Honeyed Words

Baking and Boasting

Last year I entered a local baking competition for the first time. There weren't many entries and I achieved a couple of seconds and thirds ... out of twos and threes! I decided that I would re-enter this year, having identified that the competition is quite old-fashioned and that the judges don't seem to require anything too fancy. Fortunately, I was on leave in the run up to the competition so had the time to prepare and make seven entries: shortbread, tea brack, scones, gingerbread, cupcakes, apple tart and a deep chocolate fudge cake. 

Shortbread (Norfolk recipe)
I tried out two shortbread recipes: one from Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, the other from the Norfolk cookbook. Delia's book was first published in 1978 and my copy was a twenty-fifth birthday present from one of my siblings. I have to state that I was not twenty-five in 1978 - I was still a teenager. The Norfolk cookbook was a more recent present from my other sibling J'Zo. In case you're wondering, the Norfolk shortbread was much tastier and that's what I entered in the biscuit competition. Third prize for my shortbread. 

I looked at the tea loaf recipes in Martha Day's Baking before thinking that I should just look up an Irish tea brack recipe. I found one on this Irish website. It turned out really well and ... came first in the tea brack competition. 
First prize for tea brack

Last year I made banana gingerbread for the competition from Paul Flynn's recipe. I have been using this recipe for years and it never goes wrong. This year I thought I would make a plain gingerbread loaf. I don't have any recipes but eventually found this one on the All Recipes UK website. It was very nice and came second.  

Second prize for ginger bread
My cup cakes came second and the three remaining items came third. I was very pleased with myself. 

Blueberry scones
I can't rest on my laurels. My scones need work so today I made blueberry scones using a recipe from my Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Baking. They tasted quite sweet and were a little soft, but I think I know where I went wrong: too much milk. 

Bees and Verse

Recently I selected a lovely book of poems as a birthday present for one of my brothers-in-law. Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916 is a lovely anthology edited by Niall MacMonagle.

Here are some of the bee references.

The Lost Heifer by Austen Clarke
I thought of the last honey by the water
That no hive can find.

The Stare's Nest by My Window by W B Yeats
The bees build in the crevices 
Of loosening masonry, and there 
The mother birds bring grubs and flies. 
My wall is loosening; honey bees, 
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

A Winter Solstice by Peter Fallon
The days will stretch and we survive 
with losses, yes, and lessons too, 
to reap the honey of the hive 
of history.

And with those honeyed words I'll finish for today. 



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