A Taste of the Past
A Taste of the Past

Biscuit Recipes

I have been listening to all the requests for the recipes for the biscuits that I serve on the bread making courses.  They are nothing new, I find them all in books but here they are for you all to try and enjoy.  Happy Baking!

Gingernut Biscuits

This recipe is taken from 1000 Recipes, Eds Barrett and Harrop


225g self raising flour

225g sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp (generous) ground ginger

125g butter or margarine

1 small egg

1tsp golden syrup


Mix the egg and the golden together, this takes some work.

Mix all the other ingredients together in a large bowl.

Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs.

Add the egg to the dry ingredients and gradually mix until the stiff dough is formed.  This will be sticky.

Grease two baking sheets.

Take a small ball of dough and roll it into a finger shape.

place on baking tray, leaving a good space between each one.

Bake at 170 degrees for 15 minutes.

If you want a harder biscuit, like the shop bought ones then increase the cooking time to 20 minutes.

When the biscuits come out of the oven they will be very soft and sqaushy.  It is a delicate job to transfer them to a cooling rack.  They will harden up as they cool.

Dunk in your favourite hot drink!

Cinnamon Stars or Marchpane

Cinnamon Biscuits

Why the two names? One is what these biscuits are called today in Germany where they are a Christmas treat and marchpane is the name given to large, baked marzipan style table centres served at Christmas banquets in the 16th and 17th centuries.  


Recipe 1  (From Christian Geinger, someone my husband knows)

500 g ground almonds
300 g icing sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 white of egg
2 tbsp amaretto (it's an almond liqueur)
some more icing sugar
For the icing:
1 white of egg
125 g icing sugar
Mix almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Mix the liqueur and egg. Knead everything together by hand.
Roll out the dough on a surface that's covered in icing sugar to a 1 cm layer. Then cut out the stars with a cookie cutter (sprinkle it with icing sugar regularly to prevent the dough sticking to it).
Put the stars on a baking sheet.
Then whisk the eggs until stiff. Add the icing sugar while still whisking. Put on the stars.
Put the stars in a pre-heated oven at 150 °C (423,15 K)  for about 10-15 minutes.
Keep in a metal tin.
If you don't want to use alcohol you can substitute it with some lemon juice and almond oil.


Recipe 2 (From Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book by Hilary Spurling, first written in 1604 ish)

I have abreviated a lot for the sake of typing


Take a pound and a half of almonds and beat them until very fine

Take a pound and a half of sugar and also beat until fine.  Put on one side as much sugar as you think you might want to ice it.

Beat the sugar and almonds together with a small amount of gum tragacanth until you get a paste.

Roll it out and shape it as you think fit (they used to make really fancy designs with marchpane to be impressive table centres).  The ingredient cost was very high indeed.

Bake it until it is quite hard and then ice it using a icing sugar and rose water and return to the oven until the icing is hardened.



Gum tragacanth does the same job as the egg whites.  

Cinnamon was a very popular flavouring in the 17th century, it was added to cakes and biscuits frequently and in very large quantities. 

Both of these recipes could be served to each different author without anyone batting an eyelid.

And most importantly, they taste lovely.  Chewy but with such shiny icing and rises slightly in the oven if you get it on thick enough.  

Your biscuits have to be rolled out very evenly to get a nice thick layer of icing.  Quite a few of mine dribbled.

Cake Recipes

These are so many cake recipes, you could never hope to list them all.  I am a home based cook who makes cakes for her husband, kids and a local cafe.  Most of what I make is designed to be quick, easy and has as little sugar as I can get away with.


If you were looking for a good reason to make cakes then I can think of none better than the fact that you can control the ingredients.  Yes, they will taste better (most of the time ;-)) and will go off quicker than shop bought ones but you can swap most of the ingredients to to suit your own tastes.


One of my children has a hard time digesting some milk products so I have found that I can swap butter for baking fat and milk for oat or soy milk with no change to the texture of the cake and very little change to the taste.  I can reduce the sugar content of cakes by 50% and they still taste good, and again, no change to actuall cakiness of the end product.


The thing to do is find an easy recipe and experiment.  Have fun and feel free to drop me an email if you want to ask a question.

Basic Sponge Cake

You might hear cooks talking about making their cake to the basic 4442 recipe.  This means 4 oz each of self raising flour, butter (or margarine), sugar and 2 eggs.  A basic cake mix is equal quanitites of everything and the assumption is that an egg weighs 2 oz.


Then there are 2 ways of mixing these ingredients together.  You can use the creaming method or the all in one method.


Creaming method

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and mix them together until they become one light, fluffy and very thick whole. Ideally they should look a lovely yellow colour and all the sugar should be dissolved so you can't hear any crystals crunching against the bowl.  This will only really happen if you have used caster sugar which is more expensive than granulated so many people don't bother, myself included.


