Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Winds of Change

Can you feel it in the air? That change that is coming our way. I hold out hope for one more blast from the golden orb -  but if not -  I am happy that we had a sun-shiney summer this year. Granted, there have been some kick-ass downpours and heavy ol' thunder -  but for the most part it has been awesome.

And now, we head off into Autumn. It might be a little early, but there is a certain chill in the air. It never fails to transport me back in time, when a new term of school was just about to start and there was so much stationary to be had. I am a stationary fiend. Which is interesting how little writing with a pen I do these days. I have to change that. There are some pen-pals of mine around this here globe that have not heard from me in a good long while. For shame.

I love Autumn, a time of new beginnings , the harvest not far away and the subtle winding down of the year. It makes me ponder and dream about what may lay ahead for me and The Beard.

Since Summer Solstice, I have been getting back in touch with the Witch'ed one inside of me, the one who used to be an every day reflection, the one who used to look for signs in birds and the flowers.

She has never really been all that far behind me, but took a bit of a back-seat as I embraced dressing a little more retro. I am enjoying the fact that she is making herself known. 

I know that I am on the right path -  I can just feel it. It is always nice to have an affirmation though - this week in the finding of not one but eleven Hag/Adder Stones whilst visiting friends on the coast. 

Not looking for them -  literally stumbling over them whilst strolling on the beach.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

WW1 Bakery ~ Trench Cake

I have been dabbling with historical baking and bringing it to the blog for a wee while now with a small selection of tried and tested recipes to be found here,here & here. However. I am expanding this area of LandGirl1980 and hoping to bring you a weekly bake. 

How very exciting!

I have a whole host of cakery to share with you from World War Two, but for today I am going a little further back.

Trench Cake is something that has often intrigued me. How did it survive being wrapped in paper and string to then traversing the Channel and the front line, until landing with a hungry recipient? Did it make the soldier grateful to be able to fill a hole in their stomachs or  to plug up a dug out? Is it something that my own G-Grandmother made, with each of her 3 children taking turns to stir the mixture, before baking, packaging it up and sending if off to find Gramps?

And what did it actually taste like?

Well -  thanks to a recent post over on Crinoline Robot and the search it sent me on to find the recipe, some of these questions can now be answered.

225g plain flour
120g margerine
90g brown sugar
90g currants/raisins
1/4 pint milk
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tbsp lemon rind

  • Preheat oven to 350F / 180C / GM4 Grease and/or line an 8" cake tin
  • Rub together the margarine and flour (just like making a crumble topping)
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients - but not the bicarb
  • Mix together the milk, vinegar and bicarb
  • Add to bowl and mix well
  • Pour into tin and bake for 1hr 15 mins, or until knife comes out clean
  • Remove from tin once slightly cooled and then allow to cool completely

Now then, this cake is very dense and heavy. It could be used as a doorstop. But, do not be tempted to waste it on such a venture. I recommend you make a nice cup of tea and cut yourself a small slice. No spoon or fork will be needed. It holds form whilst you munch and a little goes a long way.

Taste wise, I thought it was pretty darn good. Somewhere between a currant bun and a drier piece of bread pudding. I can imagine that this would have made a cold and damp soldier very happy as he hunkered down to read a letter and tuck in.

You could always vary the ingredients slightly to suit your tastes, I am sure that many women may have done the same. Perhaps there were those that felt flush and decided to swap out the spices for just more cocoa? Or currants for candied peel? 

I really enjoyed making this cake, I have to say. I found myself thinking about the women that would have made this before me,  packing it off to the front. And there is always something delicious about rubbing marg into flour. 

Or is that just me?

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

WW2 Bakery ~ Date and Marmalade Cake

There is little I love more than dipping into some old recipe books and hauling out something tasty sounding to give a try. I like looking in the cupboard and trying to find something to mix up and plop in the oven made from what I have. Modern baking can sometimes make this hard. 

However, when it comes to cookery Second World War style, less is usually more. Marguerite Pattern and the Ministry of Food team came up with some pretty darn yumsome treats when rations were in full swing.

Case in point Date & Marmalade Cake.

The Recipe
50g margerine (or butter)
50g sugar
3 tbsp orange marmalade
4-5 drops orange essence
100g dates, chopped finely
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
4 tbsp milk (or water)
Half tsp bicarb of soda
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 160C / (325F) / GM 3
  • Grease and flour a 18 x 10 loaf tin (or whatever you have - this could be made in a round tin too)
  • Over a low heat, place the fat, sugar, orange essence & marmalade into a saucepan and slowly melt together.
  • Whilst melting, chop the dates.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the chopped dates. Allow to stand for 15 mins.
  • Sift together the flour & ground ginger
  • Add the cooled mixture to the dried ingredients and stir.
  • Pour the milk into the pan and stir to grab any of the remaining mixture, add the bicarb, stir & then add to the bowl.
  • Finally, add the egg and beat well.
  • Pour into prepared tin and bake for about 50 mins or until firm.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for at least 15 mins, turn out, cool completely and...
  • EAT!

The result from the  is a cake that is great with a cup of tea in the afternoon or as a snack on the go first thing in the morning. It's not too sweet and not too plain. Goldilocks would approve. It is fairly light and lasts for up to a week in an airtight container.  You can cut it pretty thinly and make it stretch all the further.

The thing that really I love about this cake is that you can make it from anything that you have to hand. There is a identical recipe in the Victory Cookbook that replaces the marmalade with golden syrup. You could swap out the fruit -  I am liking the idea of dried apple or maybe apricots? - or the spice and really experiment.

Or just cut yourself a wodge of this one and smother it in marmalade. Tres nice.

Or so I've heard.
*Adapted from The Victory Cookbook


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