Sunday, November 25, 2012

A New England Christmas Pudding for Stir Up Sunday

Will you join me on my somewhat experimental journey this Stir Up Sunday the traditional day for making your Christmas Pudding in times past - let's revive the tradition I say!! - and make a slightly different Christmas Pudding which I am calling New England Christmas Pudding because of the addition of cranberry sauce and pumpkin puree - although to be fair Brits do eat cranberry sauce by the bucket load at Christmas but with it being so close to Thanksgiving I feel these ingredients have a more American bent. I haven't made this pudding before so I won't be able to tell you how it comes out or tastes until Christmas Day itself. If you'd like a more traditional pudding I did one a few years ago HERE or Auntie Beeb (The BBC) has a good recipe too - right HERE. Having looked at quite the number of Christmas Pudding recipes over the last couple of weeks I have to tell you white flour is about the only consistent ingredient - oh and sugar but other than that there are recipes with breadcrumbs, figs, prunes, raisins, with eggs, without eggs, with apples, potatoes, carrots and on and on - they do all get the living daylights steamed out them though and that seems to be the key to their rich and dense nature. I have adapted this recipe from one I found on Pinterest from Babble Food I have added grated ginger and nutmeg and garam masal - a trick I found from Passionate About Baking when Deeba added it to her Fruit Cake a couple of years ago - a rich and fragrant spice that is perfectly suited to the exotic nature of a Christmas Cake or Pudding whose spicy additions help 'keep' the cake over it's month of maturing. So off we go. 

Firstly you will need to soak 3oz/1/2 cup of raisins in 3 fluid ounces of hot strong tea or apple juice for about 5 hours until they are nice and plump.

Now have a double boiler bubbling away ready to receive your lovely pudding.

6oz/1 1/2 cups of white plain flour
7oz/1 cup of sugar - white or brown your choice
2 eggs beaten
2oz/2 tablespoons butter melted
4oz/ 1/2 cup cranberry relish/sauce/compote - I made my own recipe below below
4oz/ 1/2 cup pumpkin puree - I did my own from a pie pumpkin - I find it is less watery.
Pie pumpkin ready for steaming - you steam with the skin on - something I learned the hard way when I spent hours making my first pumpkin pie due to peeling a very large pumpkin before steaming and making my hands so sore - when it it soft you can so easily scoop the flesh from the skin - DUH!!!!
 1oz candied peel - I did my own that's why it looks a little grey and not bright orange like the commercial stuff - but that's OK for this recipe, I mean the commercial stuff, you don't have to make your own.
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of garam masala - you don't have to use this if you don't want - you can use 1 teaspoon of cloves or mace.
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Tea soaked raisins, homemade candied orange peel, homemade cranberry relish, fresh ginger and nutmeg - YUM!!
1. Sift and swish all the dry ingredients together.

2. Mix all the wet ingredients together.

3. Mix the wet into the dry in batches until well blended.

That was hard!!!

4. Pour the batter into a greased basin that is about 5" high and 7" diameter - or you could use 2 smaller ones to the same effect - same amount of time steaming.

5. Cover well and leave in a cool place, but not the fridge, for a few hours or overnight to help lighten the pudding.
6. When you are ready to steam put a circle of buttered paper on the top of each pud and then cover tightly with aluminium foil and tie with string leaving long ends for easy putting into and taking out of the steamer!
Now put into a double steamer basket so the basin/s are not touching the water and steam the little darlings for about 3 hours, make sure you keep checking the water isn't getting too low.

