Proof of the pudding…

…is in the eating!

 

How autumnal are those colours?

Wholemeal spelt and plum upside-down pudding cake

The recipe is adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe in the Everyday River Cottage book.

200g golden caster sugar

200g softened butter

225g wholemeal spelt flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground mixed spice but I think ground ginger would be a lovely alternative

a pinch of salt

4 eggs beaten

plums washed and halved stones removed, enough to cover the bottom of the baking tin.

As you would expect, arrange the plum halves cut side down in tin.  Cream the sugar and butter together till pale and fluffy.  Give the flour, spice, baking powder and salt a whisk together to get some air in and ensure even mixing.  Add the beaten egg a little at a time with a spoon of flour to prevent curdling until all the egg is incorporate. Fold the remainder of the flour in, well enough but don’t work it too much as you will overwork the gluten. Pour over the plums and bake in a 140 C  if fan forced otherwise 160C oven for about an hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely in tin.

I am a new convert to silicone bakeware, I cannot rate it high enough for even-ness and non-stickiness.  Just though I’d drop that in.  In case you haven’t heard of it, spelt is delicious, its an ancient form of wheat and available in supermarkets now, not just fancy healthfood shops.  It still has gluten though, I thought I’d better mention that, just in case, y’know.

And in knitting and spinning news…

…the one row Malabrigo scarf is finished and gorgeous, a fun pattern, I will be using it again.

At the time of writing this I have almost finished spinning the maple BFL, woohoo! Looking forward to seeing it plied and finished, though I don’t think I got enough twist in it to make socks sadly.  Should be all done this weekend.

I am actually contemplating knitting the Aurora Borealis scarf in two pieces and grafting. No, I don’t remember the blow to my head or being visited by aliens and having my brain probed  recently.  I’m (reluctantly) going to do a test of the cast off edge with some scrap yarn before I make the decision, but only because I love it so much and don’t want to ruin it.

Socktober KAL update and cake

I’ve had a bit of a Goldilocks thing going on with my BFF socks, the medium were too small, the large too big.  Arrgggggh, how to get it so they fit just right and retain the pattern that is so necessary for my chosen yarn, the solution seemed impossible.

I went to bed Monday night after frogging back again with this conundrum going round in my head.  Then Tuesday morning I awoke with the obvious solution staring me in the face.  I could bore you with the details but I’m scared that the yarn gods will smite me down for “counting my chickens before the eggs are hatched” as my Mum used to say.

Let it just be enough to say I’m making progress now.  In fact I’m about to start my short row heel, then all being well I can knit the heel flap and leg bit, but I’m still not tempting fate or anything, honest.

Because today was a lovely wet rainy day, mwahhahahahahah, I baked a big ol’ fruitcake from my favourite Nigel Slater recipe out of his Appetite book.  It’s a great recipe and because it uses one and a half kilos of dried fruit therefore it’s practically a health food.  The other thing I like is that, like most Nigel Slater recipes it is easily customizable to use what you have in your pantry, so that’s what I did.  I used 1kg mixed dried fruit, 200g cherries and 300g dates, then I swapped the hazelnuts for walnuts and the brandy for the last bit of port.  I couldn’t resist cutting into it  and tasting while still warm, well I have to test it before I offer it to my nearest and dearest or I wouldn’t be a good mum would I?

Yep, tastes good.  Schlutty says hi and now I have to crack on in the desperate hope I might finish the pair by the 31st October.  Wish me luck!

Happy Yorkshire Day!

I thought that to celebrate Yorkshire day I would post my recipe for Yorkshire puddings.  There are many recipes for Yorkshire’s but this one really is fail safe.

You will need:

measuring cup of some size to measure the following:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup water

pinch of salt

some lard, dripping or groundnut oil

a muffin or Yorkshire pudding tin

Take an actual cup or cup measurement thingy, it only matters that you’re getting equal quantities of the ingredients so the bigger the cup the more Yorkshires you get and the smaller, well you know…

Scoop a cupful of plain flour and sieve into a large bowl, add a pinch of salt.  Crack as many eggs as the cup will hold into the cup and add them to the flour, give the mixture a bit of a mix it will be a bit stiff.  Then add a cup of milk slowly to loosen the mixture up a bit, when all that is incorporated add 1/2 a cup of water to the mixture and beat well with a wooden spoon/whisk or electric stick whisk, whatever you like so long as you get some air into it and make sure there are as few lumps as possible, the mixture should be the consistency of single cream.  Then let the mixture stand for an hour or two to let the gluten relax and the flour grains swell.

