Sykes’ Food Tour of Britain

October 9th, 2014
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If you’ve tuned into the Sykes’ blog this week you might have noticed there’s been a foodie theme going on. Well today isn’t any different as we’re heading out on a tour around the UK looking at some of the best regional foods going, from the classic Cornish Pasty through to the Welsh favourite, Bara Brith.

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

pork pie

via Flickr

Where else could we start but with the classic picnic food, the pork pie. We’re not talking about any old pie, instead we’re going to be looking at the king of the range, the Melton Mowbray. These pies are one of a handful of foods protected by Protected Geographical Indication, meaning they can only be called Melton Mowbrays if they’re made within a specific area using traditional techniques. One key difference between a Melton and your standard pie is that they use fresh rather than cured meat, giving them their distinctive flavour.

Cornish Pasty

cornish pasty

via Flickr

Next we’re going to be taking a trip down to the south-west for the old favourite, the Cornish Pasty. Originally a luxury meal for the rich, the pasty became a staple food amongst Cornish tin miners during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and has since become one of the nation’s favourites. A good pasty should be full to the brim with a mix of beef mince, swede, carrot and onion and should have a peppery kick to finish.

Cheddar Cheese

via. Flickr

via Flickr

We’re sticking in the south west for this one too as we look at Britain’s most loved cheese. Apparently, over half the cheese produced in this country is a variation of cheddar, but can only be called West Country Farmhouse Cheddar if it’s produced in one of the four West Country counties using locally produced milk. One of the reasons cheddar is so popular is its versatility; no matter how you serve it up, whether it’s part of a classic ploughman’s lunch, melted on toast or simply with a couple of crackers, it’s absolutely delicious!

Bara Brith

bara brith

via Flickr

Next up is a Welsh classic, Bara Brith. Translated into English, Bara Brith means Speckled Bread, however there’s some dispute as to whether it’s actually a cake – no matter what it is, we think it’s delicious! Traditionally it would have been a hodge podge mix made from left over bread dough with some fruit and cooked in the embers of the weekly bake. Nowadays, it’s flavoured with tea and basted generously with honey giving it it’s lovely flavour.

Shortbread

via Flickr

via Flickr

Finally, we’re heading north of the border and to the home of shortbread. A traditional Scottish biscuit made with just flour, sugar and butter, shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. The Scots have been making this tasty treat since the 12th century, but it’s Mary Queen of Scots who is credited with refining the recipe to one we all know and love today. A good shortbread should have a light buttery flavour and be crisp yet crumbly when you bite into it.

So there we go, Sykes’ food tour of Britain. Hopefully you enjoyed having a read of it and like our choices, but if there’s anything you think should have been included then let us know, either over Facebook or on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to get it in next time!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Bake like Berry: Britain’s Best Regional Recipes

October 8th, 2014
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You need only glance at The Great British Bake Off hashtag to realise this humble baking competition – once the darling of BBC2’s off-peak schedule – has become a goliath of modern broadcasting. Though I wouldn’t normally spend my evenings watching Paul Hollywood and Mary B munch through soggy FANCY-00038335-001patisserie whilst monitoring #GBBO, both peer pressure and curiosity have led me to become a regular viewer of the show.

Upon reflection of GBBO’s meteoric rise to the top of TV rankings, I’ve come up with just one answer to its popularity: Brits love baking. Cakes, pretzels, rye bread, religieuse, povitica, fruity Swedish tea rings – we’ll bake the lot, and eat it too. With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of regional bakes that will tantalise those tastebuds; just beware the soggy bottom, ensure your whites are perfectly stiff and remember, it’s all in the wrist action.

Yorkshire Parkin

With Bonfire night on the horizon, we think it’s time everyone baked up a batch of the classic Yorkshire pud, Parkin. Tradition tells that Parkin was eaten on Guy Fawke’s night, though we’re sure you won’t be hung, drawn and quartered for enjoying some at other times of year. Both spicy, moist and hearty, Parkin is the ultimate autumn comfort food. Here’s how it’s made.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ingredients

110g soft butter

110g soft dark brown sugar

55g black treacle

200g golden syrup

225g medium oatmeal

110g self-raising flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground mixed spice

2 medium eggs, beaten

1 tbsp milk

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan/ Gas Mark 1. Grease and line a square cake tin.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup over a gentle heat, ensuring the mixture doesn’t bubble. Once melted together, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the melted butter mixture and fold. Pour in the beaten eggs, milk and combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 ½ hours, checking it regularly to ensure it isn’t over baked.
  5. Leave the parkin in the tin to cool for around twenty minutes, before transferring to a cake rack to cool completely.
  6. Wrap the parkin in greaseproof paper and wait a minimum of 1 week before consuming. This will help develop the sticky texture and give it an intense, rich flavour.

