Saffron Cake

Dec. 13th, 2009 04:12 pm
rj_anderson: (Saffron Cake)
At this rate, people are going to expect my next publication to be a cookbook! But [livejournal.com profile] patty1943 asked for the recipe after seeing my icon, so I figured I might as well share it.

I love this cake. It is the essence of Christmas and family to me. Just the smell of my mother baking it makes me deliriously happy, and all my siblings (and her siblings*) feel the same way. Even my three little boys all agree that they like the taste -- which makes me suspect there's something genetic involved, because my husband loathes the stuff and my brothers' wives aren't particularly keen on it either.

All of which is to say that if you don't have Cornish genes in your family, or think that the combination of saffron, candied peel and currants tastes like medicine (as my husband does), this cake may not be for you. Furthermore, Spanish saffron threads are wickedly expensive, so you have to be pretty committed to even tackle this recipe in the first place (which is why my mother, like my grandmother before her, only makes it once a year).

Nevertheless, it's unlike any other fruit cake you will ever eat -- a dense and slightly moist (but not soggy like traditional Christmas fruitcake) golden loaf, lightly sprinkled with currents and bits of candied peel, seasoned with the most expensive spice in the world yet at the same time homey and unassuming, as one might expect of a Cornish delicacy. It does not require icing, or jam, or even butter -- in Cornwall it's sometimes made into buns and served with clotted cream, but to me even this seems unnecessary. Just a thick slice warm from the oven (or slightly heated in the microwave) and a cup of tea to go with it is all you really need.

One last caveat: this is a bulk recipe that makes five generous loaves, and I am an idiot when it comes to math, so I won't subject you to my clumsy attempts at downsizing it. If you've got this far, you'll have to do that yourself. :)

A Traditional Cornish Recipe for Saffron Cake )

If anyone does decide to tackle this enterprise, let me know how it turns out. Especially if you figure out how to convert it to a smaller quantity.

--
* I am not kidding. One year when my mother mailed my uncle George his Christmas loaf, he composed a lengthy poem on the subject of his love for Saffron Cake and sent it back to her as a thank-you note. Not a bad poem either: it both rhymed and scanned. My mother had it laminated.
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Bachelor Buttons
Originally uploaded by rj-anderson
This is one of those cookies that doesn't look like much on the outside, but is sneakily and indescribably delicious. Really, they should be called Ninja Awesome Hidden Jam Cookies, but according to my grandmother who handed down the recipe, they're called Bachelor Buttons.

A web search yields about fifty different cookie recipes also called Bachelor Buttons, but they are ALL WRONG and DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. These are the one and only kind of Bachelor Buttons you need. Especially if you are looking for a buttery double-layered cookie with a bit of raspberry jam in the middle that is absolutely perfect for dunking in a cup of tea.

Yes, I said dunking. In tea. Trust me on this one.

Recipe )

Make a pot of tea and enjoy! WARNING: HIGHLY ADDICTIVE.

Gingerbread Men
Originally uploaded by rj-anderson
When my son came home from Junior Kindergarten excitedly waving a recipe for making gingerbread men, I confess my heart sank a little. I've tasted many such cookies, and even though they might look cute on the outside, the gingerbread was always so dry and bland that I couldn't even bring myself to finish it. Besides, who wants to spend all that time messing around with decorations and icing? Not me.

However, this one just said "decorate with raisins", so I thought hm, maybe it doesn't need icing and I should give it a try. And I did manage to find a gingerbread man-shaped plastic mould (it wasn't even a proper cutter -- I got it out of a Rice Krispies box) in my cupboard, so I worked up my courage, followed the recipe, and...

Oh.

Oh my.

You definitely don't need icing for these (in fact the mere idea wounds my soul). You don't need fancy decorations, either. I raided my cupboard for currants, raisins and dried marachino cherries, and a few seconds with a knife gave me all the eyes, buttons and smiles a gingerbread man could need.

And they aren't hard, or bland. They are spicy and chewy and delicious, and the only reason I am not eating the head off my third or fourth cookie right now is because I am heroically restraining myself.

Recipe below )

Enjoy! And don't tell me you iced them or I will come after you with a wiffle bat, you philistine.
I made these tonight, and it took me about 45 minutes, but they were worth every. single. second.

Recipe of Awesome )

Yield: 8 scones (and about 1/2 cup berry butter).
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Recipe Time!

Dec. 20th, 2005 01:05 pm
rj_anderson: (Default)
I am eating the leftovers of this wonderful casserole for lunch, and since it is a great use for all that extra turkey that tends to sit around after the holidays, I thought I'd post the recipe here. It's rich and savoury and has a nice crunch to it, and it's easy to throw together early in the day and keep in the refrigerator until it's time to heat through for supper. It also freezes well.

