It might be mid-November, but the flowers are still blooming.
Here’s another recipe I pulled out of a magazine over a year ago with a view to making and sharing on the blog. Parkin cake is, apparently, a tradition in the North of England and not the South, where we live—which may explain why I’d never heard of it before. It dates back to about 1728 and is associated with Guy Fawkes night, or bonfire night, when Brits celebrate the man who tried to bring down the government by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. He failed and was hung, drawn, and quartered. Ouch.
Parkin cake was known as the cake of the poor, because it used oats—the staple grain of the poor—as one of its main ingredients and was traditionally made in early November, after the oats were harvested, which is probably why it became associated with bonfire night, the 5th of November. Essentially, it’s a gingerbread with oatmeal in it and makes a tasty snack on a cold autumn night.
100g / 4 oz / .5 cup butter
100g / 4 oz / .5 cup soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp black treacle/molasses
4 tbsp golden syrup/corn syrup
225 g / 8 oz / 2.5 cups oatmeal
100 g / 4 oz / 7/8 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 beaten eggs
2 tbsp milk
- Preheat oven to gas mark 2/ 150°C / 130°C fan / 300°F.
- Melt butter, brown sugar, black treacle/molasses and 4 tbsp golden syrup/corn syrup in a pan over low heat.
- Let the butter and molasses mixture cool a little, then stir it into a bowl with the oatmeal, self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, pinch of salt and ground ginger.
- Mix in the eggs and milk. Spoon into a greased and lined 20.5cm/8 in square cake pan and bake for about 1 to 1.5 hours, until golden.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin, then turn out. Wrap well in greaseproof/waxed paper and store in a container for up to three days.
I pulled this recipe out of a magazine months ago, planning to use it for #TastyTuesday. As I write this, the cake is cooling on the cooling rack and I am feeling very, very hungry and hoping it lives up to its wonderful aroma.
Battenberg cake is known for the pink and white checkerboard pattern of its interior. Apparently it has also been known in the past as Church Window Cake, Neapolitan Roll and Domino Cake. Sources say that it was called “Battenberg Cake” to honor the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to Prince Louis of Battenberg, Germany. Battenberg is the family seat of the aristocratic Mountbatten family, which has close ties to today’s royal family. Those ties deserve their own book (or two) and more time, energy and interest than I personally have—and that history isn’t really relevant to this particular cake anyway. Whether you like history or not, this cake is worth a try.
200g/ 7 oz/ 1.75 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
200 g/ 7 oz/ .75 cup +1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
200 g/ 7 oz / 1.75 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 level tsp baking powder
3/4 x 10 g tube pink food color gel (this is a tricky one to convert–if you have food color gel, great. If not, use food coloring to make the batter a nice pinky-rose color)
115 g/ 3.75 oz/ 7.5 tablespoons apricot jam*
icing sugar, for dusting
1 x 500g pack natural marzipan (about 1 pound)**
* This would be equally delicious with raspberry or strawberry jam.
** I am not fond of marzipan, so I used regular white icing in its place.
- Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 180°C, 160°C fan, 350°F. Grease 2 loaf tins and line with baking paper.
- Beat the butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well, then fold in the flour and baking powder. Transfer the mixture to a bowl on some kitchen scales, then weight out half and color with the pink gel/food coloring.
- Transfer the batter to the baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- When cool, trim the sides and top and cut each cake in half lengthwise. Use the jam to stick the long edge of one pink slice to one white slice. Spread the top of these with jam and place the other two cake halves on top, spreading the top with jam as well. (Note: because I didn’t use marzipan, I didn’t spread the top with jam—too messy.)
- If you are using marzipan, take a large rectangle of greaseproof/waxed paper/baking parchment and dust it with icing sugar. Roll out the marzipan onto the rectangle and then place the cake, jam side down, against the short edge of the marzipan. Brush the other sides of the cake with more jam and roll the cake in the marzipan. (You don’t put the marzipan on the ends, just around the length of the cake.) Dust with icing sugar before serving.
And that, my friends, is a Battenberg cake. Enjoy!
PS: It was delicious.
I’ve promised you more photos from our Crete summer holiday–and finally, here they are. I made this video using an app from RealTimes—a great app I received for free when I attended the BritMums Live blogging conference in June. The folks at RealTimes gave me a free, unlimited cloud storage account (an £80 value) that gives me unlimited photo and video storage, the ability to make videos (and photo albums) from my photos, with music, and share them easily. The app will even create the videos for you by collecting images it thinks belong together, so it’s a real no-brainer way to make great videos without much effort. You can edit the videos, add music to the video from their offerings or add your own. I’ve only just begun exploring what they offer, but for the somewhat technically challenged individual (me!) who doesn’t have a lot of spare time, I’ve got to say I really like it.
Why have I told you all of that? Well, because I’ve got one Unlimited RealTimes account to give away to you, dear reader. (And I’m going to be upgrading my site soon so I can more easily post videos and giveaways, and in the spirit of a general upgrade/improvement… so stay tuned.)
Click on the link below, watch the video, let me know what you think, then come back and enter the giveaway!
To enter the giveaway, click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/39251cfe2/?
Any Brits reading this blog will be familiar with rock cakes—and I have to admit the first time I heard of them, many years ago, I didn’t think they sounded particularly appetizing. And indeed, they can turn into the consistency of rock if you leave them in a tin and forget about them for a few days. They are also sometimes called rock buns and are apparently a favorite with children, who traditionally have them with their “tea,” or evening meal, my online research tells me. They are also, allegedly, Harry Potter’s favorite tea time treat. The recipe became popular in WWII, when it was an economical treat usually made with oatmeal rather than flour, as it was more readily available.
Makes approximately 15
2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
4 ounces softened butter
1 cup currants
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat the oven to 350°C/180°F.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the currants, eggs and milk, mixing to form a stiff batter.
3. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter onto a well-greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown in color–about 15 minutes.