7. Take puds out and let cool, then store away in a covered container til Christmas Day (again not the fridge) when you will retrieve them from their resting and maturing place and you steam them, YES AGAIN, for about another three hours. You will end up with a delicious fruity, moist pudding which you decant from their basins, serve hot and slather in brandy butter which is a simple combination of butter (12 tbsps), brown sugar (1/4 cup) and 6 tablespoons of brandy...cream butter and sugar together until light, beat in brandy a little at a time...very simple, a little crunchy and oh so delicious on a Christmas can also do the traditional lighting of the Pud by pouring a couple of tablespoons of brandy over the top of the pud and lighting it with a burns off quite quickly and looks beautiful. Happy steaming!!
Nice bright Cranberry relish made from Maine cranberries - yea!!
Apparently cranberry growing is back on the rise in Maine - HERE are some cranberry facts from the Ricker Hill website.
6oz fresh cranberries
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup apple juice/cider (not alcoholic cider)
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 garlic clove (yes I put garlic in the pudding - you can leave it out if you like but I thought I'd be really daring)
2oz/ 14 cup sugar
2.5 fl oz/ 1/4 cup water
Put all the above into a small saucepan and cook until thick and red and lovely - allow to cool before using in your pudding. 
 As you can see I am working on some Christmas ideas and my handmade felt snowman and Santa are lounging around whilst I make my pudding.
Let me know if you venture with me on my Christmas Pudding SHEAnanigans:)

For those of an even more adventurous spirit here's another recipe from the book "Good Things from England" by Florence White - I am intrigued and may make this one soon too.


4ozs potatoes peeled and grated (that's a good start for me - love my spuds I do!!)
4ozs carrots
3oz sugar
4oz mixed currants and raisins
3oz suet but you can probably use butter
1/2 oz candied peel 
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
A little milk if necessary

Same as above for buttering pudding basin, having steamer ready etc.
1. Mix everything but the egg and milk together and then blend in the egg and a little milk to make a loose batter and proceed as for above.
I'll let you know if I make it :) 
Happy Baking, or rather steaming! - Patricia

Here's a slice of said pudding with a big old dollop of brandy butter melting on top - tastes so much more appetizing than this picture looks :)
By the way you will notice there are no plums in my Christmas Pudding and there are usually no plums in most of them these days - I have heard two different explanations for this - either they were originally made with prunes which are dried plums OR the word plum was used latterly for expensive or excellent - of the best quality. Whichever is it we may never know but I would like to make one with prunes - that sounds awfully good to me. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Stir Up Sunday and Cyber Monday - it' a busy weekend I'll say!

Because of the amazing auspices of the world wide web and social media teeny tiny companys of ONE such as myself now have a fantabulous vehicle to get their message and work out into the world in a way one could never have even dreamed of ten short years ago - and now, as an artist who specializes in print on demand, my choices grow larger and ever more wonderful almost every day with all sorts of great products coming online for me to adorn with my designs.

With the busiest shopping weekend of the year upon us here in America (for those of you not here but in other lands Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, Small Business Saturday is when many people shop with their small local merchants and Cyber Monday is when everyone goes nuts shopping online) I can now offer to you, my adoring public - tee hee - some excellent deals at three of my online stores.

 At my CafePress shop where you can now buy all the new items you see pictured above and below as well as apparel, iPhone and iPad cases and so much more there is 15% off purchases of $50 and over until December 10th when you use this code SHOPUP at checkout

20 x 20 napkins
20" x 20" canvas pillows with inserts
 I now also have pillows available at my Society6 shop - they come in 3 sizes (16", 18" and 20") with and without inserts and are printed to the edge and on both sides. From now until Monday evening there is FREE Worldwide shipping - YIIPPPPEEEE!!!!!!!!!! well as iPhone cases and skins and prints and stretched canvases

 and at my Etsy shop, where you will find archival prints and stickers such as the image below, please use this coupon code SHOPHAPPY for 10% off each and every item in the shop until Monday night at midnight East Coast.

Do consider joining with American Express and millions of people this Small Business Saturday November 24th and shop small with your local merchants across the country.

Now what may you ask is Stir Up Sunday - well that would be this Sunday November 25th and it's the traditional day to make your Christmas Puddings - I have a new recipe this year that has some very New England items in it so stop back in a couple of days to find out what they are.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maple Parsnip Pecan Apple Syrup Maple Syrup Cake with Toffee icing also now known as Harvest Cake - phew!!

