Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Historical Bakery - VE Day Eggless Chocolate Buns

From hair to history, there was a time when I would blog about most things Second World War related. It all caught my attention. And, don't get me wrong, it still does. But, I find myself nowadays, more likely than not, a little more focused on the Great War and the era of Bohemian 1920's. Still history -  just a bit further back.

This is reflected in what I have been reading, wearing and watching. But not baking. Oh no. There are far more recipes in my books to be explored from the WW2 era before I head off towards something else.

So, when the 70th anniversary of V.E Day dawned, I headed straight for my trusted Victory Cookbook by Marguerite Patten to seek something out. I have yet to look fully into the history of my new street (whole house tour coming soon folkettes), but I am sure, like many, it may of hosted a street party.

Push the boat out I thought - make something with cocoa. Oooh, the victory day luxury!  I landed on these delicious sounding Chocolate Buns and decided to give them a whirl.

225g SR flour, or plain with 2 tsp baking powder
25g cocoa powder
75g melted margarine
75g sugar
225ml hot water
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb of soda
few drop of vanilla essence

Pop the oven on to 180c / 350F / GM 4 and boil the kettle.

Melt the margarine over a low heat whilst you sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the sugar and mix together. 

With the freshly boiled water, heat your table spoon in a cup and then use this to measure out your golden syrup. Add this to your 225ml of hot water in a separate bowl and then add the bicarb. This should fizz & rise rapidly, but don't worry if not -  mine didn't until it was added to the dry items.

Stir all items together, including your now melted margarine. It will start to form a stringy, slightly sticky dough. I plopped spoonfuls on to the lined baking tray, but, I think with floured hands the more skilled out there might be able to fashion these into more bun-looking offerings.

Bake for 15-20 mins until firm.

Now -  be careful to measure out the right amount of bicarb. Don't do as I do, and wing it. You'll end up with, like I did -  a version that has a hint of soap about it. On making them again - I decided that they needed a little something more. I think a dash more cocoa might do the trick -  or adding the cocoa mixed with a little hot water to bring out the flavour. They were very nice, quite firm and delicious with a thin spread of butter. 

A definite victory in this house.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Spying the Neighbours

You will often find me in the comfort of my twitching window. Most other folk would call it the Dining room window. But to me, in this new home of ours, it is the best view of the garden birds. 

Well. Bird

Just the one Blackbird. Whom I have become mildly obsessed with. I have been known to shush the Beard so I can listen to him sing. I keep vigil by the glass, in the hope that he shall come a little closer. I have been laying out treats for him. Like a good version of the witch from Hansel and Gretel

That said, I do want to fatten him up, but not because I want to bake him in a pie of Four and Twenty. I just want him to stay because I love to listen to him. Who am I kidding? I want him to leap up on to my finger so I can play out that scene from Mary Poppins real time. But with an actual Blackbird. Not one masquerading as a Robin.

© Walt Disney Company.

In recent days, I have been introduced to his Mrs who flutters in and rifles about. She reminds me of a stout housewife from the 1940s. A woman who has an endless queue to join, things to darn and a front step to scrub. If I could put a hat and handbag on her, I would. She seems disproving of her husbands choice. I imagine him fretting and trying to convince her:

Mr:"Look darling, look at the ivy, look how green!"

Mrs: "It's dry.There'll be a draft."

Mr: "But here, see, there are apples. And sometimes, mealworms"

Mrs: "They are also dry. And mealy"

Mr:"But, not far to go to the shops, a matter of hops" (laughs to self) "hop to the shops..hop 'n' shop... shoppedy hop...")

Mrs: (raps claws on paving stone)"Are you quite finished? I have to get back to my step. It shan't clean itself.".

She left before I could capture her, but he stuck around looking forlornly at the soft apple I had put out that morning. Like a comic-strip character gazing lovingly at the pint he has had to leave behind on account of needing to get back home.

I don't know the conversation they had back at the roost, but she must have relented, for I have seen them both since on the daily. Nipping in and out of the ivy, chatting and chirruping to one another. Increasingly, there are squarks of alarm as a pesky feline is spotted or, worse, Starlings. Then Mr Blackbird is far from hen-pecked as he puffs himself up to defend his plot of dry ivy and mealworms.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fresh from Bodkin

There are more times than I can count when I am in awe of the creativity that pours forth from people I know through blog reading and Instagram double tapping. In fact, out of all of the social medja type thingys out there, Insta is my go to. I am not a big Pinner, FaceAcher or Tweeter. Hell - of late, I have hardly been a blogger.

But Instagram makes me feel all connected. Connected with people who fill my 'phone with happy. A wee while back I  went a bit gaga over the Miss Marple scarf as featured by the glorious Bodkin Creates. Not only does Hesta run her own crafting workshops in a glorious setting by the sea, she also has the most talented knitting Mum who makes these delicious neck warmers.

They are handmade, right here in the UK and can be your very own for a small sum of £9.50 plus p&p. You can make contact directly through Instagram or you can purchase through Folksy

They are perfect for when the wind doth blow right down your top but you don't want to be bogged down by something more Wintery. Or if you are sitting, like I am now, writing and you just need that something extra to make you feel snug on account of your lack of mobility. Yes, I could stand up and kick out a couple of star jumps -  but, frankly, this scarf looks much nicer.

Perhaps team it with a dress and cardy for that stroll to the post office or to the pub for a cheeky half of cider. Or when your meeting room has the air con set to "mild blizzard" and you can't seem to change it to anything other than "frost".

As if one awesome creative beaut landing on my doorstep was not enough -  I opened it up to find a corking addition. A handmade and authentically 1940's string brooch was included. Not only that, it was in complementary colours. For a cracking £9 -  you will also find these via Folksy.

It made my face do this with excitement: 

That and the sheer cold wind that was howling at me. 
Spring, eh. An unpredictable beastie. 

Made all the more snug by a Miss Marple.

** This is a collaborative post. I was sent these items as a complimentary gift and asked to Instagram them. 
However, they are so rocking, they deserved a post too.


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