Cakes & Bakes: Gypsy Creams

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

We needed some treats for our biscuit barrel so that was the subject for today’s Cakes & Bakes… but which kind of biscuit?

Butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough mixture | H is for Home

Justin started reminiscing about Gypsy Creams – and commenting on the fact that they seem to have disappeared from the shops. I have to admit that growing up in Trinidad, I’d never heard of Gypsy Creams – but they certainly sounded good enough to try.

Gypsy creams dough balls | H is for Home Gypsy creams dough balls flattened with the back of a fork | H is for Home

My numerous baking books didn’t offer a single recipe, but fortunately I found one available online.

They incorporate flour, butter, oats, golden syrup and most importantly chocolate. Two crisp biscuity layers sandwich a moist chocolate buttercream layer.

Gypsy creams biscuits cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Apparently coconut can be added to the recipe too. These are often called Romany Creams, but Justin thinks that the packet Gypsy Creams from his youth had something ‘coconutty’ about them.

Making chocolate buttercream | H is for Home

I have to say that they’re absolutely delicious – and are now a firm favourite of mine having missed out for nearly 50 years!

Home-made gypsy creams | H is for Home

Fig, almond and walnut loaf
Ingredients
  1. 100g/3½oz dried figs
  2. 100ml/3½ fl oz water
  3. 60g/2oz walnuts
  4. 175g/6oz ground almonds
  5. 3 large eggs
  6. 80g/3oz melted coconut oil or unsalted butter
  7. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. 1tsp cider vinegar
  9. Pinch of saltHome-made fig almond walnut loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C/300ºF/Gas mark 2
  2. Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  3. Roughly chop the figs and add them with the water to a small saucepan over a medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the water is absorbed
  4. Blitz the figs in a food processor until they form a coarse paste
  5. Add the ground almonds and process again until damp crumbs form
  6. Add the walnuts and salt and process again briefly until they're coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  7. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs and bicarbonate of soda with an electric hand whisk until frothy
  8. Whilst still beating, slowly drizzle in the coconut oil/butter in a thin stream and continue beating until the eggs are pale, thick and doubled in volume
  9. Sprinkle vinegar over the eggs and beat briefly to distribute evenly. Work quickly as the vinegar will activate the bicarbonate of soda
  10. Tip the nut mixture onto the eggs and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed
  11. Scrape into the prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Give the loaf more time to bake and perhaps turn the temperature down if it browns too fast
  12. Cool on a wire rack before eating
Notes
  1. You can store the loaf in an air-tight container in a cool place for up to 3 days - or slice & freeze for up to 2 weeks
Print
Adapted from River Cottage
Adapted from River Cottage
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

A short break for shortbread!

'A short break for shortbread!' blog post banner

plate of shortbread tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

You only need a short break to make this traditional Scottish shortbread as it takes about 15 minutes preparation and a mere twenty minutes or so in the oven. Delicious, home-made buttery biscuits in less than an hour. It also gives us the opportunity to use some of our favourite household objects.

vintage wooden shortbread mould

The first is this lovely vintage wooden shortbread mould. It makes the perfect-sized round to last a couple of days with just a nice, simple touch of decoration around the edge.

home-made shortbread round

The second object is this gorgeous vintage 1960s Jacob’s biscuit tin. We really love the stylised thistle decoration made up of various Scottish tartans – and the biscuit round fits perfectly inside.

vintage shortbread tin

And last but not least, a favourite spotty mug – filled with strong afternoon tea of course – the perfect accompaniment!

plate of tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

Here’s the Scottish shortbread recipe we published last year if you fancy giving it a try.

