Winter spiced tea recipe

Spiced tea was a recent discover for me, and to be honest, at first I wasn’t sure. Now however I am a full on convert. It’s another of those little comforters for the dark cold months we are about to embrace.

So where did this come form? Well for me, it was an innocuous little packet of tea we bought in Whittards. It was cold and dark and Kate and I were trampling along the high street near to christmas. I was becoming more and more annoyed at the endless christmas themed latte tasters that the coffee shops were offering as we passed. Kate was having a blast but at that time I hadn’t developed a love for coffee, so felt left out.

Luckily we passed Whittards and that mean I could treat myself to some nice tea to take home. After all the pumpkin spiced lattes, gingerbread lattes and Black Forest mochas Kate was sampling, the idea of a winter spiced tea grabbed me and I grabbed a bag of it. Off home we went.

This wasn’t the traditional Chai Masala or Chai latte, it was much more subtle and for me, much more winter (think cards with robins and snow). I loved it, subsequently so did my friend Hayley who loves tea as much as me and so we usually end up sharing new found delights.

So… to jump to the end of this rather long and meandering tale… this year I am making my own and it’s not as hard as you think. I make my own Lady Grey (and Hayley approves) so I jumped right in.

The dominant flavour (and aroma) for this tea is cloves. I know, shocker, I was absolutely assuming cinnamon given the associations with winter, but nope. It’s actually cloves. The secondary aroma and flavour is orange peel.

To make the tea

Ok we are going to make this as one mug of tea. You will need:

  • Black tea (tea bag or loose leaf but enough for one mug). Assam works great but any black tea will do the job. Avoid already flavoured or scented teas like Early Grey though)
  • An orange or satsuma to get that citrus peel. You just need a couple of bits of peel.
  • 4 cloves (whole). This sounds like a lot, but we are using them whole and not grinding them so they actually impart way more aroma than flavour.

How to

Brew your mug of tea to your liking. I drink my tea black so I don’t like it too strong. Then simply steep your cloves and orange peel in your mug of tea. Make sure you have a plan for how to get them out again. I have a little one mug tea pot with a filter basket that I use.

That’s it. Really. It’s so easy, but such a lovely, makes you smile cuppa.




Carrot salad with ginger and lemon dressing

It’s been mad hot this last few weeks and the idea of being in a hot kitchen cooking or even sitting eating hot food might not be so appealing, but then again not everyone gets excited at the idea of salad for lunch so we thought we’d share one of our favourite and quick to make salads so you guys can add it to your arsenal. It’s great on it’s own but goes amazingly with BBQ as well, a great summer dish.

Also a handy way of using up the carrots that are looking amazing in the raised beds just now. I’ll add a video at the bottom if you want an update on how the beds are looking.

So this all starts with the dressing.

  • 80ml of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 medium garlic clove, mince as fine as you can or grate finely
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated finely
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch of salt

You want to add everything to a jug and mix it up well, it works great to put it all in an old jam jar and shake the hell out of it. I find that you get enough dressing for two huge salads from this recipe.

Now a tip I have learned. I love garlic and ginger, so I’ve made this a couple of times and gone overboard on the garlic and ginger. Try to resist. Adding too much of these neutralises the lemony flavour and actually makes the dressing taste bland. I know, makes no sense, adding more garlic and ginger should not make something taste bland, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. You want the fresh, lemony zing.

Ok so once you have your dressing shaken up and ready to go, the carrots.

All you need for a big bowl of this salad is

  • 2 large carrots
  • handful of chopped parsley

We are going to make the carrots into long noodles, to do this we’ve got two options in our kitchen, we have a hand peeler with a Julienne blade which will give you long thin slices of carrot. This is quick, easy to use and easy to clean.

Julienne peeler

Or we also have one of those vegetable spiraliser machines. This works awesome as it gives you really long, super thin noodles and it uses up the whole carrot. But not so easy to clean.

