Cheryl's Table

A cake for Josh

To quote Josh “for generations families have handed down recipes, now we switch to handing down wordpress database backups” This cake was made often by my mother, and I have the recipe on a tatty bit of paper in her handwriting.  I am now handing it down in this new fangled way.

It is a perfect cake to have around as it isn’t overly sweet, and is wonderfully moist. If you are feeling indulgent a slice spread with butter is delicious, and it goes rather well with cherry jam too. It is good with a cup of tea, in a lunch box, and warmed in the microwave and covered in hot, creamy custard.

This cake also makes a lovely base for a trifle, mind you so does shop bought jam swiss roll, and you don’t have to make everything from scratch.

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Almond Loaf Cake
Print Recipe
This is a plain cake with no decoration or filling, it is however very moist because of the almonds. As usual use 30g for 1 oz.
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Almond Loaf Cake
Print Recipe
This is a plain cake with no decoration or filling, it is however very moist because of the almonds. As usual use 30g for 1 oz.
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
1 loaf 20 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Servings: loaf
Instructions
  1. Line a 2lb loaf tin, and preheat oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth. This will only take 2 minutes with a hand mixer, a little longer with a wooden spoon.
  3. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth level. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden and well risen. Cool on a rack before storing in an airtight container. Leave for 24 hours before cutting.
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Delicious scones soon gone!

I love scones however they can cause such debate that I think we should get the pronunciation out of the way now. If you say the title of this post so that it rhymes you have got it right. Done!

The next debate occurs when you want to serve them, cream or jam first? The easy way to resolve that is to serve with butter, but seriously what does it matter? I put jam first as I can then pile as much clotted cream on top as will balance. This is probably not a sensible argument, but it’s the one I am going with.

I have tried a lot of scone recipes but I always go back to this one from a Dairy Council cook book from 1975. It is simple, tasty, and doesn’t have that bicarb taste that can spoil scones.

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Scones
Print Recipe
The recipe here is for plain scones, so perfect to eat with jam. If you want fruit scones reduce the sugar to 1 oz and add 2oz dried fruit just before the milk. If you like to measure in grams use 30g per oz. Scones taste best on the day that they are made but will keep for a couple of days. They do freeze well if you want to make them in advance, just warm through in the oven before serving.
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Scones
Print Recipe
The recipe here is for plain scones, so perfect to eat with jam. If you want fruit scones reduce the sugar to 1 oz and add 2oz dried fruit just before the milk. If you like to measure in grams use 30g per oz. Scones taste best on the day that they are made but will keep for a couple of days. They do freeze well if you want to make them in advance, just warm through in the oven before serving.
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 scones 15 minutes
Cook Time
12 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: scones
Instructions
  1. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. I grate the very cold butter into the flour with a cheese grater, and then just finish it off with my fingers.
  2. Add the sugar and mix through. If you are using dried fruit add at this stage.
  3. Using a knife stir the milk into the mix until you get a ball of mixture that leaves the bowl clean. Do not add all the milk at once as different batches of flour absorb different amounts of liquid.
  4. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Bring together until smooth with you fingers very gently. Do not knead or the scones will be tough.
  5. Roll out to 2cm thick and cut rounds using a 5cm cutter. Place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven 220C/200C fan/425F/gas mark 7 for 12 - 15 minutes. The scones should be golden and sound hollow if you tap on the underside.
  6. Place on a cooling rack immediately so that the scones stay crisp on the outside, and soft in the middle.
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Christmas Cake

 

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I love a slice of Christmas cake with cheese on Christmas night, and the smell of the spice when it is cooking, so making one is an essential part of the preparations for me.

I have lost count of the number of rich fruit cake recipes that I have tried over the years considering that I also use the same type of recipe for celebration cakes. One of my favourites is an old Victorian recipe, however it needs making at least 3 months in advance and that isn’t always convenient. So today I am making a last minute recipe that will have matured beautifully by Christmas Day. It is also very simple to make and as much as I love cooking, we all have busy lives. It makes a more golden, less heavy cake than the long maturing recipes. I made this one today and it is on the cooling rack.

