Tag Archives: Riverford

Ben’s meat blog: ‘Horsegate’ a few months on

It’s been a tough start to the year for the conventional meat industry – ‘horsegate’, closely followed by more research showing that a diet heavy on processed meat products isn’t a good option.

Two seemingly separate issues, in practice closely connected. Now that we have had a month or two to reflect, and the emotional outrage has dissipated, we are left with a murky picture of duplicity and dodgy dealings. The food ingredients industry is partly made of unaccountable, offshore, often privately-owned trading companies with tentacles extending all over the world. Containers of frozen and chilled product crisscross Europe, and the world, controlled from an anonymous computer in a hidden away office – these people don’t want a high profile. Given that this is the world we live in, and governing international traders in offshore locations is nigh on impossible, you could argue that we all got off lightly – this time.

It’s made the multiple retailers shout about provenance and buying British, but in practice that won’t extend beyond meat cuts on the shelves. They can set up supply chain audits to their hearts’ content but when the main driving force is price and the quest for cheap food, what are they worth? They might get the right species but that still leaves plenty of scope for abuse. Drugs and antibiotics, concealed fat, mechanically recovered and tenderised meat, animal welfare etc aren’t going to show up in a DNA test. And don’t get all NIMBY and say it’s only our continental cousins who are to blame.

Question: Where does all this dodgy meat end up?

Answer: In processed meat products. Hence,including both in this blog.

Question: Is food processing and technology for the benefit of the industry or the customer?

Answer:We might convince ourselves that it’s making our lives easier and bringing us food that we can’t make at home, but the main driver is adding value, extending shelf life and making money – so the answer for ten is industry. The contents of a factory made sausage or pâté bear no resemblance to what you might make at home. Obviously we don’t make turkey twizzlers and the like, but I wouldn’t want to. I can’t believe that I would be writing this if all processed meat products were made with a view from the customer perspective rather than that of the food industry.

At Riverford, and in much of the organic world, things are different. Food technology does have its place in organic food but, thanks to the Soil Association, it is mainly for the benefit of the consumer. The list of ingredients in our sausages, burgers and bacon is short. You can fit them and product costings on the back of an envelope, which was about as close to a business plan as I got.

As one of our butchers said – ‘with our burgers the mincer is only saving work for our teeth’. Now that is the ultimate example of food processing for the customer’s benefit – very much the Riverford way.

penny’s gardening blog: tips on how and where to plant your veg box to grow

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Many of you will be receiving your veg box to grow kits this week and next. They come with full instructions of what to do to look after the plants, how to plant them and how to sow the seeds. Follow this advice carefully to get the best results – however here are some tips to help you grow.

Here are my tips and some pictures from planting our vegbox to grow outside the Riverford Field Kitchen this week, if you are ever passing feel free to pop by and see how our veg patch is growing.

When your vegbox arrives

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Open the box to expose plants to sunlight

As soon as you get the chance, open the box and unpack the plants. Lay them out somewhere sheltered and in a sunny area. Put the seeds somewhere dry and cool until you are ready to sow them. Open the seed potatoes and put them somewhere dry and protected from cold weather and expose them to light to encourage the chits to grow.

Watering

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Watering seedlings once out of the Riverford Veg Box to Grow

If any plants look a bit loose after the journey, gently firm them into the module. They will more than likely need a light watering. Leave the plants to acclimatize and recover from the journey for a day or two before planting. The plants will be fine left unplanted for a week or so if you are not ready but make sure to check them regularly and water them if the compost is looking at all dry.

Where to plant & soil preparation

It is important to choose a site that gets plenty of sunlight for successful growing. It’s also important to prepare the soil as well as possible.  Hopefully you will have followed the guidance in the box booklet on preparing the ground and will already have adding well rotted farmyard manure, horse dung or chicken pellets. If you have done this you are ready to get planting. If not, dig in some organic chicken pellets before planting.

Sowing and planting

Follow the suggested spacing for the seedlings and sowings, remembering to leave enough room to get in between the rows for watering, weeding and cropping later on.

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Planting beetroot seedlings

Whilst planting it’s useful to have a stake or label next to where you have planted your veg to help you identify it later on.Image

Once planted, make sure to water in the plants and check regularly for slugs and snails. Organic slug pellets are useful, but there are many other ways of dealing with these pests. Look on the internet for tips on organic pest control.

