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Simnel Cake

At Easter I always make a Simnel cake.

Simnel cakes are often associated with Mothering Sunday also known as Simnel-Sunday. According to historian Ronald Hutton in 17th Century Gloucestershire and Worcestershire the custom of live-in apprentices and domestic servants going home to visit their mothers on Mothering Sunday started, checking that their families were well and taking food or money if needed. This was a time of year when food stocks were low, and the high-calorie simnel cake was useful nutrition. The cake later became simply an Easter cake.

The ingredients are as follows:

  • 175g      light muscavado sugar or soft brown sugar (I also use coconut sugar)
  • 175g      butter softened
  • 175g      self raising flour (I used wholemeal)
  • 3      large free range eggs
  • 2      tablespoons of milk
  • 500g      sultanas,  dried apricots pieces, chopped dates, currants, raisins and dried cranberries
  • 1      teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 2      teaspoon of ground ginger

Preparation:

    1. Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas3
    2. grease  and line the base and sides of an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment
    3. beat the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy
    4. add the eggs one at a time and beat
    5. add the milk
    6. add  the flour and all the dry fruit ingredients and fold in
    7. tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin
    8. place the cake in the oven and bake for 1 3/4 to 2 hours or until golden brown and a skewer or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    9. place the cake on a cooling rack to cool before removing from the tin
    10. decorate  as required (I put marzipan and chocolate eggs on mine)DSC03075

Some people brown the top of the marzipan under the grill but as I have added small chocolate eggs I won’t do that.  There are 11 marzipan balls which traditionally represent the 12 Apostles less Judas.

Not to be eaten until Easter Sunday of course.

Come and share some Simnel cake with us http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Banana Cake, using up ripe bananas

Occasionally we get left with ripe bananas.  Rather than getting rid of them in the compost I make banana cake, and I made one yesterday for our guests. Here is the recipe:-

Ingredients:

125g butter

150g caster sugar (I used light brown caster sugar)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 egg beaten

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

190 self raising flour (I used wholemeal)

60 ml milk

Method:

  1.  Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin. Melt butter, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over a medium heat.DSC02826DSC02827
  2.  Remove from heat and add the mashed bananas, mix well.DSC02829DSC02830
  3.  Add the egg, mix well.DSC02831
  4.  Stir in the flour and the milk.DSC02832
  5.  Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle with a tablespoon of demerara sugar to give a crunch topping if liked.DSC02833DSC02834
  6.  Bake at 170 C / Fan 150 C / Gas 3 for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and enjoy!DSC02841DSC02842Come to Lodge House B&B to taste a slice, all guests welcome. http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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A lovely fruit cake for a 64th Birthday

I made a fruit cake for my hubby for his 64th birthday. DSC02808

Here is the recipe

225g of butter or margarine

225g of castor sugar (I used a mix of light brown and coconut sugar)

4 large free range eggs

225g of self raising flour

1 tsp of mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder

1 tsp of cinnamon powder

1 tsp of baking powder

450g dried mixed fruit (I used sultanas, chopped dates, chopped apricots and cranberries)

Mix the butter and sugar together to form a light fluffy mix. Add the eggs one at a time with a spoon full of flour to stop it curdling.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix slowly not to beat out the air.

Mix in the dried fruit until all is covered. Turn into an 8 inch greased and lined round baking tin and put in the oven at 160 degrees C for one and half hours.  Test to see that it is cooked all the way through, by putting a sharp knife into the middle of the cake and seeing that it comes out clean. If not return to the oven for a further 5 to 10 minutes and test again.

If you are not adding marzipan and icing to the cake you could finish like a Dundee cake by putting sliced almonds on the top of the cake mix before putting in the oven.

Result = Delicious and yummy!!DSC02802

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Making Blackberry Gin

Having a bumper crop of blackberries this year, and having already made jam and stewed up lots for crumbles and pies in the Winter, I was thinking what else could I do with them?  Then I thought what about Blackberry Gin?  I researched on line for a recipe but there were lots of contradicting quantities so in the end I sort of made up my own from a combination of a couple of different recipes.

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First you need to wash the blackberries well, as flies are definitely attracted to them. Place the washed blackberries into a demi john. I had lots so I used 1 kilo of fruit.

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Next add the sugar, just ordinary granulated or caster will do.  I used 300g.

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Add the gin, I used 2 x 70cl bottles (the cheap stuff from Lidl).

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Add 3 dessert spoons of lemon juice.

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Then give is all a good shake.

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The gin immediately took on the colour of the blackberries, so after the 3 months infusing it, it will be dark and glorious.  Just ready in time for Christmas!! The French call it Crème de Mure.

Want to try some?  Come and visit or stay with us at Lodge House B&B. http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Making Rhubarb Gin

DSC01378For this recipe you will need:

a bottle of cheap gin 700ml

400g of chopped rhubarb

400g of castor or granulated sugar

juice of one lemon

To make the rhubarb gin, first pick or buy enough rhubarb. Then chop the leaves off and discard, and chop the stems into inch long pieces and wash.

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Add to a clean glass jar or demijohn, together with 400g of sugar.

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Then add the gin

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and finally the lemon juice.

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Give it all a big swish round

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Keep in a cool and dark place for 2 weeks

Then strain the rhubarb off and you are left with lovely pink rhubarb gin.

Already in just an hour the gin has started to turn pink.

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You can then make a G&T in the normal way or add a little rhubarb gin to champagne for some extra fizz.  Enjoy!!

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

 

 

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Making plum gin

The first thing to do is pick your plums and sort out those that are ripe.  We have a Victoria plum tree so we always use those.

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Destalk them and wash them, then prick them all over with a knife.

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Weigh them, you need at least 500g fruit to every 70 cl bottle of gin and 250g of caster sugar.  I made double and put in a few extra plums for good measure.  Add these to a suitable container such as a wide neck large jar.DSC00458

Next weigh and add the sugar.

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Then add 4 drops of vanilla essence per 70 cl of gin.

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Add the gin (I used 2 x 70 cl bottles of Lidl gin, nothing posh!!)

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Then put the lid on and give it a good shake.  Shake every day for a week, then every week for a month, then just every now and again.

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Leave to marinate for approx. 4 months.  If you make it now it should be ready for Xmas.

You can use the same basic recipe for sloe gin or damson gin.  With sloes you need to put them in the freezer for a couple of days first to imitate frost, then follow the same steps as above in the same quantities.  Whatever fruit you use it turns out delicious!!  Much to be recommended.

http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Lavender Gin

This year we thought we would try making Lavender Gin.  Firstly find your lovely bush of lavender flowers and cut 20 unsprayed heads for a 70 cl bottle of gin.

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Dry the heads on a sheet of kitchen paper for approx. 10 days

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Then add to the gin bottle and allow to macerate for 14 days.

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To make Lavender Gin cup you then pour approx. 50 ml of lavender gin into a tall tumbler containing ice and top up with old fashioned cloudy lemonade, adding a few drops of lemon juice to taste.  Serve with a stalk of lavender. Very refreshing!!

Want to try some?  come to Lodge House B&B   http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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