Friday, February 26, 2010

Welsh Cakes

2 cups white flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar (granulated)
6 tablespoons of butter (or half butter, half lard)
1 cup raisins
~1/4 cup of milk

-Sift dry ingredients (except raisins) together and rub in butter until fine breadcrumb in texture
- Add the raisins and stir in well
- Add in milk slowly until a stiff dough is formed
- Roll out to ~1/4 inch thickness and cut into rounds
- If you have a griddle use it, otherwise a large (preferably thick bottomed) frying pan works well. Grease lightly and warm to medium heat. Put on the cakes until lightly brown, then turn and repeat. You don't want it too hot or they'll burn. Each cake will be ~5 minutes to cook through.

While warm sprinkle with sugar and enjoy with butter or jam!

Monday, November 30, 2009


A great British tradition, meatless Mincemeat to make Mincepies for the holidays! Try to make this recipe a month before using, as it ages it in the jar and gets even better!

Ingredients (for 5 500ml jars)
1lb Cranberries
1lb Raisins
5 Apples, cut and diced
(you can add a can of cherries too, but i'm not a fan so don't)
2 cups sugar
1 quart water
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup brandy

Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
1/2 tablespoon cloves
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cinnamon

- add all ingredients into a LARGE saucepan and simmer together for 20 minutes (your whole house will smell fabulous!).


- If you have a stovetop or pressure canner use that to can your jars. If you don't (like me), use the following method - remember this method is NOT safe for vegetables or for meats, just fruits.

- Pack the mixture hot into sterile jars (I boil mine on my stove for 5 minutes)
- Put into an oven set at 150F (put them on a tray as you do get some bubble over!)
- Cook for 2 hours
- Turn off the oven and crack open the door to allow to cool
- Listen for the "pops" of the jars as the lids seal.

The only time i've not had a jar pop from this method is a half filled jar. Any that don't pop though put in the fridge and use up in a few weeks, the mincemeat is still good!

To use -

Make into large or small tarts with shortcrust pastry and enjoy warm with whip cream, brandy butter or ice cream.

Cold Process Soap - Instructions

Cold process soap is far easier than made to sound, and unlike Melt and Pour, you get to make soap from the bare bones. There are a few safety requirements, but as long as you follow these, cold process soap is a safe way to make soap for the whole family, I stopped buying soap and shampoo and year ago and love making my own!

Real soap is made with Lye (sodium hydroxide), you can't make real soap without it. Lye is caustic, so you should always be careful with it (not something for little kids to help with). I use a tall sided plastic jug to mix up my lye, it prevents splashing. If it touches you it will burn a little, but it can be washed right off. Many people wear gloves with it. Use in a well ventilated area - I do mine with the jug in my kitchen sink right by the windows, and i tend to leave the kitchen for a few minutes when it off gases. Some people mix it outside and then bring it in (it only gases for literally 30 seconds on contact with water). Whatever works for you - my protocol, no gloves, tall sided plastic jug, sitting in the sink, good window ventilation, long handled spoon for stiring.

I don't believe in scaring people off making soap, lye is perfectly safe if you are careful with it, and it's a wonderful way to make your own.

Expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour making lots of soap!

The steps

1 - Mix the lye with the water. Always add the lye to water, not the other way around. It'll heat up at this point (why I do mine in my sink). Let cool to ~140F - exact doesn't matter, just let it cool down (use a metal thermometer not a glass one, they break in Lye).

2 - Warm up your ingredients in a large saucepan. The goal is to get the lye and the oils to be around the same temperature when you mix them (exactness not needed!)

3 - Add the lye to the oils - always in this order, if you add oils to the lye you risk splashing.

4 - Mix with a stick blender until you reach "trace". This is where the mixtures begins to look like thin pudding. Don't overmix as it'll be hard to pour. The timing for this depends entirely on your oils - one recipe might take a minute, another ten minutes. Persistence! Generally, if you use solid oils (coconut, palm), these will get to trace faster than just using liquids

5 - Pour into heat proof molds and cover with clingfilm (stops air getting to it and causing ash on top).

6 - Wrap up in several layers of towels - the soap still needs to "gel" (cook), so will get very warm. Place in an out of the way spot for ~24hrs.

7 - Unwrap and leave to harden - take the soap out of the mold as soon as it is hard enough (~24-72hrs) and cut into bars. Place these bars on a cutting board or shelf to harden further for 3-6 weeks!

8 - Use and enjoy!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Peppermint Castille Soap

23.5 oz Olive Oil
8oz Palm Oil (also called Vegetable Shortening in the supermarket)
8oz Coconut Oil
2oz Apricot Kernel Oil
2oz Avocado Oil

13.35oz Water
5.9oz Lye

4oz peppermint
2oz tea tree
1 tsp green gel colour (or other color)

I like to make this swirled in color. Once the mixture begins to trace, add fragrance and separate around 1/4 to 1/2 the mixture. Add green coloring to one portion. Pour the remaining into a loaf or tray mold and drizzle the green mix on top. Take a chopstick and draw lines through the tray (make sure you touch the bottom) to swirl in the green color.

Basic Castille Soap

A nice basic Castille soap, a good starter soap!

Basic Castille
10oz Olive Oil
2.5oz Coconut Oil

4.2oz Water
1.7oz Lye

2oz Fragrance
Colour as desired

This is a good starter soap as it doesn't set up too quickly, about ten minutes with a stick blender should see you ready to pour. Nice and moisturizing from all the olive oil, this soap does need a good six weeks to dry and set, and will always be a little softer, so will need a draining soap dish.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Zesty Shampoo Bar

Super soft - maybe leave these in the mold longer than I did!

This zesty shampoo bar is great for oily hair, gives you the squeeky clean feeling without drying out.

Prior Set up
- Take the peel from one orange and cut into small pieces. Measure out your olive oil (measure out more than you'll need) and put the orange peel in the oil to soak. This gives it a lovely orangey zest.

- 6oz castor oil
- 6oz olive oil
- 6oz coconut oil
- 1oz avocado oil
- 1oz jojoba oil
- 1oz palm oil

- 2.84oz lye
- 3 fluid oz lemon juice
- 4 fluid oz water

- 1tsp lemon oil
- 1tsp grapefruit oil
- 1/2 tsp citronella

- This soap sets up FAST (not one to try on your first soaping adventure!) and tends to turn lumpy. I've made this recipe a few times, and it appears to be normal and still makes a nice bar. Make sure you have your mold ready to go before you add the lye, as it's literally seconds.

- No colour needed! This soap is a natural orange colour.

- You could also use minty olive oil and turn this into a minty recipe. Personally i'm a big fan of orange hair products!