago. 

You will need a fry pan and oil in which to fry them. I used lemon infused rapeseed oil. I fried the seasoned cod steak in a little oil for 2 mins each side, then set aside to cool. Do not add anything when you mash the potato, except a little salt and pepper perhaps.

For ONE large fishcake, you will need:

1 medium ripe vine tomato, skinned and de seeded, then chopped finely
3 oz cooked, cold mashed potato, like King Edward
3-4 oz cooked flaked cod [don’t over cook]
zest of half small lemon
1 heaped dessertspoonful chopped fresh parsley
seasonings of your choice
a little beaten egg
oil of your choice - I love lemon infused
fresh breadcrumbs, preferably stale
a small amount of chopped chilli if you wish

Fry the finely chopped tomato flesh in a little oil until soft and allow to cool in the pan. [you will need the oil in a mo for frying] In a bowl, mix the cold potato, parsley, zest and tomato flesh and roughly stir to bind with about a dessertspoonful of beaten egg, then stir in the cod. Try not to break the lovely big flakes up too much, and check your seasoning. Plenty of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Chill. 

Heat the same fry pan as you fried your tomato, with the lovely tomatoey oil. Shape the mix into a large fish cake, then dip it into some beaten egg and finally coat in the stale breadcrumbs.

Fry for about 5 mins each side. Serve with salad, chips, or stir fry veg? Whatever! Just great as a main for lunch, or a starter. It is even good enough for a dinner dish.

Note: Chilli oil would be great too. The quantity will make two smaller fish cakes of course and you could use smoked cod for that different flavour.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Marmalade Scones

Perfect for a weekend breakfast treat. Made very easily and so scrumptious eaten while still warm, slathered in butter.

The quantity below makes about 7 or 8 scones, using a 2 inch cutter, but very easily doubled, of course. Or make larger scones, but increase the baking time a tad if you do. Pre heat your fan oven to 200C

8 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
2 oz butter
a tablespoonful of caster sugar [optional]
4 tablespoons marmalade [thick cut and strong!]
3 fl oz of whole or buttermilk

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, bp and salt, rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in your marmalade then mix in enough of the milk to make a soft, but not sticky dough.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about ¾ of an inch thick. Using the plain side of your cutter, that has been dipped into flour, cut out rounds and place on a greased baking sheet. Knead the trimmings and re use.

Brush with a little milk and bake for about 13-15 mins. Cool on a rack for a while, split, then butter before tucking in! You can also split and toast them, especially when starting to go stale.

Note: They freeze perfectly. Bag them up when just cold and pop in a microwave for a minute or so.

Just delicious.

Note: I added no sugar, following the old recipe but you can add some caster sugar to the flour if you wish.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Lemon Surprise

A wonderfully light dessert for autumn! I love anything lemony! Another recipe from my friend Pam, who lives near Hayle.

You will need a well buttered pie dish. This sits in a larger tin, partly filled with hot water [not enough to spill over!] when baking. Place it in your oven while you prep.

2 oz soft butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs, separated
the grated zest of a large lemon [or 2 small], plus 3 tablespoons of the juice
2 oz SR flour
generous ½ pint whole milk [I would imagine you could use semi skimmed]

In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and zest then stir in the juice. Add the flour then slowly stir in the milk to make a thickish batter. Do not panic if it appears to curdle.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold them into the batter. Turn this into your prepared pie dish and very carefully place it in the larger dish in the oven, on top of the water.

Bake for about 40-45 mins until the sponge is nicely firm and brown. Serve medium warm, with clotted cream or creme fraiche! 

You will then discover why it is called a Surprise!  [it separates, making a sort of creamy gel in the bottom and a spongey topping] check out the photo! 


Note: I made this for dessert last Sunday lunchtime, when there were 7 of us. I increased the quantity to half as much again. The above quantity would serve 4-5.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Soldier’s Fruit Cake

This cake has a very interesting history, it has been given to me by Jan, a dear friend and distant cousin who lives in Melbourne, Australia.  She is of Cornish heritage, [of course] and this was in her grandmother’s treasured hand written recipe book! It was originally printed in the Kalgoorlie Miner, the local newspaper of the inland, Western Australian town, where so many Cornishmen went to seek their fortune in the gold mines. Jan also found it on their National  Newspaper Archive service. Jan is pretty sure it was a WW2 recipe, when families in Australia were heavily into supporting ‘the boys’ away at war and sending fruit cakes to them was a popular thing women did. The original recipe was, believe it or not, double the amount! If I had made the full amount, we would have been eating it for weeks.

After looking at the finished mix, I decided on a 8” round tin to bake it. No timings or temps were given, so am guessing very very low and very slow, as all good fruit cakes are baked!

Pre heat you fan oven to 130C and line your tin.

½ lb plain flour
2 oz SR flour
¼ teaspoonful salt
¼ grated nutmeg
½ teaspoonful cinnamon
¼ teaspoonful mixed spice
4 eggs
8 oz butter
8 oz sugar [I guessed soft brown, and used light]
12 oz sultanas
6 oz raisins
6 oz currants
¼ lb dates
¼ lb candied peel
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon dark caramel [see note]
½ teaspoonful bicarbonate of soda in ½  dessertspoonful boiling water
a few almonds if liked - I did and used whole blanched roughly chopped

I used the creaming method, so beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy, whisked, then beat in the eggs, along with a little of the flour, then gradually added all the other ingredients.

Tip into your prepared tin and roughly level off. Bake for 1 hr at 130C, Turn down to 120C for a further hour, then 110C for a final hour. [3 hours in total].

Absolutely delicious! So moist and full of the most amazing flavour. I soaked a little brandy over the top and let the cake rest before cutting, after 4 days.

This can be used as a celebration cake, of course. It keeps very well, as you can imagine. If doubling the amount for a Xmas Cake, you will need to increase the timings.

Note: for the caramel, I melted a dessertspoonful of dark muscovado, a teaspoonful of soft butter, some vanilla extract and a small dash of cream, until melted and coming to the boil, then cooled. Or just use golden syrup or treacle?

Note: For anyone interested in Cornish genealogy, Jan’s family were Olivers, who lived in the Helston and the Sithney area. Where many of my paternal family also came from.

Note: from this recipe we can gather that Australia, while it did have some rationing during the war, it was no where near as severe as in Europe. Especially as folk had their own fruits in their gardens.