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‘Bake For Britain’

Button for Weekend Cooking memeWeekend Cooking is hosted by Beth F, over at ‘Beth Fish Reads’. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. When leaving your link, don’t forget to leave a comment for Beth F, we all like to receive comments and share your thoughts.

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I came across this tiny, pocket sized book, in the charity shop where I volunteer and I just couldn’t resist buying it.

I am not much of an adventurous cook, so the fact that the recipes don’t have any pictures, doesn’t really worry me. It was the unique combination of recipes and ‘baking’ quotes, which had me intrigued.

Nothing seems to please a fly so much as to be taken for a currant, and if it can be baked in a cake and palmed off on the unwary, it dies happy ….. Mark Twain

I hope to be able to share some of the traditional and slightly quirky quotes, in my posts over the coming weeks and to start things off, I found a recipe to share with you, which represents my home County (State) of Somerset, UK.

Mention Somerset and the first thing almost anyone in the country would say, is ‘cider’. Not just the new designer varieties which come packaged in smart looking bottles, but the traditional ‘rough’ cider bought direct from the farm in gallon containers and strong enough to blow your head off! So it comes as no surprise that my recipe this week, will be of the slightly ‘boozy’ variety!

‘BAKE FOR BRITAIN’

Sumptuous scones with jam and clotted cream, lemon drizzle cake, Victoria sponge and brandy snaps – just a few of the sweet treats that get British taste buds tingling.

So whether you’re a bread boffin or a pastry pundit, put on your apron, dig out the mixing bowl and start the oven, because it’s time to go baking mad. Here’s a book packed with recipes and quotations that will sweeten your day as you bake your country proud.

Imge of a Somerset Cider Cake

SOMERSET CIDER CAKE – Serves 6-8

Ingredients

350 ml / 12 fl oz cider

150 g / 5 oz dark brown sugar

150 g / 5 oz butter, melted

4 cooking apples, peeled and grated

2 eggs, beaten

300 g / 11 oz plain flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

200 g / 7 oz golden sultanas

110g / 4 oz chopped pecans

Preparation Method

Preheat the oven to 180 c / Gas 4

Grease a 20 cm / 8 in easy-release or springform cake tin.

Boil the cider in a small pan over a medium heat until reduced by two-thirds.

In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Add the grated apple, eggs and cider and stir well.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour and add the baking soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Stir well, then pour in the cider and apple mixture.

Fold in the sultanas and pecans, and stir.

Transfer to the cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Image Of Adge Cutler & The Wurzels

Talking about all things cider and quirky, another of the most famous, or maybe infamous, of Somerset’s (Zummerzet) exports, has to be ‘The Wurzels’. A band of strangely dressed men, with odd looking instruments, who leapt onto the stage at the ‘Royal Oak Inn’, in Nailsea, Somerset, in December 1966 and proceeded to record a ‘live’ album for the EMI record company. On that day, ‘Wurzelmania’ hit the UK and Adge Cutler & The Wurzels started a musical revolution with their hit single ‘I Am A Cider Drinker’, which is still going strong to this day, despite the sudden passing of Adge, the ‘King Of Scrumpy & Western Music’, in 1974.

Adge was a Somerset man, who knew his homeland, its characters and their foibles. The wit of his lyrics encouraged Somerset folk to laugh at themselves. He was that rare bird – a born entertainer, who was just slightly bemused to the end, that his quirky little sing-along songs, extolling the virtues  of living in the land of cider and sunshine, had brought so much pleasure, to so many people.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7onOJ-QgXY0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUa3tztJp5yQtDtjrKqCi3cg

…. and what is literature compared with cooking? One is shadow and the other is substance ….. E.V. Lucas, English humorist, essayist, playwright, biographer and publisher.

I am looking forward to sharing all your great ‘foodie’ offerings this week and I hope that you all have a great weekend.