Welsh Cakes

Or pice ear y maen, are a timeless teatime treat whose recipe has spanned generations. Simple to make yet delicious to eat, Welsh cakes are the perfect pudding to make with your little bakers. These rounds of delight should take under twenty minutes to make, so they’re great for those who want to get their bake on without clearing their schedule.

Ingredients

225g plain flour

85g caster sugar

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp baking powder

50g butter, chopped into pieces

50g lard, chopped into small pieces

50g currants

1 egg, beaten

Splash of milk

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Put the flour, mixed spice, sugar and salt into a bowl. With your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Add the currants before working the egg into the mixture to form a soft dough. If the mixture feels too dry, add a splash of milk.
  2. Roll the dough on a floured surface to the thickness of your finger and cut rounds using a 6cm cutter. Add a small amount of lard to a heavy frying or griddle pan and cook batches of the cakes over a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Serve warm with butter and jam, or sprinkle with caster sugar for a sweet treat.

Cornish Pasty

How many Cornish pasties have you eaten in your lifetime? If the answer’s none, shame on you. Personally, I can’t get enough of these pastry crescent moons, though I should start watching the waistband. If you want to know how to make Britain’s oldest and best pastry-clad lunch, follow these simple steps.

Cornish Pasty – Via Flickr

Cornish Pasty – Via Flickr

Ingredients (Makes 4 pasties)

For the pastry

125g chilled and chopped butter

500g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

1 egg, beaten

For the filling

350g chuck steak, chopped finely

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

175g swedes, peeled and finely diced

1 tbsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Combine the butter, lard and flour using your fingertips or a food processor, adding a pinch of salt. Add 6 tbsp of cold water to make a dough. Cut into 4 equal parts, and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the filling ingredients with a pinch or two of salt to taste and set aside.
  3. Roll out the pieces of dough on a floured surface until you have 4 rounds that are just over 20cm in diameter. Use a plate to cut to a circular shape.
  4. Pack a quarter of the filling along the centre of each round, ensuring to leave space at the ends. Brush the dough with beaten egg before drawing up both sides so they meet at the top. Pinch together to seal.
  5. Lift each pasty onto a non-stick tray and brush with the remaining egg glaze. Bake for 10 minutes, before lowering the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas4 and baking for a further 45 minutes until golden. Delicious served warm.

Scotch Shortbread

When I was a nipper, my grandparents would always bring me a tartan tin of Scotch shortbread from their travels north of the border, and it was delicious. Thankfully, the Scots don’t seem to mind sharing their recipe with the rest of us, so why not bake a batch of these wonderful bikkies yourself. Here’s how.

Scotch Shortbread – Via Flickr

Scotch Shortbread – Via Flickr

Ingredients

125g butter

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and flour together to form a smooth paste.
  3. Turn the mixture onto a surface and roll until 1cm thick.
  4. Cut into fingers or small rounds and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20. Set aside to cool.

Get your bake on in a Sykes holiday home

We can’t give you Berry and Hollywood, but we can give you cottages. Thanks to their charming country kitchens and wonderful dining areas, our self-catering holiday homes provide the perfect place to get your bake on and unwind. So Britain, let’s get baking.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Harvest Fest: Where to find Britain’s Best Farmers’ Markets

October 7th, 2014
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“That’s it, from now on, I’m healthy eating!” I can’t count the times I’ve heard – and uttered – this pledge, yet nine times out of ten this good intention fails to materialise. Since the health benefits of eating well came to the fore, the price of so called superfoods has rocketed, making it difficult for some to budget for a healthy lifestyle. But buying fresh produce needn’t be expensive; head to any of the UK’s hundreds of weekly farmers’ markets, and you’ll find plenty of healthy, locally sourced produce at fare and affordable prices. Here’s five of our favourite agricultural markets from around the UK.

Orton Farmer’s Market – Orton, Cumbria

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Over 35 local farmers, producers and craftsmen set up shop at the Orton Farmers’ Market, a large produce fair taking place in the centre of Orton village every second Saturday of the month. Fair organisers stipulate that all wares sold at the market – be it food stuff or craft – must be grown, produced or manufactured within fifty miles of the village, so punters know what they’re buying is home-grown. Expect fresh veg grown in the emerald Eden Valley, moreish seafood from Morecambe Bay and affordable meat that hasn’t travelled across the sea to reach your plate.

The Goods Shed – Canterbury, Kent

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Housed in a Victorian railway building, The Goods Shed offers a charming place to shop for top quality nosh. Purveyors of delectable local produce since the early noughties, The Goods Shed is one of Britain’s only markets that operates daily – even Sundays. The Goods Shed has a different vibe to other farmers’ markets, with regular sellers housed in specially built concession stalls throughout the building. You’ll find a variety of quality food and drink at the market, including locally brewed ales at The Bottle Shop, delicious continental meat at Patriana Charcuterie, and tasty cheese at the Cheese Makers of Canterbury – scrumdiddlyumptious.