Needless to say, if you are making the cake by hand then this step is hard work, it is much easier with a hand mixer or even easier, a stand head mixer.


Next you whisk up the eggs in a bowl with the vanilla essence and you empty the flour into a sieve.


Gradually mix the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar.  And I do mean gradually.  If you empty them all in the mixture will curdle.  If it does curdle you just have to mix a lot more.  Add a little of the egg and mix, add up to a third of the flour by sieving it into the bowl and mix.  Keep alternating the two until you have a lovely sponge cake batter. 


It should now be at what is called dropping consistency.  This means that when you lift some out the bowl it drops nicely off the spoon rather than runs off or sticks tight.  Gauging this takes a bit of practice and cake mix that is not quite a perfect consistency still makes nice cake.


Spoon the mix into your chosen tin or mould that you have already greased and lined (if possible) and cook at 180 degrees for 10 to 20 minutes.  How long depends on the shape of tin and the efficiency of your oven


The second method is tha ll in one method.  

Here you empty all the ingredients into your bowl and mix them together.  This is really really hard to do by hand so please try and get hold of an electric mixer.  It is pretty difficult with a hand mixer and the dough may look quite dodgy for a while before it all comes together to make a nice dough.


Purists would say that the creaming method is better but the all in one methods also has lots of fans.  Go with which ever one you prefer.

Rock Cakes

Rock Cakes, light, fluffy little clouds of deliciousness



Cream together:
8oz Self Raising Flour
4oz Margarine or Butter

Stir in:
2 oz sugar
3oz dried mixed fruit
1oz candied peel

Stir in:
1 egg beaten with enough milk to make it up to 150ml

Spoon the mix (it should be a stiff dropping consistency) onto greased baking sheets.
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size of cakes.
Source: the BeRo Cook Book


Easy Cup Cakes


120g Self Raising Flour

80g Sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder


75ml Milk

75 Oil (such as sunflower)

1 egg

1 teaspoon flavouring such as vanilla


Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl

Mix the wet ingredients together in a jug

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients

Mix well until combined

Spoon out into paper cake cases

Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes

Leave to cool

Add icing if you want to

Cupcake variations


Leave the vanilla out of the recipe above and try some of these lovely options instead.



Add the grated zest of 1 lemon and half the juice.


Coffee and Nut

Make a strong coffee mix by pouring 2 to 3 tablespoons of boiling water over 2 tablespoons on instant coffee

Mix well

Add to cake mix

Warning if the mix ends up too runny, add a little more flour.



Grate 1 small carrot into flour and stir well.  Coating the carrot in flour helps to stop all the carrot sinking to the bottom

Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and possibly ground ginger too if you like it.


Spicy Apple

Grate 1 small eating apple such as Cox or Braeburn.  Soft ones don't work as well

Add a small amount of your favourite spice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves (tine pinch only) all work well.


Exotic Chocolate

Replace 2 tablespoons of the flour with cocoa powder

Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Add some chocolate chips if you have some.



Mash 1 small, ripe banana into the wet ingredients

Add about 50g of white choc chips to the dry ingredients.

No Cook Jam Cake



First you will need a batch of my no cook jam.  The recipe is on my jam recipe page but the short version is:

250g soft fruit such as strawberry, blackberry, raspberry.

50g icing sugar

Pour the sugar over the fruit, shuffle it a bit and leave on the side (covered) or on a sunny windowsill for an hour

When the juice starts to run and colour teh icing sugar, give it all a good mix and mash with a fork.


Make a batch of basic sponge mix (4442) ( I will write up the recipe soon)


Line a loaf tin with baking paper, use a single sheet and fold it as the corners, don't cut to fit as the fruit will leak out the sides.

Put the fruit in the bottom of the tin (you may need to leave out some of the juice if it is vry runny

Dollop the sponge mix on top, put it on in spoonfuls and then use a fork to gently join them up and cover the fruit

Don't worry if some fruit juice gets up the side, it will still cook just fine

Cook at 180 degrees C for around 35 to 40 minutes

The cake is cooked when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean of cake mix ( bit of fruit is fine:-))

Leave to cool completely before turning out and eating.

Easy Chocolate Sauce

Easy Chocolate Sauce


Per person you will need:

1 teaspoon chocolate spread (I used Nutella)

1 tablespoon milk or milk substitute



Put the chocolate spread in a small saucepan with the milk

Heat on a low heat

Stir all the time.  

To start with it will look separated and odd but do persevere. After a minute or 2 the suace will come together to make a nice, glossy sauce.

Heat and continue stirring until very wamr.

Do not let it boil.

Pour over fruit, ice cream or dessert of your choice.

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