Try this medieval recipe for a sweet, fried pastry called Honey Crispels.
8oz plain flour
4oz butter (to rub in)
1-2oz butter (as needed for frying)
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons cold water
8 tablespoons honey
sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon
1. Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut up the butter and rub in the flour until the mixture looks like large breadcrumbs.
2. Add the egg and sufficient water to bind in a dough.
3. Roll out on a floured surface to a thin pastry dough. Cut in 2-3″ circles. (Hint: To hold more honey, fashion a small lip round the edge of each circle so there is a slight hollow in the center).
4. Heat the butter (without burning) in a large frying pan. Fry each round of dough until crisp. Set on the paper to drain.
5. Slowly bring the honey to a boil over a medium heat, skimming any scum from the surface. Stir well to clarify. Brush over the surface of each fried pastry allowing some of the mix to sit and cool in the trough.
6. Modern Version: Dust with icing sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon.
7. Enjoy warm or cold.
* This recipe makes 4-8 crispels, and they take 2-5 minutes to fry, depending on size. Larger crispels are light and flaky. Smaller ones tend to be crunchier.
Parkin is a chewy gingerbread cake that is very popular in Northern England, especially on Bonfire or Guy Fawkes Night (November 5th).
4oz plain flour
4oz fine or medium oatmeal / porridge oats
4oz softened butter
4oz soft brown sugar
4oz black treacle
4oz golden syrup
1/2 level teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon dry ginger
1oz crystalized ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
6 tablespoons milk
1. Heat the oven to 325 / 170 / Gas 3. Grease an 8-inch lined square tin.
2. Place the butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a saucepan and heat gently until the fat melts. Do not boil. Set mixture aside to cool slightly.
3. Sieve all the dry ingredients (except the bicarbonate of soda) in a large mixing bowl and scoop out a well in the center.
4. Place the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar inside the well and wait for the fizzing to stop.
5. Add the milk to the slightly cooled mixture in the saucepan, and beat well with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are blended together.
6. Carefully add the contents of the saucepan to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
6. Lightly beat the eggs. Add to the mixing bowl. Blend until it looks like a loose batter.
7. Pour into the tray and place in the center of the oven for about 1 hour. The parkin will turn a dark brown color and spring back to the touch when cooked.
8. Leave inside the tin until completely cold.
Hint: Parkin should be wrapped in greaseproof paper and stored in an airtight container for at least a day before cutting up and eating. It keeps for about 2 weeks, growing moister and richer with time!
Olde English Flapjack
4 big tablespoons of Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1lb porridge oats
1. Heat the oven to 250 / 130 / gas 1.
2. Grease a 8″x 8″x 2″ metal baking pan with a nub of the butter.
3. In a large pan stir the remaining butter, sugar, and syrup on a stovetop over a low heat.
4. Add the oats and salt. Stir well.
5. Press the mixture evenly into a greased baking pan.
6. Cook in low oven for 1 hour 30 minutes until the side are slightly brown
(the middle will seem uncooked).
7. Remove from the oven. Cut into 12 pieces. Leave inside the pan until cold.
Do not overcook! The best flapjack is moist, buttery, and chewy.
4oz plain flour
4oz shredded suet
4oz brown sugar
4oz grated apple
1 grated carrot
4oz mixed fruit peel (candied peel)
2oz chopped dried apricots
4oz blanched chopped almonds
1 lemon – grated rind and juice
1 tablespoon treacle
1/4 pint beer or milk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon mixed spice
I teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
nub of butter for greasing pudding bowl
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir thoroughly. Cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Grease a large pudding bowl. Add the mixture and press down well. Cover with pleated greaseproof paper (allowing the pudding to rise and expand) held in place with an elastic band.
3. Place in a steamer and boil for 6-8 hours until the center is cooked through. Remove wet paper.
4. When the pudding is completely cold wrap in cling-film and store in an airtight container.
To Serve On Christmas Day:
1/4 cup brandy for firing
1 pint whipped thick fresh cream
5. Turn out pudding on to a microwave-safe plate. Heat (full power) in a microwave for 3-4 minutes until steaming. Place on dining table.
6. Pour over brandy. Carefully set the alcohol alight with a long match to flavor the pudding.
7. When the brandy burns out the pudding is ready to slice.
8. Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Olde Scottish Shortbread is a delicious, buttery biscuit everyone loves! This makes 8 fingers (as in the photograph) or an 8″ round that can be cut into 8 triangles.
3oz plain flour
1. Heat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 350 F, 180 C.
2. Lightly flour a baking sheet or pan.
3. In a large bowl cream (whisk) the butter with 1 oz of sugar, work in the flour and cornflour, then add the remainder of the sugar.
4. Knead well until a smooth dough forms.
5. Shape into 8 fingers and place on baking sheet OR press entire dough into the floured 8″round baking pan.
6. Cook for approximately 20 minutes in the center of the oven. Remove from the heat. Cool in the tin.
* Jammy Shorts: Make 8 rounds (instead of 8 fingers). Press thumb in center of raw dough. Add a half-spoon of raspberry jelly. Bake as above.
