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Regional Cakeathon J: Jersey Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
14/Aug/2014

I struggled a bit finding a suitable recipe for the letter J but found something called Jersey Pudding. This was a sponge pudding with dark sugar and raisins and sounded a bit like a christmas pudding but with a bit less fruit. Since I'm not a huge christmas pudding fan I used a mixture of dark and white sugar and changed the raisins for apricots.

The inspiration for the recipe came from the Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery book. I scaled it down a bit so I could cook it in the microwave in our smaller pyrex jug. It took about 6-7 minutes on medium in an 800W microwave.

recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, 1894

It was my first attempt at a sponge pudding (as far as I can remember) and it came out ok. It tasted very rich and buttery but it should, since there was 40g per serving in there.

Jersey Pudding reinterpreted as an Apricot Sponge

My Recipe

My version of the pudding is very different to the original so it shouldn't really be called a Jersey Pudding. Since I didn't have rice flour I whizzed some oats in the food processor.

  • Flour 20g
  • Ground Oats 40g
  • Sugar 40g
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Butter 80g
  • Dried Apricots 40g
  • Lemon Juice 1 tbs
  • Eggs 2
  • Milk, 1 and a bit tbs

Work the dry ingredients into the butter then add fruit and lemon juice followed by egg and milk.

Pour into a buttered dish and cook in the microwave on medium for 6-7 minutes.



Regional Cakeathon I: Isle of Wight Cracknel

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
29/Jun/2014

It has been quite a long time since I did one of the regional recipes. I haven't forgotten about them but I have been very busy recently. My new job keeps me out of the house for 12 hours a day during the week so I have very little time in the evenings. Yesterday I finally managed to make the Isle of Wight Cracknels. They take quite a long time but most of that was between the boiling and baking steps when they were left to dry.

I decided to make Isle of Wight Cracknels because I've never made a traditional biscuit before (i.e. a 'twice cooked' one, which is where the word biscuit actually comes from). There are a lot of historical mentions of the biscuit and a few published recipes but I couldn't find any pictures, so I had no idea what 'form into cracknels' actually means. I decided to just roll them out and cut them into a variety of shapes.

extract from The Isle of Wight Tourist, and Companion at Cowes
Extract from The Isle of Wight Tourist, and Companion at Cowes by R. Moir, published in 1830.

Cracknels in New Zealand

A mention of Cracknels from a newspaper: New Zealand Colonist and Port Nicholson Advertiser from 1st August 1843.

To make the biscuits, I mixed together: 400g of flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp mixed spice and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. I mixed in 200g of softened butter and beat in one egg to form a stiff paste. I rolled out the paste, cut out the biscuits and dropped them a few at a time into a pan of simmering water. When they began to float I fished them out and put them into a bowl of cold water. After they had all been boiled and cooled, I put them on cooling racks to dry out. (As I mention below, I sprinkled sugar and seeds on some of them) When they had dried out I baked them at gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes, turning them over half way through.

Cracknel Recipe
The Cracknel recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery.

The biscuits came out more like pastry disks which, now I look more closely at the ingredients, shouldn't be a surprise really.

Since the recipe I followed doesn't include any sugar, and I didn't want to add any since I was trying to stay faithful to the old 1883 recipe from Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, I didn't add any to the mixture but I did split the mix into three parts and sprinkle sugar on one set, some sugared fennel seeds (leftover from the Bath Buns) on another set and left the final set plain.

(I had found an almost identical recipe in a book called The Canadian Housewife's Manual of Cookery which includes an unspecified amount of sugar but I had forgotten about it until I came to write this up today)

alternative cracknel recipe
Cracknel recipe from The Canadian Housewife's Manual of Cookery.

Some of the biscuits had puffed up while others had stayed flat. While this didn't affect the taste at all, the puffed up ones had a softer texture and were nicer to eat.

Isle of Wight Cracknel

I tried a couple of the biscuits last night, before they had cooled down fully, and the mixed spice flavour came through quite well but the biscuits could do with being a bit sweeter. Even the ones which I sprinkled sugar on didn't really have much of a sweet taste. One of the newer variations, which include quite a lot of sugar, might be more suitable for the modern palate.



Regional Cakeathon H: Hertfordshire Pope Lady Cakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
14/Apr/2014

I can't remember where I first came across this cake but while doing some research I kept finding two different versions of the recipe. One uses egg whites and is baked in a loaf tin whereas the other is a yeast cake and is formed into 'lady' shaped buns.

