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Black Treacle & Stem Ginger Cake

Black Treacle & Stem Ginger Cake SONY DSC

Freshly baked cakes for our guests

Every changeover day I make something for our Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns guests arriving that afternoon, and in the interlude, John, Janet and Carol or whoever’s helping us that day will also all enjoy a slice or two before our guests arrive.

It is never a hardship for me, as I love baking (indeed all cooking) and it is always nice to do be doing it when you know how appreciative the eater/s tend to be. When we first started Tom’s Barn I made a cake because I simply thought that is what one did – we always have something in our tins in the house, to be produced when anyone drops in! We hadn’t realised that it would become something a bit special. Non-bakers particularly are amazed and experienced bakers usually ask for the recipe…

I have been asked for this Black Treacle & Stem Ginger Cake recipe several times recently. In fact, I fondly but wrongly thought it was already in the blog recipe section, but now it really is. It is a very favourite recipe of us all, and all credit must go to Mary Berry for the original recipe, adapted slightly by me over the years.

Tom’s and Douglas’s Barn Black Treacle & Ginger Cake
(Adapted from a Mary Berry recipe)

Cake
225g soft butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
225g black treacle or sometimes I use molasses
275g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
4 eggs
4 tbsp milk
3 bulbs stem ginger chopped finely
Generous handful chopped/broken pecans or walnuts

Measure all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix for about 2 minutes, either by hand or in an electric mixer. Pour into a non-stick (or lined with greased foil) deep baking dish approx 9”x12”. I use the small Aga baking tin

Bake at 180’C/Gas 4 or in the top oven of an Aga with the cold plain sheet hanging on the second set of runners until it looks cooked i.e. firm and golden brown. I start looking after about 30 minutes.

Icing
125g icing sugar (more probably!)
About 4 tbsp stem ginger syrup from the jar (use more if you have taken more icing sugar)
Handful chopped nuts and ideally more finely chopped than I have in this photo!

Mix all together to get a good spreading consistency and spread over the baked cake.
Sprinkle with chopped nuts

Keep Calm and Carry on Eating Cake

Tom's & Douglas's Barns Cherry Bakewell

In spite of the fact we get very few people actually commenting on the blog friends, guests and often complete strangers will email us, or tell me on Facebook or at parties how much they actually enjoy reading our blog. They do say they enjoy John’s photos too which doesn’t surprise me. I really enjoy writing the posts, just wish I had more time to indulge my weakness! It feels just like keeping in touch with friends, and is a wonderful pastime and stress reliever.

Some nice soul emailed this today: I regularly keep up to date with your blogs; they are a joy to read and much more cheerful than the news, national or international.

Potentially much more cheerful than the news or indeed our blogs, tonight I have a newish recipe which i have tried out twice now and which has received the thumbs up from guests, family and friends. It is a variation on the permanent favourite Fake Bakewell. Perhaps we ought to call it a Cherry Fakewell?

I asked John to take a photo, but he wasn’t quite quick enough before most of the last batch had disappeared, hence the rather sparse display on the plate.

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns
Cherry Special Bakewell Tart

If you think of the basic recipe as being for every egg 4 oz of ground rice/ground almonds, sugar and butter you can make the size you want. I always make this in a large Aga baking tray so it is the basic recipe times four. For normal family use one would probably do half, i.e. 2 eggs etc.

Recipe:
1lb good (Stork) soft margarine (or butter if you’re feeling expansive)
I lb sugar
*1/2lb ground rice
*1/2lb ground almonds
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Almond extract
Flaked almonds
Fresh stoned cherries, or one tin of cherries, well drained
Short crust pastry (either a bought block or made with 1lb flour)
About half jar jam (sharpish like raspberry, blackcurrant or homemade plum) For the Cherry Bakewell I used cherry jam and some raspberry, as the latter seems a bit softer and possibly moister.

Method:
Roll out the pastry and line the tin you are using. Spread the jam over, and cherries if using. Ideally put the tin (layered with cherries and jam) into the fridge but I can’t say I always – or actually ever – do!