When you are ready to cook your Yorkshires get the oven as hot as it will go.  Prepare your tins by putting a teaspoon of dripping or lard in each hole, vegetarians can use an oil that will withstand really hot temperatures like peanut oil, definitely not olive oil, it will get nasty.  The fat in the tins is ready when it is smoking hot, not before.  Then carefully pour some Yorkshire mixture in each hole (I use large muffin tins) only fill about 1/3-1/2 full no more and put back into the oven quickly so you’re not losing heat.  How long they take to cook depends on the heat of your oven and the size of your Yorkshires but about 15-20 minutes till they are golden brown.  Good Yorkshires are crispy on the outside and a bit fluffy on the inside but that really all depends on personal preferences.

Then enjoy!

Yorkshire puddings are traditionally associated with roast beef, however in Yorkshire anything goes, you can serve with any roast, stew/casserole, minced beef and onions or sausage and onion gravy or anything you want really.  If there are any left over at the end of dinner they are really nice cold with a bit of cold roast and it’s accompanying sauce or jam/golden syrup/lemon curd, after all they are essentially a pancake that has risen.

Many pubs in Yorkshire do plate sized Yorkshires that are filled with meat and gravy a bit like a medieval tranche, yummy.

Happy St George's day!

It’s St. George’s Day and to mark it I’ve been drinking Pimms till I puke!

Ha, gotcha! No I didn’t really!

No, today I drank copious amounts of Yorkshire tea, as per usual on my day off and I made Parkin, whilst listening to “Family Jewels” by Marina and the Diamonds, my new favourite British artist.

For those who love cake (who doesn’t) and aren’t from Yorkshire, parkin is an old Yorkshire cake made from oats, treacle and spices usually served at teatime and for some reason it has become linked with Guy Fawkes night (5th November) .  It is fragrant and sticky and toothsome (due to the oats),  and if you fancy making it here is the recipe

225g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground ginger (I used fresh ginger this time because my ground had lost its pungency will let you know if this was a good idea when I get to eat it)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

225g oatmeal

170g black treacle

170g golden syrup

115g butter

1 egg, beaten

150ml milk

Heat oven to 170C and prepare a 20cm square tin.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices together (if using fresh ginger add with liquid later). Add the oatmeal to mixture and stir. In a saucepan warm the treacle, golden syrup and butter, stirring till the butter has melted then incorporate into dry ingredients. Add the beaten egg and milk and mix well, then turn into prepared tin and bake for 30 or so minutes till a cake tester comes out dry, (I have a fan assisted oven with heating elements on the top and bottom I usually have to drop the temperature 10 degrees or so and bake for 5 or so minutes less than most recipes require) .

When the parkin come out it will smell heavenly and fragrant and you will be tempted to eat it there and then, don’t! Once it’s cooled store it in an airtight tin for a couple of days to a week if you can bear it and it will reward you by being more moist and sticky and yummy. Serve with a cuppa either as is or spread with a bit of butter.

The super cute Herdy mug was bought at baaramewe, to buy one online go to http://www.herdy.co.uk and help conserve the beautiful Herdwick sheep breed and their Lake District/Cumbrian homeland, go on you know you want to!

As for knitting, I’m still doing Emily by Ysolda, and I’ve swatched for 3 cardigans, but more of that later. Unhappily it’s been a bit too warm and sticky in Melbourne to wear Ishbel, the fluff would stick to my neck.

Yorkshire rhubarb

It would be very remiss of me to visit Yorkshire at this time of year and not indulge in one of Yorkshire’s famous delicacies,  forced rhubarb.  I have mentioned it to my Antipodean friends and they all look at me like I’ve lost the plot but Yorkshire forced rhubarb is indeed very different to any other rhubarb anywhere.  For a start there’s the colour.

Pink! This is the result of forcing, removing the rhubarb plant entirely from the outdoors to warm sheds where they grow rapidly until they are ready to be harvested by candlelight to avoid photosynthesis.

According to E. Oldroyd the largest producers in Yorkshire, rhubarb forcing began in Yorkshire in 1877 and the area between Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford became known as the Rhubarb Triangle.  This area being ideally situated for the forcing of rhubarb as the Pennines shield the crop from frost, the wool industry provided the perfect nutrition, locally known as “shoddy” (sheep manure to you and me) and the coalfields provided cheap fuel to heat the sheds.

The result is absolutely delicious, more delicate in flavour than summer rhubarb and stunning to look at.  We stewed our rhubarb with a small amount of water and 100g of sugar and served with scones and Cornish clotted cream (another English culinary treat that I miss) and of course a cuppa Yorkshire tea.

Yum!

Yorkshire curd tart

I have a massive craving for Yorkshire curd tart or fly pie as it was affectionately known in our house.

