Monthly Archives: October 2013

Date Cake

Date Cake5 cupfuls of flour
1 ½  cupfuls of sugar
½ lb of butter
1 teaspoonful of carb soda (bicarbonate of soda)
8oz dates
4 oz walnuts
2 teaspoonful of baking powder
¼ pint boiling water
Milk to mix


Place butter, sugar, dates, and bicarbonate of soda and walnuts together in a bowl add the boiling water mix well and leave to cool a little. Add the beaten egg, flour and baking powder and mix well combining all the ingredients thoroughly.
Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin, and bake in a medium oven at 160°C/150°fan/gas mark 3 for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hrs.
Leave the cake to cool for about 10 to 15mins and carefully turn out on to a wire tray.
Dredge with icing sugar and decorate with walnuts.

Fruit Cake with added VINEGAR?

Fruit Cake1lb/450g Flour
8ozs/225g margarine/butter
6ozs/170g currants
6ozs/170g raisins
6ozs/170g sugar
¼ teasp of grated nutmeg /or 1teasp of ground nutmeg
½ teasp mixed spice
1 or 2  eggs
1 ½  tablespoons of vinegar
1 teasp baking powder or 1 teasp baking soda mixed with 1 gill/ ¼ pint hot milk
A little milk
Preheat the oven 150⁰C/gas 2

Rub together the flour  baking powder, sugar  and the margarine until it resembles fine breadcrumbs and add the fruit and spices..
If you are using the baking soda mix together with the hot milk and add to the dry ingredients
(I used the baking powder and the cold milk) and mix well.
Add the vinegar and mix well
Add the eggs, if the mixture seems too sloppy add only one egg.
Pour into a greased and lined 2lb loaf tin or a 8” round tin and bake for  1 hour or until the cake feels firm , or the skewer comes out clean

Potato Cakes

This is one of my Husbands favourite Grandma Sarah’s recipe’s

Potato Cakes2lb Potatoes (buy the ones for mashing)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
6ozs/180g  Flour
4ozs/100g Lard






Preheat the oven to 250⁰C/Gas 9
Put the potatoes in a pan with enough water to just cover the top of them and bring to the boil, then simmer until soft.
When cooked, drain the in a colander and return the potatoes to the pan, and mash using a potato masher or a fork.
Leave to one side and allow to go cold.
In a bowl rub the lard, flour, baking powder, and salt together and add the potatoes, and mix well until the mixture comes together and forms a fairly firm ball, add more flour if it’s too soft to handle.
Put a large spoonful of the potato mix onto a liberally floured surface, flour the rolling pin and roll gently or press into a circle, about ½ inch thick.
Carefully lift the potato cakes with a skillet or large spatula onto a baking tray and bake until golden brown.
Serve whilst warm with butter on.

Simnel Cake

Simnel Cake is traditionally eaten at Easter. In Mediaeval times young female servants would bake this rich fruit cake to take to their Mothers on the rare visits home for Mothering Sunday. The Simnel Cake marked the end of the forty days of Lent  in the Christian Calendar and the celebration of Easter time.
It is a delicious fruit cake, and I personally prefer it to Christmas cake, it is also a symbolic Easter Cake to signify Christianity. The 11 marzipan balls or figures, are placed around the edge of the cake represent the 11 disciples of Christ, although there were 12 apostles of Jesus Christ,  Judas Iscariot betrayed him and hung himself so he is omitted. The slightly larger ball or figure in the centre of the cake signifies Jesus Christ.
This is Grandma Sarah’s recipe for Simnel cake, I have converted the amounts as best I can and the cake was delicious.

Simnel Cake¼ lb/100g Butter
2 beaten eggs, and one for the glaze
¼ lb/100g Brown sugar
6oz/150  Plain flour
¼ lb/100g Raisins
¼ lb Currants
3ozs/80g Mixed Peel
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/ or baking powder
2 Tablespoons of milk or Orange Juice.
Almond Paste
6ozs/150g Ground Almonds
9oz /200g Castor Sugar
1 Egg.
Orange juice.

