We’re enjoying some beautiful Autumn weather here in Cheshire at the moment (forgetting quickly about the one night of amazing thunder and lightning last week!). I love all the seasons but when we get sunny days and Autumn colours what can be better.
I’ve always liked to get up early – lying in bed really doesn’t thrill me – and I particularly enjoy the peace of my kitchen at the weekend with the oven on and Radio 4 in the background.
Yesterday I planned to make pizza dough to leave in the fridge for tea and some scones to use some of the huge bright red glacé cherries I bought recently. I’ve been using a recipe that calls for chilling and resting but just wanted something a bit quicker as we were going out for a walk.
Google led me to a Times article with recipes from one of my favourite bakers – Eric Lanlard. These scones were simply mix, cut and bake. A nice small quantity too as just for us and scones certainly don’t keep past the next day.
Apart from the addition of the cherries I didn’t change a thing.
225g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
25g golden caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, diced
4 tbsp milk
1 beaten egg, to glaze
1. Sift the flour into a bowl, add salt, sugar and butter and rub in until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Mix buttermilk and milk. Gradually mix in to form sticky dough.
3. Knead three to four times on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3cm thick. Cut out 6 scones and place on a lined baking tray.
4. Brush tops with beaten egg.
5. Bake at 200C/Gas 6 for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden. (Mine took a little longer)
6. Transfer to a cooling tray.
You know when you go into a cafe and there’s a type of cake there you haven’t made for ages and you think – I really like that why haven’t I made it – or is that just me!
Well that’s exactly what happened when we visited Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek last week. So many nice cakes to choose from but I spotted an Apple Crumble Cake that I made a few times last Autumn to use some of our home grown apples. No surplus apples at the moment but we got some really nice fruit and vegetables on the market – including some very reasonably priced blueberries and a huge bag of plums for just a pound (I’m thinking a pie for them).
So today I’ve tried enlarging my recipe to make a big family sized dessert cake so there will be enough to take to my son and daughter in law when we go for tea tomorrow.
Again I’m using cup measures – so quick to scoop straight into the bowl.
For the crumble:
¼ cup golden granulated sugar
⅓ cup Demerara sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sprinkle ground nutmeg
115g butter, melted
1⅓ cups plain flour
For the cake:
6 oz butter, at room temperature
¾ cup golden granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp grated lemon zest
⅔ cup creme fraiche
1¼ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare a 9-inch round springform tin. Mix the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter and then add the flour. Mix well and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, lemon zest and creme fraiche.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed gently add the flour mixture to the batter. Fold in the blueberries and stir with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the batter.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely and serve sprinkled with icing sugar.
Although I love cooking and baking sometimes it’s lovely to know you can go to somewhere reliable and buy some “real” food that you can just throw together for a relaxed treat.
When we want to do that our favourite destination is Chorlton. I first enjoyed bread from the Barbakan through our Northern Harvest farm shop delivery. The bakery and deli has been established for 50 years and has recently undergone a refurb to incorporate some indoor seating. Whatever the weather though the outdoor covered verandah is a great place to sit and people watch while enjoying your meal or just a coffee and luscious pastry. On Saturdays you can also choose from the outdoor sausage barbecue.
The staff at the Barbakan are all so helpful too – while in the queue today the little boy in front being carried by his daddy was given a bagel and a sample of sausage to keep him cheerful while waiting you don’t get that in a chain store!
We enjoyed coffee and apple strudel this morning with the added treats of canolli that we’ve never eaten before – very sweet little Italian pastries!
Then I returned into the deli and came away with olives, tuna salad, Parma ham, pork pie and olive scones.
We love the Unicorn Co-operative – as much as possible all the fresh produce is sourced as locally as possible and clearly displayed where it’s from. All the dried goods are bought in bulk and then they bag them up for onward sale and savings for the customers. It’s a brilliant concept.
The fresh produce is great but it’s also great for rice, pulses, nuts, dried fruits, tinned and bottled too – all organic!
There’s a good choice of vegetarian savoury products and salads on the deli and they are hoping to produce more ready packed choices from here in the chilled counters soon.
So we’re all stocked up again and just wish we had a co-operative like this in Macclesfield.
As I’ve not been baking cakes and sweet things for some time I still had quite a lot of chocolate in the fridge……left over from Christmas would you believe! Then my lovely daughter in law brought back a large bag of Spring coloured sweets and I thought I would use them all up in a classic Rocky Road.