Melt the butter/marge and sugar in a saucepan on a lowish heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar completely dissolves into the melted butter. Add the ground rice/almonds and leaving it on the heat, stir for a minute or two until it is all well mixed and smooth. Take off the heat, and when it is a bit cooler, stir in the beaten eggs and a generous teaspoon and a bit (to size and taste) of almond extract.

Pour the mixture onto the pastry. Sprinkle generously with flaked almonds and pop it into the oven. In the Aga (2-door) I put it on the bottom grid of the top oven with the cold plain sheet over, for about 25-30 minutes+ until it is firm, looks golden and the almonds nicely coloured.

*It is perfectly delicious – and I rather think better – made with just ground rice and no ground almonds at all, but I often do half and half. I’ve never (yet) done it with all ground almonds.

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns Recipes: Pecan and Molasses Cake

This week was the first time I had made this tray bake recipe, saved (and considerably adapted) from a Sainsbury’s 2006 magazine. It has taken me six years to try it and I wish I had sooner. Both lots of guest have asked for the recipe, so I have tried to remember what I did which varies quite a bit from the original recipe I have in front of me as I write. Perhaps to be safe I will make this again for Monday’s guests before posting this! (I have and it was fine. In fact, none left for John to photograph! So you will have to imagine it…)

I used molasses but you could use black reacle or molasses; you could also substitute walnuts for the pecans without making a great difference to the final taste.

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns Recipes: Pecan and Molasses Cake

For the cake

1 x 375g pack stoned chopped dates (or chop them yourself)

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1tsp instant coffee granules OR 1 tsp Camp coffee

75g soft butter

125g caster sugar

100g molasses or black treacle

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

275g plain flour

11/2 tsp baking powder

1x100g pack shelled pecan nuts, roughly chopped

salt

23 x 30cm (12” x 9”) non-stick deepish baking tin (if you think it may not be deep enough, to be safe line with parchment with the sides standing 5cm (2”) proud of the tin

For the Topping

75g chopped pecan nuts

75g dark brown sugar

1tsp Camp coffee or instant granules

1tbs molasses or black treacle

Method

Preheat the oven to 190’C, fan 170”C, gas 5

Put the chopped dates into a bowl and pour 310ml boiling water over them.

Sprinkle the bicarb on the top, and the coffee, and leave to stand.

Put the butter, sugar, molasses, egg and vanilla extract into a food processor and whizz until the mixture is creamy.

Drain the dates, keeping the liquid.

Add the flour, baking powder, a pinch of salt and the liquid from the dates to the mixture in the processor and whizz again until well mixed.

Add the dates and nuts and pulse until the dates and nut are chopped – but not too finely – and well mixed into the cake mixture

Scrape into the baking tin. Level the top and sprinkle in the mixed topping ingredients over the top.

Bake on the middle shelf (bottom shelf of an Aga hot oven, with the cold plain sheet hanging on the second rungs down) for 25-30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.

Prize-Winning Biscuit Recipe

My cake may not have been rated by the Parwich Horticultural Show judge (apparently a genuine Home Economics teacher) nor my jam, but I take heart from the fact my biscuits were given FIRST PRIZE! I must admit it is a very good recipe so I can’t take all that much credit; they do always taste pretty special although you must be careful not to burn them…

Before I begin, you must forgive a cook ‘d’un certain age’ who still uses imperial measurements. I will leave any translation into metrics to you. The recipe – possibly South African – was given to my sister and me when we were still at school (in what is now Zimbabwe) and we have both made them pretty consistently ever since so the recipe (imperial measurements and all) has withstood the passage of time and in my case continents.

Ingredients

6 oz butter              2oz icing sugar              5oz flour            2 level teaspoons baking powder             3oz custard powder

Method

Cream the butter and icing sugar until well mixed and soft. Sift in the dry ingredients and knead (by hand or in a processor) until everything is completely mixed in and smooth.

Roll small pieces of the dough into walnut sized balls. Place them – not too close together – on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper. Flatten them with a fork.

Bake in a moderate oven, or on the grid shelf of the floor of the roasting oven in an Aga, with the cold plain shelf slid along the second set of rungs from the top.

