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Halloween's Here & Now!

Spooky food for Halloween!

I was asked to do a four-day cookery course for children over the Halloween half term. The request was also for ‘Scary & Spooky Food’ I wasn’t feeling very inspired, so I came up with some traditional recipes first Apple cake, Colcannon and the Barmbrack from my last post.
I’d used beetroot instead of carrot in carrot cake before and adapted the quantities to make muffins and we have access to loads of icing of all colours. Thus they became ‘Blood & Guts Muffins’.

My colleague had come across an idea for using flaked almonds on the ends of strips of pastry as finger nails. I used a cheesy pastry and asked the children to cut out around their hands. We transferred these to baking trays decorated with flaked almonds and brushed them over with egg-wash got ‘Cheesy Hands’!
With some of the leftover pastry we wrapped strips of it around frankfurters and applied more almond fingernails and egg-wash and ‘Frank’s Fingers!’ were born.

BBQ chicken wings with blue cheese dip became ‘Gory Wings with Mouldy Dip’.
Pasta in a tomato, mushroom & sausage sauce became ‘Worms in Petrifying Sauce’. Wholewheat pasta is slightly more worm like.
The interesting thing was that none of the children had had ‘Toad in the Hole’ before. It worked really, which was nice.

We made a big pot of pumpkin soup too. Ginger biscuits were just an excuse to use witch and pumpkin shaped cookie cutters. Toffee apples & ‘Yellowman’ were more traditional treats.

And finally ‘Spicy nuts’ were to use up all those leftover nuts from Halloween.
If you feel in need of some Spooky & Scary Food here are some of the recipes.

Cheesy Hands

175 g plain flour
4 tbs sunflower oil
2 tbs water
80 g cheddar
flaked almonds
1 egg
Parmesan cheese

Set the oven to GM 6, 200˚C.
Grease 2 baking sheets.
Sieve the plain flour into a bowl.
Grate the cheese into the bowl.
Pour in the oil and water.
Mix together into a ball.
Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is ½ cm thick.
Put your hand on top and cut around the shape. Gently lift the hand shape onto a baking sheet and put flaked almonds at the end of each finger as nails.
Make as many hands as you can with the dough.
Beat the egg and with a pastry brush paint each hand with beaten egg.
Finely grate some Parmesan over each hand.
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden.
Remove the trays from the oven and take the hands off the sheets and cool on wire racks.

Frank’s Fingers

Cut the pastry into 1.5cm strips and wrap them round the frankfurters in a spiral.
Put the frankfurters on the greased Swiss roll tin.
Brush the pastry with egg wash and stick a flaked almond on as a fingernail at one end of each pastry strip.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, till golden.

Spicy nuts

200g nuts
1 tsp hot curry powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp honey
2 tsp oil

Heat the oven to 200˚C/ GM 6
Put the nuts on a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Stir them after 5 minutes and see if they are toasting. When the are starting to brown take them out of the oven.
Put the hot nuts into a bowl and mix in the curry powder, honey and oil. Mix it all well round so that the nuts are well coated.
Spread them out on the baking tray and leave to cool.


Barmbrack for Halloween

Halloween is almost here and it wouldn't be the same without Barmbrack. Traditionally a ring is hidden in the brack and whoever gets it will be married soon. A stick and a rag were also put in. The stick meant your husband would beat you and the rag for poverty. Unlucky the woman who got all three!


400 g strong white flour
50 g sugar
250 g mixed dried fruit
1 sachet fast action yeast
50 g soft butter

160 ml milk
80 ml boiling water
1 tsp salt

1 tbs sugar
1 tbs water

Grease a 20cm round cake tin or 2 small (1lb) loaf tins.
Sift the flour into a bowl and sprinkle in the sugar, dried fruit, the sachet of fast action yeast and the butter cut up into small pieces.
Mix the contents of the bowl round gently and make a well in the centre.
Mix the water and milk together and stir in the salt.
Pour the milk and water mix into the bowl with flour mix in it.
With a wooden spoon stir it all well together to make a soft dough.
Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it by hand on a floured surface until it is smooth and springy.
Put 1 spoonful of oil into the bowl and then put the dough back in and smear with oil.
Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out of the bowl and gently shape it into a ball and put into a greased cake tin.
Or divide in 2 and put into 2 small greased loaf tins.
Cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere warm to rise for 45 minutes.
When the dough has been rising for about 35 minutes set the oven to GM 6/400˚F/200˚C
When the oven has reached its temperature and the dough has doubled in size.
Bake in the middle of hot oven.
Bake the big round brack for 40 minutes until golden.
The 2 small loaf tins will take 20-30 minutes.
Check if the top is darkening to quickly turn down the oven to GM4/350˚F/180C after 20 minutes
The brack should sound hollow when removed from the tin and tapped underneath with a knuckle.
While the brack is baking warm together the water and sugar on a small pan to make a syrup.
Take out of the tin and put on a wire rack.
Brush the top of the brack with the sugar syrup and leave to cool.
When cool slice and spread with butter.
Perfect with smokey Lapsang tea.