Thursday, 25 June 2015

Make a date with Matrimony Cake

This glorious traditional recipe which makes a sort of date sandwich originates in Canada where it’s called Matrimonial Cake.  It has been brought to Yorkshire by Anne and her family in Huddersfield. I met Anne when I was signing Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking books in a well known national chain bookshop in Bradford. It’s a firm favourite in Anne’s family and another of those old fashioned recipes which are easy to weigh out with a cup of this and that.

Matrimony Cake
450g/1lb chopped dates
4 tbsps lemon juice or water 
2 large cups of oats (I used 225g/8oz)
1 large cup plain flour (I used 110g /4oz)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar      
110g/4oz butter
3 tbsps golden syrup

Warm the dates in the lemon juice or water in a pan for around 10 minutes until soft and thickened. Leave to cool slightly. Put the oats, flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and sugar into a large bowl and mix together. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a pan. Then add this to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Grease or line a flat tin approx 25 x 18 cms /10 x 7 inches. Spread half the mixture from the bowl on the bottom of the tin and then spread the date filling on top. Put the other half of the mixture to cover it all. Bake in a preheated oven 190C, 375F, Gas Mark 5 for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Cut into bars or squares when cool.

Meryl’s tip : Anne had used black treacle to the mixture which gives more flavour but I preferred the recipe with golden syrup – but either will make a great treat.

Canadian Tradition says that the original Matrimonial Cake was so called because the two layers of the cake which the dates bring together symbolise the marriage bond. Whatever the custom, they are a tasty treat so thanks to Anne for creating her Yorkshire version!

Let me know if you have you got a family favourite recipe to share?

Monday, 1 June 2015

Make the most of a bargain bag of Mangoes

 Mango & Apple Chutney
Spotting a bag of over ripe mangoes this weekend on the market, I set about making Mango and Apple Chutney. It’s a favourite of mine and is adapted from one of Grandma’s easy Chutney recipes. These amounts make about 3 small jars. It’s certainly a ‘Waste not, want recipe’!
2 apples (peeled, cored and chopped)
3 mangoes (stones removed, peeled and chopped)
2 onions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
200g demerara sugar
125ml white wine vinegar
3 tbsps root ginger (grated)
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

Combine the chopped apples, mangoes, onions, garlic, demerara sugar, vinegar and grated ginger in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Allow to simmer uncovered for about an hour until the fruit is tender. Add lemon juice, mustard powder, spices and salt. Continue to simmer for 5 to 10 more minutes until the chutney leaves a clear trail when a spoon is drawn across. Allow to cool and then spoon into clean jars.

Meryl’s tip : You can eat this Chutney straightaway. It doesn’t need a long time to mature but keeps well for a couple of months in the fridge because of the high acidity content.


Thursday, 14 May 2015

Buen Camino to Santiago

 Pastel de Santiago
 Sharing a meal with pilgrims on their way to Santiago has to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of a recent holiday in Northern rural Spain and even better when there was a new cake to discover. Here's Rocio's recipe for a wonderful Santiago Cake called 'Pastel de Santiago' in Spanish. 

Pastel de Santiago
250g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 tps cinnamon
5 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Mark 4. Mix the sugar with the ground almonds and cinnamon. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating them into the mixture. Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 23cm/9 inch flan dish or cake tin. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack. Place a Santiago cross or cut-out (see photo below) in the centre to act as a stencil. Then sprinkle with sieved icing sugar and remove the stencil to leave an outline of the Santiago cross.


 Rocio runs the beautiful Hotel Rural las Aguedas  in a small village called Ventosa in the region of La Rioja, on one of the Caminos de Santiago (traditional pilgrimage pathways to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela - St. James). On our last evening, we were in the company of 3 pilgrims who were walking to Santiago, Klaus from Munich, Pierre from Poitiers and Sunny, originally from Korea but now living in Los Angeles. Since it was Sunny's birthday, Rocio had made the special Santiago Cake for us all to share. It is a scrumptious cake which needs no adornment and was the perfect end to a glorious meal with our new friends. We all sang 'Happy Birthday' and wished her 'Buen Camino'. 
Santiago de Compostela

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Who wants to be a Millionaire?

I've always loved Millionaires’ Shortbread as a special treat but didn't have a good recipe until Sheila in Derby gave me her family one. The name refers to the richness of the ingredients and the recipe is said to originate in Australia. Sheila’s family come from Scotland and they also call it Toffee Cake. It has 3 easy steps. 
  
