This Christmas I escaped London and spent some time with family in my home town of Grimsby in Lincolnshire. Cake was a pretty big deal this year – notably my sister’s homemade Christmas cake which had to be eaten two slices at a time. This was closely followed by a classic German Stollen and numerous mince pies served warm with ice-cream.
A trip up north is never complete for me without some good fish and chips, a Mariners game and a drive to Hemswell Market. After being tipped off by an antique-hoarding friend some months ago I decided to check it out – a Sunday market billed as ‘the biggest in the country’ had to be worth a look.
I was about to discover vintage heaven – and this was just the burger van…
Each Sunday nearly 800 vans and cars pitch up, their boots fit to burst with vintage ornaments, furniture, clothes and collectables. Out of the chill, a square of large antiques centres house the rarer items; most held under lock and key in vast, glass showcases.
One of my favourites is Astra Antiques.
After deciding that vintage recipes deserve an authentic helping hand in their creation, my collection of traditional baking utensils is rising faster than my dough. Pride of place are the brick-red weighing scales, my frosted measuring jug, a selection of hand whisks and a pink 1950’s pyrex dish.
Rows of old books offer plenty of inspiration. From an original version of Good Housekeeping’s Biscuits and Cookies (1955) to Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book; my only quandry is what to bake next.
I hope you enjoy reading the recipes and having a go at making them yourself. I’ll be leapfrogging back and forth a little, selecting different books, authors, recipes and decades in no particular order. The Scottish chef and writer Elizabeth Craig summed it up perfectly in her much-loved book, Cooking with Elizabeth Craig (1939): ‘…I think a cookery book that ignores the party spirit is as incomplete as champagne without the sparkle.’
Happy baking 2010!