Protecting your plants

Covering your planted up area with fleece will help give your plants a head start, creating a microclimate, and will protect the plants from cold and wind. This should be removed regularly to check for said pests and for weeding and hoeing. Then you can pull the fleece back over the area, anchoring it with stones or sacks filled with earth. Once the weather warms up and the plants have shown signs of growing on, you can remove the fleece and store for further use in the future.

This spring is particularly cold and shows no signs of letting up, so be careful to put the tomatoes, courgettes, squash and coriander in an area protected from frosts and wind , e.g.; a greenhouse, polytunnel, conservatory or on a light window sill, at least. Grow these tender plants on, repotting if necessary until the risk of frosts and cold wind is over. Only then, should you plant them outside. Look at using cloches for protection once planted.

Please make use of me for any questions you may have or for problems you are facing – either comment on this blog or tweet us @riverford. I am happy to help and wish you much success.

Happy growing

Penny

Kirsty’s cooking blog: making red onion & raisin chutney

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Before I had my first vegbox, about 12 years ago now, I’d always made a few chutneys, because I love the mix of sweet and sour flavours, and their versatility. With my vegbox, I started making more chutneys and pickles to use up any gluts. Now they’ve become a staple in my kitchen cupboard.

Chutneys are one of the simplest of all the preserving kits we’re selling alongside the vegboxes. A bit of peeling and chopping, then let it all simmer gently away until you have a sticky, aromatic concoction. With our ready-weighed spice bags there’s no risk of over or under-spicing, so they’re great for beginners, or for those who don’t like to buy jars of spices and then find them a year later, languishing and stale in the back of the cupboard.

With its warm spices, you might think our new red onion and raisin chutney is more suited to wintry suppers, but if you make it now, it’ll mature in time to be a great addition to a summer spread. Take it on picnics; it’s good with pork pie or cheeses, or serve alongside barbecued meats. For veggies, try one of our giant portobello mushrooms, char-grilled and served on a griddled warm bun with a slick of mayo, preferably a garlic one, topped with a good dollop of chutney.

I’m making my jars now, while the days are still promising much, and squirreling them away for summer feasts on the river Dart and balmy seaside barbecues. Or, if the weather’s like last year, I’ll brave the beach in a mac, shovel in a quick cheese and chutney doorstop, head to the nearest pub to dry off and save most of the jars for bonfire night sausages.

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Riverford red onion & raisin chutney kit

Penny’s gardening blog – preparation tips for spring

Spring is finally here and although it has been rather wet and cold, we are now approaching the busiest time of year in the garden. 

Feed your soil: The most important task in any garden, be it a vegetable garden, herb garden, ornamental, cutting or even a container garden, is to look after the soil. I am totally insistent on composting in all the gardens I work in, mostly for this very reason, but also as it provides an area to recycle waste from your garden in the form of your lawn clippings, weeds, leaves, some paper and cardboard too, plus kitchen waste such as veg and fruit peelings and puts it all to really good use. All this, if managed properly, will make great compost to feed your garden with and improve the structure and fertility of your soil.

 

I won’t bore you too much as I have already written a blog about composting (see here), but if you are keen to start composting, or want to improve your techniques this link will help you gain more knowledge. I have known Nicky Scott for about thirty years, around here he is renowned as being the ‘Devon Composting Guru.’ He is also an accomplished musician and I remember being very impressed when I noticed a large sticker on his guitar case promoting composting. This is my kinda guy!

Weeding: If you already have a compost heap, this is the time of year to empty it out and feed your soil with it. 

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Digging compost out of the heap, ready to spread

 

Before spreading your compost, it is essential to thoroughly weed your beds, digging out any perennial weeds.

Dig between existing plants looking carefully for weeds, such as bindweed, buttercup, couch grass and nightmare of nightmare, the worst of all, in my eyes…. the dreaded ground elder. I have some appearing in various areas of my garden and am slightly obsessive about weeding it out. Once it gets a hold you are done for. Time to sell the house and move elsewhere!  I spent a couple of hours digging it out, lifting clumps of perennials and teasing it out. 

Becoming familiar with these weeds is a good idea so here are some pictures of just a couple of the worst. In my next blog I will add more:

Know your weeds!

Bindweed roots

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Ground elder

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Growing veg?

If you are growing veg this year you need to prepare the ground. Some of you have ordered our veg, herb or flower grow your own kits to kick start the season.  If you are still thinking about it, hurry, do not procrastinate and avoid disappointment as we have limited numbers. The veg box to grow starts being delivered on the 21st April, so now is the time to get busy.

