Wednesday, 26 August 2009

chocolate ginger snaps

from "still life with menu" by mollie katzen

1 stick of butter (8 tbsp)
1 square unsweetened chocolate, melted
3/4 c sugar
6 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 c unbleached white flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

preheat oven to 350F. grease a cookie sheet.

cream the butter in a large mixing bowl. drizzle in melted chocolate and beat well. (ideally use an electric mixer at high speed). add sugars, molasses and egg. beat several more minutes. stir in vanilla.

in a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, ginger and salt. stir this into the first mixture. mix thoroughly but briefly (just enough to combine wet and dry ingredients). do not beat.

lightly flour your hands and form 1-inch balls. roll the balls in granulated sugar. place them about 2 inches apart on the greased cookie sheet. bake for 12 min at 350F. they will be soft but the surface will be cracked. cool on a rack.
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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Italian Blueberry Cake

Jamie Oliver collected this recipe from a lady in Tuscany called Nada, and I've tweaked the quantities slightly.

It's moist, not too sweet and it's an interesting-looking addition to the tea table thanks to the burst blueberries all over the surface.


2 eggs
135 g caster sugar
90 g butter
58 ml extra virgin olive oil
78 ml milk
half teaspoon vanilla extract
200g plain flour
three quarters teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
zest of 2 lemons
zest of 2 oranges
150g blueberries (more or less to taste)


Beat the eggs and sugar for a couple of minutes until they're yellow and thick.

Whilst you're doing this, melt the butter over a low heat, then stir it into the eggs/sugar mixture.

Stir in the olive oil, milk and vanilla. It'll bubble pleasantly.

Sift in your flour, baking powder and salt, stirring thoroughly without paying attention to any lumps or bubbles, as these will disappear.

Put a tea-towel over the bowl and set aside for 10 minutes whilst you zest the lemons & oranges. (The flour needs time to absorb the liquid.)

Stir in the zest, then half of the blueberries.

Turn into a lined & buttered tin. You have a couple of options - for a traditional-looking English cake, served as hefty triangular wedges, put in a 6 inch (or thereabouts) round tin - a springform one is most helpful. Or for a slightly more modest-looking offering, put in a much wider tin, perhaps a square one, to get thinner, flatter slices.

Bake at 175 degrees C (that's 350 F or gas 4 or wherever your Aga does cakes best) for 15 minutes.

Take out, then gently push the remaining blueberries into the top of the cake - you may have to break the surface around the edges where the cake has begun to set.

Bake for another 30 - 40 minutes.

Leave to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.


Sunday, 23 August 2009

Sheila Ferguson's Carrot Cake recipe

3 large eggs,separated
8 fl oz (250ml) vegetable oil*
12 oz (375g) sugar**
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsps boiling water
6 oz plain flour
pinch salt
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 3/4 tsps baking powder
4 oz (120g) chopped pecans or walnuts
8 oz (250g) finely grated raw carrots

* I use sunflower oil
** I like to use demerara sugar, but light brown, granulated or castor will all work well.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat the oven to 375F, gas 5
Combine egg yolks, oil, sugar, vanilla and boiling water in a large bowl and beat until well mixed.
Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, then add to the egg mixture and beat well.
Mix in the nuts and carrots.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the mixture.
Pour into a well greased and floured cake tin - I use a loaf tin - and bake for 50 minutes to one hour, until the cake springs back when you press the top lightly.
Turn out and cool on a wire tray.

To make the cream cheese frosting:

7 oz (200g) icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt
Tub of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsps softened butter or soft margarine

Beat all the ingredients together until well mixed, and use to ice the cake when cooled.

This is a delicious, damp, nutty cake.

Friday, 21 August 2009

A Generation Which Does Not Know...

I was enjoying a snack of freshly brewed English Breakfast tea and a toasted teacake in an excellent coffee house. A friend was chatting with me and as is so often the case when I visit this coffee house, I felt calm and contented.

A couple, both younger than my late thirties were sat at the table beside ours and had been laughing and joking as we had been. Some confusion then seemed to set in after their tea had arrived. The gentleman looked towards his lady companion with a look of puzzlement on his face. The lady returned his look of puzzlement.

I dropped a sugar rock into my cup of English Breakfast and stirred it.

Something was perplexing this couple. Something that no matter how hard they tried, they could not work out to their satisfaction.

My friend opened the jar of honey that accompanied her toast and started to spread some on a slice.

As the house manager passed by the gentleman caught his attention. The manager walked over to the table and asked how he could be of service.

The gentleman lifted a small metal piece from the table.

“What’s this?

Then he indicated the small bowl in which the piece rested.

“And this bowl? What’s this for?

At the same moment my friend and I looked at each other. The look when people realise a faux pas is taking place and are trying not to take pleasure at the discomfort of another. I left my cup on its saucer in the event that my self control wasn’t up to scratch and I spluttered tea everywhere in laughter. My friend did the same.

We knew what was coming.

The house manager (an excellent chap who is unfazed by the many variations in clothing that I have worn to his establishment) politely explained that the tea served is leaf tea which needs time to brew and then be strained with the strainer as it is poured from the teapot into the cup. The bowl is to catch any drops of tea which fall from the strainer when it is at rest.

Do we really have a generation which does not know what a tea strainer is?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Dutch Fruit Cake (by martine)

This recipe is Perfect for morning or afternoon tea and an ideal snack for a kids lunch box.

* 2 tsp Baking Powder
* 500g White Flour
* 200g Whole Meal Flour
* 200g Brown Sugar
* 2 tbsp Mixed Spice
* Pinch of Salt
* 500ml Milk (Soy or Rice if preferred)
* 100g Butter
* 175g Dried Fruits (cut into small pieces)
* 2 Handfuls Walnuts, chopped

* pre-heat oven to 170 Celsius/338 Fahrenheit
* Soak the dried fruit in hot water for 10 minutes
* Butter a 10cm by 22cm cake tin
* Sift flour & baking powder together in a bowl
* Add mixed spice, sugar & salt and stir
* In a pan warm the milk, do not boil
* Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the milk
* Stir until butter is melted
* Add milk mixture to the flour mixture and combine
* Stir until mixture is smooth and sticky
* Finally add the dried fruit & nuts and mix in well
* Pour mixture into baking tin and cook for 50 minutes
* To check it is done insert a fork into the cake - on removal it should come out clean
* Cool and cut into slices