FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT GRANDMA’S APRON..

The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that,it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven. It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears. When company came,those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.. And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms. Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove. Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron. From the garden,it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the Autumn, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees. When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds. When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, to tell us it was time to come in for dinner. It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes. Grandma would also set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters now set theirs on the window sill to thaw. They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

11 TIPS ON USING EGGS IN YOUR BAKING…

1. If you add a beaten egg slowly to your batter mix it prevents the batter from becoming too stiff.

2. Always use eggs at room temperature when baking with them.

3. Eggs will whip more easily if left for 10 minutes in cold water before breaking.

4. Place the egg in a bowl of water, if it sinks and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it sinks and stands large-end up, it’s on the turn so use within a couple of days. If it floats, bin it, as it’s gone off.

5. If you weigh four whole eggs in their shells, then whatever the weight is, that’s how much each of flour, sugar and butter you should add. This will ensure an delicious cake every time.

6. If you’re making soft meringue for a pie topping, say, for our Classic Lemon Meringue Pie, add a teaspoon of cornflour to your sugar. It’ll aid in absorbing any extra water the sugar will attract.

7. To make sure the essence you use adds flavour to the whole cake, mix it into the egg before adding the egg to the mixture.

8. Eggs will stay fresher longer if you store them pointed end down.

9. If you forgot to get your eggs out for baking then just pop them into a bowl and cover with hot water. Take them out after a couple of minutes and use for baking as normal.

10. To separate eggs for baking, tap the shell against the side of a mixing bowl to crack, then break open, letting the white run out into the bowl and holding the yolk in one half of shell. Tip the yolk backwards and forwards from shell to shell to let all the white run into the bowl.

11. When you’re making sponge cakes, beat the eggs together in a jug and add to the butter and sugar mixture gradually, whisking well between additions. If the mixture looks like it’s going to curdle, add a spoonful of the weighed flour and beat again until smooth.

CRAFT WORKSHOP ON FARM IN COUNTY CAVAN, IRELAND…

On a regular basis Sandra Coote demonstrates craft and baking workshops on Facebook almost every day from her farm in County Cavan, Ireland.

Hundreds of people check in to follow Sandra making crafts or baking cakes. Anyone watching can type in questions and Sandra would reply in the video.

Facebook Live is not new but just being used a lot more during the lock down. Sandra likes to keep it easy and make doable and recently made a coffee Swiss role ( yummy). At the same time Sandra had posted on the Facebook page about their oldest cow in the herd who had delivered twins and was going live to meet them later.

At the moment there are a number of demos going around non crafts and baking but I have to say watching Sandra in her craft or baking mode it’s always great to watch and with the added birth of the twins it’s a great watch.

10 TIPS ON BAKING THE BEST FRUIT CAKE…

1. For a really moist fruitcake, use marmalade instead of candied peel.

2. Always soak your dried fruit overnight and for extra flavour soak the fruit in apple or orange juice or marinate in your favourite liqueur (brandy) for three days, stirring it every 12 hours.

3. If you are adding dried fruit then it should be plump and soft, if it has gone horrible and hard, then soak in hot water for a few minutes before adding it to your mixture

4. For an extra rich, tasty fruitcake, use cold coffee instead of milk.

5. For a moist fruitcake with extra flavour, grate a cooking apple into the mixture.

6. For a moister fruitcake in electric ovens or Agars, place a dish of water on the floor of the oven when baking.

7. Always cool fruitcakes for 10 to 15 minutes on a rack in the dish in which they were baked. Then turn them onto the rack and carefully peel off the paper.

8. Fruitcakes freeze very well; however, they must be aged for at least a few weeks before freezing, as they do not mellow and ripen while they are frozen.

9. To keep the calories down grate an orange and only use half the sugar.

10. Completely dust the fruit and nuts with flour so they don’t fall to the bottom of the batter while baking. Shake off excess before incorporating into the recipe.

FLOUR THAT’S GLUTEN AND WHEAT FREE…

With so many of us suffering with gluten and wheat intolerances but still wanting to bake it was great to see flour without either.

Oast to Host has solved this problem with its two new flour blends Cake and Pastry. They have been expertly blended to give you light and fluffy cakes and crisp pastry. They contain a little dried egg albumen, which helps with the texture of the bakes.

They start at Cake Flour £4 for 450g for 2 available online at Oast to Host. And the Pastry Flour £9 for 2 x 450g.

