I’ve always loved the distinctive design of the tins of treacle and golden syrup on my kitchen shelf. There’s something comforting and reassuring about a product and design that remains constant in our fast changing world. The Victorian design of the Tate and Lyle tin has altered little over the years; although the tin itself was made from strong cardboard during the war years when tin was in short supply. The Lyle’s tin is itself a piece of history. Its image of the lion and bees and the biblical quotation, testify to a distinctly Victorian image of moralism, industrial drive and budding concern for social welfare. The tins were surprisingly strong. Legend has it that famous explorer Captain Scott took some golden syrup on his ill-fated Antarctic expedition in 1910. One of the cans was discovered by explorers with the syrup inside still in good condition in 1956. Almost every day I reach for the red and gold tin to add a dollop of treacle to the yeast when I mix the Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread. The green and gold syrup tin, consistent since 1883, also reminds me of boarding school, nostalgic memories of slathering golden syrup onto slices of Sister Marcella’s soda bread. Presumably it was cheaper than honey, but we loved its sweet, slightly malty taste. Nowadays I drizzle it on pancakes and use in a whole variety of sweet treats like chocolate and toffee squares and flapjacks. Here are a few of my favourite recipes to tempt you.
Florrie’s Chocolate and Toffee Squares
These much loved biscuits sometimes called Millionaire’s Squares are a fiddle to make, so get the maximum flavour for your effort by making them with butter and best quality chocolate.
Makes 24 or 32 Biscuit base 12 ozs (340g) self raising flour 8 ozs (225g) butter 4 ozs (110g) castor sugar Toffee Filling 8 ozs (225g) granulated sugar (can be reduced to 6 ozs) 8 ozs (225g) butter 4 tablespoons golden syrup 1 tin Nestles full creamed sweetened condensed milk Chocolate Top 6-8 ozs (170g-225g) Lesme, Callebaut or Valrhona chocolate, melted 1 large swiss roll tin 10 x 15 inch (25.5 x 38cm) First make the shortcake base. Mix the flour with the sugar, rub in the butter and work until the mixture comes together. Alternatively, blend the three ingredients in a food processor. Roll the mixture evenly into the lightly greased tin. Prick the base with a fork. Cook in a preheated oven 1801C/3501F/regulo 4 for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden in colour and fully cooked. Next make the filling. Melt the butter over a low heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the sugar, golden syrup and lastly the condensed milk, stir after each addition and continue to stir over a low heat for the next 20 minutes approx. (The toffee burns very easily so don't stop stirring.) When the toffee is golden brown, test by dropping a little blob into a bowl of cold water. A firm ball of toffee indicates a firm toffee, if its still a little soft continue to cook for a few more minutes but be careful if it gets too hard it will pull your teeth out later! When it reaches the correct stage pour it evenly over the shortbread base. Allow to cool. Melt the chocolate over a gentle heat preferably in a pyrex bowl over simmering water and spread evenly over the toffee. Decorate immediately with a fork to give a wavy pattern. Cut into small squares or fingers when the chocolate is set. Foolproof Food
This irresistible sauce is delicious served with ice-cream. Also great with pancakes and sliced bananas or chopped nuts, eg pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts, or with sticky toffee pudding.
4 ozs (110 g) butter 6 ozs (170 g) dark soft brown Barbados sugar 4 ozs (110 g) granulated sugar 10 ozs (285 g) golden syrup 8 fl ozs (225 ml) cream ¼ teaspoon vanilla essence Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla essence. Put back on the heat and stir for 2 or 3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth. Serve hot or cold. Note: This sauce will keep for several weeks stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge.
Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread
When making Ballymaloe brown yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which causes the bread to rise. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast. Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. White or brown sugar, honey golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle. The dough rises more rapidly with 30g (1oz) yeast than with 25g (¾oz) yeast.
We use a stone ground wholemeal. Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead - in fact it does not require kneading. The main ingredients - wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast are highly nutritious. Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker's yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet. Makes 1 loaf 450g (16oz) wholemeal flour OR 400g (14oz) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz) strong white flour 425ml (15floz) water at blood heat (mix yeast with 140ml (5floz) lukewarm water approx.) 1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses 1 teaspoon salt 30g (3/4oz -1oz) fresh non GM yeast sesame seeds – optional 1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx. sunflower oil Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 140ml (5floz) for 1 loaf and crumble in the yeast. Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Grease the bread tins with sunflower oil. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top. When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water, into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead. Put the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tins with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/gas mark 8 for 50-60 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges. We usually remove the loaves from the tins about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there's no need to do this. Makes 4 large or 5 smaller loaves 1.8 kg (4lb) wholemeal flour OR 1.5 kg (3 1/2lb) wholemeal flour plus 225g (1/2lb) strong white flour 1.6-1.7litre (2 3/4-3pints) approx. water at blood heat – use 285ml (1/2 pint) of the lukewarm water to mix with the yeast 1 tablespoon salt 2-3 well rounded teaspoons black treacle 50-100g (2-3oz) non GM yeast sesame seeds (optional) 4 or 5 loaf tins 13x20 (5x8inch) approx.