I started by following the latter recipe but it came out as a very sticky batter instead of the expected dough.

After leaving it to rise overnight I put half in a loaf tin then worked in extra flour until it was a bit easier to handle. I then shaped into the lady shapes as described in the recipe. Unfortunately none of the recipes on the Internet had photos so I don't know if mine looked anything like the originals. One of the cakes looked more like an Owl.

Hertfordshire Pope Lady Cake

They were probably more like Two Fat Lady Cakes. We tried one and it was a fairly decent light bun with a hint of spice. When we tried a slice from the loaf version. It was light and crumbly and would make a good sponge cake.

owl cake?

The Recipe

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbs oil or melted butter
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 eggs
  • between 3-4 cups of flour

Mix everything together and leave to rise overnight. Knock it back then make into buns.

This version of the recipe from the same site as above has a drier dough and gives better instructions on shaping the cakes:

Divide into 12 equal balls about 2 1/2 inches across. Cut each ball in half. Flatten one of the halves and shape into an oval for the body. Divide the other half of dough in two; make a round ball for head. With remaining dough make pencillike ropes 4 inches long. Cut in half for 2 arms. Press head and arms to body. (There are no legs.) Press raisins or currants deeply in place for the eyes and nose.

I could not find any pictures of the final cakes anywhere so I don't know how authentic mine look. Some web pages have recipes taken from books and refer to illustrations which aren't reproduced on-line.

Update:
I've just been sent another version of the recipe which is very similar to the one I followed but mentions crossing over the arms. Like the others, the page contains a history of the cakes copied from a book and again, there is no picture of the finished cakes.



Regional Cakeathon G: Goosnarg Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
06/Apr/2014

Many years ago, on the way home from a holiday Up North, we stopped at the village of Goosnarg. I think we mainly went there because of the unusual name. I remember that we took a photos in and around the churchyard but don't remember anything of the village itself.

The Goosnarg cake is another variation on the shortbread recipe. At first I thought it was the same as Aberffraw Biscuits with the addition of caraway seeds but upon a closer look the recipes use different proportions of butter, sugar and flour (2:3:6 sugar, butter, flour, whereas the Aberffraw biscuits are the easier to remember 1:2:3).

Goosnarg Cakes

These biscuits came out crunchier and a bit darker. I may have slightly over-baked them but the colour may have been down to the mixture of regular and dark sugar I used (since one of the recipes I found called for golder caster sugar).



Regional Cakeathon F: Felton Spice Loaf

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
24/Mar/2014

I struggled to find a recipe for the letter F but eventually found the Felton Spice Loaf, which is a quick and easy spiced fruit cake.

Felton is a village in Northumberland, just off the A1 between Morpeth and Alnwick. Many years ago I had a long weekend in Northumberland, which started off with a stay in a hotel in Alnwick. I stopped at a cafe in Morpeth on the way, so while I haven't been to Felton itself and the place has no significance for me, at least I know I have driven past it.

The recipe is another simple 'pound cake', with equal weights of self raising flour, butter, sugar and eggs, with added ground almonds, sultanas and chopped mixed peel. Since I usually find that spiced cake recipes don't have enough spice for my liking, I added the given quantity of mixed spice and then an extra teaspoon of cinnamon.

Felton Spice Loaf

The cake takes about half an hour to cook at gas mark 5 and is delicious when still warm and spread with a bit of butter. The sugar and dried fruit meant that the cake was a bit sweet so if I make it again I will reduce the amount of sugar slightly, probably to 3/4 of the original amount.



Regional Cakeathon E: Ecclefechan Tart

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
11/Mar/2014

In Victoria Wood's TV series dinnerladies she described Scotland as somewhere where everywhere was spelt Ecclefechan but pronounced Kirkcudbright. I've never been to Ecclefechan but I have been to Kirkcudbright so that's enough of a tenuous link for this recipe

The Ecclefechan tart is a version of the Border Tart, with a filling of dried fruit and chopped nuts. Most of the recipes for the former seem to be walnut based with the latter being almond based although there is some overlap in the recipes.

The version I made was based on this recipe. I made a cross between the two, using chopped mixed nuts and ground almonds. We usually have several bags of dried fruit in the kitchen which we dip into regularly for snacking so I had sultanas, cranberries, apricots and cherries available.

