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Posts Tagged ‘Sultanas’

Last week I received rather a lovely Easter gift, in the form of several products from the Baking Mad website.

If you like eating, baking or just looking at pictures of delicious goodies, you might like to have a quick squiz at some of their tasty treats. They have lots of Easter recipes and lovely photos of Easter baking to inspire you.

The parcel I was sent contained the following items – oven gloves, a pinny (apron) and a box of Easter picks and cupcake cases:

Many years ago I had a PVC pinny with a barn owl on it, but it seems to have vamooshed during one of my many house moves over the years, and for a long time now I’ve gone pinnyless in the kitchen.

Living in my parents’ house at the moment means that I do in fact have access to pinnies of theirs, but I’m so used to not having one that I usually get covered in flour before it occurs to me that I might have put one on.

No more though, for I now have a pinny of my own again:

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To christen my new pinny I made some scones, although I’m also looking forward to using the cupcake cases and Easter picks, which are very delightful:

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This morning I felt in the mood for fruit bran scones, but I Eastered them up with a little gilding. Here they are being taken out of the oven by my brand new oven gloves:

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Hot cross scones:

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The crosses on hot cross buns are generally made from little bits of pastry, but since I didn’t have any pastry scraps I used strips of marzipan.

The marzipan did get slightly burnt at the edges, but well fired marzipan is one of life’s little surprises – amazingly tasty.

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One of the things I like about scones is the speed at which they go from ingredients to finished product, but one day when I’m not so desperately hungry I would like to try making these hot cross buns, which look utterly superb.

When I’d finished making the scones, I hung up my oven gloves next to my mum’s ones:

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And proudly added my pinny to the pinny pegs:

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Then I put the kettle on, made a pot of popcorn tea…

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… selected a scone….

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…and settled down to write this post.

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I didn’t make the scones very sweet, so I spread on a bit of blackcurrant jam, which added a nice fruity zing:

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If you’d like to try making these for yourself and need a recipe, here’s the one I used (below).

This mix makes quite a substantial dense sort of scone, but if you want to make more traditional fluffy white scones just omit the bran and wholemeal flour and use 8 oz white flour instead. Leave out the sultanas if you don’t fancy them, or bung in some other fruit/nut/seed/ingredient that’s more to your taste. You could also leave out the egg and substitute nut or soya milk for cow’s milk.

Fruit Bran Scones

2 oz bran

5 oz self-raising white flour

1 oz self-raising wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 oz fat (I used Bertolli spread, but you could use any margarine or butter)

-

1 oz soft brown sugar

a handful of sultanas

1 beaten egg

enough milk (I didn’t measure but something like 3 or 4 tbsps?) to make the mixture into a dampish malleable consistency

small strips of marzipan

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Put a shelf at the top of the oven and set to high (I use 210ÂșC in a fan oven).

Mix together the first 5 ingredients using the rubbing in method (or an electric mixer if you prefer), but don’t rub in too much, handle lightly and stop before all the fat has disappeared into the flour.

Add the other ingredients, keeping back a little of the egg (1 tsp or so), and mix until combined.

Pat the dough out lightly (you could roll it using a rolling pin but this may stop the scones from rising as much) on a floured surface to about 1 inch thick and cut out using a scone cutter, or shape the scones into whatever shape and size you want.

Put scones onto a baking tray and brush with most of remaining beaten egg. Lay marzipan strips across scones and brush with any leftover egg.

Bake for anything between 10 minutes (wee scones) and 20 minutes (very big scones), depending on the size of the scones.

(I made 5 from this amount and cooked them for 16 minutes. If you’re not sure how long to cook them for, you can use the cake testing method of sticking a skewer in one to see if it comes out clean, or you could pick one up and see how it feels. When cooked the scones should feel light (assessing this might take a bit of practice, I just discovered this test for myself after baking quite a lot of scones with varying degress of success).)

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In a previous post about the tasty contents of my Christmas box, I missed out the fruit cake component because I hadn’t yet tried it.

I can now report that the cake has been consumed, and slipped down nicely with some Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea.

Here’s the cake as it was when whole: a round of fruit-filled cakiness decorated with a thick lid of fondant icing and a gold snowflake supporting a white star:

On cutting into it a layer of marzipan was revealed between icing and cake:

This piece of cake might look quite small, which it was, but it was also very rich:

It was stuffed with cherries, sultanas, raisins, apricots, brandy and other delicious ingredients:

As I was writing this post, I felt inspired to bake.

Initially I thought I’d make a fruit cake but, given the inordinately long time it takes to cook, I opted for the quick fix of fruit scones instead:

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I recently mentioned a box of goodies I received as a Christmas present, and said I would report on the contents when I’d tasted them.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve now tasted 4 of the 5 items in the box, as follows.

