Hints & Tips

Cake determined by the weight of the egg
To be honest when I saw this recipe I was doubtful as to whether it would work or not, but, once again Grandma Rules OK.

1 Egg
It’s weight in:
Castor sugar
Ground Rice or rice flour
Vanilla essence/almond essence
Raspberry Jam.
Preheat the oven to 180⁰C/gas 4/350F


First of all, line the bun tray or individual small tins with short crust pastry, put a small amount of jam on to the bottom of  each of the  pastry in the tins  and set to one side.

Cream the fat and the sugar to a cream, add the egg, and beat until smooth.
Fold in the ground rice and essence and mix well.
Spoon the mixture on top of the jam, careful not to over fill the bun cases.
At this point I sprinkled flaked almonds over the top of each cake, but this is optional
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cake is golden brown


To all you cooking enthusiasts and friends of baking like me, I just thought I’d mention that in cooking, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you don’t have to buy expensive equipment especially if you’re on a budget. If you have the basic essentials then you can make any of the recipes in this book. Grandma Sarah and ladies of her era didn’t have food mixers,  blenders, bread machines and the like but they still managed to cook up some very tasty wholesome meals.

All you need is enthusiasm and practice, elbow grease, (effort) and a love of food . In my view you only need the minimum equipment to cook, of course all the recipes in the book can be made in food processors and the modern equipment we have today and that is fine.  I have noticed however, some of the cakes and puddings etc when cooked are a little different in texture, for instance the sponges are not as light as the ones we make today, but never the less are just as tasty.

As I mentioned previously, this is due to the choice of flours, ingredients and cookers that were used in the homes and kitchens of housewives and mothers of  Grandma Sarah’s time, and it was only when the first thermostatically controlled gas and electric cookers were available and affordable, I suppose  cooking for the family became  a lot easier  as they no longer had to build up the fire in the hearth to heat the cast iron ovens, to bake the bread and pies and such,  although this method of cooking by solid fuel  was used in working class family homes for a long time,  I should guess it was the 1950’s before gas and electric cookers became the norm in households around the North West of England.

So, if the recipes turn out a little different, but just as tasty, remember, when you eat them you’ll be sharing and tasting a little bit of history from bygone times from  the era of Grandma Sarah and the ladies of her time.

Essential Equipment

Large Bowl

Wooden Spoon.

Rolling Pin




Pallet knife

Good Quality Baking tray

Good quality cake tin.

These will help people who are without scales.

1 tablespoon of flour  =  1oz

1 level tablespoon of castor sugar = ½ oz

1 rounded tablespoon of jam, honey treacle or syrup = 2ozs

2 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs = 1oz

1 egg weight approximately 3ozs

1 gill liquid or 7 tablespoons of water = ¼ pint

Hints from Grandma Sarah.

In the book Grandma Sarah wrote down some handy hints to help in her everyday running of the house chores, these were probably handed down from her mother, after all I should imagine she played a large part in helping out in their home when she was growing up, especially as she was the only girl amongst six brothers.  Some of them you may have heard of and some of them you will be less familiar with, I think they are charming.

  • A tablespoon of Glycerine in the starch water makes ironing a pleasure.
  • If milk is just going to boil over place a Silver spoon in the pan and this will stop the milk from boiling over.
  • Mint sauce eaten with lamb, is improved by dissolving a teaspoon of sugar in two tablespoons of boiling water and pour over the mint and leave for 10 minutes before adding the vinegar.
  • A tablespoon of boiling water added to sponge mix makes lighter sponge cakes.
  • To help green vegetables keep their colour boil in the pan without the lid.
  • When pickling onions or red cabbage, crispness may be obtained if a pinch of Alum ? is used.
  • Before whisking eggs, rinse the bowl with cold water and leave a drop or two in the bottom, the eggs will then come out clean and this will save waste.
  • The best way of making curdled custard smooth is to stand it in a pan of cold water and beat with an egg whisk until smooth.
  • To prevent skin forming on boiled milk, cover the  pan with a plate or saucer, thus saving all the goodness.
  • When making oatmeal porridge or cooking rice, if the pot is greased with lard or butter first it is much easier to clean.
  • Save the green leaves of celery, dry them in the oven, then rub down into a powder and store them in a glass jar, they make good flavourings for soups and stews.

Here’s a bit of advice for us all.
Where you go wrong.

  • You do not dry the fruit thoroughly which tends to make your cake heavy.

I think she meant:

  • If you do not dry the washed fruit thoroughly before you add it to the cake mixture it will make the cake heavy and stodgy.
  • You do not have the oven hot enough, when browning the cake, the cake is left in too long and it becomes over cooked, Five minutes should be long enough.

Here, I think she was advising to preheat the oven at the correct regulo (temp) for five minutes.
The early recipes in the book would have most probably been cooked on an oven heated by the fire. These oven combinations were known as “Bungalow Ranges” these were the most common ones used by the working classes they were built into the chimney breasts of the houses and were fuelled by coal or coke. As time went on the gas cooker came on the scene, this was basic but it had a more controlled heat by the introduction of the thermostat and the regulo,  the temperatures on the thermostat ranged from regulo 1 to regulo 10 giving a more controlled heat for better baking.  There was also more upmarket ones these were known  as the AGA cookers  these cookers were first imported from Sweden to Britain in 1929  and they are still  sought after,  and still in use today. As we travel through the book we can get an idea of the progress made in the kitchen, by the ingredients available, the recipe methods and the appliances used.

