Chocolate lemon shortbread flower!

My mum and sister came to visit last weekend, and instead of birthday cake I made my mum a birthday shortbread flower! I adapted the shortbread recipe from the Be-Ro book, adding some lemon zest and then smothering the whole thing in chocolate, and it worked out quite well, although we started eating it before the chocolate had dried properly…

OK, so it’s not exactly high art, actually it looks a bit like a child’s drawing…but it tasted good!

Ingredients:

125g plain flour

40g sugar

90g butter, cut into small pieces

Grated zest of 1 small or 1/2 a large lemon

80g dark chocolate

– Heat the oven to 160c and grease an 8 inch round dish or cake tin, lining the base with greaseproof paper.

– Stir together the flour and sugar, then rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the lemon zest.

– Knead the mix until it comes together.

– Roll into a thick sausage shape about 10cm long.

– Cut into 9 slices, and arrange in the dish in a flower shape. Prick the tops with a fork. This is what mine looked like before it went in:

– Bake for around 30 mins, until golden and brown round the edges. The shortbread should spread so the pieces join:

– Leave until completely cool, then melt the chocolate. Go round the flower shape in chocolate (I found the easiest way to do this was to use the wrong end of a spoon!)

– Spread the remaining chocolate on a sheet of greaseproof paper, spreading with a flat knife or cake slice to make sure it is even. Place the shortbread on top of this and leave to dry.

Grandma’s chocolate cake!

A couple of weeks ago we visited our grandparents, and while we were there we made this cake with my grandma, which is the same one she often makes when we visit. She’s a fabulous cook and often greets us with baked goods when we arrive, and this is one of our favourites: it’s chocolate cake (from a Marguerite Patten recipe in a 1970s recipe book!) filled with marzipan and iced with chocolate buttercream. In 80-something years of baking this is the best recipe she’s found, which is a pretty high recommendation! The marzipan filling isn’t in the recipe, and I don’t think I’ve ever come across marzipan in a chocolate cake anywhere else – it’s apparently the way her mother used to make chocolate cake, so I suppose it’s something of a family tradition!

Ingredients:

4oz margarine (110 g)

4oz sugar (caster/granulated) (110g)

1 tablespoon golden syrup, measured carefully because too much will make the cake sink in the middle

A few drops of vanilla essence

5oz self-raising flour (140g)

1oz cocoa (or 1 1/2 oz chocolate powder) (30g)

2 eggs

A little milk

– Preheat oven to 190c and grease and line a 7-inch cake tin.

– Cream together the margarine, sugar, vanilla essence and syrup.

– In separate bowls, sieve together the dry ingredients, and beat the eggs.

– Add the eggs and the flour mixture alternately to the creamed mixture, beating them in thoroughly.

– Add enough milk to make the mixture soft.

– Bake for 30 minutes (the original recipe says 1 and a quarter hours, but it would certainly have burnt, and probably caught fire, by then!)

To fill and ice:

200g marzipan

2-3 tbsp jam (strawberry or raspberry)

50g butter

200g icing sugar, sifted

1 dessertspoon cocoa mixed with a little boiling water (as little as possible)

– When the cake is cool, cut it in half horizontally.

– Roll out the marzipan into a circle the same size as the cake.

– Spread a thick layer of jam onto one half, then place the marzipan on top. Spread a little jam onto the bottom of the other half (so it sticks) and place on top of the marzipan.

– Make the buttercream icing by beating the butter and cocoa with a little icing sugar, gradually adding icing sugar until you have a thick icing. When I asked grandma how she made the icing, she said ‘well you just make buttercream’, so the quantities I’ve given are what I ended up using (the trick of dissolving cocoa in water is hers, though, and makes the icing runnier which is why it might look like a lot of icing sugar!)

– Ice the top and sides of the cake.

While we were staying with them, I also found grandma’s early edition BeRo book (which I wrote about here). I’m not sure exactly when it’s from, but there’s probably a fair chance it’s older than my mum, and it’s definitely well used:

Dropped scones

To me, Be-Ro was the name of a cookbook before it was a brand of flour. My grandma has 2 editions, my mum 3, and I got my first one a few years ago (a proud moment!), so it’s a bit of a family tradition. Its recipes aren’t exactly groundbreaking; it is, after all, essentially a piece of marketing. But it has basic, traditional (they don’t change much between editions…) recipes for almost anything involving flour and I associate it with my childhood, as most of the recipes are ones that I’m sure I ‘helped’ with as a child…! One of my favourite recipes is dropped scones (also called Scotch pancakes), small thick pancakes which are great to make with everyone sitting in the kitchen, chatting and eating them as soon as they come out of the pan…

Ingredients:

100g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar

1 egg

4tbsp milk

Butter (to grease the pan)

– Mix the flour and sugar, add the egg and beat it in along with most of the milk – start with 3tbsp and keep adding until you have a fairly thick batter: if you take a spoonful and turn it over the bowl there should be a very brief pause before it falls back.

– Heat up a large frying pan (traditionally a griddle, but I don’t have one and it doesn’t seem to matter!) and melt a little butter to grease it.

– Cook 3-4 at a time, depending on the size of your pan: each should have about a tablespoon of mixture. Cook until the underneath is golden, then turn to brown the other side. Depending how hot the pan it, they take about 4 minutes each.

They’re good plain, but I often eat them with jam or syrup. Also I like to make a thicker batter and cook on quite a high heat so the middle stays gooey, but this is probably just me…!