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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Poppy Seed Loaves

Idly meandering through Etsy yesterday evening looking for poppies (for no real reason other than that poppies are very pretty), I was reminded of a recipe I used to make quite often in the dim, distant and pre-diabetic past.

It's in one of my notebooks, and I can no longer recall its exact provenance. I used to borrow cookery books from the library and copy out any recipes I particularly liked the look of. This one must have come from a book or a magazine article dedicated to tea-breads, flanked as it is in my notebook by "Raisin, almond and grapefruit loaf" and "Prune, lemon and hazelnut bread".

Tea-breads are, I suspect, largely a British phenomenon. They are neither bread nor, strictly speaking, cake. They are dense, moist, sticky loaves which are cut at the afternoon-tea table into thin slices, and buttered. They were a staple when I was growing up: I remember my mother used to - and quite possibly still does - use a recipe she had cut out of a magazine in which All Bran is soaked in cold tea overnight before the rest of the ingredients are slung together.

Anyway, despite Pop's insistence that he is quite sure I would start to enjoy baking once more if I simply posted the results to him the moment they cooled, I can't envisage myself ever making this particular recipe again. But I really did used to enjoy it, so I thought I'd stick it up on the blog in the hopes that some non-diabetic readers will make it and love it.

It's one of those tremendously-easy recipes in which you just beat everything together in a bowl, so it may be achievable even for people with impairment-related baking issues. It is very sweet indeed, though, and not to be attempted if you don't like the taste of poppy seeds. Or their propensity for getting stuck between your teeth. It makes 2 x 2lb loaves, which is a lot. I probably used to give one loaf away, but I imagine the second loaf would freeze quite successfully.

NB When I copied recipes into my notebook, I didn't do it word for word. I worked on the assumption that I didn't need to be told when to grease and line a cake tin; how to melt chocolate; what consistency egg-whites should be when whisked; how to tell when a cake is 'done'; the fact that ovens should be pre-heated, etc, etc. And I had - and still have - an electric oven, so I didn't write down the gas mark figure.

You will need:

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 pint corn oil
14oz can of condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 lb sugar
1 1/2 lbs plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or extract, if you can get it)
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons black poppy seeds (although white might be interesting)

Beat everything except half the poppy seeds together in a large bowl. Pour into your waiting loaf tins. Sprinkle the rest of the seeds on top. Bake at 325 degrees F/160 degrees C for an hour and a quarter, or until done.

See? I told you it was easy....

The Editor


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Editor

I have a real problem with poppy seeds, inasmuch as they.... er... [Thinks: How can I phrase this delicately?]... may be small but they are sharp, like grains of sand, and they have a tendency to remain unaltered through the digestive process!

However I do have a constructive alternative to the esteemed Mr. Larkin's idea, which would enable you to rediscover the joys of baking but save you a great deal of unneccesary expenditure in postage costs. Can you guess what it is yet?

Yours ravenously


PS Talking of things you might enjoy cooking but be unable to consume, I am very partial to simnel cake!

1:04 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Now there is a mental image I could happily have lived without...

1:30 pm  

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