Right about now, me and Hungry Hubby are taking a special holiday to celebrate me finally finishing my training! It’s been 17 years but I’m done, no longer a junior doctor, although I’ll witter on more about that in my soon-to-be resurrected newsletter. In the meantime, if you want us, you’ll find us on a tropical beach in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the Hungry One under a brolly trying not to go from ginger to lobster in nought to 60, and me with a mojito in one hand, Kindle in the other. Ahhh, that’s the life.
To keep you company whilst I’m away, my lovely, lovely friend Tracy has agreed to be a guest blogger for me and I think you are just going to love her. Tracy doesn’t actually have her own website, instead she shares her work on Facebook and Instagram. She goes by the name Sweet Cinnamon Spice and right from the moment I discovered her work, I’ve been in love with her style. She never posts a photo which isn’t beautifully lit, thoughtfully composed and styled with vintage china from her mother and grandmother. She is a traditional baker and her recipes are family heirlooms. Everything she creates are bakes I’d personally love to eat and I am so excited to share her first ever blog post here! Perhaps if you love her work as much as I do, you can convince her to start her very own blog in the near future 😉 ….
I’ll be back soon with plenty of recipes but for now, let’s hear it from Tracy. She’s going to talk you through one of her favourite ingredients which both me and Hungry Hubby also adore, fortunately enough 😉 Her gorgeous recipe is at the end of the post, just like normal 😀
Childhood Memories – Almond
Funny story, when my Mum and Dad married in 1958 my Mum had never baked. She decided to try her hand at an apple pie and after slaving away she very proudly presented it my Dad. After eating said pie he, very untactfully, turned around and said “it’s not as good as my Mum’s”. The result was the pie ending up in his face and he very quickly learned never to say such a thing again. After this small blip she very quickly discovered a love of baking and became extremely adventurous for the time. I can remember a childhood filled with cream horns, custard slices, Victoria sponges and chocolate eclairs. Sunday lunch wasn’t Sunday lunch without a steamed sponge pudding, crumble or rice pudding. However we all hated it when she discovered baked Alaska, the fact that you could put ice cream in the oven blew her mind so much we ended up having Arctic roll covered in meringue for weeks on end. Needless to say I had a fantastic childhood and it is where my love of baking stemmed from.
Everyone who knows me knows I adore almond. One taste and I am transported back to Christmases with Mum making her own almond paste for the Christmas cake. We always had a tradition in our family which goes back at least 4 generations and possibly longer, when all the fruit is weighed out each child in the family take a turn to stir and make a wish, then the cake is cut into on Christmas Eve and the first slice is always left for Father Christmas. I still do this now with my son and I even use the spoon which belonged to my Nan, who would have been over 100 years old now. My Mum would always put about a 2” wedge of almond paste on the top of our cake because I loved it so much. Good old Mum.
I can remember Mum making a very traditional Battenberg cake which remains one of my favourites today. I got very excited a while back and treated myself to a Battenberg tin which does make life a lot easier. One of the best bits about making a Battenberg is you get to eat all the cut offs and there are some quite serious fights over them in my house. Funnily enough I always seem to win though.
Sunday lunch always finished with a traditional pudding and custard. My brother and me would always fight over which flavour it would be. He always wanted chocolate, and with him being quite a bit older than me, he usually won. My favourite is a moist almond sponge topped with cherry jam. Heaven on a plate. I usually take the hassle out of making a steamed pudding by using lidded basins, wrapping them in tin foil and popping them in my slow cooker for a few hours on high.
Nothing beats a lovely warm scone fresh from the oven. Even though I do love a plain or fruit one with loads of jam and clotted cream my all-time favourite is cherry and almond. I love the debate on how this word is pronounced. As I am from the North of England we say sc-on. I am very lucky to live on the Solway coast, this means I am right on the edge of the beautiful Lake District and less than 5 minutes drive from several glorious beaches. Just along the coast is a lovely local farm which is a tourist attraction. There you can feed and pet the animals as well as other fun activities but best of all is the most divine tearoom you will ever find. Everything is homemade and served on traditional china. On one visit I asked how they made their scones do beautifully and I was told the secret is to make your mixture quite wet and after trying it out I discovered it definitely works. I have to say as well I am a jam first girl.
Now you cannot leave out Frangipane. It is my idea of complete and total heaven. I love to make Bakewell in several forms, large tarts, small individual tarts, slices and tray bakes. The variations are endless. Top with just flakes almonds or with icing and cherries it always looks to appealing.
And finally you cannot miss out Macarons. Notoriously difficult to make but like eating little wisps of delight that just melt in the mouth. I have only made these a few times but, my word, they are worth it. Every stage has to be done correctly with total precision so they do take a bit of practice.
Well after all that talk about scones I thought it was only right to give you my recipe for the perfect Cherry & Almond Scone.
- 8 oz self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 oz butter
- 1 oz caster sugar
- 2 oz glacé cherries
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 egg
- Enough milk to make it up to 5floz
Wash, dry and quarter your cherries.
Rub together your flour, baking powder, butter and caster sugar. Add the cherries and stir together.
Beat your egg, add your almond extract and make up to 5floz with semi skimmed or whole milk. Add to the rubbed in mixture and very lightly bring together.
Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to about 2cm thick and cut into rounds.
Brush the tops with milk or egg and bake at 220°c for 12 minutes.
Enjoy warm with butter and a cup of tea served in your favourite china
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