Feeding the soil is key to your success in growing anything.  Weed your beds and apply compost from your heaps and for extra fertility, some well rotted organic farmyard manure. This is particularly important to growing veg and should be spread a few weeks before planting and sowing. Chicken pellets can also be used.

If you’d like to ask me any questions, comment here and I’ll get back to you.

Penny

In my next blog I’ll be sharing tips on how to divide perennial clumps and what to plant now for summer flowering, check back here or look out for news on our social media.

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Kirsty’s cooking blog: egg hunting, lamb recipes for Easter & best lemon curd & chocolate tart

My Easter Sunday will be spent taking part in our family’s chocolate egg hunt around the garden (tempest and ice-storm permitting). This highly competitive and occasionally combative sport might look a little odd to the outside eye, as we have more pensioners than pre-schoolers on the starting line these days. But traditions must be preserved and scores must be settled, so it seems set to continue for a few years yet.

How do you spend your Easter?
Without getting into a debate about what the festival means, I hope you get some time to share a meal (or egg hunt) with family and friends. Our Easter hampers have sold out, so many of you will be cooking our roast leg of lamb.

We’ve given you two ways to cook it – slow-roast or traditional, with home-made mint sauce. 

to prepare the lamb for both cooking methods:

ImageCut several slits in the skin of the lamb, just large enough to poke in a clove of garlic and a small piece of rosemary in each. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper.

ingredients

1.8kg leg of lamb
small sprigs of rosemary
a few garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to season

for slow roast lamb

Preheat the oven to 150C. Place the prepared lamb in a snug fitting roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast for 3 ½ hours, basting every 30 mins. Remove the foil and roast for another 30 mins to brown the skin a little.
Slow roasting doesn’t require the meat to be rested at the end as it will be very tender and will shred apart with a fork. It will shrink up as it cooks, so if you’re serving more than 6 or want leftovers, you might want to stick to the traditional roasting method.

traditional roast lamb

Preheat the oven to 220C. Put the prepared lamb in a roasting tin and put in the oven. Roast for 20 mins, then turn the heat down to 190C and roast for 50 mins for medium-rare lamb, or longer if you like it more well done.
Traditional roast lamb should be wrapped in foil and kept in a warm place for 20-30 mins before carving to let the juices settle and tenderise the meat.

for the gravy

Once the lamb is removed from the pan, skim off most of the fat from the remaining juices. Place the pan on the hob (make sure it’s a flameproof pan, or decant the juices into one) and stir in 2 tbsp plain flour. Stir for a couple of mins to cook the flour. Add a good glass of red wine and 1 tsp redcurrant jelly. Stir for 1 min, then add 300ml stock. Simmer for a few mins.

for the mint sauce

Put a large handful of chopped fresh mint leaves in a heatproof bowl with 2 tbsp sugar and 2 tbsp boiling water. Leave to cool, then stir in 2 tbsp white wine vinegar. Leave to steep for an hour or so if you can.

for my lemon curd & chocolate tart

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If you’re not tucking into our homemade Bakewell tart on Easter Sunday, or have inadvertently eaten it already (easily done), I hope you try making our lemon curd and chocolate tart, to see the recipe click here. It was one of the most popular things I’ve ever brought into the farm office for staff to taste test. 
There’s no requirement to make pastry, and the curd is easy to make; just remember to keep the heat low so it doesn’t curdle. Pop any leftover curd in the fridge and spread on a thick piece of toast for an indulgent breakfast or afternoon treat. Better than a chocolate egg (and I may not find any).

Lamb is to Easter what turkey is to Christmas but why?

Despite being a relatively recent import from the Americas, at least Christmas turkey marks the culmination of a natural ‘season fitting’ yearly cycle. Paschal, Passover, ‘lamb of god’ significance is something of an anachronism and doesn’t really fit in with farming reality. However there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pagan ritual to remind us of our past – especially when it tastes so good.

Most flocks of ewes naturally lamb in late winter/spring and take four months plus to grow, meaning that eating new season lamb at Easter definitely doesn’t fit into any rationally conceived farming calendar – even less so this year with Easter in March. However, like sheep, farmers are an adaptable breed and if you want to eat lamb at the time they would normally be born, then lamb you shall have – albeit outside of the natural lambing cycle.