Stroud Farmers’ Market – Stroud, Gloucestershire

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Multi-award winning isn’t an accolade you’d associate with a farmers’ market, but there’s no other way to describe the Stroud Farmers’ Market. As one of the UK’s biggest, busiest and outright brilliant farm fairs, Stroud has received glowing recommendations from the Sunday Telegraph, The Independent, The Times and everyone’s favourite Cornwall based chef, Rick Stein. The market features well over fifty produce, craft and miscellaneous stalls, making it by far Britain’s biggest farmers’ market. From bread to veg, you’ll find everything and more at the Stroud Farmers’ Market.

The Orkney Farmers’ Market – Orkney, Scotland

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

OK, it’s not as local as the cornershop, but the Orkney Farmers’ Market is well worth the leg-work. Featuring a fantastic array of local tradesmen – not to mention a wonderful location in the heart of Kirkwall – the Orkney Farmers’ Market is one produce fair you’ll want to spend plenty of time perusing. The event brings plenty of regular stallholders selling a variety of fresh produce and items; plus, there’s usually some entertain put on in support of local charities. The Orkney Farmers’ Market takes place on every last Saturday of the month, so do stop by if you’re in the area on this date.

Cook up a storm in a country cottage

If tasting local produce is on your UK holiday wishlist, why not take a look at our range of self-catering country cottages? Featuring charming kitchens, spacious larders and comfortable dining areas, these holiday rentals are ideal for those who want to cook up a storm using the freshest local produce – take a look now.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

Competition: Discovering Autumn’s Best Bits

October 7th, 2014
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AutumnBB_Large

Photo Blogging Competition: Autumn’s Best Bits

Whether you like crunching through leaves, wrapping up warm or sipping on one of the season’s popular hot drinks we want to know about it! Show off your autumnal photography skills in our newest competition to be in with your chance of winning £400 to spend at John Lewis!

To enter this competition, take a picture of what you think is autumn’s best bit, put it into a blog post and tell us why it’s your favourite thing about autumn! Once you’ve published your post, tweet the link to us @SykesCottages or send us an email including a link to your entry. Don’t forget to include a link back to this page in your post, so that your readers can enter, too!

Autumnal Bench

image via Flickr

image via Flickr

image via Flickr

image via Flickr

image via Flickr

 Terms and Conditions:

Eligibility

  1. This competition is open to any blogger located in the United Kingdom or Ireland and aged 18 and over.
  2. The competition is not open to employees of Sykes Cottages or any agencies or group companies related to Sykes Cottages.
  3. The promoter and Host of this competition is Sykes Cottages and can be reached via email at autumncomp@sykescottages.co.uk
  4. Using a false name or address for this competition will lead to the entry being disqualified.

Entry

  1. Entries to the competition can be made by emailing the blog post entry to autumncomp@sykescottages.co.uk or by tweeting the blog post @sykescottages
  2. All entries will be acknowledged within one working day of their submission.
  3. All entrants must include instructions on how to enter the competition, or a link to instructions, at the end of their blog post. Eg. “If you would like to enter Sykes Cottages competition to win £400 worth of John Lewis vouchers then simply head over to…”
  4. Only one entry per blog, multiple entries will not be counted.
  5. Entries made using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be disqualified.
  6. By entering the competition entrants accept that their entries will be shared across Sykes Cottages’ social media platforms including, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, The Sykes Cottages Blog and Instagram.

The Prize

  1. There will be seven winners in this competition. With the first place prize being £400 of John Lewis Vouchers, second place being £100 of John Lewis vouchers and five further prizes of smart phone camera lenses
  2. This competition is in no way affiliated with John Lewis, the John Lewis Partnership or it’s subsidiaries
  3. Prizes are non-transferable, non-refundable and there is no cash alternative available.
  4. Prizes will be sent to the winners home addresses

Timing

  1. Competition opens at 12 noon GMT on the 7th of October 2014.
  2. Competition closes at midnight GMT on the 17th November 2014, any entries sent after this time won’t be counted

The Winner

  1. The winner of the competition will be chosen by a panel of judges at Sykes Cottages and this decision is final.
  2. The winner will be chosen and notified on or before Friday the 21st of November 2014.
  3. Once we have heard back from the winners we will then post their names on the Sykes Cottages Facebook and Twitter account.
  4. Details of the winner can be obtained by sending a stamped addressed envelope to the following address; Sykes Cottages, Lime Tree House, Hoole Lane, Chester, Cheshire, CH2 3EG
  5. The winner may be required for promotional activities and by entering the competition accepts that their name may be provided or published as per the terms and conditions.

