A variety of news, creations and tales from the staff of Missenden Abbey, a 12th Century venue set in the heart of the Chilterns offering exceptional conference facilities, wedding services and social events.

Mother's Day - 15.03.15

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Mother’s day, or what we in Great Britain like to call Mothering Sunday, is a celebration that is cultivated across the globe (almost every country, although on a different day), bringing joy and excitement to families.

There are many variations of the history of Mothering Sunday due to it being on a different day to "Mother's Day" in most other countries. In Britain, 'Mother's Day' is celebrated on Mothering Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Lent, which dates back Centuries. One theory is that the celebration could have been adopted from a Roman Spring Festival which is how the Romans celebrated Cybele, their 'Mother Goddess'.  Mothering Sunday can also be regarded as "Mothering Church" as it is known that on this date, about four hundred years ago, people made a point of visiting their nearest and biggest church (The Mother Church) which was prompted by the Book of Common Prayer that says the 4th Sunday of lent refers to the heavenly Jerusalem as "the Mother of us all". Another, more recent theory of Mothering Sunday, was that young British girls and boys 'in service' (maids and servants) were allowed only one day to visit family each year, which was usually Mothering Sunday. 
I will never forget the way I used to pay tribute to my mother and how much I used to look forward to surprising her with beautiful flowers and her favourite chocolate and vanilla sponge cake, that I learned to bake from my dear Grandmother. I remember the excitement and anticipation of this day and how my mother always almost cried seeing her little boy in the door step with a bouquet flowers (almost the same size of me!), and a huge smile on my face. Moments like that will always stay in my memory to cherish with the ones I love.

Since getting older and becoming a chef at Missenden Abbey, I really enjoy watching families joining us for a traditional Afternoon Tea to celebrate Mothers and pay tribute to this important day. We are always careful when selecting our menu for this special occasion and try to bring out the joy people experience through our food. We bake fresh homemade scones on the day and our signature ‘amazingly gooey’ chocolate brownies, as well as some mini petit fours to accompany a freshly brewed pot of tea.(Not to mention the deliciously fresh finger sandwiches!) 

In the Missenden Abbey kitchen,  I have always been the chocolate brownie’s biggest fan. Every time the brownies were made, I would be the first chef to cut a big piece from the batch and eat it like a sandwich! On one of those days, enjoying a good chunk of brownie, I decided to try something different for the next time I baked it. I thought to myself, 'why not add another dimension and pour some freshly brewed espresso to the mixture and add a handful of honey roasted beetroot just before the baking stage'. I was inspired by people, who have purchased our cook book and after mastering the given brownie recipe, try to spice it up with their own creations and adding something special to the mixture, like prunes for example. Well…to be honest with you, the sky is the limit with this brownie recipe. As long as you enjoy it, nobody can stop you from experimenting with the flavours and combinations of different fruits, vegetables, syrups and liquors!

Deconstructed Brownie; a creative arrangement of the ingredients of the Honey Roast Beetroot and Espresso Brownie.

Why not try it yourself?

300g (10.5oz) plain chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
300g organic butter
375g (13oz) golden caster sugar
225g (8oz) plain flour
1.5 teaspoon of baking powder
4 large organic free-range eggs
1.5 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 shots of freshly brewed espresso
300g of roasted and drained beetroot
140g (5oz) white chocolate chips
140g (5oz) milk chocolate chips

Honey Roasted Beetroots:
You will need about 500g of fresh organic raw beetroot (peeled and diced into small cubes 1cmx1cm), 150ml of your favourite honey, 50ml of balsamic vinegar, 10ml of extra virgin olive oil. Mix the ingredients together and bake on 150 degrees celcius for two hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Drain and leave it to cool.

1. Place the plain chocolate, butter and espresso in a large bowl and sit over a pan of simmering water to melt.
2. While the chocolate is melting, mix the plain flour with the baking powder and sieve.
3. Take the melted chocolate off the heat and stir in the sugar (do not worry if there are some lumps in it at this stage). Beat the eggs together with the vanilla extract and add to the mixture.
4. Finally, gently stir in the flour and then the chocolate chips and beetroot. Stir until all the ingredients are infused, but do not over mix.
5. Cook at 170c/325f/gas3 for 45 minutes or until cracks start to appear on top. 

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