Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Sibyl's biscuit tin

I've been thinking lately about how baking has changed over the years. Biscuits, cakes and slices have become more complex with exotic combination and quick mix instructions. Growing up we lived next door to an elderly lady who treated us kids like family. She was an amazing woman who tended large gardens on her own, had chickens, crafted and could bake up a storm. Her baking was amazing and i have many fond memories of going to her house for tea and cake. Whenever i would show up at the door, which was probably quite often! she always had multiple tins of baking in the pantry. There was never one choice but always a selection of goodies which she would serve out on china plates.

Now Syb"s baking was amazing for a few very good reasons, it was always fresh, moist and melted in your mouth. This was probably due to the fact she would do all her baking with butter and lard and she baked everything in a coal range stove.

As nice as many modern recipes are i just don't always have pomegranates, vanilla bean pods or dried cherries in the cupboards. But i do always have flour, sugar, butter, eggs and milk. So i've decided to embark on a little journey through some classic baking recipes and techniques. Each week i'll be baking a different classic from old recipe books or family recipes and posting them here for you to see. I'm also going to look at how different simple baking techniques affect baking results.

So to start off - Honey, Raisin cakes from the Aunt Daisy cookbook.

Honey raisin cakes

60g butter
60g honey
1 egg
85g flour
1/2 t baking powder
1 dessertspoon milk
60g raisins

Cream the butter and honey together until smooth and creamy.
Add egg and mix in well.
Add dry ingredients and mix together.
Cook in patty pans (i used a mini muffin tray) for about 15mins at 180 degrees C.

Makes 16 mini muffin sized cakes

Mummy - this is a moist but dense cake, i loved the honey and raisin mix, this is a very familiar flavour. Nice to have a small piece with a cup of tea. Plain but nice. 3/5

Baby - smiles - its cake, he's happy. Inspect cake, take bite. Harder than expected. Take bigger bite with more gusto. Yum raisins. Cake destroyed and mostly eaten. 4/5

The technique of creaming butter and sugar (or in this case honey) is a common one in recipes and i've often wondered at its purpose. I'll admit to being too impatient at times and just melting the butter and mixing it in. So what is creaming and why bother.

Creaming is a mixing technique to blend 2 ingredients together which wouldn't usually blend easily - creating an emulsion.

- Apparently during creaming air bubbles are made in the fat making it fluffier. This adds to the volume of the mixture and acts like a leavening agent to help baking rise. So this helps to make your baking lighter.
- Melting the butter before mixing it with the sugar can result in baking which is more dense and heavy. 

Good to know maybe i'll be a little less impatient now.....

If you're interested this website has good instructions on how to cream, 

I hope you will join me each Tuesday for a new recipe. Have a great week.

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