Is everyone ready for a night of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night?
Halloween has snowballed in popularity in recent years and though there’s an assumption that it’s an ‘American import’, it’s actually thought to date back to the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Sahmain or ‘summer’s End’, which was a community celebration, held on November 1st to mark the annual harvest and the start of a New Year. It was a time of festivities and bonfires and the people of the time believed that the spirits of the dead were active.
Over time, elements of Sahmain merged with observance of the Christian feast day of All Saints or ‘All Hallows’ giving rise to the term of Hallow E’en for the night before the festivities . Children and the poor would go from house to house ‘souling’ to beg for small soul cakes in return for saying a prayer for the dead. Quite a ringer for modern day trick or treating!
Emigrants to the new world of America took these age old traditions with them and over time, it evolved into the much loved modern day celebration, which has come full circle back to the UK and is a perfect excuse to get together and party with family and friends.
Of course, all good parties need a celebration cake and we’ve found this fabulous idea from the Vegetarian Society for a creepy Black Widow cake. You’ve just got time to bake it before tomorrow night!
Serves 8-12 slices
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
For the cake:
100g soft eating liquorice pieces
250ml vegetable oil
165g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
50g walnut pieces, ground
2 tbsp gram flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
Few drops vanilla extract
For the icing:
60g icing sugar
½ tsp food colouring (optional)
1 tbsp water
Black icing pen
1 piece of soft eating liquorice
1. Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4. Chop the liquorice into small pieces and put in a small pan with 175ml water. Boil for about 5 minutes until the liquorice is starting to go soft and mushy. Remove from the heat and pour in the vegetable oil, stirring well.
2. Put the remaining cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir in the liquorice mixture.
3. Put in a small (18cm) lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the middle of the cake clean.
4. Leave in the cake tin to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Mix together the icing sugar, food colouring (if using) and water, then spread over the cooled cake with a palette knife, gently and evenly. Using the black icing pen draw a web pattern on top of the icing. Then make a spider out of the spare piece of liquorice!
Recipe © The Vegetarian Society 2012. Visit www.vegsoc.org for more recipes and information.
If you like to browse your recipes on the move, the new app from the Vegetarian Society could be just what you need. It has just been launched in time for National Vegetarian Week which this year takes place between 19-25 May 2014.
The app features a range of recipes for all abilities and has a handy binder function so you can save all your favourite recipes for easy look up.
So, whether you need inspiration for a butternut squash a lonely can of chickpeas or simply to search for some scrumptious puddings, the app is sure to be a help. It is available free of charge from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Find out more by visiting www.vegsoc.org/recipeapp
We’ve been dithering about having a bash at wine making for some time now and this weekend, finally took the plunge.
It was seeing an auction listing for three demi-johns that swung it really…. we saw the listing on Thursday and realised they were being sold from a little village that we were due to literally drive past the very next day. We decided it was an omen and became their proud owners 24 hours later and after a swift trip to our local Brew Mart for the other essentials, we were all set to start our first batch.
As the rhubarb on our plot is now sprouting with vigour, it felt only right that our very first attempt at country wine should make full use of this delightful vegetable and we’re following the much esteemed John Wright’s rhubarb wine recipe, so our newly sterilised fermenting tub is now sitting with its mix of rhubarb and sugar for the requisite three days before we add the active ingredients.
Apparently patience is the key to good country wine and we we’re going to need a hefty dose of willpower because we have to try and leave it to mature for about a year after bottling!