Spiraliser machine

So you want to turn the two carrots into noodles using your preferred method and add them to your favourite salad bowl, then simple pour about half the dressing over them and toss to coat.

We’ve found that the longer you leave this salad the zingier the dressing gets, so feel free to make it up a wee bit in advance of needing it and when you are ready to serve, toss through some of your chopped parsley and basically… nom!

We take huge bowls of carrot salad to BBQS with friends

Take a walk around the garden with me




Bakewell tart – it’s tasty, easy and nothing beats homemade

You guys know how much I love a slice of Bakewell tart with a cup of tea. I’ve even shared my homage in the bakewell muffin, but it occurred to me this week that I’ve never actually shared my Bakewell tart recipe with you guys. Shocking oversight, so since I fancied a wee slice today, here goes.

Firstly, do not worry, it is actually really easy. Even the pastry and here’s why.

There is no shame in using a food processor. Quick and easy. I know lots of people think it’s cheating, Kate included, but you need cold hands, like really cold to be able to work pastry and some of us just run warm. So you know what, that’s just life and if there is a tool that can help, then why is it a bad thing? After all, the folk who say “just keep running your hands under the cold tap” – notice they are saying the cold tap and not just keep running down to the local stream?

So if you struggle with traditional methods then stay tuned cause I’m gonna use a stand mixer too! To hell with it!

So you will need:

Ingredients for the pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Pinch of slat
  • 100g unsalted butter, Straight form the fridge and diced into little cubes about the size of a pea
  • 1 beaten, free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp milk (if you need it)

Ingredients for the filling

  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature this time
  • 150g sugar
  • 3 beaten, free-range eggs, at room temperature again
  • 150g ground almonds
  • Zest of an unwaxed lemon
  • Roughly 4 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Roughly 2 tbsp flaked almonds

The pastry is the most time consuming task and we do that first. I’ll give you both ways of doing this, the traditional and the quick.

Traditional method for making pastry

In a big, cold bowl, sift in the flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Then using the very tips of your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it forms fine bread crumbs. This takes a while, but try not to touch the mixture too much, just your finger tips as you don’t want the butter to melt.

Now add the beaten eggs and milk and gently start to squeeze it together to form a firm dough, again try not to handle it too much. Be quick as you can.

Now wrap that ball of dough in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Quick method for making pastry

Sift your flour, salt and icing sugar into the bowl of your food processor (with the large blade attached), add the diced butter and pulse until you get breadcrumbs. Add you beaten egg and milk and then pulse another few times to bring it together.

Tip the now very, very, slightly, sticky breadcrumbs onto the worktop and bring together into a ball of dough, You don’t kneed, just bring it together.

Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

Once chilled for at least 30 minutes (this will make it easier to roll), get your dough out and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. You want the thickness of a pound coin.

Now grease the hell out of a loose-bottomed baking tin, about 23cm in size. Line the tin with the pastry, but try not to stretch it when tucking it into the edges, let it fall naturally if you can and push down from the top of the pastry if needed.

You want to trim the excess, but not right down to the edge as pastry always shrinks a little bit. It’s better to properly trim at the end, so leave a little wiggle room here, maybe a cm and prick all over the bottom with a fork. This will help to stop it rising in the over.

Chill for 30 minutes again. This helps to stop it shrinking too much.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C with a baking sheet in there.

Cooking your pastry

It’s getting exciting now, we are almost there. Take the pastry out the fridge and line the pastry with scrunched up baking paper (scrunching it up makes it easier to fit to the pastry as it’s more pliable) and fill this with baking beans or rice. This is going to weight everything down and help to stop the pastry rising.

Now put this on the pre-heated baking sheet and bake (this is called blind baking) for 15 minutes. Then remove the beans/rice and paper and cook for another 5 minutes until pale golden and dry on top.

Filling (my favourite bit)

And now I bring in my stand mixer (my favourite kitchen appliance).