Elizabeth Mosses Gingerbread
Makes 2 loaves
1 lb (450g) flour 1/2 teasp. salt 1 1/2 teasp. ground ginger 2 teasp. baking powder 1/2 teasp. bread soda 1 fistful of sultanas if liked 8 ozs (225g) soft brown sugar 6 ozs (170g) butter, cut into cubes 3/4 lb (340g) treacle 1/2 pint (300ml) milk 1 egg, free range if possible 2 x 9inch (23cm) x 5inch (12.5cm) x 2inch (5cm) loaf tins lined with silicone paper Preheat the oven to 180C\350F\regulo 4. Sieve all the dry ingredients together. Gently warm the brown sugar with the cubed butter and treacle. Then add milk. Allow to cool a little and stir into the dry ingredients, add the beaten egg and the sultanas if desired. Mix very thoroughly and make sure that there are no little lumps of flour left. Bake in one or two lined loaf tins for approx. 1 hour in a moderate oven. This gingerbread keeps very well. Hot Tips Pig Out Day Courses with Frank Krawczyk Frank, one of Ireland’s best known and most respected salami and sausage makers will share the secrets of his art during a one-day action packed demonstration using every single part of a pig to produce a huge range of pork delicacies. Courses will be held on November 11th and 25th, enquiries to Frank Krawczyk, Derreenatra, Schull, Co Cork, Tel 028-28579 email; firstname.lastname@example.org Glebe Brethan An artisan gruyere-type cheese made from Montbeliarde cow’s milk has won a Gold Medal and a Major Category Award for Best New Cheese at the recent prestigious British Cheese Awards. Glebe Brethan is made on the Tiernan family farm in Dunleer, Co Louth where they have a long tradition of dairying. Tel Mairead or David Tiernan 041-6851157 email@example.com The first Soil Association Food Festival to be held in Scotland is taking place in Glasgow on 4 and 5 November. It promises to showcase the best in organic products in the run-up to the busy Christmas period. With Scotland accounting for over 50% of organically managed land in the UK there will be plenty of tasty organic food and drink on offer, as well as talks, tastings and much more. WhyOrganic[firstname.lastname@example.org] Darina’s book of the week Duchy Originals Cookbook by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler, published by Kyle Cathie. Duchy Originals was founded by Prince Charles in 1990. The company had a clear mission: to promote top-quality British food produced according to the principles of sustainable agriculture. The venture has succeeded beyond all expectations. Since making its debut with a delicious oaten biscuit made from organic grain grown on the Prince’s Gloucestershire farm, Duchy Originals has expanded its range to include more than 200 products, from Scottish heather honey to Essex Bronze turkeys. It is now one of Britain’s leading premium and organic food brands. The recently published, Duchy Originals Cookbook , enshrines the two principles that have guided the brand since its inception: to combine traditional wisdom with contemporary creativity and to encourage people to think about where their food has come from. Following the rhythms of the seasons, the authors Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler, spent a year immersed in the Duchy Originals world. They visit Duchy suppliers throughout the UK, from the Amiss family in Devon with their clouds of white geese to the venerable Walkers biscuit makers of Speyside in Scotland.
This recipe produces a soft, chewy ginger nut. These biscuits must not be overcooked or they will lose their ‘juiciness’. Duchy Originals don’t currently sell ginger nuts, but if they did, they would be as good as these.
Makes 35-40 biscuits You will need a silicone sheet or a well-greased baking tray and a wire rack. 150g (5½ oz) light muscovado sugar 50g (2oz) sesame seeds 15g (¾oz) dried ginger 50g (2oz) desiccated coconut 150g (5½oz) golden syrup 150g (5½oz) unsalted butter 200g (7oz) plain flour Preheat the oven to 140C/290F/gas mark 2 Combine the sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and desiccated coconut in a large bowl. Melt the golden syrup and butter together and combine with the above ingredients. Add the flour and stir into a thick paste. Pick up a little bit of the dough with a tablespoon and roll into a ball (a 15-20g(½-⅓oz) ball will make a medium-sized biscuit) Place the balls of biscuit mix on the baking tray, quite well spaced because they will spread during cooking. Bake immediately for 15 minutes. You don’t want the biscuits to brown. If they do, you are cooking them for too long or on too high a heat. When the biscuits come out of the oven they are a little flimsy so let them rest for a minute or two before you transfer them to cool on a wire rack. The ginger nuts will keep very well for a week or two in an airtight container.