Sunday, 9 November 2014

Jo Seagar Bakes ( another cookbook fromThe Queen of New Zealand Baking)

Today few people learn to cook at the side of their grandmother or mother, wearing a pinny and licking the wooden spoon like some Norman Rockwell or Home Beautiful Poster.” writes Jo Seagar.
Too true. Most of the grandmothers I know are too busy having a life to bake, or they bake for fun only very occasionally. Unlike their mothers’ generation they are not duty bound to fill the tins every week.
But all would agree that it would be a great shame if the art of home baking was lost. So it is good that Jo Seagar is happy to assume the role of grandmother/mother and to take our children/ grandchildren through the baking process step by step. With 50 odd years of baking behind her she is the right woman for the job.
In Jo Seagar Bakes she shares her precious family recipes which were handed down through the generations as well as many new ones which she has created over the years. None are too fiddly and there are helpful shortcuts, techniques and tricky cheats. It could truly be called a baking bible as there is a huge range of biscuits, slices and cakes to choose from.
In her really crunchy and gingery ginger crunch Jo goes back to the old fashioned way of spreading only a thin gingery topping over the base rather than the thick gooey layer of icing favoured by many cafes. Hers I agree is far nicer.
The secret of her pikelets is that they are made with baking soda and cream of tartar which produces a superior result. They are not bendy or floppy when you eat them topped with jam and a blob of cream.
 For her Farmhouse Scones she uses an unorthodox method which she invented. She melts the butter in warm milk, and then mixes this with self- raising flour. This activates the raising agent quickly. It does work well and is easier to do.
Jo Seagar Bakes will appeal especially to sweet tooths. There are very few savoury treats. We tried out the tasty cheese and bacon muffins. The secret of their special flavour was the pinch of dried mustard in the mix.
Jo’s Granny Win’s recipe for Butterscotch Date Fingers was a winner in our house. This old-fashioned recipe was very easy to make and doesn’t need icing.  It also freezes well which is a real plus if there is some left over or if you want to make it ahead of time.
Her special mini pecan pies which she has been baking for more than for 40 years is her all time most popular recipe. People from all over the country tell her it is their party special. Now that I’ve tried making these nutty nuggets of sweetness they are also going to be one of mine. Best served slightly warmed.
There is time to perfect some of her Christmas recipes before the festive season starts such as the chocolate meringue kisses, mini Christmas mince pies, gingerbread cookies and Christmas cake.
Jo Seagar Bakes would be a great book to give to any family member who is keen to try their hand at baking. No doubt the giver will secretly hope that she will be invited over for afternoon tea to sample their efforts.
Reviewed by Lyn Potter
Title: Jo Seagar Bakes.
 Author: Jo Seagar
Imprint: Random House
RRP $55.00
pecan pies
 Jo’s Special Mini Pecan Pies
This recipe comes from Jo Seagar Bakes and was reprinted with permission from the Publisher. The photograph was taken by Jae Frew.

For the pastry
125 g butter
1 cup flour
½ cup icing sugar
For the filling
1 cup pecan nuts
60 g butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Spray 16 mini-muffin cups with baking spray.
Place the pastry ingredients in a food processor and run the machine until the pastry clumps around the blade. Divide the pastry into 16 small balls and, with floured hands; press into the bases and up the sides of 16 mini-muffin cups. Using a tart tamper makes this job easy and ensures the pastry sides are an even thickness.
Place the pastry-lined tins in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes until the pastry is really firm and hard.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Divide the nuts between the pastry-lined cups, breaking the nuts in half if necessary.
Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar and vanilla until smooth, but somewhat gluey. Using a small jug, pour approximately a teaspoon of this mixture into each nut-filled cup and bake for 20–25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling set and crisp.
You will not use all this mixture. There is enough for two batches. It is hard to halve an egg, so in fact you have a double-batch of this filling. To use it all just double the quantity of pastry.
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tins until the pies are cool enough to handle. Give each pie a little twist to loosen the bottom, and then carefully lift out with the tip of a small paring knife to cool completely on a wire rack.
These are delicious served warm as a dessert. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. They also freeze very well.
Prep time 15 minutes
Chill time 30 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Makes 16

I wrote this article for the GrownUps website

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