I recently discovered a hot milk pastry, which is similar to the hot water pastry traditionally used in pork pies but with milk instead of water and butter instead of lard. It's easy to mix but needs to cool down slightly before rolling out or pressing into a pie tin.

Ecclefechan Tart

To make the pastry you'll need:

  • 2 cups/450g of flour
  • ½ a cup/120ml of milk
  • 125g of butter

Bake the pastry blind for 10 minutes

For the filling:

  • 125g of butter
  • 200g light brown sugar (or 100g each of white and dark brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g chopped mixed nuts
  • 300g mixed fruit
  • 1tbs wine vinegar

Bake at gas mark 5 for 25-30 minutes. The filling will look cooked on top but still be a bit soft. It will firm up when it cools.



Regional Cakeathon C: Coventry Godcakes

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
05/Feb/2014

I've been living in Coventry for 10 years so it's only appropriate that I chose a local recipe for the letter 'C'. The Coventry Godcake is a triangular pastry filled with mincemeat but it's also a local name for the triangle of grass you get at a road junction.

I first encountered the `grass triangle' version of the godcake in a book a couple of years ago and I've since been noticing them everywhere. There are many in the countryside surrounding the city and beyond, including one well known example outside Kenilworth Castle. I know of one in the city itself, at the junction of Stoke Green and Binley Road.

A Godcake

Getting back to the edible Godcake. My version was made using rough puff pastry and home made mincemeat. It was my first attempt at rough puff pastry and I was happy with the result.

Coventry Godcakes

I rolled the pastry out before cutting it into squares then the squares into triangles. I put a teaspoon or so of the mincemeat in the middle of one triangle then brushed the other piece with milk and pressed it down to form a seal. I made 3 cuts in the top, brushed with milk and sprinkled brown sugar on top. They were baked for about 15-20 minutes at gas mark 7.

Coventry Godcakes



Regional Cakeathon B: Bath Buns

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / a_to_z /
19/Jan/2014

We used to occasionally go to a Hamster Show just on the edge of Bath. I would take the bus down into the city centre to explore and do a bit of shopping. One time I went around the Cathedral, another time I walked along the river. There are a few things I would always do though: I would go to the fudge shop and buy a few bars, then to the market where I bought a couple of cakes from one stall and some loose tea from another.

I don't remember ever buying a Bath Bun so I can't compare mine to the ones sold in the city but I don't think that will be too much of a problem since the recipe has changed over the years and there are several different versions of the recipe around today.

There is a bit of controversy over the origin of the Bath Buns, with some people claiming they were invented by a physician while the Sally Lunn tea shop people claim their eponymous buns are the originals and were brought over from France by Sally herself. This has been called into dispute though, with claims that Sally Lunn is a corruption of the French 'Soleil et Lune', or Sun and Moon.

Bath Buns

See more ...



Trip to Skegness

Story location: Home / Blog /
03/Sep/2012

We took a short break to Skegness at the weekend, stopping off at a few places on the way there and also on the way back. Since we live in Coventry, which is almost as far from the sea as it's possible to be in England, it was nice to spend some time at the seaside and have a paddle.

 

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Ironbridge

Story location: Home / Blog /
20/Aug/2009

Some photos from our day out to the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.

 

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Bath

Story location: Home / Blog /
18/Jul/2009

We were in Bath because Emma was going to the hamster show. The show was very crowded so I decided to take the bus into the city centre and wander around for a few hours. Bath is packed with some great buildings but sadly the weather was very grey and dull while I was there, which didn't help with the photographs.

I went to the museum at William Herschel's house, where he discovered the planet Uranus.

 

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London

Story location: Home / Blog / London /
25/Apr/2009

Some photos from our weekend in London.

 

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Lincoln

Story location: Home / Blog /
14/Feb/2009

Some photos of Lincoln

 

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Google Street View

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
03/Aug/2008

This morning we were joining the ring road when we saw a car parked on the side of road (where Gosford Street turns into Far Gosford Street) with a strange camera-like attachment on the roof. I wondered whether it was one of the Google cars - this was confirmed by the small 'Google' logo on the door.



Will it never stop raining?

Story location: Home / Blog /
05/Jul/2007

The weather has been terrible for at least a month. June was one of the wettest since records began. I don't think we've gone more than a few days without rain. My umbrella has certainly had more use in the last month than it did all winter. Hopefully we should be getting a summer soon.