By hand

Put your butter and sugar in a big bowl and beat it together with a wooden spoon until pale and fluffy. Be prepared this takes ages and hurts your arm. Once it’s really pale and fluffy, beat in the eggs a little bit at a time, then fold in the lemon zest.

With a stand mixer

Put your butter and sugar in the bowl of your mixer and beat it until pale and fluffy, takes about 5 minutes. Once it’s really pale and fluffy, beat in ground almonds and then the eggs a little bit at a time, then fold in the lemon zest.

Now for the jam, spread it evenly across the base of the pastry. I like a nice thick layer, it goes all gorgeous once it’s baked.

Then spoon over the filling mixture, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon or palate knife when you are done.

Lastly scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden, well risen and just set in the centre. A skewer should come out clean.

Now the hardest part, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then lift onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Then nom with a mug of earl grey and some clotted cream.

A wee alternative

You don’t have to always make this as a tart to slice. What about mini, individual tarts, or tiny bite sized mouthfuls or even a tray bake.




Banana bread with a peanut butter twist

I’m going to call banana bread a useful cake. Yup, useful cause you know how sometimes you end up with random left over bananas that look less than attractive? You know, the ones that sit lonely in the fruit bowl at the end of the week all brown and yucky? Well this recipe is a great way to use them up. So useful, see?

I do enjoy a slice of banana bread with a cuppa, but Kate had a genius idea, yesterday, to take it to the next level. Peanut butter drizzle.

I have recently developed a love of peanut butter and one of my favourite uses is peanut butter and banana on toast. So this sounded fantastic.

So here is the recipe, and of course you can skip the peanut butter drizzle if you want, the cake is gorgeous on its own.

Ingredients

For one loaf of banana bread

  • 100g soft butter
  • 175g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 mashed bananas (preferably super ripe)
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Splash of milk
  • 100g chocolate chips (added extra you can leave these out if you want)

For the drizzle topping

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 15ml water
  • 1 tps peanut butter or peanut butter powder(made separately following instructions)

Let’s get baking

This has to be one of the easiest cake recipes ever, you need zero skill or prior knowledge of baking for this one, so perfect for a wet, miserable Saturday when you can’t get out into the garden and need to be entertained.

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C for fan. Grease a loaf tin(or line with grease proof paper) and let’s go.

Chuck all your loaf ingredients into the mixer or mixing bowl. I have a stand mixer which does make life so much easier (I do a lot of bread doughs which are very sticky), but this will mix up fine in a big bowl. I added chocolate chips to mine because I had some in the baking cupboard but these are absolutely not essential. I just thought it would work with the whole peanut butter and banana vibe.

Mix this up for about 2 minutes until you have a batter. It will be quite thick but still pourable.

Pour it into your loaf tin and level it off.

Whack it in the oven for an hour, you can check it’s ready by sticking a skewer into the middle and it should come out clean. Leave it in the tin for 5 mins, just to settle, then take it out and leave it on a wire rack to cool.

Now this is gorgeous as it is, so you don’t have to add any kind of icing etc, we were just having some fun.

So for the drizzle, mix your icing sugar and water into a thick paste. If it seems too runny add more icing sugar, if it’s too thick, add more water (a tiny bit). You want this to be runny but thick if that makes any sense. Basically you want it to run down the sides a little.

Then add your peanut butter and give it a really good mix. If you are using peanut butter powder, make this up according to the instructions first and then add it.

Once you have a nice thick but drizzly icing, just drizzle over your loaf. Warning, this will get messy!! And then pop your loaf in the fridge to help the drizzle set.

Serve as big, thick slices. mmmmmmmmmmm

If this deliciousness has you fancying having a go at making your own peanut butter, it’s dead easy.