The last one I made at Christmas was a little crumbly so this time I increased the chocolate and didn’t add any butter or syrup that my original recipe used.
It turned out perfectly and the unusual colour of the sweets definitely gave it an Easter look.
Large bag of candy covered chocolates (approx 320g)
600g milk chocolate
180g mini marshmallows
Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before cutting into 24 squares
Over the last few years we’ve enjoyed many food festivals and shows and began to notice the stands selling home wine tasting events but were a bit unsure what it would be like.
Then at the Foodies Festival at Tatton we had VIP tickets that included a glass of Prosecco from the Pieroth Wine stand and had a good chat with the gentlemen there. We were interested so decided to buy a gift token for my brother (you know how hard it is to buy for the man who has everything!).
You can buy for weekday of weekend, for yourself or a larger group depending on your needs. In our case there should have been four of us but my sister in law was unable to come so it was just three.
Our guide through the wines was Les Barber. He gave us an interesting introduction to the company, it’s vineyards and then our selection for the evening – 11 wines ranging from a light, sweet white German wine to a rich, full bodied, oaky red.
Even in our little group of three the range of favourites was huge – I am a lightweight Prosecco drinker who only enjoyed the first two, hubs preferred the middle range lighter reds that it is now popular to chill, and my brother’s choice was the richer, oaky reds at the end of the tasting.
I had supplied savoury nibbles and water and with the chat and tasting it took just over an hour and a half. Ideal early evening entertainment before we had our meal.
Having been a little unsure we all really enjoyed learning a little more about wine and although we did order a mixed case between us there was no hard sell and it wasn’t expected. The wines are dearer than our usual supermarket special offers but are all single estate, first pressing with none of the additives found in cheaper bottles.
We would definitely do it again and include other members of the family or friends too.
This post was not sponsored or requested by Pieroth Wines and was written because we enjoyed our evening!
I haven’t blogged since December. I almost thought I’d left it too long. Then this week has been such a good week and lots of interesting things with food and travel plans, walking and sewing I decided I must get back to it.
On Monday I started a new project at my craft group at Macclesfield Silk Museum. I love to sew but as my work has all been on the machine I can’t take that so decided to try knitting again which is something I never really got into when I was younger as my Mum was such an excellent knitter!
My lovely ladies are very patient showing me hints and tips as we chat away. I’ve done a baby blanket with pompom wool which is lovely – no baby to give it to at the moment but one on the way for my daughter’s best friend very soon.
The new knitting is a modern pattern for a little girl’s jacket in pink, sparkly wool – I hope I can finish it before she grows too big for it!
On Tuesday I did Mum and Dad’s shopping – if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know this means I’m having to do supermarket shopping – I’ve tried them all and still hate the whole process but generally find Tesco are the most helpful staff, shortest queues so in and out of there as fast as I can. In Sidmouth I used to like the Co-operative – I like their ethos but the one near my parents is now another store. We have a handy little one near us but it’s only tiny.
On Thursday I attended a meeting organised by a friend of mine to discuss (with other like minded people) her ideas for a cafe project inspired by The Real Junk Food Project – but more on that another time.
We’ve had my lovely daughter in law’s 30th this week and a party last night which I did a cheeseboard for. I love doing a good cheeseboard with a variety of cheeses – definitely some local, one blue, one smoked, one goat’s cheese, a strong Cheddar, a crumbly Cheshire, one with chilli for my husband and a tasty Red Leicester which is my son’s favourite. I would normally have six or seven but as this was a big gathering I chose nine.
Celery and grapes with a final decoration of some sugar mice – an idea I picked up some years ago which people enjoy.
So that was my week and I’m happy to be back here sharing it with you!
We generally only have pancakes on pancake day but occasionally if I have left over buttermilk I make these thicker pancake treats. Served with maple syrup they remind us of holidays in the States.
Yesterday I made a Bundt cake and had the necessary buttermilk so we had these for brunch today.
1 and 1/2 cups (375 mL) plain flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 and 3/4 cups (425 mL) buttermilk
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Mix the dry ingredients together.
2. Mix together the buttermilk and egg
3. Mix the liquid into dry ingredients then gently add in the melted butter and vanilla.
4. Heat the vegetable oil in a flat frying pan (I have a pancake pan) and spoon the batter on in batches of three or four.
5. As the pancakes cook little bubbles appear on the surface and this is the time to flip them over – they only take minutes to cook.
6. Serve warm with maple syrup.