This recipe makes a 20cm square cake. I am going to cut it in half closer to Christmas and decorate one half with marzipan and sugar paste, and the other half will be left plain to eat with cheese.

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Christmas Cake
Print Recipe
This cake can be made with any dried fruit that you like as long as you have 600g in total. The recipe already contains glace cherries, and I don't recommend adding any more, but suitable dried fruits are sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, dried dates, dried sour cherries, dried cranberries, candied peel, and anything else you can think of. Personally I don't really like currants but they are suitable too.
Servings Prep Time
16 portions 1 hour
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
16 portions 1 hour
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Christmas Cake
Print Recipe
This cake can be made with any dried fruit that you like as long as you have 600g in total. The recipe already contains glace cherries, and I don't recommend adding any more, but suitable dried fruits are sultanas, raisins, dried apricots, dried dates, dried sour cherries, dried cranberries, candied peel, and anything else you can think of. Personally I don't really like currants but they are suitable too.
Servings Prep Time
16 portions 1 hour
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Servings Prep Time
16 portions 1 hour
Cook Time
1.5 hours
Ingredients
Servings: portions
Instructions
  1. Warm the whisky or alternative and mix with the dried fruit, and ginger. Leave to stand for 30 minutes whilst you carry on with the rest of the recipe. If you can do this the day before they will have time to get better acquainted.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160c/140c fan/320f/gas mark 3 Line a 20cm square tin. I wrap the outside with a double layer of brown paper so that the edges don't get overcooked before the middle is ready.
  3. Put all the ingredients except the steeped fruits and cherries into a large bowl. Beat with a mixer for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. You can do this with a wooden spoon but it will take a bit longer.
  4. Fold in the fruit and cherries, spoon into the prepared tin, and level. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour forty five minutes. When ready it will be golden brown, firm to the touch, and an inserted skewer will come out clean. Stand for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Once completely cold wrap in baking paper and then foil to make a tight parcel, and store until you are ready to decorate or eat it. If you want to (and I do) you can unwrap a couple of times and feed with more spirit. Just add a couple of tbsp each time.
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Stir up Sunday

Stir up Sunday, or in my family Pudding Sunday, is nearly here, so if you haven’t got a recipe sorted yet, or find traditional recipes too heavy, this is for you. It is always the Sunday before Advent, so this year 22nd November.

Stir up Sunday gets it’s name from the collect read on the last Sunday of the church year

Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
.”

For me it is a family tradition passed down through the generations and I look forward to it as the start of the season. Decorations come a lot, lot later, but the smell of Christmas on a dark November day fills me with cheer.

It takes no time to make, just ages to steam. I enjoy the day around the house, fire on, relaxing with a glass of something warming.

 

Christmas Pudding
Print Recipe
This makes a delicious Christmas Pudding, with all of the flavour in a lighter texture than a traditional pudding. It has converted more than a few who didn't like it previously. I like to serve it flamed with brandy and lashings of sweet white sauce.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20+30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20+30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 hours 24 hours
Christmas Pudding
Print Recipe
This makes a delicious Christmas Pudding, with all of the flavour in a lighter texture than a traditional pudding. It has converted more than a few who didn't like it previously. I like to serve it flamed with brandy and lashings of sweet white sauce.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20+30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 hours 24 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20+30 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
5 hours 24 hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Combine everything except the eggs in a non-metallic bowl, cover, and leave to stand overnight.
  2. Next day add the beaten eggs, stir well, and then get everyone to stir and make a wish.
  3. Generously butter a 900ml pudding basin, spoon in the mixture, pushing down well and level. Cover with a double layer of baking paper, and a single layer of foil, both pleated, and tie tightly with string.
  4. Steam gently for 5 hours. Once cool re-wrap with clean paper and foil. Store in a cool place until Christmas.
  5. On Christmas Day steam again for 2 hours before serving.
  6. Half fill a metal ladle with brandy and heat over a gas flame or candle until hot enough to light. Pour the flaming brandy over the pudding, and carry to the table. There should be applause!
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Flapjack is not a pancake!