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Officially, a lamb becomes a sheep when it grows four teeth (after about a year). With culinary trends happily favouring slightly older, more flavoursome lamb (approx. 9 months – 1 year old), many of our farmers are able to lamb later, in mid-summer, for the Easter market. This means a lamb which is a little older, but season fitting. Carefully managed, separating slow-growing triplets from faster-growing singleton and twin lambs, means many of these older lambs are at their prime now.

Our Easter lambs are all Devonian, born and bred from Peter Howlett at Moorhuish Farm, Brixham, David Camp near Totnes and Nigel Eggins on the River Tamar. All are three of our top farmers that we have worked with ever since we started offering meatboxes at Riverford. The Camps are an old Devon farming family with fathers, uncles and cousins all over the place – their lambs grow just over the hill from Riverford in Totnes, and on a big strip of National Trust land overlooking Hope Cove on the coast.

Born in late spring/summer last year and raised traditionally, our lamb may be a little older than the 4-month old slightly forced, mainly indoor reared, ‘sucked lamb’ available. This makes for a happier, healthier lamb that is older but much, much tastier.  Chefs love their milky, sucked lambs as a vehicle for their sauces but, for a roast, older is definitely better.

Here are a few ideas for your Easter lamb:

The classic roast lamb with rosemary and garlic: Takes a lot of beating but for flavour and easy cooking, slow roasted shoulder is equally good – particularly when the lamb can share the oven with a dish of potato dauphinoise or gratin while you relax or build up an appetite.  If there is just the two of you, or you really want to push the boat, out try a rack or two. For guaranteed foodie brownie points rack of lamb can’t be beaten – half an hour in the oven, sliced into cutlets and artfully arranged and we’re all queuing up for Masterchef.

Given the seasonal scarcity of fresh greens, a flageolet bean cassoulet with a few carrots mixed in is the ideal Easter accompaniment for roast lamb. Again it can be done in advance so Easter lunch can be as easy as you want to make it.  Just leave room for a chocolate egg or two.

Thanks for reading.

Ben Watson

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Penny’s gardening blog: jobs for January & how to promote biodiversity

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At this time of year every thing is pretty dormant in the garden, so it’s a great time to really have a look at the bones of your garden and work on making it a good environment for wildlife, hence promoting biodiversity. This is really important if you are going to garden organically.

I have always bought the Guardian on Saturdays and for years enjoyed Christopher Lloyd’s articles on gardening. I was sad when he died and still miss reading his writings.  Alys Fowler has replaced him and I love her enthusiasm and promotion of permaculture and wildlife. Below I will give you some links to a couple of relevant articles written by her.

part one: how to promote biodiversity in your garden

build a small pondto encourage frogs and toads. This can be as simple as having a bucket or bath. Look at Alys Fowlers article on wildlife ponds for more information. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/dec/14/alys-fowler-wildlife-ponds

encourage birds – create a bird table or hang fat balls full of seeds and nuts to lure birds into your garden. informationhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/series/alys-fowler-s-gardening-column+environment/wildlife

wild areas – create some wild areas in your garden.  A few of logs left to rot, for instance, will encourage all sorts of insects, small mammals and amphibians.

plant climbers along walls and borders of garden which will provide ideal nesting habitats.

Part two: January jobs in the garden

clear fallen leaves and debris from areas where bulbs are coming up.

cut back last year’s growth on perennials, leaving any with seed heads still intact for birds and insects. Some people cut everything to the ground in the autumn and like everything neat, tidy and manicured. Personally I like to leave the dead growth up for as long as possible. A lot of seed heads are really pretty and are also a perfect habitat and provide shelter for insects during the winter. Some growth looks awful and rots down into a nasty slimy pile like hemerocallis (day lilies) and agapanthus for example. This can go!

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dig out perennial weeds such as dock, couch grass, brambles, buttercups and the like.

thin out dead and diseased wood from established trees and shrubs.

prune wisteria by cutting back shoots to 2nd or 3rd buds.

in the veg garden

Don’t be discouraged if you had a terrible year trying to grow vegetables last year. It was awful for everyone, amateurs and professionals alike. We cannot give up, we need to soldier on and adapt to the situation. Who knows what the weather will do this year, but I am ever hopeful for a better season ahead.

plan your rotation for the year – the allium and brassica family are the ones to rotate. Alliums include onions, shallots and leeks and brassicas include cabbage, kale, cauliflowers, rocket and mustards. You should rotate these crops by giving a three year break before planting in the same area. This helps to reduce problems with onion rot in the allium family and club root in the brassica family.

weed beds ready for onions and shallots – choose an area that is well drained and preferably was manured last autumn. Onion sets are now available to buy and can be planted from now on although some people like to wait for a month or so.

sow broad beans for an early crop.

prune apple and pear trees.

order seeds or plants – look at what we are offering in our veg, flower and herb boxes to grow this year.  These kits are a fabulous way to get into gardening and grow your own veg, flowers and herbs. They come with plants, seedlings, seeds, full instructions and plenty of advice on how to grow your own produce.