Naughty elf on the cocktail shelf – festive greetings from Kate & Eli

https://youtu.be/Oe7GHbnsBqE

Espresso martini for one

  • Add ice to a cocktail shaker
  • add 2 shots of vodka
  • add 1 shot of coffee liqueur
  • add a splash of sugar syrup
  • add an espresso shot
  • shake




Eye spy mince pies!

Its December, and for me that means only one thing – its finally mince pie season! But Kate, I hear you cry, mince pies have been in the shops since July – don’t get me started on the ridiculously early appearance of Christmas food, suffice to say that for me part of the joy of the mince pie is that its SEASONAL, a mince pie is for Christmas, not for all year round! (OK, rant over.)

I always look forward to the first mince pie of the year, and I am very strict that I don’t have one until the first of December. Last year Eli and I made a special day of it, by combining the first mince pie with the first festive hot chocolate and a wander around the Christmas market for a spot of retail therapy. This year I decided it would be fun to try to make my own mince pies, and as Eli isn’t actually a fan of mincemeat, I thought I would make some spiced apple pies for her so she didn’t feel left out.

I don’t do a lot of baking, so I think Eli was slightly worried when she was banished so that I could get into that kitchen and rattle them pots and pans.

The beauty of making your own mince pies is you can make them exactly the way you like them – your favourite pastry – shortcrust or puff -tasty  filling- with or without alcohol – and even decide on the top – full crust, fancy shapes or even iced!

This is my recipe for mince pies (makes 16):

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 1 large jar mincemeat (about 600g) – or if you are feeling super adventurous you could make your own!
  • 2 satsumas, segmented
  • 1 apple, finely  chopped
  • zest 1 lemon

For the pastry

  • 375g plain flour
  • 260g unsalted butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 large egg
  • plus 1 beaten egg for glazing

Method

  1. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until they look like breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the caster sugar and one of the beaten eggs, and mix together.
  3. Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and fold until the pastry comes together, but  be careful not to over mix or the dough will get too sticky.
  4. Wrap the pastry in some cling film and put it in the fridge to chill for 10 mins.
  5. Put the mincemeat into a bowl and add the segmented satsumas, the chopped apple and lemon zest.
  6. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.
  7. Roll out the pastry to about  3mm thick – a bit thicker than a pound coin.
  8. Using a round cutter (about 10cm), cut out 16 bases and put them into your baking trays – I used non stick muffin trays. Put 1½ tbsp of mincemeat mixture into each. Brush the edge of each pie with a little beaten egg.
  9. Re-roll out the pastry to cut 7cm lids and press them on top to seal. Glaze with the beaten egg, sprinkle with the extra caster sugar, then make a small cut in the tops to let the steam out.
  10. Bake the mince pies for 15-20 mins until golden brown. Leave to cool for about 5 mins before releasing them from the muffin trays and then dust with a little more icing sugar before serving.  The hardest part is waiting for them to cool before tucking in!

I could have made things easy and just made a double batch of pastry and filled half with mincemeat and the other half with an apple mixture, but I decided to make things harder for myself and so I did a slightly different pastry for the apple pies:

Eli’s little apple pies (makes 16)

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 350g Plain flour, plus extra to to roll out the pastry
  • 200g Cold butter
  • 100g Golden caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 capfuls of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of milk to glaze

For the filling:

  • 3 large apples, chopped thinly
  • Juice of one orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 tablespoons of light brown sugar

Method

  1. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until you have a mixture like breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar and salt.
  2. Separate the egg and put the yolk into the flour, butter and sugar with the vanilla essence. Stir with a knife.
  3. Add the water a bit at a time and stir with knife until it begins to clump together, then make a ball with it using your hands and knead until smooth you may not need all the water you just have to judge when its holding together without being sticky .
  4. Put the pastry in the fridge to chill for an hour.
  5. Peel and chop the apples and squeeze the orange juice over them, then put the sugar and spice and mix together with your hands making sure the apples are all coated evenly.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 180 fan and roll out the pastry to about 3 or 4 mm. Cut out circles to fit your muffin tray (about 10cm) and place them in the wells of the tray.
  7. Divide the apple mix between the pies then re-roll the pastry to make the tops and place them on.
  8. Glaze them with milk and stab the tops once with a knife.
  9. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Leave to cool for about 5 mins before releasing them from the muffin trays and then dust with a little caster sugar before serving.  

