All posts tagged: baking

Visiting the glorious Welbeck Estate (in inappropriate footwear).

The beautiful Welbeck Estate nestled in Sherwood Forest is in the heart of the ancient royal hunting grounds – the Dukeries. Welbeck Abbey was founded in 1153 and when dissolved, the Estate became the home of the Dukes of Portland and it continues to be privately owned to this day. Apart from the beautiful natural setting and the stunning buildings it is perhaps best known for the labyrinth of underground tunnels and rooms (including a ballroom!) constructed by the 5th Duke and for its time leased to the MOD for an army training college until 2005. It is once again lived in by members of the extended family who have transformed it into a thriving working Estate which provides inspiring, creative spaces for artisan food businesses, education and the arts. Although the house is private there is much to see to in the open parts of the estate and I was invited along to meet some of the fantastic artisan food businesses which operate out of Welbeck and to visit the Farm Shop. As well …

Newark Show “Cut and Butter” Cake

It is told that the illustrious, and slightly scary sounding, Nottinghamshire Women’s Institute Catering Committee devised this fruit loaf for the Notts County Show held at the Newark Showground every May. I don’t have any dates for this recipe, it appears in Angela Greary’s 1994 local recipes book and follows a similar fruitcake recipe from Southwell, dated 1890. However, it is clearly a very traditional and, indeed, a very simple recipe. Given the array of food choices and exotic street food that characterise so many shows and festivals nowadays (not that I am complaining, you understand 😊)  it is nice to think that such a simple and traditional tea loaf was the talk of the show. Apparently it was sold in the refreshment tent, sliced and buttered (hence the name) and was always a popular choice. This recipe (in post-Brexit Imperial measures, I’m afraid)  makes two solid loaves or cakes (put one in the freezer or store in an airtight tin). Ingredients  1 and a half lbs mixed dried fruit, 3/4 pint hot tea (or …

Borough Market – I know, I am such an old romantic

I’ve not met anyone that doesn’t love London’s Borough Market. It’s not just the fabulous range of fresh produce, meat, seafood, products, herbs, spices, bread and street food, it’s the atmosphere it evokes. Like much of London, its history colours your sense of the present. I defy anyone to walk towards the Market nestled under the iron girders of the  railway bridge above and not find themselves cast back to any number of films, novels and exhibitions that describe the sights, sounds and smells of historic London. You feel you are walking in the footsteps of thousands of others stretching back hundreds of years who have come to this place to meet and to trade. And indeed you are, the market is believed to go back possibly as much as a 1000 years. It is situated at one end of London Bridge, for centuries the only route over the river and believed to have been built originally by the Romans (which then became a strategic defence against the marauding Vikings as they sailed up the …

Backyard Pizza Oven – finally!

I have dreamt of a pizza oven in our back garden for years. I placed it on the husband’s “to do” list about 10 years ago. Every time, here or abroad, I spotted a traditional wood-burning pizza oven I would drop unsubtle hints and be promised one for the following summer. In the end, with no sign of the pizza oven materialising, I changed tack and put the Finnish-designed Uuni 2 wood-fired oven on my Christmas list. Yep, my Christmas list. That’ll throw him, I thought. So finally this weekend was warm enough to get my pizza oven out and learn how to drive it. It isn’t the home-made traditional oven I had originally envisaged, but this is nonetheless a thing of beauty and, finally, I have a pizza oven in the back garden. My first attempts were simple – home-made pizza dough with a tomato base, mozzarella, few chillies, Italian salami and fresh basil, some with a few peppers. It took a bit of mastering to get the flames inside large enough to ensure …

I’m eggshausted…

We have a glut so I have been on a bit of promotional tour (boxing up eggs and giving them away/selling them). To be fair, before I had chickens I would have loved a box of organic eggs, from happy free-range  chickens that spend their days trashing the garden and grubbing up worms, and most people seem to feel the same. A box of eggs always raises a smile, I wonder if there is something “back to nature” about it all.    Anyway, this mild winter has meant that our hens have not stopped laying and we have been stacking them up, despite my valiant attempts to make tarts, cakes, omelettes, pancakes, egg sandwiches and goodness knows what else to use them up. The ladies responsibility for this cornucopia Lily, Nugget, Alice and Cruella won’t stay still long enough to photographed but that is my mission when I can get out in the garden again.               

“Hot Toddy” Batter Pudding – with a wee nip

My local newspaper, the Nottingham Post, asked me for a couple of suggestions for winter warming puddings. Well, Nottinghamshire is traditionally known for its batter puddings and what could be more traditional for winter than a hot toddy – the classic remedy for a winter head cold and sore throat, with honey, lemon and perhaps a wee nip of whisky. This pudding has a subtle touch of all these, and separates into two layers as it bakes. Eat warm straight from the oven and serve with a dash of pouring cream. If you are not keen on whisky, you could go for Brandy, or double up on the honey instead. This is an old recipe, and perhaps something of an acquired taste, some more modern versions turn it into more of a sponge, but traditionally it is an egg batter. Give it a whirl! HOT TODDY PUDDING Serves approx 6 INGREDIENTS 40g (1¼oz) plain flour salt (pinch) 200ml (7fl oz) full fat milk 75ml (2½fl oz) fresh lemon juice and 1tsp grated zest 3tbsp Scotch …

Warming Winter Puddings – Coconut Sponge with Raspberry Jam

As the nights have drawn in and winter is just over the horizon (although it is unseasonably warm here at the moment) I was invited by our local newspaper, the Nottingham Post, to suggest a couple of warming winter puddings to keep the cold (when it arrives) out. Those of us who went to school in England, and are of a certain age, will remember the steamed and sponge puddings from primary class. When this Coconut and Raspberry Jam Pudding was chalked up on the menu board, even the grey and lumpy mashed potato could be forgiven. So when the Post asked me for a winter pudding, I thought I would go for a bit of nostalgia. This is  so easy to make, very difficult to get wrong and perfect for using up your home-made jams now the summer fruits are over. You could serve it with cream, but really only custard does it justice. Be warned, though this is very sweet, you might need a nap afterwards… Coconut and Raspberry Jam Sponge Pudding 200g …

Cattern Cakes and Nottingham Lace

The two great holidays of the Lace Makers – for which Nottingham is known the world over (and which, according to modern folklore accounts for number of beautiful and feisty women in the City) are Cattern’s (St Catherine’s Day, November 25th) and Tander’s (St Andrew’s Day, November 30th). St Catherine is the patron Saint of Spinners, lace-makers, rope-makers and “spinsters” and Lace-makers traditionally made these cakes to celebrate her feast day (also the name, coincidentally, of the Duchess of Cambridge who chose Nottingham Lace for her wedding gown). The story is also told that when Katherine of Aragon was imprisoned at Ampthill she heard of the plight of local lace-makers and ordered all her lace to be burned so she could commission new in order to give work to the industry. Sometimes the cakes are made as rounds or  “wheels” (Catherine Wheels, associated with St Catherine of Alexandria) but I remember them more like scones. Either way, they are delicious – something between a cake and a cookie bar flavoured with Caraway. This recipe is …