Sheila’s Millionaires’ Shortbread
Preheat the oven to 160C/Mark 3.  Line a 11 x 8 inch/28 x 20 cms) Swiss roll tin with baking paper.
 Shortbread base
4oz/110g butter
2oz/50g caster sugar
6oz/175g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the flour and baking powder. Knead the mixture until it forms a dough then press into the lined tin. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool.
Caramel filling
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 small tin condensed milk
Put the ingredients into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time for about 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Allow to cool slightly then pour over the cooled shortbread. Allow to cool completely.

Chocolate topping
4 oz chocolate
Melt the chocolate slowly over a pan of hot water. Pour over the caramel and allow to set.  You can cut into squares or bars as you wish.

Enjoy being a millionaire for a moment with this easy recipe. I made this for the Young Enterprise team recently to boost their efforts. It never fails to please! 

Send me your favourite recipes to share and we’ll reach a million!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Wake up the taste buds with Lemon and Ginger Loaf

Lemon and Ginger Loaf
Here’s a recipe from Grandma’s collection of traditional baking which has a brilliant flavour combination. Both lemon and ginger are well known old fashioned remedies to uplift your mood and banish the winter blues. So, here’s a recipe to put a spring in our steps. It’s a perfect companion to an afternoon pot of tea or coffee and goes down superbly with a Lemon and Ginger tea infusion!

Lemon and Ginger Loaf
110g/4 oz butter
175g/6 oz caster sugar
Grated zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs (beaten)
175g/6 oz self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger
Milk to mix
Crystallised ginger
25g/1 oz granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Pre heat the oven to Mark 4, 350F, 180C. Grease a 1kg/2lb loaf tin.  Cream the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Mix in the flour and the ginger. Add a little milk to soften the mixture so it drops off the spoon.  Put the mixture in the loaf tin and smooth the top. Decorate the top with pieces of Crystallised ginger. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes until risen and firm on top.

Prepare the lemon syrup by heating the lemon juice and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Once the cake is out of the oven, pierce the top with a cake skewer and pour over the lemon syrup. Leave the cake in the tin until cool.

Meryl’s tip :  Wrap the remaining lemon in Clingfilm and it will keep in the fridge for a few days to use in cooking or baking. Or squeeze the lemon juice and freeze until required.


Monday, 16 February 2015

‘Ello to Yorkshire Brack


Yorkshire Brack
We’re very proud of our Yorkshire heritage, especially where food is concerned. When I went to talk to a local group about Grandma’s baking, Barrie proudly showed me his Brack tea loaf on his smart phone. Although I am a Yorkshire lass, I hadn’t come across his Yorkshire Brack recipe before. I’ve amended Barrie’s recipe slightly by reducing the amount of sugar and adding a little lemon juice to the mixture. There’s no fat in this loaf and it keeps well for a few days – that’s if you can resist it!

Yorkshire Brack
150 ml/¼ pint hot tea (preferably Yorkshire Tea *)
225g/8oz sultanas
110g/4 oz raisins
110g/4 oz currants
50g/mixed peel
75g/3 oz demerara sugar
1 egg
225g/8oz self raising flour
 1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix together the dried fruit and sugar and soak in the hot tea. Cover and leave overnight so the fruit becomes plump. Add the egg to the mixture and beat well. Stir in the flour. Line a ½ kg/1lb loaf tin. Put the mixture into the tin and bake in a preheated oven 160 C, 325 F, Mark 3 for about 1½ to 1¾ hours. 

Meryl says : *To make this loaf, it does taste best when the fruit is soaked in Yorkshire Tea of course but you can get a different flavour if you use Assam or Earl Grey teas.
Barrie told me that his wife had sadly died a couple of years previously and that she was a great cook. He’d decided to start baking. He had picked up his wife’s Bero recipe book and was working his way through it! But his favourite recipe is Brack, which can be described as a tea bread. I’ve now found Ginger Brack where you add a tsp of ginger and a tablespoon of black treacle to the mixture.
Many thanks to Barrie for sharing his recipe – have you got a recipe to share? If so, please send it to grandmaabson@gmail.com

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Valentine Biscuits for your Heart’s desire

 I've been using Grandma’s popular Shortbread recipe to bake Valentine biscuits for the Recipe of the Month at Tim & Jane’s Tasty Flavours in our local Indoor Market. Tim loves glacé cherries so I popped a cherry on each biscuit but you could use crystallised ginger pieces or almonds instead. 

