Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Baking Challenge

Last Autumn I was invited to talk to the Friends of  Clifton Park Museum  in Rotherham about Grandma’s baking. The Museum boasts a wonderful black leaded Yorkshire Range which was restored in 2005 to working order. From time to time the Friends fire it up to show how food was cooked on the range in times past. You won’t be surprised that they ‘challenged’ me to go along and bake on the Range.
So it was with some trepidation that I went along. I needn’t have worried as the other ‘Rangers’ were there to give me a hand. The museum staff had lit the fire about an hour before I arrived to get it ready for baking. Penny, Ann, June and Joan all helped me out by keeping an eye on the oven, fetching and carrying water and, best of all, washing up!
Joan had asked me to bake shortbread so I showed the visitors how to make the mixture by rubbing the butter and flour in a large bowl to make breadcrumbs. I had lots of eager eyes watching my every move. Then I added the egg yolks to make a dough. (I’ve saved the egg whites to make some macaroons later.) The Rangers took it in turns to roll out the dough and cut into biscuits shapes, topping some with glace cherries and pricking others with a fork to make a decoration. I used some of the mixture to make a tray bake of shortbread too. Then it was into the oven for around 25 minutes until baked. Here’s Grandma’s recipe :
10 oz/ 275g  butter
1 lb / 450g plain flour
6 oz / 175g caster sugar
1 -2 yolks of eggs

Glace cherries
“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. The mixture must be kept dry. Roll out an ½ inch/1 cm thick and cut into rounds. Put a cherry in the centre. Bake for 25 minutes in a slow oven.” (300F, Mark 2, 150C)       
I really got into the hang of baking on the Range and the biscuits soon disappeared with the visitors – both young and old – all saying they were the best biscuits they had tasted! So yum all round! What are your favourite biscuits? 

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