Friday 4 September 2015

Bank holiday weekend, books, great aunt Makiri's Pikelets, Mum's Apple Strudel and Espresso Coffee Cake

When autumn is trying to elbow it's way in, one of the best ways to begin a saturday morning at home is still pyjama clad to leisurely make a batch, or maybe two, of Great aunt Makiri's Pikelets. Pouring the creamy yellow batter into the ancient pan while the sizzling butter splashes up, I try to make the perfect circle and watch those tiny bubbles appear as the pancakes set. Slowly wait for the little brown crunchy edges to form and then toss them over. Dawdling as we eat them with fudgy maple syrup, sour blackcurrant syrup, tangy yoghurt and gallons of filter coffee. 

Later we cross the river, driving down snaking country lanes across the border to Hay-on-Wye. Maybe pick up a bargain, a sweet decoupaged table that Hannah spot's for her bedroom. Music flowing through the streets, fiddlers fiddling or a top hatted French pianist add to the weekend atmosphere. The carrot on the stick is Booth's the current favourite bookshop that reminds me of the ultimate favourite

I try to find a gem...I go to the T's and run my finger along the rows. I know what I'm looking for but I can't find it. I give up when something else grabs my attention. The edge of a tiny spine covered in tissuey marbled paper. On the flyleaf a handwritten note, cursive script in pencil, a Christmas gift dated 1936. A small privately published edition just for friends. No author, no title. Not what I was looking for but the beautiful paper of the handmade book compensates.  I open it to the first page and there's the name I was looking for. THOREAU... A drawing of a tiny house...some of his essays...I gasp out loud.  People look at me and smile. I can't stop grinning either. I have found a gem even more precious than I had ever hoped for...

...It was a bit expensive...I couldn't justify buying it. I found a comfy sofa and drooled over it for a bit then put it back on the shelf. I couldn't help myself from hiding it. Just a bit, behind the others a smidgen...So maybe I can look at it one more time...

weekend baking:

  • The coffee cake recipe that you can linke to here. It's really moist and very more-ish. I used instant espresso powder which gives a much more intense coffee flavour than regular instant coffee or even using real made up espresso.

  • It's apple time so I'm working my way through my apple recipes, firstly mum's apple strudel recipe. It's not a true Austrian recipe, probably just one that she copied from a magazine like Family Circle. I've just checked FC, it's still published! She would have usually used ready made puff pastry. I did too, this is very easy to make but looks as though you've spent ages slaving over a hot stove.

  • 7oz of puff pastry
  • 1/2oz of butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs of apples
  • 2oz of sultanas
  • 2oz of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar to dust the top
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f.Gas mark 6.
  2. Roll out the pastry as thinly as possible.
  3. Slice the apples, add the sugar, cinnamon and fruit and mix well.
  4. Spread the filling over two thirds of the pastry.
  5. Roll into a sausage shape, start with the side with the filling.
  6. When completely rolled over, fold in a V-shapeand carefully place on an oiled baking tray. Brush the top with melted butter or alternative.
  7. Cut little slits in the the top.
  8. Bake for about half an hour in the middle of the oven.
  9. When the pastry is cooked and pale golden brown, remove from the oven. 
  10. Dust with icing sugar. 
This is lovely served warm with yoghurt, or cream with a dusting of ground cinnamon. It's just as nice at room temperature with a cup of tea or coffee. I also make a version where I cook the fruit first. This makes a much darker softer filling...Just as good, but it doesn't have all those cool nostalgic memories that eating mum's version does...

I think it'll be mum's aunties apple cake recipe next...oh or maybe Orchard eve's pudding with custard...

Do you have any apple recipe to share too?

ps Thank you for all your advice about the pine cupboard. It was very helpful. I'll definitely be leaving it as it is...


  1. oh how I wish autumn would arrive here! We have supposedly a last day of heat and humidity. I am ready for it all to be finished.Our long weekend is today and while we only have a few solid plans the rest is free and easy going!

    1. Sounds like a good weekend Karen. Autumn is definitely here now by date and by weather. I hope we get a good one though as there's some outdoor painting that needs doing here before the cold and wet sets in. But it's perfect reading and knitting weather and cosy days like the one above...

  2. What a wonderful weekend. I have a lovely edition of Walden's Pond but still am looking for a vintage one. What you described sounds perfect. I'm sure Thoreau would disapprove of having books just for their beauty, though. One edition is enough. Sigh. Apple strudel sounds wonderful. My family prefers Dutch apple pie, so that is what I usually bake. Except when I'm feeling lazy than I just make a crisp that can be made up in minutes. Hope you have a lovely remaining weekend!

    1. It was beautiful. I still have to go back for another look Jane. I agree with you about Thoreau. Dutch apple pie sounds lovely, I must look up the recipe. I'm sure that I'll find it on your blog somewhere.
      I'll come over for a look now...oh and crisp. Not sure what that it is...

  3. I love Hay on Wye and spent holidays at Glasbury in youth. Love this bakefest!

    1. Oh that must have been fun...I bet you had an amazing time. I love pikelets...they are a real treat.