This is a simple but time consuming cake - a lot like a light, moist carrot cake but more gingery and just GOOD!!! - doesn't take any particular baking skills but there's a lot of components so please do read through the recipe before you start to see what you need to do and when and whether you think the effort is worth it - the original cake HERE (from Tasting Table - recipe by Michel Richard) didn't have any toffee sauce, apple cider syrup or buttercream so you could do that if you want to keep it much simpler :)
This cake improves with time so you may want to make the day before Thankies!!

First make the Apple Cider Syrup and allow to cool completely before use:
APPLE CIDER SYRUP - make lots of this it is really good on pretty much ANYTHING!

If you use 16fl ounces of apple cider (that would be juice in England not alcoholic cider) all you have to do is gently boil it down until there is only 6fl ounces left - that's it! When it cools it will go syrupy - if it doesn't, depending on the water content of your juice, then just simmer it a bit more.
 Allow to cool.
Now make the Sticky Toffee Apple Sauce:

2 1/2oz brown sugar
 1 1/2 oz butter
2 tablespoons cream or half and half
6 tablespoons apple cider syrup

1. Heat sugar, cream and butter together in a small pan until sugar has dissolved and allow to bubble for a minute or so.
2. Add the apple cider syrup and stir and bubble for a minute or two again - keep warm but not hot.
The original recipe uses just almond meal - I chose to go half almond, half pecan so to make 2 cups/7ozs nut meal:
 3 1/2oz pecans and 3/12 oz almonds - toast in a 350f oven for about 10 minutes until the smell is divine and the nuts are toasted but not burnt - be careful not to burn them so do keep an eye out and check every couple of minutes.
Allow to cool COMPLETELY - if they are not completely cold they will get oily when you grind them.
Take some of the flour from the recipe below and put some nuts and flour in a coffee grinder and grind 'til fine - do not overgrind as the nuts will get oily and that's not good for the recipe OR just buy ground almonds/meal from the shops and stop mucking about with nuts!! 
OKEE DOKKEE here we go - have all your ingredients at room temperature and set the oven to 350F. Please try to weigh your ingredients as it is so much more reliable for the recipe to work.

  2 cups/7ozs almond meal or very finely ground almonds or half and half finely ground almonds and pecans

¾ cup/2 1/2 ozs white all purpose/plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon - I don't really like cinnamon so I substituted freshly ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup/4 fl ozs pure maple syrup OR 1/2 cup/2 fl ozs maple syrup and 1/2 cup/2 fl ozs apple cider syrup
2ozs toasted whole pecans for decoration
A thing of beauty maple syrup and apple cider syrup together...ahhhh
 8 tablespoons (1 stick)/4ozs unsalted butter, melted - I always use salted myself

2 large eggs whisked

4 teaspoons freshly grated ginger - here's how you peel ginger - with the tip of a spoon - 
2 medium parsnips weighing a total of 4ozs - maybe 5 before you've peeled them - peeled and grated (about 2 cups)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack in the center.
2. Butter the bottom of a 9-inch-round cake pan (I made half the recipe and used a 6" pan as I was testing the cake and there's only two of us but now having eaten the cake I would go for the full size cake as the small one was actually a bit small even for just 2 of us - for Thankies if you want a good sized cake for say 6 people I would actually double this recipe and make a layer cake with more buttercream - always more buttercream!!) and line it with a round of parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper and sides of the pan. (As you can see I stupidly didn't do this parchment part and it would have been easier to extricate the cake if I had!!)
3. In a large mixing bowl whisk the almond/pecan meal with the flour, baking soda, cinnamon or nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, apple cider syrup, melted butter and whisked eggs.
5. Beat at medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
6. Stir in the dry ingredients a cup at a time, mixing between each addition until just combined.
7. Finally stir in the ginger and parsnips.
 8. Pour the (very wet) batter into the prepared pan.
 9. Bake for between 40 to 55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is shrinking away from the sides of the pan:

 Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before unmolding. Let cool to room temperature and either keep it plain like this OR let's gild that lily!!!
As you can see this is not a high rising cake - so more is better - in future I would make two small cakes like this and sandwich with the almond buttercream.