If you have any further questions or want advice on gardening feel free to comment or email [email protected]/blog and I’ll be happy to help.

Penny

Penny’s gardening blog – how to make a Christmas wreath

Christmas wreath

There is nothing quite like going out in December and gathering some winter foliage to make a wreath for your front door. I do so a lot at this time of year as I make wreaths to sell through Riverford Farm Shop at Staverton, here in Devon. It really does make me feel very close to nature as I walk a hedgerow on a few friend’s farms looking for bits of black berried ivy, a few sprigs of bright red holly berries and some spindle berry if I am lucky. This mixed with some Christmas tree off-cuts, maybe a branch of yew or camellia in bud that you are trimming in your garden, or a few prunings from your apple tree covered in lichens, will make a pretty winter picture on your door.

Suggested foliage:  Evergreens such as holly, ivy, pittisporum, yew, eucalyptus, camellia,  eleagnus, bay, some lichen covered twigs, old man’s beard, Christmas tree off cuts all make great plants to use. You don’t need all of these, three to five different types of foliages will be enough and about six to eight sprigs of colourful berries.

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What you need: String, secateurs, reel wire, wreath base, moss, and plenty of foliage and some berries for colour. You can buy wreath bases from a florist for a few pounds, or make use of an old wire coat hanger if you are feeling creative!

ImageStep 1 –

Attaching moss to base: First attach the string to the base. Place a handful of moss onto the base and secure by winding the string around both the moss and the wire base. Continue to add more moss, winding the string around it until the whole base is covered. Tie off the string.

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Step 2 –

Starting the wreath: Now attach the reel wire to the mossed up base – tie one end of the wire to the base wire using a knot, then leave the wire reel attached ready to wind around each bunch of foliage as you go. 

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Step 3 –

Make a small bunch of foliage and place on the mossy base and secure by winding the wire around the base a couple of times, pulling it fairly tight each time.ImageStep 4 –

Make another bunch and place this on the stems of the last bunch and secure again by winding round the wire. Keep an eye on the shape and composition as you go along.

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Finishing the wreath: When you have covered the whole wreath, tuck the last bunch of foliage stalks right under the first bunch of foliage leaves to complete the circle seamlessly.

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Step 6 –

Turn the wreath over and secure the wire onto the base and tie off.  Make a loop with a piece of string (or wire) and attach it to the base of the wreath to act as a hanger.

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Voila! The finished wreath

Last step –

Attach to door: Use the hanger to attach the wreath easily to your front door.

Caring for your wreath: Ideally a wreath should be placed on the outside of a door. This chilly position will ensure the wreath looks good for a few weeks. Spraying it with a fine mister would also help it stay looking fresh.

 

Stir up sunday (and soak it up saturday) – Christmas cake recipe

I’ve been asked to write about ‘stir up Sunday’, the traditional day when you’re supposed to make your Christmas pudding, gathering the family round to stir it and make a wish. Stir up Sunday is on the last Sunday before Advent; this year it’s the 25th November.

I took on the mantel of making the family pudding a few years ago, taking over from my beloved Nanna. But as we want you to buy our ready-made Christmas puddings (granted, they are good), I’m not allowed to tell you the recipe for that, although I may get rebellious and start a secret pudding club!

Instead, here’s a Christmas cake recipe, which we don’t sell. This is an adaptation of my mum’s cake, which is always really moist. She has even been known to make it in a festive panic the day before Christmas Eve, adding a glug more brandy, and it still tastes good! If you are making this a week or so after Stir Up Sunday, just feed the cake every 4-5 days instead of every week.

Make it, wish on it, and a star or two for extra luck. Feed it, love it, and we’ll tell you how to make your own marzipan, icing and decorations in a couple of week’s time.