Data protection and privacy

  1. Any personal data relating to entrants will not be disclosed to a third party without the individual’s consent (other than the winning entry). Data relating to entrants will be retained by the Promoter and Competition host for a reasonable period after the Competition closes to assist in operating competitions in a consistent manner and to deal with any queries on the Competition.
  2. Information provided to enter the competition may be used, shared or published or used for publicity in a digital format and includes your name, your location and/or profile picture.
  1. By providing the Competition host with your personal data you consent to the Competition host sending you marketing emails.
  2. If an Entrant does not wish for their personal information to be used for marketing purposes, a request to remove consent for personal information to be used for marketing purposes should be submitted in writing to the Competition host.

Liability

  1. Nothing in these terms and conditions shall exclude the liability of the Promoter or the Competition host for death, personal injury, fraud or fraudulent misrepresentation as a result of its negligence.
  2. The Promoter and Competition host accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss, liabilities, injury or disappointment incurred or suffered by you as a result of entering the Competition or accepting the prize. The Promoter further disclaims liability for any injury or damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in or downloading any materials in connection with the Competition.
  3. The Promoter reserves the right at any time and from time to time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, this Competition with or without prior notice due to reasons outside its control (including, without limitation, in the case of anticipated, suspected or actual fraud). The decision of the Promoter in all matters under its control is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  4. The Promoter shall not be liable for any failure to comply with its obligations where the failure is caused by something outside its reasonable control. Such circumstances shall include, but not be limited to, weather conditions, fire, flood, hurricane, strike, industrial dispute, war, hostilities, political unrest, riots, civil commotion, inevitable accidents, supervening legislation or any other circumstances amounting to force majeure.
  5. The entrant completely releases Facebook from any involvement in this competition.
  1. The competition is not sponsored, associated, organised, endorsed or administered in any way by Facebook.
  2. Information provided as part of the competition is not provided to Facebook.
  3. The Competition will be governed by English law.

 

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Sykes’ Favourite Tea Rooms

October 6th, 2014
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If there’s one thing we’re known for in Britain it’s our love of a cup of tea. If that tea comes in a pot beside a slice of a homemade cake and finger sandwiches then all the better. Wherever you find yourself on these isles of ours you won’t be too far away from a delightful tea room and – as anyone who follows Sykes Cottages on Instagram will know – we aren’t shy of indulging in a good brew and slice of cake every now and again. As we’re the sharing sort, we’d like to share with you some of the best tea rooms we have enjoyed during our travels.

The Stirrup Eating House, Haworth

TheStirrup

The Stirrup Eating House is the perfect location for replenishing your batteries when exploring Haworth. Whether you’re just stopping by for cream tea, or want to relax with their afternoon tea you won’t be disappointed!

Bettys, various locations in Yorkshire

Bettys

The world famous Bettys is at the top of many an afternoon tea fan’s list of tea rooms to visit – and for good reason. From delicious chocolates and cakes, to biscuits and, of course, scones, anyone who walks into a Bettys’ tea room is greeted with the delightful aroma of high quality, home made goods.

Harrods, London

Harrods

Afternoon tea at Harrods in The Georgian Restaurant is the ultimate indulgence. Choose from a selection of tea inspired cocktails and mocktails, or treat yourself to the more traditional Georgian Afternoon Tea.

Baldry’s Tearoom, The Lake District

Baldrys (1)

With homemade bread and cakes baked fresh every day and a huge selection of gluten free options available, there’s something delicious for everyone to enjoy at Baldry’s Tearoom in Grasmere. These delicious treats are enjoyed in the tea room’s vintage style on mismatched plates and cups, providing a wonderful atmosphere.

York Cocoa House, York

York Cocoa House

For chocolate fans and those looking for something a little different, York Cocoa House cannot be missed. The aptly named Afternoon Chocolate includes all the usual components of afternoon tea; scones, finger sandwiches and petit fours but with a chocolatey twist. Everything is homemade and served in their chic café right in the centre of York.

Llanfair Caereinion, Wales

Llanfair (2)

Serving a selection of sandwiches, cakes and drinks, the tea room at Llanfair Caereinion is highly recommended by members of the team here at Sykes Cottages. Everything is homemade, delicious and well-priced, making it the perfect tea room!

The Devonshire Arms, Skipton

Bolton

Surrounded by the beautiful grounds of the Bolton Abbey Estate is The Devonshire Arms in Skipton. Their full afternoon tea includes homemade sandwiches, pastries and of course, tea or coffee but with the added benefit of beautiful views and comfortable sofas so that you can lounge away the afternoon!

Wherever The Feeling Takes You

Scone

Cream tea is such a delight that it seems a shame to only indulge in it whilst at a tea room. Whenever the feeling takes you why not make yourself a pot of tea and indulge in a slice of your favourite cake? It really does perk up the afternoon!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.