I’ve just heard that it’s British Yorkshire pudding day. I’ve never had much luck cooking a humble Yorkshire pud, the problem being my ancient old Rayburn. You need a hot oven and mine likes to hover around 180 degrees C. Anything above that only happens occasionally.
Last week we had one of those occasions. The oven was red hot but that wasn’t the reason I chose to make my pudding. The chickens and ducks are laying like mad and an egg mountain is starting to form. Since we’ve had such appalling weather, no customers have been brave enough to trudge through the snow to buy any.
I was making a vegetable curry but instead of rice to accompany it, I decided to make a curried batter pudding to use up some eggs.
It turned out beautifully, not only was it a gorgeous yellow colour, it rose way above the edges of the tin and best of all – no soggy bottom.
I was a vegatarian for over 25 years, therefore cooking with vegetables comes easily to me, so much so that it often doesn’t occur to me to add meat to a meal. I first starting eating meat again when we raised our own pigs and now I rarely buy it as our freezer is usually stuffed full of our own produce.
For Christmas dinner I planned to roast a joint of our Dexter beef but my mother surprised us with a hamper containing a turkey, so I thought why not?
I didn’t want to spend the big day cooking so I roasted the bird on Christmas eve and we had “leftovers” in the form of a turkey sandwich for our tea before we even got to the festive dinner.
On Boxing day, we had the usual cold meat and pickles but of course there was still plenty of turkey left and lots of recipes to choose from.
I settled on a turkey curry. Under normal circumstances, I would make this dish with just vegetables. It’s quick, simple and since you can use up any veg that you have laying around, usually very cheap.
Indian food was not something I ate a lot of, but in the last few years I have been experimenting with spices and this is my very favourite combination – the turmeric gives it a beautiful golden colour and if I have any goat’s cream languishing in the fridge, I add a touch at the end of cooking. The dish goes down well with or without meat.
I am continuing in my quest to make traditional biscuits and focusing on the ones I like least to see if home-made can improve them. This time I decided to tackle the humble Bourbon biscuit. Next to custard creams, these are my second least favourite. I discovered that these chocolate and cream creations were the invetion of Peek Freans back in 1910 and traditionally made of two oblongs sandwiched together with a chocolate filling.
Rather than stick with tradition and anyway I don’t have an oblong cookie cutter, I decided on a pretty flower shape. Mine certainly looked good and although not wildly exciting, they were certainly better than the shop bought variety.
The one niggle I am coming across with biscuits in general is that they tend to go soft very quickly, even though I store them in an airtight tin. Not sure what the solution is to that problem.
I love Lakeland. Our nearest store is in Aberdeen and one day we drove all the way there, me filled with excitement and Himself with trepidation, only to find it was closed for refurbishment. I know I can shop online but sometimes you just need to see and feel the things in real life.
I was browsing a little while ago and I came across the Silverwood Victoria Surprise Cake Tin. I desperately wanted it but with a cupboard full of cake tins, I couldn’t really justify the cost. The fact that you could also bake sponge flan cases as well as cakes, made me want it all the more. However, after examining the pictures carefully I rummaged around and pulled out a couple of stainless steel bowls, the kind you use to feed dogs (I would just like to point out that I haven’t used these bowls for dog feeding). I put the smaller one upside down inside the other, made a fatless sponge and managed to turn out a flan case of my own. It was a bit on the deep side but I filled it with orange roasted rhubarb, poured over a fruit jelly and left it to set. It was quite pleasant served up with some goat’s milk ice cream.
I mentioned my experimental baking to my mother and within a few days, a parcel from Lakeland turned up on my doorstep. Inside was the Silverwood Cake Tin. I was thrilled and wanted to get started on my cake immediately but unusually for me, I had no sugar.
A few days later, with bags of sugar at the ready, I milked Lily and ran it through the separator hoping for a big jug of cream. For some reason the milk only produced a few ml so I had to think of something else for the filling.
I had studied all the reviews on the website and I knew I had to grease and line the inserts to prevent sticking so I didn’t stint on my prep. I made the batter according to the recipe on the leaflet that came with the tins – see recipe below.
In the oven the cakes had to sit on different shelves but both rose beautifully, although rather unevenly but that is the fault of my Rayburn.
When both were done I left them to cool for 10 minutes on a rack before turning them out. I was delighted when they slid out easily until I discovered that the inserts had been baked into the sponge. For some reason the cake mix had managed to get in between them and the base. I had to cut them out. It rather ruined the look of the sponges which was a great shame.
With the minuscule amount of goat cream, I made a vanilla buttercream filling for one half and in the other half I put leftover lemon and ginger that I saved and preserved in sugar syrup, from my recent ginger beer brewing. Getting the two halves together was a bit tricky and I did think the top sponge was going to break up as I plonked it on top of the bottom, but it survived.
It sealed up quite well, hid the uneven bake and the filling and with a quick sprinkle of icing sugar, actually looked quite spectacular.
I left it overnight in the cool utility room and the following day served it up after lunch. As we excitedly cut into the cake, I warned Himself that since it was stuffed full of the rich buttercream, he may only want a small slice but that didn’t stop him. Despite it’s unevenness, it still looked pretty impressive, but the sponge did look a bit stodgy.
Overall when you got the mix of sharp lemon and tangy ginger plus the sweet vanilla cream and sponge it tasted superb. The only thing that let it down was that when it came to eating the edge, you got more sponge than filling and it was a bit bland. If I can overcome the problem of the inserts, it should be capable of producing a superb cake.