Whilst the cake is cooling make the buttercream:

8ozs/2 sticks room temperature butter (yup - I use salted but I know many people use sweet - here the salt really works with the other flavours)
Bag o' icing/confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider syrup
1 teaspoon almond essence/extract

Cream butter 'til light and fluffy - slowly add sugar and liquid flavours and beat between additions until you get the taste you like - if the texture goes wonky because of the liquids add more sugar and beat beat beat it should come back together.

Now pipe the buttercream as you wish - I do a circle on the top which forms a wall for the apple toffee sauce - and place the toasted pecans as you wish - every other piped rosette is the way I go - now admire your work and IF YOU CAN STAND IT wait til the next day to eat it - it improves with flavour overnight!!!! - otherwise get the kettle on and eat the whole thing NOWWW!!!!

Happy Baking, let me know if you make it and please post your pics of PARSNIPPY goodness on my Facebook page HERE!!!

I just entered this recipe into the

Extra Veg Blog Challenge


 and also this Tea Time Treats Round up at The Hedgecombers and Lavender and Lovage

Enjoy this story from our archive, originally sent to TT members on .

Carrot's Cousin An easy cake that screams autumn Chef Michel Richard is righ Maple-Parsnip Cake Recipe adapted from Sweet Magic: Easy Recipes for Delectable Desserts, by Michel Richard (Harper Collins) Yield: One 9-inch cake INGREDIENTS 2 cups almond meal or very finely ground almonds ¾ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup pure maple syrup 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 2 large eggs 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger 6 medium parsnips, peeled and grated (about 2 cups) ½ cup toasted pecans DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position a rack 4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the pecans over the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted

 in the center comes out clean, about 40 to 55 minutes. 

Transfer to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before unmolding. Let cool to room temperature, slice and serve.

Read more:
Tea Time Treats

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Steamed Treacle Pudding - which has no treacle in it!

Ahhhhhhh....a lovely, sticky steamed pudding to start the chilly season off right. Now here's the conundrum - why is it called Treacle (molasses) pudding when in fact it has not treacle but Golden Syrup in it - hmmmmm - I did my research and found that golden syrup used to be called light treacle and there we have our answer.

Steamed puddings are simple to make but time consuming as they need hours of steaming before they are ready but if you have never made one or tasted one you are in for a treat - they have a texture similar to a dense cake, they are moist and really delicious with that gooey sticky dome atop accompanied by lashings of hot custard - well what more could you ask for?. Why not give a try - you could use any jam for the topping if you can't find golden syrup - but do try to find it as it's such a delightful buttery sweetness.

So off we go!


4 level tablespoons Golden Syrup
4oz (1/2 cup) (100g) butter
2oz (1/4 cup) (50g) granulated or caster sugar
2oz (1/4 cup) (50g) soft brown sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
6oz (3/4 cup) (150g) all-purpose (plain) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 - 3 tablespoons milk

1.Set a steamer to boil.

2. Grease a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin and spoon Golden Syrup into the bottom - to do this easily heat the tablespoon in very hot water before you fill with each tablespoon of syrup and the syrup will drop very easily from the spoon.

3. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar together until light in texture.
4. Mix vanilla essence/extract into the beaten eggs.

5. Gradually add beaten egg and vanilla to the butter sugar mix and beat well between additions.

6. Sift half the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold in gently with metal spoon then repeat with remaining flour and baking powder.

