I have loved baking since I was a wee girl. My Mum and Gran introduced me to the mighty Victoria sponge and all it’s amazing flavour combinations. Gran used to be a domestic science teacher and did her training at Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science.
As well as raising 4 daughters Gran had baked for pleasure all throughout her life. Her speciality was her amazing recipe for Scotch pancakes or as I called them “Ba Ba’s” The mixture is much thicker than a crepe mix so holds it’s shape well and can be moulded into all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes. My “Ba Ba’s” were names after Babar the elephant. Once I’d made the mix I would gently ladle an elephant shape into the frying pan, the tricky bit was making his trunk. Some were works of animal art and others looked like an undiscovered breed of mammal but they all tasted delicious.
After we had had a good run at the pancakes we moved on to the biscuit. Mums 3 sisters had all emigrated to Australia so we had a collection of The Australian women’s weekly cookbooks. My favourite was the biscuit book and it must have been designed for children because it had liquorice ‘all sorts’ on the front. Off we went into town to stock up with Bertie Bassett’s wares, out came the brand new biscuit cutter and we were good to go. Now Gran must have taken her eye off the ball because she left me in charge of cutting the biscuits out and making the faces. I wasn’t allowed any oven action so she popped back to put the tray in to bake. 10 minutes later and they were ready, I can still remember the look of disappointment on my face reflected in the glass oven door. My artistic efforts had all merged into a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. Gran hadn’t read the recipe properly and the liquorice faces had to be added to the cooked and cooled biscuits!
By the time I had got to the grand old age of 7 I met Mr Craig Alexanda Green. He had come from Australia to cook for Mrs Heinz – yes of baked beans fame. She owned a castle that ran as a writers retreat and they were lucky enough to have Craig as their resident chef. My Mum was invited to one of the dinners at the castle and to this day she still talks about Craig’s choux pastry swans sitting on a fruit coulis lake – A masterpiece! I think this was the most exotic cooking Scotland had seen, well at least in our neck of the woods.
I met up with Craig in Melbourne in 2003, 16 years later and his greeting was “The last time I saw you you were dressed as an American Indian with a pheasant feather in your hair!” – a strong look I now keep for special occasions only. As the biscuit king of OZ he runs http://www.takethebiscuit.com.au He and his team of ‘biscuiteers’ who’s motto and ethos is “We bake not just because we can but because we love to”. That says it all.
Craig has been kind enough to share some of his delicious recipes with me in support of Bake for Bipolar February. Peanut butter & caramel brownie, Custard cream & serious chocolate biscuit, Lemon & yoghurt cakes and my favourite caramelized white chocolate shortbread. All of these recipes will be appearing on my blog in the coming days.
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© Catriona Macdougall cookyourselfhappier.com, 2017
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