You do need to start soaking the fruit for pudding or cake the day before, so the process really starts with soak it up Saturday – I’ve shared this recipe in two parts; part one – preparation and baking, part two – making your own marzipan (it’s really very easy!) and icing the cake.

Suitable stirring tunes: Elgar, or Bob Marley. He’d probably rather you used rum. And that would be fine.

Kirsty’s Christmas cake

You will need a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin or an 18cm/7 inch square tin; the cake will cook to about 6-7cm deep, so check your tin is deep enough to hold it, sometimes the average Victoria sponge tin isn’t deep enough.

Ingredients

400g currants
200g raisins
200g sultanas
100g pitted dates, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherries, roughly chopped (try to get the darker, naturally coloured cherries rather than the plastic looking light red ones if you can)
100g mixed candied peel
4 tbsp brandy, plus extra for drizzling
250g unsalted butter, diced, softened at room temp, plus a little extra for greasing
250g light brown soft sugar
4 large eggs
250g plain flour
a good couple of pinches of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g flaked or blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped
zest 1 lemon
zest 1 orange
1 tbsp black treacle or molasses

The day before you bake:

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Put the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a large bowl. Pour over the brandy and stir together. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak overnight.

The next day:-

Preheat the oven to 140c (if you are using a fan oven, reduce the temperature to 120c or it will cook too quickly and burn).

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Prepare your cake tin: line the outside of the tin with 3 layers of greaseproof paper tied with string to protect it.

Use a piece of kitchen paper to grease the inside of the tin with a little butter.
Cut a round piece of greaseproof paper to line the base of the tin, then a long strip to line the side – use a little greasing of butter to stick a couple of strips together if you need to.
Cut a round double layer of paper, enough to cover the top of the cake.
Cut a small hole in the middle of it to let the steam escape.

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In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy (use an electric hand whisk if you have one, it’s easier).
Lightly beat the eggs in a small jug or bowl. Gradually add them to the creamed butter and sugar. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled.

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Add the flour, salt, spices, nuts, zests and treacle. Stir to combine, then add the brandy-soaked fruit, together with any liquid in the bowl and stir together. Try not to over-mix it.

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Transfer the mixture to the tin. Level it off and cover with the double piece of greaseproof paper.

Bake on a low oven shelf for about 4 hours (140c in a standard oven or 120c if fan), depending on your oven – start testing it after 3½ hours, then at intervals, by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle of the cake – it should come out clean.

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Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the base and sides of the cake in foil and place in an airtight container. Prick the top of the cake several times with a skewer or cocktail stick. Drizzle over a little brandy, about 1 tbsp. Seal the container.

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Unwrap and feed the cake once a week for 3 weeks with a drizzle of brandy; about 1 tbsp each time. It’s then ready to decorate.

I’ll be sharing my recipe for making your own marzipan (much simpler than you’d think) in the second week of December when the cake will be ready for covering.

Kirsty

Kirsty’s blog – use your loaf

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In our house, my giant hound and I share different views on Hallowe’en and Bonfire night (or whatever you want to call them) – even before we get into the commercial nonsense debate.

I don’t like yo-yoing up and down to feed the trick or treaters, but he loves the attention every doorbell ringer gives him, even if they look like Freddy Krueger. I’m crackers for a firework, while he needs a sedative to get him through the season’s unidentifiable bangs.

Neither of us is that fussed about eating pumpkin though, particularly when there’s tastier squash around – however, if you took away an impossibly large orange orb from one of our Riverford Farm Pumpkin Days last weekend and you’re wondering what to do with all the innards once it’s carved, don’t dump them in the compost. Soup it up with curry spices or ginger to warm your hands in between lighting sparklers, or try this pumpkin and pecan loaf. The puréed pumpkin keeps the loaf moist and it’s easy to make, so it’s good for baking with the kids.

pumpkin & pecan loaf
To make your pumpkin purée, steam pieces of pumpkin flesh until tender. Leave in a colander to cool and drain off the excess moisture, then blitz in a food processor until smooth.

100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
200g light brown sugar
1 large egg
100g pecans, roughly chopped (or use walnuts)
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of salt
120ml milk
225g pumpkin purée

Butter a 1 litre loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy (use an electric hand mixer if you have one, it’s easier). Stir in the pecans and pumpkin purée. Add the flour and cinnamon and stir to combine (don’t over mix it). Stir in the milk. Pour into the tin. Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins, until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 mins. Turn out onto a cake rack and leave to cool completely or serve slightly warm, in thick slices.