February can be a tricky month for many...I am very happy to go with the seasons and accept them for what they are, but February can be bitter and can drag with increasing feelings of desperation for some signs of spring and sunshine. Slowly we begin to emerge from our winter hibernation searching for green shoots, signs of life, the sound of chatting birds in the trees and longer days.But at the same time, we still need nourishment, warmth, simple sustenance and to protect ourselves from bugs, germs & illness. Food, for me at this time of year, has to be simple but hearty, easy but comforting and interesting so that I can resist turning to treats that I don't need. A couple of weeks ago a re discovered my great Aunt in Law's hand written recipe books. A woman ahead of her time, she ran a bakery & shop for many years and lived until she was 95. The books are delicate and hand written in pencil with comforting splashes and notes in the margins. They include recipes like Queen Fancies, Savoys, Best Slab Parkin, Lemon Snow, Chorley Cake and Lemington Buns. There are several recipes with lovely vintage terms like "gills of syrup" and "shortening". The books date back to the 1930's and 40's and display a frugal wisdom, producing great food on a budget and accounting for shortages. As we all try to make our food go further while enjoying a make do & mend, vintage feel, I wanted to share some of the best recipes with you. Here is one to start you off...
This egg free cake stores brilliantly and can bee eaten with a cup of tea or served with some warm custard for a quick pudding on a Sunday.
1/2oz bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 wineglass of vinegar
This cake can be made in any shape tin and some use a German bundt tin but I use a loaf tin. Rub the fat and flour together with the tips of your fingers as you would for pastry. Then add the sugar, bicarb, fruit and spice and mix through with a blunt knife. Mix the dry ingredients with vinegar and milk until you have a dough and fill the buttered tin. Auntie Wynne was unclear about how long to bake for, but I have found that about 40 minutes at 180C or Gas 5 works fine.