We spent ages deciding what should go into the Long Barn welcome hamper when setting up the barn. In fact, our builders Mike and Stan along with Ian all benefited from many of the baking tests that Jackie did to help us short list the baking entries. We knew that we wanted to include as much as we could that was local or that we’d made ourselves.
Ian had always made bread even before we escaped to the country; kneading the dough was his stress reliever when he worked in the corporate world! He upped his game further when we moved to Appleton; his competitive streak kicked in at the annual village produce show and a career highlight amidst a few top three placings, was to win first prize one year. A freshly baked loaf of bread made by Ian for guests was a given, and depending on when you arrive, it may still be warm.
Jackie tested out her jam and marmalade making skills; all fruit for our jams comes from a local farm in Sinnington which grows the best strawberries and raspberries we’ve ever tasted. The marmalade we make is from our guru Diana Henry, who has a terrific recipe called “Nick’s ‘good morning” breakfast marmalade”, described as “soft-set, bright and tangy”. We make it from pink grapefruit, blood and Seville oranges. One of our friends is so addicted to it, it has become a tradition that we present him with a years supply every year for his birthday. So expect a jar of homemade preserves to be waiting for you.
After much testing, we decided on homemade toasted olive oil granola (Nigella) and lemon drizzle cake. (Mary Berry – sadly no relation to us..) We’ve lost count of the number of guests who’ve asked for the recipes, so thought we’d include the lemon drizzle cake in this blog with the “tweaks” that we do having made them so many times. You can find the granola recipe on line or in her book “Simply Nigella” (we leave out the flax seeds)
Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Traybake
225g softened butter
225g golden caster sugar
275g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons (slightly heaped) baking powder
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons of milk
Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
175g granulated sugar
Juice 2 large lemons
You’ll need a tray bake or roasting tin 30x23x4cm.
How to make
- Pre-heat the oven to 160c/325F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line the tin. We use reusable baking parchment and make sure that enough of it is sticking out so that we can lift the cake whilst warm out of the tin.
- Measure out all the traybake ingredients into a large bowl and beat until well blended. The two things we do that we think make a difference are firstly to make sure the butter is really soft. We use Mary’s fool proof way of softening by placing the butter into lukewarm water and leaving it for ten minutes, so the butter is squidgy. The second thing we do is to beat the mixture using a food mixer for at least 2 minutes on maximum so that it whips up the cake batter into a light creamy mix.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes until it springs back when lightly pressed with a finger in the centre and is beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
- Allow the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes and then lift out still on the lining paper. We don’t remove the paper as she suggests, but just put it straight onto a wire rack over a tray (to catch the drips of the topping).
- To make the topping, mix the sugar and lemon juice together to give a runny consistency. Depending on how juicy your lemons are, we sometimes add more lemon juice. We have toyed with the idea of adding gin as we’ve seen in other recipes but decided against this for teetotal guests. However, you may want to try this addition!
- We prick the cake all over with a cocktail stick to allow the topping to soak in. The cake must be warm when you do this; if you let the cake go cold it won’t soak in. Cut into squares when cold.
- And enjoy with a cup of tea! We make sure there are tea bags, coffee, and enough milk for a cuppa when you arrive.
Alongside the goodies mentioned so far, we also include homemade sloe gin (we sometimes vary this for homemade limoncello in the summer time) organic eggs from our hens (this may not always be possible in winter months if they aren’t laying) and in summer months, a selection of herbs from the garden.
The welcome hamper also includes Roost Expresso coffee beans for the Sage bean to cup coffee machine. David and Ruth set up their own roastery in nearby Malton and produce delicious coffee. Since lock down we’ve been buying on behalf of the village and Roost now have many more local fans! You’ll also find a bottle of award-winning extra virgin Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil; another local company based in Thixendale. Both these companies now sell online if you want to try out their range; we’d highly recommend them both.
And finally, we drop off a farewell gift before you leave us of homemade brownies for the journey home. Look out for that recipe on a future blog!