Initially I had no plans to blog this as it’s not from a book, but after live-tweeting its assembly I thought I might as well. I remember my mother being given some of this starter about 25 years ago and I (who didn’t have to stir it daily or move it when doing other things in the kitchen), loved the resulting cake. The internet seems a little conflicted as to the origins – certainly Amish Friendship Bread is very similar.
Anyway, I was very pleased when a friend gave me some Herman starter in a yoghurt pot, in a Liberty’s bag, along with the strict advice that it was Day 3, and a piece of paper stating:
A recipe I decided to try while working at home on Friday and thus without access to the tin of ginger nuts and digestives which lurks in the office kitchen. (From ‘Cookies and Biscuits’ in the Good Housekeeping Institute’s Cookery Compendium, Waverly 1955)
I love a brownie, as recently discussed, so was excited to try this recipe.Hilariously, the Betty Crocker cookbook contains a mixture of proper recipes made from ingredients and entries like ‘Angel Cake: One box of Betty Crocker Angel Cake Mix. Assemble according to instructions for a quick and easy dessert’. This is from the Southern menu (as is the illustration of the devil, above).
On a recent trip to Scotland, I visited Leakeys (Greyfriars Hall, Church Street, Inverness, IV1 1EY), the bookshop of your dreams – a hundred thousand volumes on tall wooden shelves in a converted 18th century church whose mezzanine also houses a café where incredibly friendly and efficient staff serve exactly the kind of food you want to eat in an area where it sloshes down with rain in August. My travelling companion, a fiction buyer-bookseller extraordinaire and glutton, was most impressed, stating that while popular, the bookshop-café combination is rarely well-executed.
Even though it’s summer, there’s always time for pie. Today I’m cooking something from a book which I bought ten years ago, to divert myself on a long-haul flight – Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book. I’ve owned it for far longer than The Vegetable Book, although it was written and published afterwards, in 1982.
The plums are some gorgeous organic ones which I bought when the lovely Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green held a small weekend market in late July. I am cheating/being lazy/not-chaining-myself-to-the-kitchen-on-the-weekend-I-have-a-real-job-and-I-need-to-relax-don’t-you-know and using shop-bought pastry.
A recipe which has intrigued me for a while, combining as it does many of my favourite things to bake with – cinnamon, ground almonds, candied peel. It kept catching my eye in the index of Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookery Book:
A marvel! Truly one of the most delicious, most interesting things I have ever baked. The outer layer was crisp on top, and then fudge-y, like a brownie. The filling was light, flavoursome and almost creamy, with the right amount of chewy pieces of peel. This is a rich cake, as you can see from the relatively small proportion of flour to butter and sugar, however, it is also wonderfully satisfying and stayed fresh for 2 weeks in a tin.
I have since read variations of this which include making mini ones using a shallow bun tray and using raisins instead of candied peel.
Monkey’d by Elly