7. Add enough milk to obtain a dropping consistency - ie when you shake a dollop of the batter from the spoon it falls off easily back into the bowl.
8. Spoon the pour batter on top of syrup in pudding basin and spread to the edges to seal so the syrup won't bubble out of the bottom of the bowl during cooking.
9. Cover basin with a circle of parchment/waxed paper...... 
 and then a circle of foil.
 10. Then tie with string as seen here leaving a length of string over to use to safely bob the bowl in and out of the steamer without burning your fingers.
11. Place in steamer, cover and steam for 1 1/2 hours - make the custard you will NEED to go with the pudding, for what is a British steamed pudding without custard, whilst the pudding is steaming - recipe is below.
12. Remove from the steamer and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before removing the covers and finding your pudding has ballooned and now has a domed top - soon to be the bottom - so....cut the sponge level with the top of the bowl and invert onto a plate and allow to plop down et voila - you have a steamed treacle pudding - I did pour some more golden syrup on the top so it would trickle lovingly down the sides of the pudding.
 Now you must make custard to go with it - here are the instructions for that - actually, make your custard while the pudding is steaming.


from "Irish Traditional Food" by Theodora FitzGibbon, a goodly trusty cookbook

1 heaped tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 duck egg and 1 duck egg yolk whisked together, large regular eggs work just as well
10 fl oz/ 1 1/4 cups whole milk


1. Beat together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl.
2. Have another double boiler on the go.
3. Heat the milk to almost boiling in the top part of the double boiler but on the stove top to make it go faster.
4. Stir a little of the hot milk into the egg mix and then a bit more to temper the temperature.
5. Then put the top part of the double boiler back over the bottom and the boiling water and whisk the egg and milk mix into the rest of the milk
6. Do not leave the custard alone now until it is finished or it will curdle whilst you are not looking and you will have to start again. SO stir and stir and stir with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon as in the picture take the spoon out of the custard, turn the spoon over, run your finger through the custard and if the line doesn't fill back in it is ready, don't let it cook too long or get too hot as the eggs will start to turn into scrambled eggs and the sauce will be grainy.....take off the heat immediately and continue to stir.
HAPPY STEAMING EVERYONE: Let me know how you do and as always please feel free to post pictures of your divine puddings on my Facebook page HERE!

For those of you who may be interested for one day only 
 there will be FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING from my SPOONFLOWER shop on all my designs on fabric , wallpaper and , for a limited tie, giftwrap. Happy Shopping - Patricia

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Cut and Sew Holiday Cocktail Napkin design for Spoonflower

Here is my entry to this week's Spoonflower competition whose mandate was as follows: Using a fat quarter (21" x 18") as your fabric canvas, create a set of Holiday themed cocktail napkins. We suggest sizing them up at 4.5 square with an additional 1/4" on each side to be used as a seam allowance.

Realizing that I had some extra space after the layout was complete I decided to embellish a little so the whole fat quarter had a nice cohesive look - something I have learned from other talented Spoonflowerers on cut and sew layouts. 

I began with the kernel of an idea I had sketched in pencil many years ago - a simple plaid tree:
...and after wambling through a number of concepts of varying complexity I decided to stick with a nice simple, shabby chic somewhat retro, old fashioned handkerchief design which I painted up in watercolour on paper in 4 individual motifs and a separate border design.

Here is the check holly with berries:
and polka dot versions of these two motifs:
Then I added a simple, clean border including a faux running stitch resulting in a set of four designs repeated three times on the fat quarter giving a set of one dozen cocktail napkins for your next Holiday party - phew, long sentence!

Would you do me the honour of voting for my design HERE 

There are 12 pages of designs and I'm afraid you can't skip to the end once you have found my design but there are some lovely and sweet designs on there so feel free to vote for as many designs as you like - you do so by just clicking on the design and a green box comes up around it...the images are shuffled for each view so I cannot say which page my design will be on.

In the next few days I will be redoing this cocktail napkin layout with my Pink Cupcake and am also planning on taking these Holiday motifs above and rendering them for wall decals at Spoonflower and all manner of fun things at my CafePress shop such as cocktail plates, coasters, a cocktail shaker, wine cooler and trays to complete the cocktail party motif, and also greeting cards, mugs, totes and more - which of my products would you like to see this design adorn?

PS You'll notice at my Spoonflower shop that all my designs are currently available for the Holiday season as rolls of gift wrap - just click on the link to purchase! Yippee!!

Thanks so very much from the bottom of my little cotton socks for your vote - Patricia  

 Now - who's up for Treacle Pudding? - my next recipe.