Thing is, I am trying to lose weight and Yorkshire curd tart usually comes in a pastry case and the recipe I have in my BeRo book calls for quite a lot of butter and sugar, so I have modified the recipe omitting the butter and halving the sugar and baked it in individual ramekins. Here is my recipe:

Melanie’s diet Yorkshire curd pots (makes 4, around 130cals each)

225g 97%fat free cottage cheese

20g Caster sugar

50g currants

1 egg

a pinch or 2 each nutmeg and cinnamon (depending on taste)

Weigh ingredients and mix well.  Divide equally into 4 ramekins and bake in oven 200C /400F/Gas mark 6 for 20 minutes.

Serve warm or cold as prefered with a nice cuppa Yorkshire tea.

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There were 4 originally but I had to test one to make sure they were ok ; )

Fat Rascals

Hello,

I had my good friend Sarah round for lunch and knitting today and so I made fat rascals from my Yorkshire Tea-Time Treats book in her honour.  The fat rascals were washed down with Yorkshire Tea, what else?

Fat Rascals and Yorkshire Tea

Fat Rascals and Yorkshire Tea

Fat Rascals are a speciality of Betty’s Tea Rooms a sister company of Taylors of Harrogate who make Yorkshire Tea.  They are a cross between a scone and a rock cake and have two half cherry eyes and three slivered almonds for a mouth.  Sarah was very impressed.  Also note my Yorkshire tea pot, resplendent in it’s cosy with the Yorkshire Tea milk jug.

Domestic un-goddess’ devious plan succeeds

Dear Fi,

Love the Easter bags, very sweet, how lucky are you that you have a daughter who can appreciate things like that.  Did you put Eggs in?

So yesterday was our wedding anniversary and we went to see “The boat that rocked” and I have to say it, the film totally rocks, you will love it, I am going to buy it when it comes out on dvd and I will be buying the soundtrack too, it was really great.  We went to see it at “the directors suite” which was a new experience for me because, well, I am married to a Yorkshireman, though he was so impressed with the comfy reclining armchair and waitress service while the adverts and trailers were on that he said he definitely would go again if it was a movie that had to be seen at the cinema.  In fact he was so impressed that this morning lovely husband suggested turning the front room into a home cinema room which “would pay for it’s self in the long run”.  I have concerns though, not least the fact that we don’t have the money, but the fact that our house is one of those modest but modern “open plan” affairs, which is something I find a bit ironic because in the olden days of yore people who lived and did everything in one big room were called poor people now whenever I watch Grand Designs all these rich people building their posh houses all want big open plan living.  For myself I would love a bit of privacy and can’t understand why it costs so much when you aren’t having to pay for doors and door frames, but then I am a Yorkshire lass.  Anyway, so the problem he has is that I always want to knit when we settle down to watch a dvd and I have to have the lamp on to do that.  If I don’t knit I tend to nibble on snacks and chocolate or my nails and as neither of those is attractive in the long run,  I knit.  However, my lovely menfolk always say that the lamp reflects on the TV screen, I have never seen it but they insist, so lovely husband suggests having a cinema room will eliminate that, how, I don’t know.  Then I suggest getting those massagey reclining chair thingys then I will not need to knit, won’t be able to really will I, so after careful consideration he decides we can’t afford it, so there you go, devious plan succeeded, job’s a good ‘un really.

Anyway so Easter holidays being an excuse to do all those lovely homebakey things that as a working mum I don’t normally have time to do, lovely husband and I decided to connect with our inner domestic goddess he decided to make apricot jam, which refused to set.  While I decided to make lemony butterfly buns filled with lemon curd, I was going to call them Melanie’s lemony Easter bun-nies (because of the ears/wings) but the groans and rolling of eyes from lovely menfolk when I suggested this made me realise that it was a bad idea, but as it ‘appens they didn’t rise (no ears), so it was all a bit rubbish really.  I blame  t’oven and lovely husband blames the wrong type of sugar, I did suggest jam sugar at the supermarket though.  Still the lemon curd is good, we’re calling the jam, confiture, which is French for jam, that hasn’t properly set and the knitting is going well.  

I finished the first section of my origami bolero and got unenthusiastic eldest son and even less enthusiastic husband to take photos of me wearing it, to be fair though I don’t get taking photos of cars at car shows. I have used stitch markers to bring the sleeves together so you can see how it’s constructed, there will be another rectangle piece that will be collar and another that will be the body.  The beauty of this design is that it can be worn either way up so it can be a cardigan (big rectangle) or bolero (smaller rectangle).  I think that is the reason why it has been so popular, that and the fact that it is made up of 3 different weights of yarn and between 4 and 6 colours/shades knit in both moss stitch and lace stitch (yarn forward, knit two together).  So endless fun selecting yarns before you’ve even cast on.  Here are the photos.

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So that’s been my day, that and ironing, yuck! I won’t bore you with details about that.  Though, do you know how come you can put a perfectly proportioned t-shirt in the wash and when it comes out the length is half as long and the width is twice as wide as when it went in?  Where am I going wrong, it seems as though my inner domestic goddess has totally deserted me.

Happy knitting

M x