* Fruit Sunflower: Cover a round of cooked shortbread with fresh fruit slices (peach, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, pineapple) and scoops of vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve at once.
* Shortbread Surprise: Add 1oz of glace cherries, raisins, chocolate chips, OR macadamia nuts to the raw dough. Stir and knead well. Cook as above.
Hotpot was traditionally cooked in a cauldron on an open fire. Nowadays it’s made in a non-stick pan on the stove.
Large can of best Stewing Steak
2 large onions
2 cups beef stock
2oz butter or margarine
1. Peel all the vegetables. Fry the chopped carrots and onions together in the melted butter or margarine until soft.
2. Add the Stewing Steak. Stir well.
3. Cut the potatoes into 1-2″ cubes and add to the pot. Stir well.
4. Cover over the top of the potatoes with beef stock (adding more water if necessary).
5. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a low heat. Simmer for 1-2 hours until the mixture is reduced and all of the vegetables are fully cooked. Stir frequently.
Serve with red cabbage, pickled onions, mushy peas, or crusty bread.
Traditional Mince Pies used to contain meat, alongside the familiar fruit mixture found today.
Here is my Lancashire adaptation of Jeri Westerson’s recipe for the adventurous to try!
1lb lean minced beef, boiled thoroughly until reduced to small strands
4 green apples, cored, peeled and cubed into bite-size pieces
1/4lb suet, processed into fine granules
2 lemons, with rind grated, squeezed, and chopped into small pieces
4oz brown sugar
4 tablespoons black treacle
8oz cooking sherry
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons mace
2 tablespoons allspice
2 tablespoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons ground cloves
4 tablespoons cinnamon
1lb pastry dough
flour to roll out pastry
1 tablespoon milk to glaze
nub of butter to grease pie dish
- Heat the oven 375/ 190 /Gas 5.
- Grease a large, deep pie dish.
- Place the cooked beef in large bowl. Add the apples, suet, raisins, currants, lemons, sugar, black treacle, cider, salt, pepper, mace, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Mix well.
- Allow the meat to cool. Stir in the sherry and brandy.
- Roll out half of the pastry on a floured surface and line the base of the pie dish. Pour in the meat mixture and press flat.
- Roll out the lid and seal the edges. Cut steam holes in the top of the pie crust. Glaze with milk.
- Bake for 30 – 45 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
- Cool on a rack. Pies can be served hot or cold.
My version varies slightly from Jeri’s. Check out the original below:
Olde English Scones
Photo: Ibán Yarza
8oz plain flour (save a little for rolling out dough)
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2oz dried sultanas or raisins
2oz butter (save a little for greasing tray)
1/4 pint milk
1 beaten egg (save a little for glazing)
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees / 230 degrees / Gas 8.
- Lightly grease a shallow flat baking tray.
- Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and stir together.
- Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like large breadcrumbs.
- Add the sugar and dried fruit. Stir well.
- Mix in the beaten egg and milk to form a soft dough.
- Turn out on a lightly-floured surface and knead until the dough forms a large ball.
- Roll out to 1″ thickness. Press out 6-8 rounds with a pastry cutter. Place the rounds on tray.
- Brush with the egg glaze. Place in the middle of a hot oven for 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove to the cooling rack.
Serve warm with butter – or cold with jam and thick clotted cream!
Olde English Treacle Toffee
This chewy toffee is a great Halloween and Bonfire Night favorite! Try it for Thanksgiving . . .
Knob of butter for greasing pan
8oz brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4oz dark treacle
4oz golden syrup
glass of cold water
- Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large pan.
- Mix in the sugar, cream of tartar, treacle, and syrup.
- Boil steadily but do not stir. After 10 minutes test for the soft crack (setting) by dropping a small spot of the mixture into the glass of cold water. Repeat every few minutes until the toffee turns solid. This may take up to 20 minutes. The longer the mixture boils, the harder the toffee will be.
- Pour into a lightly-greased flat baking tray and leave to cool.
- When set, turn out onto a wooden board and break into small pieces with a rolling pin or toffee hammer. Serve and enjoy.
Jam is the English version of American jelly or fruit preserves. It can be made from a variety of fruit.
1lb fresh fruit (apricots, cherries, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, etc)
3/4 pint water
1lb granulated sugar
- Wash (peel and stone) the fresh produce. If the fruit is larger than a berry, cut into smaller pieces.
- Put the fruit and water in a large boiling pan over a low heat.
- Simmer gently until the fruit turns soft.
- Stir in the sugar. Allow it to thoroughly dissolve.
- Boil rapidly until the fruit mix reaches the setting point. Check by holding a wooden spoon horizontally over the pan – if a drop of jam holds firm at the tip it is ready to test on a cold saucer. Add the drop to the saucer. Push with your finger tip. If the jam has reached setting point it will wrinkle.
- Spoon into warm jam jars and cover.
- Over-ripe fruit can prevent the jam from setting.
- Sweeter fruits (like cherries) need less sugar than tart fruits (like blackcurrants).
- Over-boiling the fruit takes away the flavor.
- Burnt jam tastes disgusting!