They will probably take about 20-25 minutes to cook, depending on how big you make them, but start looking after about 15, because they burn quite easily.  When ready they are yellowish and firm.

Gluts in the Veg Patch: Chocolate Courgette Cake

Making good use of a glut of courgettesThe ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ creeps upon us. Blackberries are ripening, courgettes are turning into marrows while one’s back is momentarily turned, the plums on our old tree are turning a beauiful golden red and are already as sweet as honey, the apple tree can hardly cope with all the apples and the damsons are darkening by the hour. We’re all going to have a busy time and it doesn’t stop with the picking. After the jam and chutneys, the apple puree and damson gin, what to do with all the courgettes?

Soup (lovely), chutneys and pickle (also lovely) chocolate and courgette cake – also sounds very lovely. Riverford Farm have the recipe which you will find the link to  here  but also in their recipe book, page. I tried it yesterday. It smelt delicious but it certainly was a tad on the heavy, somewhat squadgy side. Perhaps 1lb of grated courgete is askig a bit much, and rather more likely, I perhaps should have left it in the oven a little longer. It was compulsive eating though, I kept trying yet another bit, just to reassure myslef that it was really deliciousl. I wonder what our guests’ reaction is… – I hope they will let us know. Meanwhile, here is the link to the recipe, courtesy of Riverford. Do let me know what you think if you make it. i shall certainly try agai as my first attempt was not an unqualified success (and I usually have quite agood success rate with cakes although i say it myself).

More Recipes & Recommendations from Tom’s & Douglas’s Barns

Vincent's Crispy Almond BiscuitsI am almost too embarrassed to show my head again, having written nothing for about a week apart from last night’s poppy seed cake post. The ‘busy’ excuse is wearing a bit thin, although it remains true – more about what we’ve been doing later but meanwhile, down to some food tips.

Two lots of recent guests have been to and thoroughly enjoyed The Packhorse, at Crowdecote. This is one of many pubs that has gone up and down like a yoyo, starting from a good high; apparently it is very pleasing again. The setting is certainly superb and worth the trip alone.Do let us know if you do visit, meanwhiloe john and I intend to as soon as is decentl;y possible. (Note they are shut Monday and Tuesday.) A restaurant that one or two have written highly of recently is Rowley’s, in Baslow. Rowley’s is now part of our Peak District Premier Cottages Privileges scheme so all the more reason to visit!

Ages ago I promised the Poppyseed Cake recipe, which I posted last night. Now I am about to reveal a delicious French recipe for a crispy almond biscuit, ‘croquant‘. Last weekend we met amongst other people a very charming French couple who produced these croquants to everybody’s delighted enjoyment! Vincent, the Frenchman, gave me the address of his (French) blog site where I found his recipe, also in French but which even to my rusty French brain was very easy to translate, so here goes:

Les Croquants
3 egg whites
125g flour
320g sugar
120 g almonds (either ground, or finely chopped)

Mix together all the ingredients. Put tiny, very well-spaced spoonfuls (they spread a lot) onto a lined baking tray. Bake at 200′ for about 20 minutes (check!). Leave the biscuits on the tray for at least 15 minutes after you have taken them out of the oven.

Lemon, Lime & Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake

As many of you know, I enjoy making – as well as eating – cakes; the regular Friday cake-baking session for our guests is never a chore. A couple of weekends ago I found myself offering to make two large ‘traybakes’ for the Flaxdale Open Garden and as I am always on the look out for new recipes decided to try one of Mary Berry’s Poppy Seed cake recipes.

It turned out OK but looked very speckly and I did wonder whether the crowds at Flaxdale might be a bit apprehensive – it even just occured to me that some of the older visitors might have wondered for a horrible moment about weevils. Remember them? Anyway, nobody mentioned weevils and in fact I was rather surprised but very delighted that everybody seemed to simply love it (thanks, Mary Berry!); lots asked for the recipe.

So by genuine popular demand I reproduce the recipe, which I adapted slightly to incorporate what I did/didn’t have in the larder. I made a large amount in a large Aga Baking tray. Halve it if you want a normal tray bake tin size (sorry to be so scientific). Apparently it is an Australian recipe, and I have just checked up with Sara (in Sydney) who confirms that you certainly so see it around (also ‘Lamingtons’).