Mix the sugar with the ground almonds, add the beaten egg and the orange juice little by little and mix to a stiff paste. Ready rolled marzipan is just as suitable to use.
To Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 140C/gas mark 1
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
Slowly beat in the eggs and mix well.
Divide the amount of flour into two and in one half, mix in the fruit and grated peel until all the fruit has a coating of flour, this helps stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom.
Add the flour with the fruit and grated peel in and mix well.
Fold in the rest of the flour and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
Grease and line a 18cm tin and spoon half of the mixture into it and spread it smoothly in the tin.
Using a third of the almond paste, roll out,  to form a circle 18cm diameter and cover the cake mix  with a layer of almond paste  then add the remaining mixture making sure that it is evenly spread, leave a little dip in the centre to allow the cake to rise evenly.
Place in the oven for 1 hour and thirty minutes (do not open the oven door for an hour)
Test the cake by inserting a metal skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean then the cake is ready.
Set aside to cool down.
Brush the top of the cake with melted jam and place a circle of almond paste on the top and gently smooth down.
From the remaining almond paste, make 11 balls and one slightly larger one and place these around the edge of the cake.Brush all the areas of almond paste with beaten egg and place in a preheated oven until the almond paste turns a light brown colour

Christmas Pudding

0102oz/50g Suet/Vegetarian Suet
6oz/170g  Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
4oz/100g Currants
2oz/50g   Raisins
1oz/25g Candied Peel
2oz/50g Sugar
1 dessert spoon of Black treacle
1 teaspoon of Mixed Spice
2 eggs
A little milk for mixing
100 ml Brandy.

Grease the pudding bowl/ deep cereal bowl,  or microwave or heat -proof bowl,  well, with butter and set to one side. In a large mixing bowl mix together all the ingredients and stir well, add a little milk to the mixture if it feels too dry.
Transfer the mixture into the pudding bowl.
Draw round a dinner plate and cut a circle out of greaseproof paper to cover the top of the  bowl,  and secure with an elastic band.
To Steam
Place in a large pan of boiling water and steam for 1 hr or until the pudding feels firm on the top.
To Microwave  Cook in the microwave for 5 mins until the top of the pudding feels firm .
Carefully remove from the pan/microwave and peel off the greaseproof paper.
Turn out onto a serving plate and serve with clotted cream or brandy butter.

Christmas Mincemeat

Christmas Mince Meat2oz/50g      Shredded suet or vegetarian suet
4oz/100g    Apples cored and chopped into small pieces.
4oz/100g    Raisins.
4oz/100g    Currants
4oz/100g     Sultanas
4oz/100g     Candied or mixed peel
3oz/75g      Demerara  Sugar
Teaspoonful of nutmeg or ¼ of a whole nutmeg grated
Teaspoonful mixed spice
Juice and zest of 2 oranges
100ml of either brandy, rum or port.


In a large bowl put the suet, dried fruit, sugar and apples, spices and mix well.
Add the orange juice and alcohol and stir until all the contents are all combined.
Spoon into screw top sterilised jam jars, seal and screw on the lid.
Leave in the fridge overnight to allow all the flavours to infuse.
Mincemeat will keep for 2-3 weeks in a cool place.

Medicines and cures from a Bygone Age

Before the National Health Service was introduced in 1948, research shows that for most people it was difficult to afford medicines.
Visiting a doctor in the early 1900’s was expensive and for the working class a doctors  fee was out of the question unless it was absolutely necessary.
For working class families, medicines handed down by family members would be the first choice, they were tried and tested remedies and people were able to buy the raw ingredients from their local chemist.

The  chemists shelves were filled with ingredients to make all kinds of remedies and cures, and they were affordable for most working class people.
Below are some of the remedies passed down to Grandma Sarah for her to use.
A Good Tonic
In a Pan or Jug add:
1 Bottle of raisin wine
1 gill of black beer
2oz of Bovril
1 teaspoon of ammoniated citrate of iron
Melt the iron in a little hot water then put in the Bovril, wine and beer.
Transfer into a bottle, this makes about a quart.
Grandma Sarah does not state the dosage but I would imagine it would be a dessert spoonful after meals.

