Saturday 31 October 2020

Pumpkin Bread

 8oz (250g) pumpkin, peeled and chopped 
12oz (360g) strong plain flour 
1½ teaspoons of salt 
¼ teaspoon turmeric (this is optional but it does give the bread a nice colour) 
¼ teaspoon garam masala (optional) 
1½ teaspoons (7g) dried yeast (fast-action is best) 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (rapeseed if possible) 
Optional: melted butter, grated cheese for topping (about a handful). 

 • Cook the pumpkin – 5 minutes in the microwave with a tablespoon of water should do it.  Mash it until it’s smooth and then leave to cool down to body heat. 
• Put the flour in a large bowl, add the salt, turmeric, yeast (and spice if you are using it) and mix together. 
• Add the oil to the cooled pumpkin and mix well then stir into the flour mixture. You can add a tablespoon of warm (body heat) water to bind it together. 
• Knead the dough for about 10 minutes – it will be sticky and you may need to dust your work surface with a little of the strong bread flour. 
 • Oil a large bowl and put the dough in it to prove for about an hour until it’s doubled in size. 
• When it has risen, take it out of the bowl and knead it for another 5 minutes, then roll it into a large sausage shape. 
• Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces – these should weigh around 3oz/85g each – and put them on an oven tray. Leave them to prove for another 30 minutes. 
• While they are proving heat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. 
• Bake the rolls for 30 minutes. If you are using the grated cheese option, sprinkle some onto each roll and pop back in the oven for another 1–2 minutes. 
• You can brush the tops with melted butter if you like shiny rolls.

Saturday 25 April 2020

Anzac Biscuits for Anzac Day

Villers–Bretonneux Australian National Memorial
(Photograph: Karen Ette)

Anzac Day is observed on 25 April each year in remembrance of all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the contribution, and suffering of all those who have served.

It first began to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World Ward, when, at dawn on 25 April 1915, troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey. 

There were 28,150 Australian casualties (8,701 died, 19,441 wounded) and 7,991 New Zealand casualties (2,779 died, 5212 wounded).

Add in the figures from other countries, there were 130,842 deaths and 262,014 wounded, totalling 392,856 casualties. (New Zealand History)

To raise funds for the War effort, ANZAC biscuits, often called Soldiers' Biscuits, were sold at fetes, galas and other public events.

They remain a popular snack in Australia, especially on ANZAC Day and are really easy to make – nutritious and delicious.

Why not give them a go?


You need to heat your oven to  350°F, 180°C, 160°Fan, Gas 4 and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

INGREDIENTS (Makes 20-24 biscuits.)
3oz/85g porridge oats
3oz/85g desiccated coconut 
3.5oz/100g plain flour
3.5oz/100g sugar (any)
3.5oz/100g butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons of boiling water

* If you don't have, or don't like, coconut, you can use more oats with crushed cornflakes instead, as long as the amount totals 6oz/170g.

  • Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar into a large bowl and mix them together, making a well in the centre.
  • In a small pan, melt the butter with the golden syrup.
  • Add the bicarb to the 2 tablespoons of boiling water and quickly add it to the butter and syrup.
  • Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and gently mix well.
  • Place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined baking sheets  – about 1 inch/2.5 cms apart.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden.
  • Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.


To read a little more about what happened on 25 April 1917 ANZAC Day, pop over to, Battlefields and Beyond.

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

Sometimes we have to make do, and today was one of those times, it was also a time to be creative with what’s there rather than what’s missing.

In the freezer was a pack of white cobs (bread rolls, not horses) but when the bread defrosted it was unusable. Not wanting to throw it away I decided to make a good old-fashioned bread pudding. Not a bread and butter pudding, a bread pudding. I just needed some sultanas, or any dried fruit really, and a few other pantry staples. Unfortunately, and unusually, there was no dried fruit in the pantry. However, there was half a jar of mincemeat, left over from Christmas, and a small jar of an unusual jam that had been a gift from Scandinavia – apricot and carrot. These replaced the dried fruit.


Here's how to make a bread pudding.

The ingredients you will need are:

8oz (225g) bread, any colour, any condition, but not mouldy
2oz (50g) sugar – any kind
1 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
6 oz (175g) dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed – any will do)
2oz (50g) melted margarine or butter (or 1oz/25g of each)
1 egg, beaten
extra sugar for topping

You will also need an 8 or 9 inch, greased, baking tin


In a large bowl, soak the bread in hot water or milk for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 C, gas 4, 350 F

Squeeze any excess liquid from the bread and place it into a clean bowl.

To the bread add the fruit, sugar and mixed spice. Mix well.

Add the melted margarine/butter and mix again.

Add the beaten egg, mix again.

Pour the bread mixture into your prepared tin and smooth it flat.