This wonderfully versatile flour allows you to make your favourite: CAKE/cup cakes, SCONES, BLINIS, STEAMED PUDDINGS & BISCUITS.  Everyone will be coming back for more!  Each 225g recipe will make a generous 8″ Cake. 

You can make anything from Lemon Drizzle, Coffee and Walnut, Chocolate, Battenburg or Carrot Cake!  Our new in-house favourite is Earl Grey Cake using real tea leaves! 

See how easy it is to make this delicious subtly perfumed sponge cake by watching their video. They have lots of recipes on the website.

ESCAPE FOR A FEW HOURS IN ROSIE’S TRAVELLING TEA SHOP…

Although this amazing book “Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop” by Rebecca Raisin is not actually a proper tea shop but the title for a book I just had to pop it on here for others to enjoy. The story is all about Rosie who has a swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.

That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair.

Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.

Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?

There is just so much to love about this story that I actually could not put it down and read it over two days. My hubby could hear me laughing out loud at parts of the book. Its a real uplifting story and something we could all enjoy reading at the moment. I bought mine from Amazon as I am a big Kindle reader but I am sure is available in other good book shops.

3 GREAT PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO DURING MAY…

With us all spending lots more time at home and indoors I’m sure I am not the only one who has listened to lots more Podcasts over the last six weeks. My top three choice for you to enjoy are.

1. Cook The Perfect available on BBC Sounds and Apple Stitcher is hosted by Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey in 10 minute Podcasts to inspire you. They have guests who are experts on the lowdown on making tasty dishes and one I loved was on Thursday 2nd April with Regula Ysewijn with Aunty Betty’s Gingerbread which is to absolutely die for.

2. On Player FM they have Flour Hour Baking Podcast a podcast completely dedicated to baking. Co-hosted by bakers Amanda Faber and Jeremiah Duarte Bills, Flour Hour features interviews with baking professionals, amateurs and enthusiasts. Topics cover all types of baking and the food stories that inspire culture, creativity and humanity. Episode 54 is Baking In The Time of Corona which is very apt. They discuss how they are coping with the new reality, resrouces, favorite books, substitutions and more. You can download the Player FM app free on App Store and Google Play.

3. Another great one on Player FM is Preheated which is full of kitchen wisdom and friendly chat from two friends who love to bake. Episode 174 is Donut Life and a bumper final episode of Sweet & Sour Month! The hosts are intrigued by a sour-cream pie crust, and Stefin’s finally tackled homemade milk kefir using freeze-dried starter (reminding Andrea of cowboy sourdough). In this week’s review, the duo dodge numerous frustrations to declare Shauna Sever’s Donut Loaf a huge, powdered-sugar-covered win. And who can resist the month’s final bake-along? Emma Christensen’s Buttermilk Quick Bread with an astonishing 10 variations, that uses your choice of fat, flour, and sweet or savory add-ins. Finally, the duo take a Dairy Deep Dive into the history behind some of this month’s tangy ingredients.

Bake along with Stefin and Andrea in their baking Facebook group, Preheated Baking Podcast Listeners. You can find links to recipes on their baking website www.preheatedpodcast.com, or follow the hosts on Twitter and Instagram, using handle preheatedpod.

A TOUCH OF CINNAMON FOR TASTE AND TO HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS…

Cinnamon is a great addition to your diet as it lowers blood sugar levels. They suggest you only have one teaspoon to help lower your blood sugar level.

Cinnamon is a popular spice, especially for baked goods and desserts. Aside from its distinctive aroma, cinnamon is believed to help lower the blood sugar level, making it suitable for obese patients who are at higher risk of diabetes. However, consumption should be limited to one teaspoon per day, as excessive amounts can result in liver problems.

Very Well Fit says that Cinnamon has been used in the medical arena for thousands of years. Europeans in the Middle Ages mixed cinnamon with meat as a preservative and sixth-century Greeks prescribed cinnamon to help with indigestion and other ailments. But today we’re talking about the popular claims regarding cinnamon as a weight-loss aid. A little cinnamon adds a lot of flavour to food for minimal calories, and that’s always a good thing when it comes to your diet. An entire teaspoon has just six calories and about 2g carbs, plus a little more than a gram of fiber.3 Cinnamon can also enhance the sweetness in your food, which means less need for sugar or other sweeteners.

So, why not add a sprinkle to your oatmeal or over fruit especially for crumbles as it goes with any fruit. You could try adding some to low far greek yoghurt or when making a chilly.