A Good Tonic

1oz  Hypophosphites
1oz  Chemical Food
1oz   Extract of malt

Then fill up with cold water? (to what amount she doesn’t say) and take  one dessertspoonful after meals.

Once again Grandma Sarah would be familiar with these cures, they must have been used by the family on a regular basis, and the need for detail is sometimes left out.

Nerve Tonic

½ oz  Valerian Root
½ oz   Sarsaparilla Root
½ oz   Camomile Flowers
½ oz   Mistletoe Leaves
½ oz   Scull Cap.
Will make 2 qrts, brewed twice??
Taken at night and morning.
Grandma Sarah does not state how this tonic is made up, nor is she clear on the dosage. Most of these cures have been handed down by family from a long time ago so, by writing that the above ingredients will make a quantity of 2 quarts of liquid and stating the word Brewed,  I  can only guess that the above Nerve tonic was made up with water and drank as some sort of tea, but I couldn’t be at all sure of this.

Stomach Bottle

½  oz  Sodium bicarbonate

1  oz    Heavy Magnesium Carbonate

1  oz    Calcium Carbonate

2 drms Bismuth Oxycarbonate

Mix well together.

Dosage: teaspoonful in milk after meals.

I don’t advise that you use any of these mixtures today as I’m quite sure there are excellent modern remedies that are probably much safer.

Blood Pressure

I’m not sure whether this medicine is for high or low blood pressure, not only that,  how did people know if they had either?

1 oz Vervain Root
1 oz Valerion
1oz scull cap
1oz mistletoe

Mix together and then divide into 4 equal parts and make up to 1 pint for each part.  Grandma Sarah doesn’t say what the above is mixed with to make up the volume of 1 pint for each part I can only assume it is with water?

Cough Mixture

I do not know the equivalent amount in metric of 2d (two pennorth) of anything would be,  although I can remember buying 2d of sweets as a child. The amount of tuppence (2d) is a unit of what was then known as a shilling, and there were 12 pennies in the old imperial shilling. Therefore 2d would be a ⅙  unit of a shilling. The equivalent financial value of a shilling in today would be 5p.
Cough Mixture.

2d   Oil of aniseed
2d   Peppermint
2d   Laudanum
2d   White vinegar
2oz  Spanish
1lb   Black Treacle.

Boil the treacle and Spanish in a quart of water and reduce down to a pint, when cold, add the other ingredients and then bottle.

Dose: One Tablespoon in two tablespoons  of warm water.

009Sarah Tindsley was born in Salford Lancashire on the 8th of August 1893 in the reign of Queen Victoria. She was one of seven children and the only daughter of Elizabeth and Edwin Tindsley. In the 1901 Census of England and Wales Sarah and her family moved to Bolton and were living at number 21 Apple Street in the district of Bolton le Moors Emmanuel, a district of Bolton Lancashire. Later in 1911, the census shows that the family had moved to a different address in Bolton to number 65, Thynne Street Bolton, nearer to the town centre, this street still exists today I travel along it regularly on my way to the town centre.  Here in Bolton she met and married Grandpa Norman, and according to family information, Grandma Sarah and Grandpa Norman worked and met whilst working the same cotton mill in Bolton.

Bolton at that time, was like most other Lancashire towns and the main employment was in the cotton mills a thriving industry at the time, creating much employment for the people of Bolton and the skyline was awash with the tall brick chimneys and red brick mills. On the 30th of December 1915, at the Kings Hall Wesleyan Methodist Chapel Bradshawgate Bolton, Sarah Tindsley (Spinster) and Norman Matthews (Bachelor) tied the knot and  began their married life  together.


DSCF8858This is Grandma Sarah’s house where I spent most of our courting days. We would visit her usually in the middle of the week and spend time sat on deck chairs at the back in her lovely cottage garden. It was always sunny then or at least it seemed so.
My husband (boyfriend then), would cut her grass for her and mend anything that was broken in around the house.
In return,  we would feast on homemade scones, potato cakes , homemade bread and lemon curd, and copious cups of tea.