All in all I had a fun afternoon in the kitchen doing some baking, and dare I say it, its starting to feel a little bit like Christmas!!

 




Tattie scones – a traditional Scottish treat for St Andrew’s Day

Happy St Andrew’s day folks!

St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland and 30th November is his day, St Andrew’s day. In all honesty, we don’t actually do anything to celebrate it, it’s just another day and a heck of a lot of Scots probably couldn’t even tell you when St Andrew’s day is but…. it gives me an excuse to share some of my favourite Scottish noms with you. So I’m all up for it!

Last year as a St Andrew’s day treat, I shared my recipe for traditional Parlies (or Parliament Cake) with you. A spicy, dark, ginger biscuit which goes fantastically well with coffee.

This year I’m sharing Tattie Scones or Potato Scones if you are being posh. These are a basic staple in a full Scottish breakfast but they aren’t just found in Scotland, you get them in Ireland too, although there they tend to be called Farls. They are super easy to make, but soooo tasty, so here goes.

You will need….

  • Leftover mashed potato…. yup you read that right, cold mashed potato, preferably without milk or butter added. Tattie scones are basically a little cake of fried mashed potato. You need 500g.
  • Add in 160g of plain flour and a half tsp of salt.
  • Add a tbsp of oil or melted butter.
  • Now get your hands in there and mix it all together.

You are not looking for a dough as such, more just until it starts to stick together. It will come together in a ball, that’s what you are after.

Dump that out onto your surface and roll it into a sausage shape and cut 6-8 equal portions.

Next roll them into little balls

and roll them out into discs. You are looking for a nice even depth of about 2 – 4mm or the thickness of a pound coin (ish).

Pound coin for scale Dan?

Next is the reason these are called Farls in Ireland, we cut each disc into four quarters, you do see tattie scones as squares as well but I grew up with tattie scones as triangles so this is how I make them.

The cooking…

  • You need to get a large frying pan on the stove at a medium heat. Drop some butter into it and let it melt (butter gives the best flavour and makes then lovely, golden brown and crisp. mmmmmmmmm)
  • Cook batches of four at a time and you are looking at about 2 or 3 minutes per side, until they are nice and golden.

How to serve…

You can eat these hot or cold and serve them with pretty much anything. My favourite is to have them on a roll with bacon but you can eat them with butter and jam, or Kate likes them with butter and cheese. Most folk I think would include these as part of a cooked breakfast ( a full Scottish). Just enjoy them any way you like.




More sweet treats to comfort you on a cold night: honeycomb cinder toffee

Growing up, we called this honeycomb but I’ve heard it called cinder toffee, hokey pokey, puff candy and even sponge toffee. No matter what you call it, this is a bomb of sugary delight and fabulous on a cold night, in front of the fire with a cuppa. 

You know the orange, toffee-like centre of a crunchy bar that just melts in your mouth and then goes super sticky? Well, that’s what we are making.

It’s actually really simple to make and very quick, although you do have to be patient and wait on things setting oh and did I mention it’s pure sugar? This is a big pile of empty calories that will rot your teeth… but oh my god it’s so tasty!!!

First things first though, we are going to be working with CRAZY hot, burny, molten lava-like sugar. BE CAREFUL!

Ingredients

  •  5 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 250ml water
  • 650g granulated sugar
  • 340g golden syrup

The science bit

This sweet delight gets called honey comb because of the bubbly texture, you don’t actually need to add honey to the recipe. I use golden syrup cause the taste an colour work really well and honey can burn really quickly.