The Plum Pudding:

Wine Society Plum Pudding

Plum pudding ready to eat

I like a nice fruity plum, or Christmas, pudding, and this one was particularly well endowed with fruit. In fact, the first thing on the list of ingredients was mixed dried vine fruits, at a lovely big 33%.

Plum pud stuffed with fruits and a heady dash of brandy

I haven’t got the packaging any more so I can’t check, but I do remember that brown sugar came quite low down on the list of ingredients. The pud was stuffed with sultanas, raisins, apricots, cherries, nuts and brandy, all of which were present in larger quantities than the sugar.

The pudding was duly heated up and dished out, steaming, into plates for me and my two most delightful assistants.

All sorts of things can accompany plum pudding, such as brandy sauce or ice cream, but I think the pick of all accompaniments is single pouring cream:

Plum pud doused with cream

A little snowy mountain of pudding

Unfortunately, technology doesn’t yet allow pictures on the screen to be tasted, but I can assure you that this plum pudding was a first class specimen. Fruity, nutty, boozy and extremely rich and delicious.

You might think that after such a pudding one ought to have had one’s cravings for sweet rich foods satisfied.

What, though, if you had a packet of shortbread biscuits and a box of jelly babies that had been neighbours to the pudding in the Christmas box looking as if they, too, yearned to be tasted?

Shortie and jelly babies

A pot of Afternoon Ceylon Orange Pekoe Tea (that also came in the Christmas box) was made, and the biscuits and babies laid out for contemplation.

Being a bit of a stickler for my preferred biscuit texture, I’m sometimes a little nervous when it comes to shortbread.

When I took these shortbread biscuits out of the pack they stuck together a bit, which caused anxious furrows to appear on my brow.

However, I needn’t have feared, for the dampness did not in any way impair the flavour or, indeed, texture of the bite. I wonder now if in fact the dampness was there simply as a reminder to me that dunking was called for.

Diving in for the dunk

Dunked shortie

To my mind, a biscuit successfully dunked (i.e. almost saturated with liquid and withdrawn just in time to avoid slippage into the bottom of the cup), is a biscuit that has attained the highest possible achievement in the biscuit world.

The biscuit packaging stated that the contents were duty bound to be dunked. I’m delighted to report that they performed with aplomb.

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Feeling I was on an unbeatable winning streak, I didn’t stop at biscuits.

Baby on the brink

Baby diving head first into tea

The babies, unlike the biscuits, didn’t mop up liquid, but they did melt very slightly and glistened with tea when brought out of the cup.

On the whole, I take my jelly babies dry, but on this occasion the tea-coated baby was a very pleasant departure from the norm.

The only thing remaining for me to try from my Christmas box is the Christmas cake, and I’m saving it for its own little post.

Simply Delicious hand made Christmas cake

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The autumn colours in Perthshire are particularly good this year and, thinking that the Scottish Borders would be putting on a similarly spectacular show, I took the delightful assistants down there for a gawp at the weekend.

We were most surprised to find that, despite being further south, it felt like winter rather than autumn in the Borders. Many of the trees were completely bare and most of the leaves that were left on the trees were well past their flame-grilled best.

However, I’m happy to say that at our destination of Dawyck Botanic Gardens, nature’s loveliness was abounding:

A couple of beech trees had curious wrappings round their trunks:

There was a poem, entitled The Bandaged Trees, attached to one of the trunks, but I found it a tad depressing so I won’t burden you with it.

Looking up into the trees was beautiful with the sunlight on the leaves:

Dawyck (more or less pronounced Daw-ik) is a beautiful place to walk around, and even though there were a lot of cars in the car park, we met very few people as we strolled through the gardens.

Here are a couple of tiny assistants perched atop a lovely bridge:

The air smelled very fresh and I took lots of deep breaths. The amount of lichen on the trees was perhaps a good indicator of just how pollution-free the atmosphere was. Some of the birches looked as if they were dressed in furs and feather boas:

Bits of the garden were in the shade and quite frosty, an ideal hiding place for ice nymphs and frost elves. Apparently, if you run backwards making chirpy little whistling noises they sometimes pop out. I tried this, but I didn’t see any. Mind you, I find that trying to stay upright while running backwards takes up most of my concentration.

My camera battery died just past this bench,

which was a pity as I had been hoping to take photos of the lunch we had after our walk.

However, I wouldn’t like to sign off without a small morsel to share with you, so here’s a Christmas pudding scone* I made yesterday instead:

*so called because it was inspired by Christmas pudding, and contains sultanas, mixed peel, slivered almonds, cherries, dates, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and treacle, as well as the standard scone ingredients

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