Bake for 80 minutes but check after an hour to avoid the pudding being burnt if your oven is fierce.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the pudding with sugar – any kind but Demerara is lovely.

Cut into nine portions, but it is very filling so you might want more, smaller portions.

You can eat the pudding hot or cold, with or without accompaniment (cream, custard, ice-cream).


Photographs and article:  Karen Ette 

Friday 24 January 2020

First novel about Leicestershire Regiment

First and only novel about Leicestershire Regiment in First World War launches in Leicestershire
The author signing copies of the book.
Photograph by Lynne Dyer (

Saturday 21 December 2019 saw the launch of ‘Don’t Be Late in the Morning’ – the first and only novel to be written about the Leicestershire Regiment in the First World War.

The two launch events were held at the Hub cafe in Syston in the morning, and the Carillon Tower and War Memorial Loughborough in the afternoon, where there was opportunity to speak to the author, Dr Karen Ette, buy a discounted and signed copy of the book and even sample a ‘rum ration’. The borough Carillonneur, Caroline Sharpe, played the clavier and familiar tunes, such as ‘Pack up your troubles’ ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ and ‘Keep the home fires burning’ rang out across Queens Park.

Set in Syston, and culminating at the Battle of Loos in October 1915, this flagship novel tells the previously untold story of David Adcock, a Leicester Tiger, who fights alongside friends from his hometown of Syston and other town and villages across our historic county.

Based on research carried out during her PhD at Loughborough University, this unique work of fiction uses exclusive private sources along with published accounts and Dr Ette weaves together truth and fiction to illuminate what has become a forgotten battle, fought by men from a town often overlooked in considerations of the Great War – Leicester.

Importantly, these unpublished primary sources reveal the human and personal cost of the conflict and this is very important to author, Dr Karen Ette who says:
“My intention is that writing a novel using original, previously unseen documents, and real people, will rightfully establish the second offensive of the Battle of Loos in literature as one of the recognised battles rather than a forgotten one.”

Publisher, Sarah Houldcroft ­– Goldcrest Books, also said:
My interest was piqued when Karen explained to me that her story was based on original letters and diaries. When I heard more about the content, how could I not want to get involved with the book! So many brave men lost their lives for us in that awful war. I don’t usually get emotional when typesetting a manuscript but when I saw and read the magazine articles included in the book it did bring tears to my eyes. It is a wonderful testimony to all those young men.

If you missed the launches, Dr Ette will be at Church View Nursery, Barkby’s Food and Craft Fair on Sunday, 23 February, where you will be able, once again, to enjoy discounted copies of the book plus the ‘rum ration’.

Available to buy from Amazon, the publisher, Charnwood Museum, plus a number of other local outlets, this exceptional novel is already receiving great reviews, Clive Curtis said:

“Very engaging and accessible. An excellent account of the life of ordinary people at the beginning of the twentieth century”.

"A well-researched, engaging book. The author has clearly worked hard to weave many sources of information together to produce this vivid account, and is to be applauded. Value for money - recommended."

"Coming from the area where this book was set, I found it extremely interesting. The details of the soldiers life during training and the in battle were sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking. It was also good to hear the stories of the families left at home while the young men of the village went off to war."

Synopsis of Don’t Be Late in the Morning.

David Adcock, grows up in the Leicestershire village of Syston. Popular and respected by his friends, they later become his pals on the Western Front where, as a ‘fighting Leicester Tiger’, he experiences one of the most catastrophic and overlooked battles of the First World War.
Emily Jane Wade, is the only girl in a family of five children who is sent to live with a cruel aunt and uncle after her mother’s death.
In 1911 David's widowed mother, Mary Adcock, and Emily's father, Alfred Wade, marry and they become step-brother and -sister. When war is declared in August 1914 David is working at the local shoe factory. After a village recruitment meeting he knows that at twenty he is old enough to serve abroad and volunteers to join the army, along with his pals, when there is still a sense of adventure and excitement about going to fight ‘the Hun’. 
Emily is in domestic service, but moves back home where she takes over the running of the village post office after her fiancé is killed in action. Here she receives the ‘real’ letters from serving soldiers, which are shared with the vicar. 
Realising that he will be sent to the Front very soon, David comes home on leave and asks Emily to marry him and scandal shrouds their relationship.
 In March 1915 the theatre of war in France and Flanders is the setting. The 1/4 battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment are mobilised and strong bonds are formed between the ‘Leicester Lads’, culminating in the little-known battle: Loos, 13th October 1915. Many of David's pals are killed and he is left for dead in a cellar after being badly wounded, whilst Emily waits for news.
Don't Be Late in the Morning is written about real people from original, unpublished letters and diaries, filling a lacuna in British Great War fiction.