Talking of burning, we are basically melting the sugar and then heating it to crazy temperatures,150ºC or hard crack to be precise. The water helps to stop the sugar burning, but the amount of water in the finished toffee also dictates the texture of the finished product:

We are going for hard sweeties as we want the crunchy texture.

Another note about water, or humidity to be precise, open a window while you are cooking this as the high humidity of the kitchen will make your honeycomb sink while it’s cooling.

Ok Let’s make sweeties

Grease and line a (roughly) 23-x-33 cm baking tray with greaseproof paper (grease the paper as well, trust me).

And make sure the paper comes up higher than the sides by a few cm and have all your ingredients measured and to hand, this is gonna be fast when it kicks off.

Sieve the baking soda and cream of tartar together in bowl and have this in grabbing distance. Trust me on sieving this. In a large pot, add the water first to help the sugar to dissolve, and then add the sugar and golden syrup and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. You can swirl occasionally (carefully) but do not stir. Stirring will cause the sugar to crystallise. This is the hardest thing, I know but you must resist!!!!

Continue boiling until your temp hits 150ºC then remove the pot from the heat and QUICKLY sieve in the baking soda and cream of tartar mixture and stir quickly to make sure it has been incorporated, but stop once it’s no longer visible.

But quickly!!!

QUICKLY pour and scrape the now frothing contents of the pot into your baking tray and let it set. Try to do this without screaming, panicking or dumping the now volcano like pot and running away.

Do not touch it, stir it, try to spread it. Don’t even try to tip the tray, just leave it where it naturally sits. Did I emphasise enough that you need to be quick? It takes seconds for this to turn into a volcano of froth as the baking soda erupts but it also takes seconds for you to knock the air out, hence quickly and do not touch.

Now you have to leave it alone and let it cool for around 2 hours until it is solid. Really, I know it’s tempting to touch it and test if it’s set, don’t do it, it’s bloody hot!!!

After 2 hours smash it into bite-sized pieces and enjoy or you know be virtuous and give it away (but nobody likes virtuous I don’t eat sweeties types). It’s extra awesome dipped in chocolate, or so I’ve been told, cause you know I don’t eat unhealthy things so I wouldn’t know.

My body is a temple.

Oh sorry no, amusing park, my body is an amusement park, I always mix those two up.




Butternut squash soup… an autumn warmer or còsagach recipe

Last year we introduced you to our winter fun known as Hygge. It the association of all things warming and comforting to get you through the dark nights, happy with what you have and the time spent with loved ones. Well as we were telling you all about this, a local newspaper here in Scotland introduced us to what they are claiming is the Scottish term for this… còsagach.  Now I will not lie, I have never heard of this and no one I spoke to had either, but hey I’m all up for a new term to explain things which is way easier to say 🙂

So còsagach…. VisitScotland the tourism people are claiming it means snug, cosy or sheltered. Maybe relating to sheltered as in a den or foxhole, something an animal shelters in? Some folk relate this to a bit of a mix up with còsag maybe sounding like the English word cosy?

But hey, what the heck let’s have some fun and go with it. So today’s recipe is a warming Butternut Squash Soup for a còsagach autumn evening. Maybe after raking leaves in the garden adding more duct tape to the poorly and failing greenhouse?

Ingredients

  • 1 large peeled and deseeded butternut squash, cut into little bits
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 0.25 tsp chilli powder
  • 0.25 tsp paprika
  • 0.25 tsp cardamom
  • 0.25 tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 litres stock (I like chicken)
  • Salt and pepper

How to

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan
  2. Put the squash into a large bowl with the oil, spices and salt and pepper and give it all a good mix
  3. Spread it out on a roasting tray and roast for about 45 minutes, or until squishy
  4. Fry the chopped onion until soft and then add it to your soup pot
  5. Once the squash is cooked, put it into your soup pot and add the stock
  6. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins. Check the seasoning
  7. When you are happy, blend the heck out of it!!! You want it velvety smooth

Serve it with some crusty bread and butter or for extra còsagach/hygge, you could roast the butternut squash seeds (just for 5 minutes or so) with some oil, chilli powder and garlic salt and then sprinkle on top.