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Local names can cause much confusion, as proved by a most animated discussion with some lovely friends. It led me to make both on the same day so that I could post a picture on Twitter. I don’t want this to suggest that I am highly opinionated…..

If you are me, British, or from the Commonwealth, then a flapjack is a sweet tray bake made with oats. If you are American you are apparently more likely to use the term for a thick pancake eaten at breakfast time. I love both, however this division by a common language can lead to culinary disappointments, depending on the time of day.

So as they are so useful for snacks here is the recipe that I use for flapjacks.

 

Flapjack is not a pancake!
Print Recipe
A tray bake made from oats. Use a 30g measure for 1 ounce if you are more familiar with them. The basic recipe can be jazzed up with dried fruit. I like 2oz desiccated coconut with two oz sultanas heated in the pan with the butter mix. 2oz dried cherries or cranberries also work well.
Servings Prep Time
12 pieces 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes n/a n/a
Servings Prep Time
12 pieces 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes n/a n/a
Flapjack is not a pancake!
Print Recipe
A tray bake made from oats. Use a 30g measure for 1 ounce if you are more familiar with them. The basic recipe can be jazzed up with dried fruit. I like 2oz desiccated coconut with two oz sultanas heated in the pan with the butter mix. 2oz dried cherries or cranberries also work well.
Servings Prep Time
12 pieces 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes n/a n/a
Servings Prep Time
12 pieces 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes n/a n/a
Ingredients
Servings: pieces
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/gas mark 5 Grease a tin no smaller that 8"8" and no larger than 9"x12" or the flapjack will be too deep or thin. I use the former so that it is not too biscuit like.
  2. Place butter, sugar, and syrup into a pan and heat gently until melted and smooth. Too high and it will burn.
  3. Take off the heat and add oats and flour. Stir well then press evenly into the tin. Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden. It will firm up as it cools.
  4. Cut into portions while still warm. Store in an airtight container once completely cold.
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How did this happen?

I have never blogged before. I have been encouraged to do so for some time, to the extent that this blog was set up for me. I’d better start!

My chief interests are food, travel, cricket, live theatre, live music, and going to the cinema. I am at my happiest sitting at the cricket eating a picnic, or trying different foods on my travels, or producing a table groaning with home cooked food.

A friend told a friend that if you don’t know what to write start with a list. The following list, in no particular order, is a selection from the strong views that I hold about food. You may disagree however I hope it entertains, and maybe inspires some ideas for your own food dictatorship.

  • You may eat to live, I live to eat.
  • Tea is tea. Those fruit and herbal things are tisanes.  Please remember this as I am English.
  • Brownies should not contain nuts. Brownies are squidgy.
  • Steak should never be well done.
  • Raw spinach good, cooked spinach bad.
  • Lamb should not be able to baa as it comes to the table.
  • Lobster should not be overdressed. Some things are better naked.
  • Sprinkling coriander liberally does not make food exotic, it makes it taste of soap.
  • Please do not ask me if I want diet tonic, I do not want to ruin my gin.
  • Water comes from taps in our houses, eating establishments, and workplaces, except in extreme circumstances.
  • Fish should be opaque, not flapping.
  • Building a tower, that I will have to ruin to eat, does not make me think that you are a good cook.
  • A homemade cake is an embodiment of love.
  • Don’t be a food snob. A good hot dog is a thing of wonder.
  • I would rather eat meat and chocolate less often and buy the best.
  • Salad should not be 95% lettuce or other tasteless/bitter leaves.
  • Drink whatever wine you like, at whatever temperature you like, with anything you like.
  • If guests season your food before they have tasted it you are quite in your rights to kill them.
  • Margarine is an abomination. A good kitchen needs proper butter and natural oils.
  • Share as often as possible. Eating alone is just functional.
  • Try everything once if you get the opportunity.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

See you next time.

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