Cake and Flowers


Sunday, 24 January 2016

Not for the first time I bring you cake and flowers. Daffodils and coconut buns. 

Coconut buns are a variation on old fashioned rock buns and dead easy to make. The recipe comes from my 1960 edition of The Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium which I wrote about here.

Coconut Buns

Makes 16-18

Rub together 12 oz self-raising flour and 6 oz butter.
Add a pinch of salt if you have used unsalted butter.
Stir in 6 oz sugar and 4 oz desiccated coconut.
Add one beaten egg and enough milk to make a stiff dough.
Put rocky lumps of dough on a greased or lined baking sheet. Don't put them too close together.
Optional -for the cherry on the cake add a cherry to each cake!

Bake for 12-15mins in a very hot oven -the recipe said 450ºF which is 230ºC , this was a bit too hot I thought, I suggest 220ºC (200º fan) and keep an eye on them.

Best eaten fresh and if your blog is six years old today you are allowed to eat six coconut buns.

The Great British Year


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

It's cold. This morning there is hoar frost covering every surface. It takes me twice as long to walk to the shop because I keep stopping photograph it all. Now I am wrapped in a shawl with a warm laptop on my knees. Tom has brought me a double choc chip cookie back from work (Subway) and it's not half bad. There is coconut and sweet potato soup on the stove for lunch and a bright bunch of Cornish daffodils in a Cornishware jug on my windowsill and I think I like this time of year best of all.

But, wait, what about when it begins to get warmer, that day when the sun feels warm on your face after weeks of damp and cold, when the air is soft and scented with the first spring flowers? Surely that's the best time of the year? Or is it some weeks later when everything is suddenly the greenest it has ever been and you can practically hear it growing, and the woods are filled with bluebells. Or the long days of summer when all the windows are open and the kitchen is full of scarlet berries being turned into jam. Or late summer when the holidays are over and there are new beginnings, a welcome return to routine and the blackberries are ready to be picked for a crumble. Or is it later still when the apples and quinces are ready, pumpkins and squashes appear and the days shorten and chill. Or when fires are lit and you stir the pudding and catch a glimpse of sparkle just around the corner?

What I love about our wonderful, varied, ever-changing year is everything.

Cake of the Month ~ Christmas Clear-out Cake


Sunday, 3 January 2016

No, I don't feel like eating cake either. I'm all about light and healthy at the moment as I suspect you are. But the absence of a Christmas cake did not go unnoticed and I promised to knock up an every day fruit cake to make up for it.

Whilst assembling ingredients I found various little bits of this and little bits of that leftover from making florentines and other Christmas treats. Half a bar of chocolate, a few chunks of crystallised ginger, a handful of walnuts, the sticky remains of glacé cherries and candied peel and a spoonful of mincemeat. These I chopped up and weighed adding dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins and sultanas to make up the 1½ lbs of mixed dried fruit.

I also added a teaspoon of ground ginger and used plain wholemeal flour plus 2 teaspoons of baking powder in place of the self-raising flour.

I am told it is a good cake but I still don't feel like eating any just yet.

Alternative Christmas Pudding


Thursday, 31 December 2015

December's sampler for you. Comprising of phone photos previously posted on instagram.
Top row~ a speckled yellowing quince leaf, the sun setting over the River Severn, a beautiful door hinge on the Tything in Worcester.
Middle row ~ Father Christmas on my christmas tree, alternative Christmas pudding, windfall apples
Bottom row ~ part of Worcester Cathedral, footpath along the river, pollarded chestnuts by the river.

You want to know about the pudding don't you?
It's from a little book published for Sainsbury's in 1978. It's called Cooking For Christmas by Josceline Dimbleby. I am indebted to Niki for telling me about both the book and the pudding. It was a doddle to make and made a delightful alternative to the traditional Christmas pud which a lot of people dislike. It is essentially a chocolate biscuit cake in pudding form. Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Crunch Christmas Pudding
from Cooking For Christmas by Josceline Dimbleby

6oz (150g) butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
8oz (200g) plain chocolate
6oz (150g) crushed ginger biscuits
6oz (150g) crushed plain sweet biscuits (I used digestives)
1oz (25g) currants (I used chopped crystallised ginger)
3oz (75g) raisins
2oz (50g) glacé cherries, roughly chopped (I used dried cranberries)
1oz (25g) candied peel
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

3oz (75g) plain chocolate
1 tablespoon water
1oz (25g) butter
2-3 halved glacé cherries
sprig of holly

Grease a 2 pint (1.2l) pudding basin

Melt butter, syrup and chocolate together in a saucepan.
Stir in all the other ingredients and pack the mixture into the basin. Refrigerate.
When the pudding has set completely dip it briefly in hot water to loosen and turn out onto a plate.
To make the icing melt the chocolate with the water and stir in the butter. Stir until smooth and allow to cool slightly before pouring over the pudding. Decorate with the cherries and holly. Keep the pudding in the fridge.

It would make a great celebratory dessert for New Year's Day or indeed any special day. You could simply press the mixture into a square cake tin and spread the icing over if you don't want the Christmas look.

Happy New Year to you all!

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