Old Money,  Imperial Measures and school life in Yesteryear


Do the young people of today know how simple their maths lessons are compared to Grandma Sarah’s and my own?
I’m going to take you on a journey back in time when the schools of yesterday were austere, strict, and unwelcoming.  Discipline was tough and unforgiving and in some cases schools were terrifying places for some kids, especially the maths lessons.
Times tables were recited religiously every morning before the register was taken and then we all went into the school hall for assembly.
At school children were taught the imperial units of measure and money, today we use metrication were every measurement is based on ten.
With Imperial there was no common connection to the units so each had to be learned and memorised off by heart which I can tell you was no easy task.
As far as I know this system of teaching maths had been used in schools since about 1870’s onwards until decimalisation came in the 1970’s.

In Cookery, the utensils would be very different from today’s electronic equipment.  Scales with copper pans and round cast iron weight’s would have been used to measure out the ingredients; they would consist of a 2lb, 1lb, 8oz, 1oz, ½ oz and ¼ oz weight.  Jugs with indented markings on the side were used for liquids, and sometimes in the face of economy, a milk bottle was used instead of a rolling pin. Below are some pictures of the sort of equipment that would have been used in the kitchen of Grandma Sarah’s early married life. This equipment is still available to buy today from the internet, under the title of vintage and below are some examples to give you some idea.

Units of length

  • 1 inch (in or “)   =                   25.4mm
  • 12 inches  (ins)  = 1 foot  =   305  mm
  • 3 feet (ft)            = 1 yard =    0.91mm
  • 1760 yards (yrds) = 1 mile (m) = 1.61 km
  • 144 square ins (sq in) = 1 sq foot
  • 9 square feet (sq ft)  = 1 square yard
  • 4840 sq.yards (sq yrds) = 1 acre about the size of a football pitch.
  • 5 ½  yards = 1 rod pole or perch??
  • 22 yards = 1 chain ( incidentally, this is the length of a cricket pitch)
  • 10 chains = 1 furlong
  • 8 furlongs = 1 mile. Then 220 yards in 1 furlong and 1,760 yards in a mile.

Units of weight

  • 16 drams  (dr) = 1 ounce = tablespoon of sugar = 28 grams
  • 16 ounces (oz)  = 1lb (pound) = 0.45 kg a bag of sugar. Written this way to avoid confusion with the £1
  • 14 lbs = 1 st (stone) used in body weight = 6.35 kg
  • 2 stone = 1 quarter = 12.7 kg
  • 4 quarters = 1 hundred weight = 112 lbs  a bag of cement = 50.8 kg
  • 8 stones = 1 cwt (hundredweight)
  • 20 cwt = 1 ton  Then there was 112lbs in  1cwt and 2,240lbs in 1 ton.

Capacity   as it was known.

  • 5 fluid ounces = 1 gill  = 142ml
  • 4 gills = 1 pint =
  • 1 pint = 20 fluid ounces =  an English beer = 568 ml
  • 2 pints (pts)  = 1 quart  a German beer     = 1.1 L
  • 4 quarts (qrt) = 1 gallon = a large tin of paint = 4.546 L
  • 2 gallons (galls) = 1 peck   9.1 L
  • 4 pecks = 1 bushel.

And then there was the money to get to grips with:
I can remember the wear and tear on the pockets of trousers due to the sheer weight of the coins carried around day by day. Housewives of the day were always either mending or replacing pockets in jackets and trousers.

  • 2 farthings = 1 halfpenny pronounced ‘hapepenny’ = 0.208p
  • 4 farthings = 1 penny (d) abbreviation for the Latin denarius or dinar = 0.417p
  • 3 pennies = 1  threepenny bit  this was a brass coin with 12 sides and there was an older silver one which was small and round. They used them to put in Birthday cakes and Wedding cakes and if you happen to get one in your piece of cake ( Gulp) it was considered lucky. = 1.25p
  • 6 pennies = 1 sixpenny piece  this was the first coin in nickel = 2.5p
  • 12 pennies = 1 shilling it was known as a bob as in ‘bob a job’ = 5p
  • 2 shillings = 1 florin = 10p
  • 2s-6p; 2/6d = 1 half a crown the biggest coin in regular use = 12.5p
  • 10 shillings= 1 ten ‘bob’ note, this was the first in paper money = 50p
  • 20 shillings = 1 pound note (quid) there were also £5 notes and £10 notes.

3  French Polishes

1 Pint Metholated Spirits
5ozs  Orange Shellac
¼oz Gum Copal
¼ oz Gum Arabic

1 Pint Metholated Spirits
5ozs  Orange Shellac
1 ½  Gum Sandarach

1 Pint Metholated Spirits
5ozs    Orange Shellac
½         Gum Mastic
White Shellac can be substituted for Orange if a colourless polish is required.

Furniture Cream

½  Pint of Turpintine
Scrape into it 2oz of White Wax
Leave this to dissolve all night
Melt ½ oz of Castile Soap in a pint of boiling water

Let this also stand all night

Mix these two together the next day, and Bottle it for further use.