I often find myself in discussions with people about the joys of looking through the recipe books of long-missed and loved relatives, particularly grandmothers. I enjoy their familiar, neat handwriting, the odd splatters of food all jumbled up with memories of school holidays, and comforting tastes, smells and textures.
One such recent conversation with Ruth has resulted in a tasty recipe for cheese straws from a much-loved Be Ro book passed down the generations.
These straws are crisp, cheesy and rolled pretty thinly – so maybe cheese thins? Anyway, delicious. I will try these next with gluten free flour at some point soon, as there are two cheese-loving coeliacs in my family who may enjoy them. Nice served as a Jenga straw stack.
And talking of families, two were joined together yesterday at a lovely wedding, you may have heard about it (and I made a cake in their honour, see second recipe).
Ruth’s cheese straws
Makes about 50
4oz (100g) self-raising flour
pinch of slat
pinch of mustard powder
2 oz (50g) butter
3oz (75g) mature cheddar or Red Leicester, grated
1 egg, beaten
- Pre-heat oven to 180C, 350F,Gas 4. Grease a baking tray.
- Mix flour, salt and mustard together. Rub in the butter.
- Stir in the cheese and add sufficient egg to make a stiff dough.
- Roll out very thinly and cut into strips. Cut a few rings to stack strips into if wished. Place on a baking tray.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool.
Verdict: nice and cheesey. If making again, I could probably roll them out even thinner and cut longer, thinner strips.
A take on a lemon and elderflower cake
Congratulations Harry and Meghan. Many around the country were inspired to host a tea party in their honour; an excellent idea, and whilst some may be fed up hearing about the wedding, I’m not one to turn down the opportunity for tea, scones and cake. I understand the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex enjoyed a lemon and elderflower sponge cake as part of their celebrations. Such a lovely fresh, late spring or early summer combination of flavours – here’s my homage to the HRHs.
Icing and filling
A generous tablespoon of lemon curd
14oz (400g) icing sugar
7 oz (175g) butter
elderflower cordial – about 5 teaspoons
- Preheat oven to 170C/Gas 3. Grease and bottom-line two Victoria sandwich tins (7″/23cm)
- Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat eggs and add gradually, adding a little flour if needed. Fold in flour, add juice and lemon curd.
- Divide equally between the two tins (I also had enough left over for six cup cakes)
- Bake for approx 20 minutes until springy to touch and skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin briefly then turn out onto a wire rack to cool (NB the lemon curd makes this quite a sticky sponge).
- For the icing: Beat butter, add icing sugar (sieved) and mix to form a stiff consistency. Add cordial gradually and taste. Add more if you like, but add a little more sugar if it becomes too ‘loose’.
- Spread lemon curd on one half of the cake, spread a layer of icing on the bottom of the top cake. Place the two cakes together and cover the top with the remaining icing. (I also had enough left over to ice the cup cakes). You could always ice the sides of the cake instead if preferred.
- Decorate with flowers, real or otherwise. I used summery daisies and butterflies from Dr Oetker (I’m no cake decorator).
Verdict: not bad. Perhaps more cordial needed to get more than a hint of elderflower. Alternatively, will try making an elderflower drizzle/syrup next time to pour over the sponges once they are out of the oven.