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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14 comments
  • Fantastic post Yvonne. I like the sound of Bake for Britain. That cider cake looks like it would go nicely with hot tea. The kind of cider I’ve had is hot apple cider and we drink it during the Fall and Winter months. There’s a nice farm not too far from us where we love to go during the Fall season for their fresh baked goods, which include apple cider donuts sprinkled with sugar.
    Nice touch with the Mark Twain quote and The Wurzels info. Wurzelmania! 🙂 Happy weekend.

    • Hi Naida,

      I think that the cake is quite substantial and would be perfectly suited to a nice cup of hot tea. Personally, as I don’t like milk, I tend to drink hot fruit teas, particularly lemon and ginger and I think that could be a nice refreshing foil to the richness of the cake.

      Many of the local farms still sell the raw ‘scrumpy’ cider, although this, like so many other things, is gradually being superceded by the designer ‘farm shops’, where bottled ciders in just about every flavour are being churned out and it just isn’t the same!

      At this time of year, we also have an abundance of ‘pick your own’ farms, where you can collect your empty carton and pick your own fruit and veg straight from the fields. At the moment, the most popular crop is strawberries and this year has been particularly good for fruits with a beautiful sweet flavour, although the season has been a little messed up with the weather and everything is about 3 weeks behind schedule.

      I would love your apple cider doughnuts, although only if I could sneak away without hubbie, as they would be his worst nightmare!

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that you are having a great weekend. The weather yesterday was gloriously warm and sunny, so we enjoyed a great day out with relatives. Today promises to be much quieter and full of household chores!

    • Hi Peggy,

      Cider, is a fermented alcoholic drink made from fruit juice, most commonly and traditionally apple juice, but also the juice of peaches or other fruit. Cider varies in alcohol content from 2% to 8.5%, or even more in the traditional English ‘scrumpy’ ciders. In some regions, such as Germany and United States, cider may be called “apple wine”, so perhaps this is how you know it?

      Cider is popular in the United Kingdom, especially in South West England (which is where I live) and East Anglia. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world.

      I love reading books of quotes and anecdotes, although I am not sure that I like Mark Twain’s idea of cooking flies in a cake!! I have also taken a relatively new interest in some poetry, so I am always on the lookout for any prose, which is foodie related and would work well in these ‘Weekend Cooking’ posts.

      It is great to talk to you again and I hope that you are keeping well.

  • Love this post, you had me laughing…”strong enough to blow your head off!” and “my recipe this week, will be of the slightly ‘boozy’ variety!”!! Too funny!!

    I’ve never had cider that I know of, but the Somerset version sounds better than our run of the mill cider. People don’t even make a face while drinking it, so it must be pretty mild!

    That Somerset Cider Cake looks so yummy, I might have to put on my baking hat and try it. I haven’t baked since Christmas so I should be past due.

    The Wurzels look like a group that would have been on a popular old tv show we had in the U.S. named Hee Haw

    • Hi Vicki,

      I seriously meant ‘blow your head off’. When we were very young and newly married, Dave used to buy the gallon containers of scrumpy direct from the farm. The only downside was that it used to go bad very quickly, so you more or less needed to drink the whole gallon in a weekend. Great you might think, but this stuff was so strong that after a couple of glasses you could feel the headache coming on and the room begin to sway, so just imagine what we were like after several glasses!

      Neither of us would even consider doing something so stupid these days and with the advent of the ‘designer’ ciders, there is no danger of it happening anyway. Whilst I am sure that the additives make it just as strong a drink, the extra added sugars and fruit flavours, make it completely unpalatable to us.

      I took a look a ‘Hee Haw’ on YouTube and with the presentation of the singing extracts, together with the style of dress, I can see where you might be coming from. ‘The Wurzels’ would certainly have fitted into the performing schedule quite nicely, although I am not sure that any US audience would have understood some of the ‘Somerset Twang’, by which I mean some of the words and phrases which seem unique to the County and sometimes makes me quite glad that I wasn’t actually born here and therefore don’t speak with such a broad local accent!

