TRADITIONALLY, HOGMANAY IS THE DAY when women clean their houses from top to bottom in preparation for the New Year. Black bun was always made to be eaten on Hogmanay, and I can only think that its purpose was to give strength to busy housewives.
The dark fruit cake-style mixture wrapped in pastry is not often encountered these days, but there are so many other delicious sweet foods which can substitute for it, and are viewed much more favourably by my Lancashire tastebuds.
Hogmanay (pronounced ... hog-muh-NAY) is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. Its official date is the 31 December. However this is normally only the start of a celebration which lasts through the night until the morning of the 1 January or, in many cases, 2 January.
Recipes in The Scotsman are given for Chocolate Oatmeal Crispies, Rich pecan and dark chocolate biscuits, and Flapjack Fingers.
Chocolate Oatmeal Crispies
3oz/85g caster sugar
4oz/110g plain flour
a few drops of vanilla essence
1oz/28g medium oatmeal
Put the butter in a bowl and beat until smooth, then beat in the caster sugar until well creamed. Sieve the flour and cocoa together and stir into the creamed mixture with the vanilla essence and oatmeal, mixing thoroughly. This will produce a stiffish dough.
Roll out on a floured work surface to a thickness of about 1/4 in/6mm and cut into circles about 2in/5cm in diameter. Put the circles on a greased baking sheet.
Bake in a moderate oven, 350F/ 180C/Gas Mark 4 or the bottom right-hand oven of a four-door Aga for ten to 12 minutes.
Remove crispies from the oven and leave on the baking sheet for a minute, then carefully lift them on to a cooling rack. When they are quite cold store them in an airtight tin.
Rich pecan and dark chocolate biscuits
8oz/225g plain flour
8oz/225g butter, hard from the fridge, cut into bits
4oz/110g soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powdered extract, or essence
6oz/170g pecans nuts, roughly chopped
For the coating:
6oz/170g best dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids)
Put the flour, bits of butter, sugar and vanilla into a food processor and whiz to a crumb-like texture. Then add the chopped nuts and briefly whiz them into the mixture. Tip this mixure on to a floured work surface and knead briefly to a dough. Press or roll out, and cut 12 biscuits with a scone cutter. Lift them with a palette knife on to a baking tray and place in the fridge for an hour. Bake them in a moderate oven, 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 or the bottom right oven of a four-door Aga, for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave for a couple of minutes on the baking tray, then carefully lift them on to a wire cooling rack, using a palette knife.
Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir together as both begin to melt. Cool the bowl for five minutes, then spread each biscuit thickly with the chocolate mixture. The butter content helps prevent the chocolate assuming a dull, matt appearance as it sets. When quite cold, store the biscuits in an airtight container, with a sheet of baking parchment between each layer.
This recipe was given to me by Araminta Dallmeyer. Whenever I arrive at the Dallmeyer house around teatime, I always make a beeline for the biscuit tin in the hope of finding flapjacks within.
1 tablespoon golden syrup
4oz/110g caster sugar
2oz/55g self-raising flour
3oz/85g cornflakes or Rice Krispies
Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan then stir in the remaining ingredients. Spread the mixture about 1/2 in/1cm thick on to a buttered baking tray, and bake for 15 minutes in a hot oven, 400F/200C/ Gas Mark 6 or the top right oven in a four-door Aga. Transfer to a rack to cool and cut into fingers before completely cold.
Stir in a handful of dried cranberries to add festive flair and an unexpected flavour to these simple recipes.
And this article has recipes for the traditional black bun, roast beef stovies, and Curried parsnip and coriander soup.
For the dough:
250g plain flour, sifted
125g butter, softened
tsp baking powder
1 egg, whisked
For the filling:
100g flaked almonds
100g light brown sugar
120g plain flour, sifted
tsp ground cinnamon
tsp ground ginger
tsp ground black pepper
tsp baking powder
1tsp ground allspice
1 measure whisky
Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Make the pastry: place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and rub the butter in with your fingers until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add the water until you have a stiff dough. Divide into two parts.
Lightly grease a rectangular baking tin. Roll out half of the dough and press into the bottom of the tin, and up the sides. Mix all the filling ingredients together and press into the dough. Roll out the rest of the dough and place on top. Prick all over with a fork and glaze with the whisked egg. Bake in the oven for three hours, remove and allow to cool. Cut into squares and keep covered until serving.
Roast beef stovies
2kg potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large onions, diced
50ml cooking oil
200ml beef stock
700-800g roast beef, diced
50g fresh parsley, chopped
salt and ground black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 160C. In a large pot or pan heat the butter with the cooking oil and add the diced onion. Sauté for two minutes until transparent then add the diced potatoes. Stir thoroughly then cover and simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the meat, stock and parsley and transfer to an oven dish. Cover and bake for 45 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Curried parsnip and coriander soup
8-10 large parsnips, peeled, topped, tailed and chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, diced
500ml vegetable stock
100ml double cream
50g fresh coriander, chopped
juice from a lemon
2 tbsp mild curry powder
salt and ground black pepper
Warm the butter in a pot and add the onion and curry powder. Sauté for two minutes then add the parsnip and sweet potato. Add the stock and cover the vegetables with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for half an hour. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and fresh coriander. Liquidise and return to the pot and add the double cream. Season with salt and pepper.