 All you need is a Valentine shaped cutter 
Here’s the recipe : 
Valentine Shortbread biscuits
10 oz/ 275g  butter
1 lb / 450g plain flour
6 oz / 175g caster sugar
2 yolks of eggs
Glace cherries to decorate

Rub the butter into the flour and add the sugar. Then add the egg yolks and work into the flour as quickly as possible, making a dry dough. Chill for around 15 minutes then roll out to about ½ inch/1 cm thick and cut into Valentine shapes. Put a cherry on top. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven. (300F, Mark 2, 150C). Makes about 30 biscuits.   

Some more ideas for Valentine baking
 Check out these Valentine Gingerbread biscuits  
or Oat Ginger biscuits from Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking
or bake a heart shaped cake like this Valentine Cake.  

Your Valentine won’t be able to resist the appeal of home baking straight out of the oven!

Tell me about a favourite recipe you’re baking for your Valentine? 

I’m supporting BHF’s wear red http://wearitbeatit.bhf.org.uk/ this month.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Clementine and Ginger Cake

 It’s always good to start off the New Year with a healthy recipe and this year I’ve created a cake with 5 clementines. I’ve based it on Grandma’s very popular Marmalade Spice Cake  which always gets a great shout out whenever I take it to talks and demonstrations of Grandma’s baking. I softened the peeled slices of clementines in sugar syrup and placed them at the base of the cake tin before putting the mixture on top so it’s really an upside down cake. It’s a scrumptious cake to start off 2015 and the ginger gives it an extra kick!

Clementine and Ginger Cake
Some of the ingredients 
5 clementines (sliced thinly and horizontally)
4 oz/100g granulated sugar
250 ml boiling water
8 oz/225g self raising flour
3 oz/75g butter
5 oz/150g marmalade
6 oz/175g golden syrup
2 tsps ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps hot water
1 egg (beaten) 

Dissolve the sugar in the water in a large flat pan (e.g. skillet or frying pan) until it forms a syrup. Add the sliced clementines and simmer until tender (about 5 minutes).  Allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 170 C (150C Fan), 325F, Mark 3. Grease and line an 8 inch/ 20cms cake tin. Arrange the clementine slices on the bottom of the tin. Melt the butter in the golden syrup in another pan. Mix the flour, ginger and cinnamon. Add the liquid from the pan gradually. Add the marmalade and beaten egg and stir in the hot water. Bake in a warm oven for about 50-55 minutes.

Meryl’s tip :  This is a naturally moist cake so use a cake tester to check the cake is fully baked as Grandma says in her book.
Have a very Happy New Year #baking with Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking!  There'll be lots more recipes in 2015 so let me know if you have a recipe to share and what you think about Clementine and Ginger Cake.






Thursday, 18 December 2014

Winning ways with Mincemeat Cake

This is a great recipe for a lighter fruit cake at Christmas which I’ve based on one of Grandma’s Family Fruit cake recipes on page 30 of Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. You can make it in a 8 inch/20 cms round tin.  I’ve also given the quantities below to make 2 small cakes in 450g/1lb loaf tins . I use Grandma’s recipe for homemade Mincemeat   every time!

Mincemeat Cake
4 oz/110g butter 
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
10oz/275g mincemeat (you can add 2 oz/50g more dried fruits of your choice such as cranberries or apricots)
8oz/225g self raising flour (or you can use a mixture of self raising and whole wheat flour to give a denser texture)
4-5 tbsps milk
To decorate : blanched almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts as you prefer
Apricot jam to glaze  

For 2 x 450g 1lb loaf tins use
6 oz/150g butter 
6oz/150g soft brown sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
12oz/340g mincemeat (you can add 3 oz/75g more dried fruits of your choice such as cranberries or apricots)
10oz/275g self raising flour (or you can use a mixture of self raising and whole wheat flour to give a denser texture)
5-6 tbsps milk
To decorate : blanched almonds, brazil nuts or walnuts as you prefer
Apricot jam to glaze  

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Mark 3. Grease and line the cake tin(s) with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs gradually and then stir in the mincemeat and flour. Add enough milk to give a moist mixture. Decorate the top with nuts. Bake in the oven for about 1 ½ to 1 ½ hours. Allow to cool slightly for 15 minutes then brush the top with the apricot glaze.