      Thanks for making this such a fun post, I wasn’t too sure just how US readers would react and have been pleasantly surprised.

  • Oh that book sounds fantastic! One of the things I really miss from the year I lived in the UK (in the early 1980s) is the cider. You can’t get good cider in the States. I love the sound of this cake and am bookmarking it for when the local apples start to ripen. Now off to YouTube to listen to the music.

    • Hi Beth,

      Ah! That would explain why a couple of other commenters actually asked me what cider was, although having said that, the cider here certainly isn’t what it usd to be. It is much more of a ‘designer’ statement these days, rather than a serious drink!!

      If you didn’t get down as far as The West Country when you lived in the UK, then ‘The Wurzels’ music will probably come as something of a shock. It is certainly very niche and in its time was almost a cult .. Certainly not at all typical of most of the area today, although there are some small pockets of local communities, which do reflect a bygone age of almost sedentary living.

      Thanks for giving us the bandwith to publish posts on such a wide range of topics and subjects in this meme, it is always fun.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I thought that I would try to feature a recipe which is specific to my part of the country and as cider is so synonymous with Somerset, this cake was the obvious choice.

      Now when you are talking about ‘cream teas’ .. fruit scones, liberally spread with strawberry jam and clotted cream, all washed down with a refreshing cup of hot English tea … then you have a turf war on your hands. Every county (state) in the South of the country, will claim this dish as their own, although I maintain that the only place you will find the ‘real deal’ thick and golden clotted cream, is Cornwall!

      Thanks for stopping by this week, your comments are truly appreciated.

  • I don’t know about the quality of our cider here in the States, but I order it whenever I’m out. There are several kinds of Magners served at the local pub, and other brands at other places. I love it! A cider cake sounds like just the thing. My only qualm is that I’m not sure what ‘sultanas’ are. I’m hoping that’s just a fancy word for raisins?

    Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    • Hi Cecelia,

      I still occasionally drink cider, although it needs to be a very hot day and I need to be very dry and looking for a long drink to quench my thirst. These days the only real alcohol I drink is a glass of cold, dry white wine, usually a ‘Chardonnay’, the rest of the time I tend to stick to soft drinks, usually bottled water.

      The more tried to sort out the US equivalent of sultanas, the more confused I became, no wonder we are described as two Nations separated by a common language!!

      This is the best article I could find, so I hope it helps, not that I think it would make much differece if you used raisins instead of sultanas!

      “There is often great confusion on the difference between dried fruits used in British cooking – the 3 most popular being raisins, sultanas and currants.

      Raisins are dried white grapes. They are dried to produce a dark, sweet fruit. The grapes used are usually Moscatel.

      Sultanas are also dried white grapes but from seedless varieties. They are golden in color and tend to be plumper, sweeter and juicier than other raisins. Also referred to as Golden Raisins in the US.

      Currants are dried, dark red, seedless grapes. They are dried to produce a black, tiny shrivelled, flavour-packed the grapes were originally cultivated in the south of Greece, and the name currant comes from the ancient city of ‘Corinth’.”

      Thanks for your interest in this weeks post, I appreciate you stopping by. I love ‘meeting’ new people, so your visits will always be welcome and your comments always appreciated.

    • Hi Betti,

      Thanks for stopping by today. I love ‘meeting’ new people, so your visits will always be welcome and your comments always appreciated.

      Going back a few years, the only place we were ever saw the huge, multi-layered and thickly iced cakes you describe, was when we visited the US, but they are becoming more and more available here in the UK now, although like yourself, I prefer something a little less sickly and a more ‘wholesome’ looking.

      I don’t tend to bake cakes very often anyway, but when I do, the recipe needs to be as minimalist as possible and not need much in the way of fancy decoration to finish it off. Besides which, there are only the two of us, so making a whole cake is such bad news, as we would only sit and eat it all between us, which is not good!

      Have a great week.

Written by Yvonne

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