Lemon, Lime & Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake
450g SR flour
450g sugar
6 eggs
350g soft margarine
3 level tsp baking powder
Grated rind 2 lemons & 2 limes
12 tbs milk
80g poppy seeds

Crunchy Topping
350g Demerara or granulated sugar
Juice of the 2 lemons & 2 limes

Line your baking tin with foil or whatever you normally use. Grease well.
Put all the cake ingredients into a mixer or bowl and beat well until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour the cake mixture into the tin.
Bake in an electric oven at 180’ or in an Aga (top oven, lowest runners with the cold plain sheet in the second set of runners) for about 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and coming away slightly at the sides.
Remove the cake from the oven. Mix the lemon/lime juice into the topping sugar and pour it all over the top of the still hot cake. When it is almost cold take the cake out of the tin.

Chuy’s Oat and Raisin Cookies

I did warn that publishing the Fake Bakewell recipe had started something… It probably isn’t surprising because so many of our guests love good food, and many love cooking, and for many the opportunity to cook meals or bake treats in a well-equipped kitchen with no other pressure on the time is a real, relaxing treat. (OK, it may not be for everybody, but we are no longer surprised at the number of guests for whom this has been one of many highlights of their stay in both Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns).

The day after the Bakewell tart post, the lovely Chuy, staying in Tom’s Barn, brought us a plate of very delicious biscuits she had made. One nibble of a cookie rapidly turned into a three cookie binge and I just had to ask if she would share the recipe. I shall certainly add it now to my  Friday changeover day repertoire, and possibly others will soon like to make the cookies themselves as well, so here it is. John set up photographing it – note the artistic structure (but as yet no washing up liquid, the biscuits being far to good to waste).

Oat and Raisin Cookies

Preheat the over to 170’C (325’F) Gas 3.      4 baking trays lined with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

  • 270g unsalted butter
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 160g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 380g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 110g rolled oats
  • 220 g raisins or possibly chopped dates

Beat the butter and sugars thoroughly and cream until light and fluffy (either in a mixer or using a hand held electric whisk).

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing them well in (if necessary scraping the mixture down from the sides of the bowl). Turn the speed of the mixer down to low and stir in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt, bicarb and cinnamon; then add the oats and mix well. Add this  to the butter mixture and beat well. Add the raisins and stir in with a wooden spoon until they are evenly distributed.

Place in equal sized dollops of the biscuit mixture, spaced well apart, onto the four baking trays. (The recipe says it makes 20 but they are enormous so I would suggest making perhaps 40 instead. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes (probably less if you’ve made the cookies smaller so do keep checking in case they start burning) or until golden brown brown and firm.

Take them out of the over and leave to cool slightly on the trays before turning them out onto wire trays to cool completely.

Steak and Kidney Pudding Cooked in the Slow Cooker

Don’t worry, our Tom’s Barn blog has not suddenly transformed itself into a Cookery Corner but last night’s recipe has started something…

However, before I embark on any more, including already one from a guest (and hopefully in time perhaps some/many more!) allow me  to write out the recipe for the Steak and Kidney Pudding recipe I rather tantalisingly only alluded to but didn’t include in a post I wrote in March 2010 having successfully made one while we were staying in Tom’s Barn.

We couldn’t understand why there had been so many hits onto this page until I discovered there had been a lot of web chat about S&KPs and whether one could or not make them in a slow cooker and whether one had to cook the meet beforehand. Had I been more switched on I could have come to the rescue: yes, you most definitely can make a (most delicious) steak and kidney pudding  in a slow cooker, and no, you don’t have to cook the meat first…

The recipe below is taken from a wonderful book by Dianne Page “Slow Cooking Properly Explained” published by Right Way (an imprint of Constable and Robinson). I think I bought it from Amazon.

Steak and Kidney Pudding Recipe:

  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour
  • 85g (3oz) shredded suet
  • Pinch salt
  • 450g (1lb) lean stewing steak, cut into cubes
  • 225 (8oz) ox or lamb kidney, cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • Freshly milled black pepper

Method:

Preheat the slow cooker on HIGH. Grease a 1litre (1 3/4pt  pudding bowl (greasing is important otherwise it won’t turn out, as I discovered!)

