Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Alayne's Tiesen Lap

There are any number of Tiesen Lap recipes; just like Bara Brith - there are as many recipes as there are families in Wales!  This recipe comes from a book my cousin inherited from our Grandmother.  The original was a little dry for my taste so I’ve tweaked it a few times to make it even better!  It reminds me very much of a big Welsh Cake.

For the past several months I've been using duck eggs almost exclusively for baking and they really do make a huge difference.  My friend tells me that it's the fat content in the yolk - whatever it is, it's well worth looking for them to try, if only once or twice.

Grease and line an 8” diameter cake tin (approx. 20cm)

You will need :
220g self raising flour
1tsp mixed spice
60g each butter and lard, cut into small pieces
90g caster sugar
120g mixed fruit (sultanas and raisins)
2 large eggs
150ml milk
Caster sugar for dredging

Combine the flour, spice, sugar and fats in a mixing bowl and beat together to form a breadcrumb consistency.  Add the dried fruit, then the eggs and the milk and bring together to form a good thick batter.

Turn into the lined cake tin and bake in a medium oven for 35-45 minutes – until a skewer comes out clean.  I cooked mine at 180oC (350oF / gas mark 4) for 45 minutes.

If you use a springform tin and cake tin cases, you can loosen the tin as soon as the cake comes out of the oven, loosen the paper slightly and dredge the still hot cake with caster sugar.  Leave to cool completely before slicing and serving with a nice cup of tea!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Blackberry Jam

There’s something deeply satisfying about making blackberry jam.  It might be that (for me) it’s one of the last truly seasonal foods, so it reminds me of those long ago summers when my lovely Nan used to send us out blackberrying for tarts and crumbles.  Back in the 70’s when all summers were wall to wall sunshine and not a drop of rain fell.  Well, not in my memories anyway!

Making jam is so easy, and so straightforward that it seems a shame not to make at least one batch.  There really isn’t anything to it, and it only takes 20 – 30 minutes from start to finish.  The recipe and method below applies to all fruits, those very low in pectin (strawberries and apricots) benefit from the addition of the juice of a lemon.

Prepare by sterilising your jars, I use Milton baby bottle sterilising fluid, and pop a few small plates or saucers in the freezer.

While the jars are sterilising prepare your fruit – the blackberries will have ideally had a good long soak in salt water to draw out any ‘visitors’ and then been rinsed very well to make sure the salt is washed off.

I have found that the actual quantity of jam produced differs according to the fruit used, but 700g of fruit will usually yield somewhere between 3-4 250ml jars of jam.  I sterilise 6 just to be on the safe side.

For every 100g of fruit you use, you need 100g of jam (or preserving) sugar.  The bags are very helpful and tell you which fruits they are best suited to.  I usually use jam sugar.

Pop your rinsed fruit into a pan with the sugar and a drop of water (about a tablespoon or so) and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, stirring fairly frequently – you can see when the sugar has dissolved on the back of your wooden spoon and around the sides of the pan.  Once all the sugar has dissolved bring the contents of the pan up to a full rolling boil and time it for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to stop it catching.  Some jams will come to a ‘set’ quicker than others, those with high pectin set much sooner than low pectin fruits.  You will quickly learn when they are approaching setting point as the juices on the back of your wooden spoon thicken.

To test for a set take the plates out of the freezer and drop a small amount of jam on one, leave it for a few moments and then push with your little finger, it will wrinkle when it is ready.  Then turn out the heat and leave the jam to settle for a few moments while you assemble your jars and funnel ready for filling.

Once filled, tighten the lids of the jars straight away and leave until cool before labelling.

Knitted Cable Tea Cosy

This is a very simple cable pattern, very easy to follow and simple enough for a novice – this was my first attempt at cable and it really and truly is easy!  Because the wool is so very thick it will knit up in no time.

The pattern given is for a square which should suit most sized teapots.  I tucked the corners in to give it a more ‘shaped’ finish.

You will need

1 x 170g ball Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn, I used Oatmeal colour.

1 pair of size 9mm needles

1 large chunky button or toggle to decorate

1 cable needle (or broken bit of needle, the pointy end!)

The pattern is a simple six row repeat :

Cast on 24 stitches
Rows 1 and 3 :        K6 p2 k8 p2 k6
Rows 2 and 4 :        k8 p8 k8
Row 5 :                   k6 p2 c4f c4b p2 k6 *
Row 6 :                   as row 2

*c4f - To make the forward cable slip two stitches onto the cable needle and push to the front of the knitting, knit the next two stitches and then knit the two from the cable needle back onto the main needle.  Then, to c4b slip two more stitches onto the cable needle and push to the back of the knitting, knit the next two stitches and then the two from the cable needle back onto the main needle – and this is all there is to it!

Repeat the pattern five times and then cast off.

Sew up the side seams leaving enough of a gap for the handle and spout, sew up the top seams and finish off with a large chunky button, or toggle.