American Crescent Cookies

These cookies were made for me by my aunt on my visit to America, many years ago.

She said that she often made these for Christmas.  I have adjusted the recipe to weights rather than cups as I find that easier.  Also below I have the ingredients for  just half the original amount which will  make around 12 largish cookies … so you can try them out .

Ingredients

110g butter

2 and 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1/2 tablespoon of water

130g plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

120g chopped pecans  (or you can use walnuts)

Icing sugar for finishing.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160ºC

Grease 2 baking sheets.

Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and water together.

Add the flour and the salt.

Stir in the chopped pecans.

 

Take amounts of the mixture larger than a walnut and press this together in your hands – it will stick together easily –  shape it  into a crescent.

Place them on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for around 25 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes and then dredge or roll them in icing sugar.

 

 

Served on a tea plate by Royal Grafton – Woodside –  1950s

Whilst I have been writing this post I mentioned it in an email to my cousin who wrote

“Do you know we still use that recipe particularly at Christmas but I can eat them any time. I like them as crescents but also as thumbprint style with a dab of perhaps raspberry, strawberry or apricot preserves–and then powdered sugar sifted on top.” 

and also

“As you know, the recipe calls for butter and my feeling is, anything is better with butter! My best friend gave me a little kitchen plaque that says, “I believe in the unparalleled power of butter!”

So I tried these out using raspberry jam – delicious!

 

Plates are an unnamed Waterlily design by

Taylor & Kent, Longton, England

Madeleine Cakes

I was in Marks & Spencer’s and saw these lovely tins and thought   “I must try these“.

I bought 2 tins and then the following week I got another and after trying out some recipes I bought a 4th.

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Madeleines are very small sponge cakes baked in tins with shell-shaped depressions.

Of course you can make then in small bun tins if you want to see if you like them before investing in the tins.

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They originated from the Lorraine region in France.

When looking for recipes I thought that these did not have a Polish connection but in fact they do!

The exiled king of Poland, Stanisław  Leszczyński (1677 – 1766), was the Duke of Lorraine from 1737 -1766  and his daughter Maria was married to Louis XV of France.

Madeleine Paulmier was the cook for the exiled king and the story goes that these little cakes were named after her.

Marcel Proust  (1871 – 1922) the French author described them as “a little shell of a cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating…” in his book  À la recherche du temps perdu  – In Search of Lost Time.

I have tried out many different recipes all with varying  quantities – my head was spinning trying to sort them all out.

The following three are I ones I liked best.

They are all based on variations of the Genoise Sponge in which you use melted butter.

For ALL the recipes you must grease the tins well – I have found that using melted butter & a pastry brush is very effective.

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Madeleines 1

This mixture made over 30 Madeleines.

Ingredients

65g Butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

65g Icing sugar

2 eggs

65g Self-raising flour

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Grease the tins.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180ºC

In a small pan melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the icing sugar, eggs and vanilla essence together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Gently fold in the self-raising flour using a metal spoon.

Gently fold in the melted butter using a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the tins.

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Bake for around 10minutes till golden.

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Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

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Madeleines  2 – With Ground Almonds

This mixture made around 30 Madeleines

Ingredients

65g Butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

65g Icing sugar

2 eggs

65g Self-raising flour

65g Ground almonds

2-3 drops of vanilla or almond essence.

Method

Grease the tins.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180ºC

In a small pan melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the icing sugar, eggs and vanilla or almond essence together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Mix the self-raising flour and ground almonds together.

Gently  fold in the flour and almond mixture using a metal spoon.

Gently fold in the melted butter using a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the pans.

Bake for around 10 minutes till golden

Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

Madeleines  3 – With Ground Almonds & Honey

This recipe is based on a updated recipe from Mrs Beeton  in  How To Cook – 220 Classic Recipes For The Modern Kitchen – 2011.

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This mixture made 36 Madeleines.

Ingredients

120g butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

50g runny honey

3 eggs

100g caster sugar

100g self raising flour

25g ground almonds.

Method

Place the butter in a small pan to melt over a medium-high heat and allow it to cook until it starts to brown lightly.

Remove then pan from from the heat and add the honey and stir it in well.

Leave the mixture to cool slightly.

Whisk the icing sugar and eggs together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Mix the self-raising flour and ground almonds together.

Gently  fold in the flour and almond mixture using a metal spoon.

 

Gently fold in the cooled  butter and honey mixture using a metal spoon until fully incorporated.

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Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Grease the tins.

Divide the mixture between the tins.

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Let them rest for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to GM3- 160ºC

Bake for around 10 minutes till golden.

Keep an eye on them as the honey in them tends to brown quickly.

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Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

Cake Stands in Glass and China

I just love cake stands.   They make the cakes look really special.

I started of with a few glass ones I got from my mother and now have at least seventeen.

Most are old, bought from charity shops and car boot sales.

I have also started buying china tiered ones.  These look better just placed around the dining room but I sometimes use them for small cakes, chocolates or fruit.

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A Selection of my Cake Stands

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This Cake Stand was one of my mother’s

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This Large Stand I bought in an antique shop in Poland. I managed to get it back in my Hand Luggage. It is very HEAVY.
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My most recent china purchase. Maybe a bit bright for cakes but lovely colours
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Another Bright Cake Stand

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An Egg Cup Holder. The egg cups were missing when I bought this.

Lead Crystal Cake Stand

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Etched Glass Cake Stand
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A Laura Ashley Cake Stand
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Pink Glass & China Cake Stands

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Cake Stands in my Cupboard

Babeczki for Wigilia - with Poppy Seed filling

Babeczki for Wigilia –  Christmas Eve –  with Poppy Seed filling on a Christmas Stand

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Two types of buns on a stand
Two types of buns on a stand