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Biscuit Barrel Bonanza

"Biscuit Barrel Bonanza" blog post banner

vintage Crown Devon pottery biscuit barrel with plate of biscuits and handmade pottery mug

This fabulous vintage biscuit barrel featured in our recent ‘Forthcoming Attractions: mid-June’ post.
What an amazing, psychedelic landscape!

detail from vintage Crown Devon pottery biscuit barrel

The range is called Country Lane and it was designed by Robin Cody for Crown Devon Pottery.

detail from vintage Crown Devon pottery biscuit barrel

There’s something very homely and comforting about a nice biscuit container – especially a full one!! The smell when you open it up and the treats held within!
We’re currently using tins designed by Sanna Annuka for Marks & Spencer to store ours.

Commemorative biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annuka celebrating 125 years of Marks & Spencer

We’ve sold some lovely examples over the past couple of years – they’re always steady sellers…

vintage 'flower power' biscuit tin

vintage 'flower power' biscuit tin

…and here’s a link to all the biscuit barrels, tins, pots & jars currently in the H is for Home shop

Tin-tastic!

"Tin-tastic" blog post banner

trio of Marks & Spencer biscuit tins designed by Sanna Annukka

Marks and Spencer are selling these Christmas biscuit selections…

Marks & Spencer chocolate chunk selection biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

…with gorgeous tins designed by Sanna Annuka.

Marks & Spencer Swiss biscuit collection biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

Future classics with their vintage Scandinavian folk art feel.

Marks & Spencer Swiss biscuit collection biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

She was responsible for this Swiss biscuit tin last Christmas – it’s currently changing hands for £15-£20… without the biscuits!

detail from a Marks & Spencer Swiss biscuit collection biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka showing a Swiss milk maid

We’ve bought ours early this year – they’re sure to be popular again.

detail from a Marks & Spencer chocolate chunk selection biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka showing alpine trees

We’ll be giving a few tins as presents – but some will have to go under our own tree!!

Marks & Spencer Scottish shortbread petticoat tails tin

They’ve also got a butter shortbread tin with a sweet little Scottie dog on the front.

detail from Marks & Spencer Scottish shortbread petticoat tails tin showing a black Scottish terrier with a red tartan collar and lead and an envelope in his mouth

We recently posted a blog featuring illustrations by Miroslav Sasek – we don’t know who designed this tin – but it also has a vintage feel is very reminiscent of his work.

detail from Marks & Spencer Scottish shortbread petticoat tails tin showing legs of two mean and a woman and small flock of pigeons

Here are the actual illustrations from the book…

illustration of a Scottish terrier from vintage book, "This is Edinburgh" by Miroslav Sasek

…published in 1961.

illustration of a Scottish terrier from vintage book, "This is Edinburgh" by Miroslav Sasek

It’s not only going to be a tin-tastic Christmas in our house – looks like it’s going to be biscuit-tastic too!

Takes the biscuit!

"Takes the biscuit" blog post banner

Marks & Spencer 125th anniversary commemerative biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

We think this is a future classic… having said that, it probably already is!

Marks & Spencer 125th anniversary commemerative biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

This biscuit tin was sold through Marks & Spencer only this Christmas gone. They’re already being resold for £15-£20 (without the Swiss biscuits!).

detail from Marks & Spencer 125th anniversary commemerative biscuit tin designed by Sanna Annukka

It’s a special commemorative tin celebrating 125 years of Marks & Spencer. It was designed by Sanna Annukka. She’s half English and half Finnish – and the illustration has a real vintage Scandinavian feel.

vintage framed "carefree by coach" travel poster designed by Biggs

It reminds us of this original 1960s travel poster we had framed to display in our Picture House Antiques centre pitch.

detail of vintage framed "carefree by coach" travel poster designed by Biggs

Not only the general style, but also the landscapes and even the colours.

detail of vintage framed "carefree by coach" travel poster designed by Biggs detail of vintage framed "carefree by coach" travel poster designed by Biggs

The poster entitled Carefree by Coach is signed by ‘Bigg’. We have to confess, we’ve not been able to find out anything about him or her… but it’s a fantastic illustration.

detail of vintage framed "carefree by coach" travel poster designed by Biggs

We might have been tempted to pack a flask & sandwiches… and hop on board for our ‘carefree’ trip through the countryside!