Cooking The Books – Helen Lacey

Chef with cookbookThis week we feature the very best kind of cooking. Food that not only tastes good but carries with it history, memory and identity.

I’m thrilled to welcome Helen Lacey to ‘Cooking The Books’. Helen writes wonderful stories for Harlequin Special Edition. With to-die-for heroes, feisty heroines and conflicts that will have you turning pages long into the night, Helen knows a thing or two about how to mix love and emotion. And isn’t that the most dreamily romantic cover you’ve ever seen?

Helen has a giveaway for one lucky commenter and the details are at the end of the post. But first, here’s Helen.

I love to cook and especially love cooking for other people. When I’m starting a new book and working out what my characters are like, one of the things I decide is whether or not they know their way around a kitchen.Helen

In His-And-Hers Family, the heroine, Fiona Walsh is a competent cook and likes to make cakes and brownies. Since this is a twist on a reunion story – because Fiona is reunited with the daughter she gave away fifteen years earlier – it was fun for them to have some mother/daughter moments in the kitchen. Enter the hero – her daughter’s adoptive uncle and now guardian – and I discovered they were often coming together as a family over food.

AustCoverHisAndHersI also like playing around with recipes and cooking meals that lend themselves to my Welsh heritage. My mother is a great cook, as was my grandmother and as a child I can remember watching my mother bake pies every Sunday. The way she makes pastry still amazes me – no recipe, no measuring cups ….. just a dash of this and little more of that. She also makes Bake stones or Welsh Cakes as they are sometimes called (picau ar y mae) in the Welsh language. This name came from the fact they were traditionally cooked on a bakestone or griddle on an open fire or cooker. Welsh cakes are made from flour, sultanas, raisins, and/or currants, and may also include such spices as cinnamon and nutmeg. They are roughly circular, a couple of inches (4–6 cm) in diameter and about half an inch (1–1.5 cm) thick. And they taste awesome.

Welsh Bake stones recipe

1 cup of currants (I prefer to use these and my mother insists they are better than sultanas)

2 cups self-raising flour

230 grams butter

1 cup caster sugar

1 egg whisked and add a little milk

Method

1. Mix together the sugar and sifted flour

2. Add butter to the flour/sugar mix and gently rub together (keep hands cool)

3. Gradually add the egg/milk, mixing by hand until you have a dough that is firm enough to roll out (You might not need the whole egg mixture and use a light touch when doing this))

4. Roll out to about 12mm (or 1/2 inch) thick before cutting out (my mother always uses a fluted cutter)

5. Cook on a warm bakestone (Or you can use a thick non stick frying pan) until golden brown on the outside and cooked through in the middle

6. Then dust with a little sugar

7. Lastly . . . eat! I defy you to stop at just one.

His-And-Hers Family2If you have a recipe that’s a ‘tradition’ in your family I’d love to hear about it. I have a copy of His-And-Hers Family to give away to one commenter.

Lou – Helen, thanks for that wonderful recipe and sneak peek into His-And-Hers-Family. I reckon these would be dead easy to make just about anywhere (including my much loved camping trips).

Comments will be open until 9.00 am Tuesday 12th AEDST. 

Helen on the web:

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34 comments on “Cooking The Books – Helen Lacey

  1. Hi Helen and Lou – great post. I love the sound of His-And-Hers Family, Helen. I come of a long line of terrible cooks, so if I posted a recipe, I’d probably loose a few friends!! I have made the same cup cake recipe for the past *cough, cough* years which usually turns out okay. What a great name for a recipe Bake Stones!!

    • Hi Jen, Isn’t it funny how the cooking gene doesn’t get passed down in some families? In others, people turn into ruthlessly good cooks just to defy the trend.

  2. My mouth is watering for one! My grandmother always used a china cup from an old tea set to measure her quantities. She’d feel the heat of the wood oven with her hand. Scones and pastries were cooked in what she called a good oven, which I suppose is about 180 – 190C. It’s wonderful to keep these recipes and pass them on. I’m definitely going to cook a batch of your Welsh Cakes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dora, I love the idea of measuring things in teacups, etc. It’s very Elizabeth David. Sometimes ED says add a wineglass of something and I have to wonder does she mean an old-fashioned wineglass or one of the modern buckets I drink from 🙂

  3. Hi Ladies – fab post!

    Helen – I love the sound of your new book 🙂 and I also love the Welsh cake recipe, they sound delish and not too hard to make.

    My mother’s family are all good cooks so it’s a little intimidating to cook for my parents although my father (bless him) always says everything is fantastic 🙂

    We don’t have specific traditions as such but I do often use my mother’s cake recipe. By changing it slightly you can make it chocolate or dairy free. It’s a very reliable recipe. The best compliment was from my mother this weekend who thought it was better than how she does it! Now that’s a compliment 😀

  4. Hi Helen,
    Ooh, those cakes sound yummy. I visited Wales once, only briefly unfortunately, what I saw of it was beautiful.

    Cheers

    Margret

    • Hi Margaret,
      Unfortunately I’ve only seen a bit of Wales but it was stunning. My great-grandfather always claimed to be Welsh but we discovered he was actually born and lived across the border in Shropshire and was from solid English stock. Interesting that he identified as Welsh. Thanks for dropping in.

  5. Great post Louise and Helen.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe Helen, it sounds delicious. I always substitute raisins or sultanas for currents – they’re much tastier! Love the sound of your new release as well ♥

    • Hi Stefanie. Sounds like you could put just about anything in them. I love date scones so now I’m thinking I could add chopped dates. Thanks for dropping in!

  6. Great excerpt (and cover), Helen! Can’t wait to read His-and-Hers Family.

    Love the recipe. Welsh Bake Stones sound yummy. You know my Mamma had her own way of measuring ingredients. For Crostoli (ribbons of deep-fried pasta dough dusted with icing sugar) she would always use a particular saucepan (the size you would use to heat milk). In it she would put half a saucepan of plain flour, one egg, a half eggshell of cold water, a half eggshell of oil, and a half eggshell of white wine.

    Thanks for having Helen as your guest, Louise!!

    • Serena, I love that! Measuring by the eggshell. This is exactly what I love about these old recipes. Thanks for sharing that gorgeous memory of your Mamma.

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