TURKEY ALMOND CASSEROLE
  • 5 cups diced, cooked leftover turkey (or chicken)
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 8 oz. can water chestnuts, sliced (optional)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. white or black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

    In a large bowl, mix above ingredients together and put into buttered 9" x 13" baking dish.

    Topping
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 cups crumbled corn flakes
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

    Mix above ingredients together and sprinkle on top of casserole.

    Bake at 350 F for 35 to 45 minutes. Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until baking.
  • Tags:
    Since Laura expressed an interest, I figured, why not?

    This cake ends up tender and moist, but with a nice solidity to it that keeps it from falling apart when you cut it. It's also really tasty served with a dollop of whipped cream, as we discovered when mowing down the leftovers last night. And as my mother remarked, with that much butter in it it ought to keep well.

    PEACH POUND CAKE
    As submitted by Betty Jean Gosnell, Inman, SC
    Published in Taste of Home Magazine

  • 1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups diced fresh or frozen peaches (RJA's note: I actually used canned, well rinsed and drained -- worked fine)
  • Confectioners' (icing) sugar (optional)

    In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the batter alternately with sour cream. Fold in the peaches.

    Pour into a greased and floured 10 in. fluted tube pan (RJA: I used a bundt pan). Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.

    Yield: 12-16 servings, but don't expect them to last long.
  • Tags:
    I am now impishly tempted to make a post that has absolutely nothing to do with the subject line, but I shall forbear, because a few people have actually requested this recipe, which is an Anderson family Christmas staple and (if I may say so myself) absolutely delicious.

    The last few years the making of the carrot pudding has fallen to me, and frankly, if I can make it, anybody can. I have very little patience with fiddly recipes that take all afternoon (or worse, all day) to put together, or which involve ingredients nobody has ever heard of. But if you want a rich, hearty, fruity pudding to serve to guests during the holidays, this one is a good bet.

    STEAMED CARROT PUDDING
    Blend or sift together:
    3/4 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    3/4 tsp. salt
    3/4 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp allspice

    Stir in:
    3/4 cup raisins
    3/4 cup currants

    Combine well to coat the fruit and set aside.

    Cream together:
    1/3 cup butter or margarine
    1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar

    Dissolve
    1/2 tsp. baking soda in 1 well-beaten egg

    Gradually add soda/egg to the creamed mixture.

    Stir in to creamed mixture:
    3/4 cup grated raw carrot
    3/4 cup grated raw potato
    3/4 cup soft bread crumbs

    Add fruit/flour mixture and combine thoroughly.

    Turn batter into well-greased one-quart mould, cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and tie in place with string to keep foil from popping off as pudding expands.

    In a large covered pot of boiling water, steam pudding for 2 1/2 hrs (you may have to turn a heatproof bowl upside down and set the pudding on this to keep it out of the water -- me, I use my pressure cooker with the steamer insert and it works great). Remove string and aluminum foil, and place pudding in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. Re-cover, and store in fridge or freezer until needed.

    Serve hot with lemon or hard sauce. To reheat, steam 30 minutes or microwave until warm.

    * * *

    HARD SAUCE

    1 cup brown sugar
    2 tbsp. cornstarch
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 cups warm water
    2 tbsp. butter
    2 tsp. vanilla

    Combine brown sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Add warm water gradually, stirring constantly.

    Cook and stir over low heat until thick and smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla. Serve hot.

    * * *

    All I can add to this is: yum.
    Tags:
    We had such a cool time last night, celebrating my Dad's birthday. For one thing, everything I cooked turned out well, even (gasp!) the much-dreaded brussels sprouts that I'd only bought because my Dad likes them, and figured nobody else (including me) would want to eat any. But I found this great recipe that a) kept the sprouts from getting mushy and b) tempered the flavour, and they got snapped up in minutes. "Brussels Sprouts with Brown Butter and Almonds". I love you, Canadian Living magazine.

    But the best thing happened after Nicholas had gone to bed, when a discussion between myself and my two brothers about the moral underpinnings of The Lord of the Rings turned into a general conversation about the state of the church today and what might be done to make a positive difference. For my Dad I think that was the best present he could have wished for... he loves it when we talk about spiritual things as a family, but of course you can't force a conversation like that, it has to happen naturally, and last night it did.

    In the end it all came back to LotR again, amusingly enough -- my brother Steve suggested that the church would be much better off if we were all more like hobbits in general and Frodo in particular. Not trying to take the spotlight, not wanting power or glory for ourselves, not even imagining that we could make everything right if we only had the means (i.e. like Boromir with the Ring), but humbly serving each other and quietly doing what God wants us to do, even if other people think we're crazy to do it.

    Anyway, happy birthday, Dad. We love you.

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