12 December, 2006

my first treacle














I've always read about treacle! Just the word sounds so distasteful, doesn't it? And then there's the dire-sounding "treacle tart," and even people in English novels are described as "treacly," which I always took to mean something like nasty and truculent. That's why, the word sound like "truculent." Or little children waking up from "treacly" nightmares, which I imagine is when your feet are stuck in treacle and you cannot escape The Bad Guy. How unfair on treacle, in any case, as it turns out. Because it's molasses. And boy does it make a good cookie.

In the course of making these cookies, I learned several things the hard way, about baking in England. One, you cannot use "plain" sugar. It is too coarse and doesn't meld with the butter properly, so the cookies were not flat and shiny, they were plump and matte. Also, baking soda, or "bicarbonate of soda" as it is rather baldly named here (always sounds like a murder mystery where something is supposed to be arsenic and isn't) is only "single" rising, not double as it apparently is in America. Whatever. They were delicious at our house too.

Treacle and Cinnamon cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps each ground cloves, cinnamon and ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsps baking soda

1 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 cup black treacle
2 large eggs

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Did you know you have to run a fork all through a new bag of flour, to rustle up the air pockets so you don't get too heavy a quantity? I didn't either, but my mother in law put me right. The things she knows. Anyway, then with a mixer (since the move we can find only one of the beaters and we don't recommend mixing with one beater!) cream together the butter and sugar, then add the treacle and the eggs. Now gradually mix in the flour. It will seem like too much dry ingredients, but it isn't. I looked over my mother in law's shoulder, being involved with cooking the other parts of the meal myself, and she persevered to good effect.

Bake for 10-12 minutes at about 180 in England, 350 in America. Yum yum. And in fact, if you want to spend/waste a lot of time looking at the ways we do things differently in the kitchen in the UK and in America, go to this fascinating site. You can get lost in all the different vocabulary in this ostensibly "same language" situation!

I must finish emailing all the various people to whom I have double-booked, overcommitted and otherwise screwed up in my vain attempt to organise our holiday season. For example, doubtless my child, although clearly remarkable in every way, cannot be at both Grace's cookery party and Julia's ice skating date, which happen at precisely the same times on Friday. Likewise not arrange for Anna to come play while Avery in fact is at the Olympia Horse Show. I must also make a Mental Note to in fact be here when I host Sophia's family for a tea party tomorrow. Oh well, they'll remind me when I see them at the school Christmas concert tomorrow at All Souls' Church. Unless I forget to go...

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