Halloween here isn’t about pumpkins… apple spiced muffin recipe

I’ve been involved in a bit of facebook rant recently about Halloween and the fact that Scottish kids celebrate this as the American version (trick or treat) rather than holding onto the traditional Scottish celebrations I knew as a kid. It’s just one of those things, the world is becoming smaller with the advent of communications technologies. We grow up with American, Hollywood films and TV shows regularly come from the states, so it’s only natural that there is a crossover of cultures. So I suppose that’s where bloggers like myself have to talk about our cultural traditions so they don’t get forgotten.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is everywhere at this time of year… now. It wasn’t a thing really when I was a kid, but these days Halloween and Autumn, in general, are filled with pumpkin. We have pumpkin decorations in the shops and pumpkin spiced coffees in the coffee shops etc. Here in Scotland, the tradition at Halloween was to carve a turnip. Yep, a turnip and it was bloody hard work, really only adults had any chance. We also had a few other traditions which I loved.

Dookin for apples

Pic from  https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/news/glasgow-news/glasgow-school-children-take-part-12106270

Dookin for apples was simply lots of apples bobbing in a big tub of water, which you had to catch with only your mouth – hands behind your back. There was much hilarity and soggy kids. We also ate apples coated in toffee with a stick stuck into them to hold, a bit like a lollipop.

Treacle Scones

Pic from  https://www.scotsman.com/news/how-scotland-celebrated-halloween-in-7-pictures-1-4272133

I have to tell you about treacle scones just for my baby sister Leigh (who turned 41 a couple of days ago – happy birthday Leigh! The game of treacle scones is basically, bits of scone, covered in black treacle, hanging from strings across the room (so they swing) and kids, again with hands behind their backs have to bite the scones. Imagine treacle all over your face, in your hair, on your clothes etc… My sister had long, thick curly hair and she was always a complete mess but the end of the game (it didn’t help that I worked out that I could nudge the scones just right so they’d swing right at her).

Guising

Lastly, in Scotland we go guising, not trick or treating. We made our costumes and go out prepared to “do a party piece” to earn our sweets. It could be you tell a joke, sing a song, show off your dance moves… or if you are my little brother, Arlen, tell an adorable cute poem when you are 3 – completely set up by myself and Leigh cause his cuteness got us extra sweets… We coached him well!

Anyways…. enough of my rant, you came here for a recipe..

Spiced Apple muffins (not pumpkin) for a warm autumn night treat

Ingredients for 12 large muffins

  • 500g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 180ml oil
  • 150ml milk
  • 400g jar of Bramley apple sauce (with chunks of apple in)

I am being completely lazy and using a jar of apple sauce, but feel free to use your own homemade sauce it will probably be sooooo much better.

Get Baking

Muffin wrappers

Step 1.  First, preheat your oven to 170 C for a fan oven or 190 C for a conventional oven & then prepare your muffin tin – if you aren’t using muffin wrappers as I do (see above), oil your tin.

Step 2. In a bowl, combine all your wet ingredients and sugar and then give it, really good mix to break up the egg and combine the egg and oil. Then add your applesauce and mix it through.

Step 3. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder into a big bowl and give it a good mix.

Step 4. Pour your wet into your dry, give it enough of a mix to combine but don’t over mix. How to know it’s right, it should drop thickly and easily off a spoonBaking can add more milk if it’s too thick and a little flour if it’s too runny.

Step 5. Add the batter to the muffin wrappers. They should be NO MORE than three-quarters full. Do not overfill, trust me, as they will rise heaps in the oven.

Step 6. As quickly as you can, get them in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 mins, until they are golden brown on top.

Step 7. Let them cool and then nom!