Mix together the flour, suet and seasoning with enough water to make a soft dough. Reserve 1/3 for the lid and roll out the remainder on a lightly floured surface. Use this to line the pudding basin.

Mix together the steak, kidney, onion, salt and pepper and pack carefully into the pastry-lined pudding basin. Add 2 tbsp water. The pudding should not quite fill the bowl to allow room for the crust to rise

Roll out the remaining pastry to make the lid. Moisten the edges of the pastry with water and press the lid into position. Cover with *greased greaseproof paper or foil.

*I tore off enough to paper to allow me to fold a seam across the middle to give space for the pastry to rise, and sealed the paper down by tying string tightly round the rim.

*To avoid scalding yourself, fold a length of foil which you leave under the bowl with the ends loose at the top to lift the bowl in and out.

Using this lifting foil strap lower the bowl into the slow cooker. Pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the side of the basin.        Put the lid on, and cook on HIGH for 6-8 hours. Resist any temptation to peep!

Take the bowl out of the slow cooker, again using the foil lifting strap . Remove the greaseproof paper, and turn the S&KP out onto a warmed plate. Serve with some vegetables that you can cook at the last moment.

Tom’s & Douglas’s Barn Favourite Recipes

‘Cakes to Die For’ or ‘Heaven on a Plate’

Neither of these descriptions are mine and modesty almost prevents me repeating them but we get so many complimentary remarks about the cakes that our guests seem to enjoy, and so many rather shy requests for the recipe, that we have decided I should start a kind of recipe corner.

Just how we’ll do it most effectively still remains to be worked out but just to get the ball rolling John and I felt we needed to start otherwise it might just remain a good idea bubbling away under the surface. Being keen on photography, John is going to try his hand at food photography, but as he has heard that to get the best effect the food needs to be cold and preferably smeared with washing up liquid for a nice appetizing sheen, maybe he won’t be very successful because we are far too greedy to spoil good food! But to start with, I am using one of the photos Jeremy Brough took for our website. (He certainly doesn’t use washing up liquid.)

So here goes… The recipe I was last asked for was for one of own family favourites, and what we call the ‘fake Bakewell’ (you will soon see why). I really am giving away secrets but having already happily shared it with so many of our guests I am quite happy to show it to some more.

I will give you the ‘recipe’ I use. It is just in my head and as you will see it is not very scientific. And you will notice that being older than some I still think and cook in pounds and ounces. If you think of the basic recipe as being for every egg 4 oz of everything else you can make the size you want. I always make this in a large Aga baking tray so I use the basic recipe times four. For normal family use one would probably do half, i.e. 2 eggs etc.

Recipe:

  • 1lb butter ideally, for a better taste but soft margarine is fine
  • I lb sugar
  • *1/2lb ground rice
  • *1/2lb ground almonds
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Almond extract
  • Flaked almonds
  • Short crust pastry (either a bought block or made with 1lb flour)
  • About half jar jam (preferably home made and sharpish like raspberry, blackcurrant or homemade plum)

Method:

Roll out the pastry and line the tin you are using. Ideally put it into the fridge but I can’t say I always do.

Melt the butter/marge and sugar in a saucepan on a lowish heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar completely dissolves into the melted butter. Add the ground rice/almonds and leaving it on the heat, stir for a minute or two until it is all well mixed and smooth.  Take off the heat, and while it is cooling briefly spread the jam over the base of the pastry.

Then stir into the mixture the beaten eggs and a generous teaspoon and a bit (to size and taste) of almond extract.

Pour the mixture onto the pastry. Sprinkle generously with flaked almonds and pop it into the oven. In the Aga (2-door) I put it on the bottom grid of the top oven with the cold plain sheet over, for about 25-30 minutes+.  I can’t help with gas or electric temperatures but I would have thought whatever you’d normally use for something similar.

*It is perfectly delicious – and I rather think better – made with just ground rice and no ground almonds at all, but I often do half and half. I’ve never (yet) done it with all ground almonds.


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