This cake keeps well for 7 to 10 days in an airtight tin. It’s been a winner this year at Christmas Fairs! If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping just yet, get a copy of Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book and enjoy lots more of her wonderful baking!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas homemade gifts are treats to impress

Getting ready for the festive period by making homemade Xmas treats is great fun and so easy! This was the morning’s agenda at Floral Media recently when I showed how Grandma’s traditional recipes made impressive gifts for family and friends for not much money and not too much time and effort. Throughout the morning there was an opportunity to taste the recipes as we went along and one of the participants even said it was like ‘tasting heaven’!

We started off making Cranberry & Apple Chutney  and then Mincemeat  to pot up, once cooled into jars with attractive covers and ribbons.
A Christmassy cake tin contains Boxing Day Cake,  a lighter cake made with dates and honey which can serve as an alternative to Christmas Cake.
 
Pretty gift bags can hold Coconut Macaroons, Mince Pies, Shortbread and Oat and Ginger biscuits (page 75 of Grandma's book). Smart gift boxes can be filled with Peppermint Creams (page 79) and Almond Balls from the left over Almond Paste. Dip them in melted chocolate (like Petits Fours) to make ideal presents for family and friends.



All the recipes are in Grandma Abson's popular Baking book which is a perfect gift for everyone who enjoys the delights of traditional baking just like Grandma’s!
Many thanks to Paula and Steven for such a warm welcome to this wonderful venue in Caunton, Newark UK. And an extra thank you to Steven for his fantastic support as sous chef! Floral Media Events Guide 2015  is out so book in early for lots of wonderful workshops and events!

And don’t forget to tell me about any home-made edible Xmas gifts you've made or received to add to Grandma’s collection...Happy baking!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Orange and Cinnamon take the biscuit

 Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits
Grandma always made the most of spices in her baking to enhance the flavour and cut down on the need for sugar. These biscuits tick all the boxes for aroma with the fragrance of orange and cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of those very useful spices as it adds flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes and it’s even said to have a beneficial effect on health by reducing blood pressure.

Here is a family recipe from Gill which Grandma would have really enjoyed. These Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits are very easy to bake and make a welcome treat at any time of year!

Orange and Cinnamon Biscuits
2 tsps cinnamon
8 oz self raising flour
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 oz soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
Zest and juice of 1 orange

Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the cinnamon. Melt the butter, honey, golden syrup in a pan with the sugar. Allow to cool slightly and then add this to the flour. Add the beaten egg and then the orange zest and juice. Mix well to combine. Place small teaspoonfuls of the mixture on baking trays about 5 cms/2 inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven  180C/Mark 4/350F for 10-12 minutes until brown at the edges. The mixture makes around 30 biscuits.

Meryl’s tip : These biscuits are very tempting but if you leave them to cool the flavour of the orange and cinnamon intensifies even more! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

No bobbing about for Toffee Apple Cake

Toffee Apple Cake
With the days drawing in, I've been thinking about Autumn recipes. There’s an abundance of apples this year and I love all things caramel. So what about a Toffee Apple Cake? I created this easy recipe based on several of Grandma’s jottings and came up with a fabulous winner. It's a great recipe for Halloween or Bonfire Night and a scrumptious cake for Apple Day on 21 October!

Toffee Apple Cake
175g/6 oz caster sugar
2 tbs water
2 large or 3 small apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
1 orange (zest and juice)
2 tsps cinnamon
225g/8oz butter
300g/11 oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs (beaten)
175g/6oz self raising flour (sifted)
½ tsp baking powder
Line a 20cms/8 inch cake tin with a cake liner or greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan)/350F/Mark 4. Place the caster sugar and water in a pan over a high heat and cook until the sugar has melted and is turning light brown – do not stir. Pour the mixture into the cake tin to cover the base. Arrange the apple slices on top of this and sprinkle with the cinnamon and half of the orange zest. Cream 175g/6oz butter, 175g/6oz soft brown sugar in a bowl and add the eggs gradually. Then stir in the flour and baking powder, orange juice of half the orange and remaining orange zest. Spread this mixture over the apples and bake for around 45 -50 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool.  Melt the reaming butter and soft brown sugar in a pan, and whisk in the remaining orange juice.  Pour the mixture over the top of the apples and allow to cool.
Meryl's tip : I served it with crème fraiche but you could try it with cream, ice cream or with custard. 

There are lots more recipes with Apples in Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking book. Here on this Blog too. there are Baked Apples made with Grandma’s mouth-watering pastry. 

I hope you like my Toffee Apple Cake. Let me know what you think?