Friday, December 21, 2007

For the benefit of our Spanish neighbours

  • see the next post

Yorkshire Humbugs
These are peppermint sweets which are traditionally striped in colour. This recipe is for plain ones.
450g brown sugar
150ml water
peppermint essence

Place the brown sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved, but do not stir.
Boil to a temperature of 154°C .
When the water has evaporated add a few drops of peppermint essence.
Pour mixture on a slab, using a knife to prevent it running too thin.
Cut into strips, and cut with sharp buttered scissors.
Then wrap in cellophane and store in an airtight container.

Traditional Egg Custard Tart
Serves: 4
shortcrust pastry*
300ml single cream or milk
1 vanilla pod
strip of lemon peel
2 eggs and one egg yolk
75g caster sugar
grated nutmeg

Roll out the pastry and use to line a 20cm tart tin.
Heat the cream or milk in a heavy saucepan with the vanilla pod and lemon peel, bringing slowly to simmering point.
Leave to infuse for ten minutes.
Bring to the boil again, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick.
Strain the warm milk on to the egg mixture, stirring all the time, and then pour carefully into the tart tin.
Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Bake in a preheated oven at 170C for 30 - 40 minutes until the top is firm to the touch.
Cool on a wire rack and eat cold on the same day.

* Shortcrust pastry
The usual recipe is half the quantity of fat to flour. The higher the fat content the "shorter" or more crumbly the pastry. All the ingredients need to be kept cool and handled as little as possible.

2 cups plain flour
4 level tablespoons lard
4 level tablespoons butter or margarine
pinch of salt
cold water

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add the lard and the butter and chop it up roughly with a knife.
With cool fingertips, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add 2 tablespoons of cold water and then, using a knife, mix lightly into a dough.
Add a little more water if necessary but be careful not to add too much. The dough should not be sticky.
Gently bring the dough into a ball by hand, gathering up any stray bits of dough.
Leave to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.
To use, roll lightly with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.

My maternal Grandmother had the coldest hands you could imagine which meant she could make delicious shortcrust pastry. My Mother had warm hands like I have and so her pastry was never as good.

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