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October 29, 2020
Pumpkins galore. Like most folklore legends, the history of the jack o' lantern varies depending on who's telling the story and how inebriated they are.
A consistent thread is the tale of a drunkard that gets one over on the Devil. So, in 18th century Ireland, a foul-mouthed miserly drunk called Stingy Jack asked the devil to join him for a drink. The devil agreed and when the bill came, Jack expected the devil to pick up the tab, and the devil thought Jack should. As Jack had no money, he convinced the devil to transform himself into a six pence coin to cover the bill. The devil obliged, Jack skipped the bill and kept the devil trapped by putting the coin next to a silver cross in his pocket.
Are you still with me…?
The devil was trapped but Jack felt bad, so wanted to let him out with an agreement that the Devil wouldn’t come for him before ten years. The devil agreed and transformed himself back to the Devil. Ten years later the Devil found Jack but somehow was convinced by wily Jack to climb a tree in search of an apple for Jack before they set off for hell. The Devil agreed only for Jack to carve a cross into the tree trunk, leaving Satan trapped again.
Jack decided to let him down if he promised to never take his soul. The devil agreed and when Jack died, St. Peter rejected him at the pearly gates because of his dodgy history. The devil couldn't let Jack in to hell, because of their agreement at the tree. Jack was given a lump of burning coal by the devil to light his way through purgatory. Jack carried the coal inside a hollowed-out turnip endlessly wandering the Earth for a resting place. He became known as "Jack of the Lantern", or jack o' lantern.
Irish families continued the tale and started putting carved, scary-faced turnips in their windows to prevent Stingy Jack, vampires, ghouls and other undead from entering the home.
When Irish immigrants landed in 19th century America, they found the plentiful pumpkins even easier to carve. They have popularised Halloween around the world and that’s why you see jack o' lanterns in windows and on doorsteps around Halloween.
“Small and moreish is a dangerous combination. Please take them away,” said Michael after he ate five!
Ingredients: (Makes 24 mini doughnuts)90g pumpkin puree (canned)65g plain flour40g light brown sugar35g granulated sugar18ml vegetable oil1 egg¼ tsp vanilla extract½ tsp baking powder¼ tsp salt½ tsp pumpkin spice mix (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, all spice)
Cinnamon sugar sprinkle:20g granulated sugar½ tsp ground cinnamon
Method:Preheat oven to 170⁰C, grease a mini doughnut pan.
In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin spice mix and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugars, (break up any lumps with your fingers). Add the pumpkin puree, egg, oil and vanilla, whisk until everything is well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat until everything is incorporated.
Fill each doughnut hole until ¾ full and bake for appx 8 mins, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean, (if you want to make large doughnuts, cook for 13-15 mins).
Just before the doughnuts are ready mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Once the doughnuts come out the oven place them one at a time in the bowl and toss them around, then place on a wire rack to cool.
Ingredients:For the pastry: (You can alternatively buy a ready-made pastry case that you would just need to fill and bake).200g plain flour125g unsalted butter (cold, cubed)2 tbsp icing sugar1 tsp ground cinnamon3-4 tsp water
For the filling:425g can pumpkin puree or 450g homemade pumpkin puree (If you are making your own pumpkin puree, steam the pumpkin until it is soft, then allow to cool in a strainer as you want to get rid of any excess water)200g double cream180g sugar3 eggs1½ tsp ground cinnamon½ tsp ground ginger½ tsp mixed spice
Optional whipped double cream to serve
Method:Prepare a 23 x 23cm pie dish by lightly greasing.
For the pastry:Mix the flour, icing sugar and cinnamon, add the butter and rub together until you get breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix until you have a stiff dough. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until the pastry will line the pie dish. Cut away any pastry that overhangs the edges and prick the base with a fork in multiple places. Place in the fridge for 15mins.
Heat oven to 200⁰C (fan). Take the pastry out of the fridge, line with foil and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for appx 10 mins, then remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 mins. Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 130⁰C. (I made my pastry case in advance and filled it later in the day when I had time to make the filling and bake it).
For the filling:Beat the sugar and eggs together, then add all the other ingredients and mix well until everything is combined. Pour into the pie dish and bake for appx 1 hour and 10 mins, until the filling is set. Once ready remove from oven and allow to cool.
February 23, 2021
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.” You’ve heard the saying. And I know at first glance, this looks just like a plastic comb, but trust me...
February 19, 2021
February 18, 2021
“What’s he going to tell us now?” I hear you say. “Taliban warlords make shampoo in their poppy fields! Colombian cartels launch new crack-cocaine conditioner!”
Not quite, but...
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