Welcome!


This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Cheese and Olive Bread



This is a bit fancier than the bread which I normally bake, but it turned out to be a really easy recipe to follow and the resulting bread was delicious - crisp, flaky outer shell with cheese and olive filling - think a very large, crisper, savoury croissant and you are almost there.  

Delicious warm/hot straight from the oven, or reheat later.

9 oz bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
1/2 sachet yeast
3 1/2 fl oz hand-hot milk
1 egg, beaten
2 oz butter, chilled and cut into very small cubes

FILLING
2 oz stoned olives, sliced
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix together the beaten egg and warmed milk and then add them to the dry ingredients.   Turn the dough on to a board and knead until smooth and elastic.     (Compared to the vast batches of bread which I normally make this was a tiny amount and I found it a joy to knead such a small quantity!)

Place in a clean, greased bowl and cover.  Leave to double in size - about 30-40 minutes, depends how warm your kitchen is.

Turn the dough out and roll into a 6x12 inch rectangle.    Dot the bottom two-thirds of the dough with half the butter.   Fold the top third down over the centre third and then the bottom third up.  Seal the edges.   (All much easier than it sounds.)
Place the dough on a plate and chill for about 20 minutes.


Mix together the filling ingredients, save a little egg for glazing.
Roll the dough out into an oblong about 8x12 inches.   Spread the filling over the surface.  Roll along the long side, like a Swiss roll.   Shape into a ring.  Mine was more like a horseshoe, but never mind!
Place on a greased baking sheet.  Make a series of cuts around the ring, brush with beaten egg.   Leave to rise for about 30 minutes.

Plae in a preheated oven 220C/fan oven 200C or gas mark 7.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and wait for the gannets to descend.


I found the recipe in a WI book - Best-kept Secrets of the WI.

The outer bread case was crisp and flaky, the filling was like a savoury croissant.    When I make it next time I'll use a more mature cheese for a stronger flavour, but that is down to personal taste.   The grandchildren thoroughly enjoyed it, even if one did pick out all the olives.





Saturday, 13 May 2017

Chocolate and Rhubarb Tart

Chocolate pastry with a layer of chocolate custard topped with rhubarb which has been gently poached in red berry coulis.


I served it with an extra portion of the berry coulis - sharp, tangy, and delicious.   

Indulgent?  Yes!   

Sweet chocolate and tangy fruits, unctuous custard over a lovely crisp pastry base.   If you are not so keen on the sharper notes just add more sugar to the fruit.

I used a Victorian recipe for the pastry.   I am tweaking the balance of ingredients at the moment because I found it very difficult to handle.    Once I have it perfected I will post it here.     This pastry makes the most delicious and crisp base for a tart or pie.

Make a thick chocolate custard and spread it on the base of the baked pastry shell, top it with the poached rhubarb and add a little of the red berry coulis.    Chill.  Serve with extra red berry coulis.  Simple!

Because I made this up as I went along, I haven't got any accurate weights and quantities to share with you, next time I make it I will take note.

I used two sticks of rhubarb, washed, trimmed, stringy bits removed, sliced about half an inch thick and very gently poached in red berry coulis.

The coulis was simply made with some red berries from the freezer, I defrosted them and then gently heated them in a saucepan, along with a dessertspoonful of dark brown sugar.     I just let them do their own thing on the slow plate of the Rayburn, so the heat was very gentle.

Push the berries through a sieve and discard the seeds.   The resulting coulis didn't look quite enough to poach the rhubarb in, so I added a small glug of blackcurrant juice and then tumbled the rhubarb into the pan and left them to slowly and very gently poach.  The key to this is a really low heat.   The rhubarb will cook through but will also keep its shape and take on the most beautiful ruby red colour.

Pile the cooled rhubarb on top of the custard, pour over a little of the coulis.   

Chill the tart for an hour or so and then enjoy those taste and texture sensations!