A very vintage Halloween

At Britain Does Vintage, we’re big, BIG, fans of Halloween… Maybe it’s the dressing up or maybe it’s the sweets…we just know we love it. Guest Blogger, Natasha O’Neill, has got our sweet teeth all in a tizz with her marvellously spooky recipes for Halloween goodies, perfect for your big bad day. So Although Hallows Eve has been and gone we know this weekend will be a big Halloween frenzy, so we have some sensational treats you can cook up to keep you in the spooky mood. Over to you Natasha……lets get this vintage halloween started!

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Despite no longer being 8 and no longer intending on being dressed up as a witch in a makeshift costume consisting of a black bin-liner and blacked-out treacle teeth, I still find myself very excited by this time of year. The chill in the air and the darker evenings, the warming, spicy flavours that seem to appear in both food and drink and the prospect of being able to capture my inner child again and play.

Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party, taking little ones trick or treating or just staying at home and watching a scary film or two (hiding behind a suitably sized cushion, obviously) I think the excitement of a night where, supposedly, the veil between the world of the supernatural and ours is at its thinnest will never really wane. Our own imaginations are given a free-reign for the evening and, for a little while, we can remember what it’s like to be scared of the monsters in our wardrobes.
Here are three recipes that, for me, really capture the essence of this time of year!

Blood-Red Velvet Cupcakes

Edward Cullen has, in recent years, brought vampires kicking, screaming and sparkling back into the daylight, however, vampires were once seen as the gruesome, blood-sucking villains of folklore. Vlad the Impaler, Nosferatu and, of course, Christopher Lee (as well as oodles of others) have done their best over the years to terrify us into believing in the debonair monsters that could charm and seduce you into offering yourself as a midnight snack. This makes them wonderful choices for your Halloween costumes (particularly as they can be excellently low effort, high impact affairs – fangs, fake blood, creepy contact lenses!).

The art of fancy dress and costume parties has been a part of society since the early seventeenth century; dressing to terrify and scandalize has been a huge component of Halloween for years, however, it was only really in the 1980s that the tradition of “trick or treating” seemed to boom in Britain, previously it had been seen as something quite common, harking back to the practise of “guising” which took place in Britain and Ireland: This was when children and poor people would dress up and beg for money and food, sometimes – quite literally – singing for their supper! However, it was as early as the 1920s in North America that children would dress up as goblins, ghouls and vampires and seek out sweeties from their neighbours!

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The all important recipe…

Cake:
120g unsalted butter (room temperature)
300g caster sugar
2 eggs
5 tbsp rich cocoa powder
60ml red food colouring
30ml vanilla extract
250ml buttermilk
300g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp salt

Topping:
300g icing sugar
50g butter (room temperature)
125g cream cheese (cold)
75g raspberries
3 tbsp caster sugar
100ml water

1.Preheat oven to 180°.
2.Cream together butter and sugar until nice and fluffy.
3.Mix in eggs, vanilla, food colouring and buttermilk.
4.Stir in the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, then sift in the flour and cocoa powder – combine until you have a smooth batter.
5.Distribute between 20 cupcake or 12 muffin cases and pop into the oven until the sponge is nice and springy (about 20 minutes).
6.Whilst your cakes are cooling it’s time to whip up some raspberry coulis and cream cheese frosting for decoration.
7.Frosting; combine together butter and icing sugar then add the cream cheese. Try not to over whisk this as cream cheese has a horrible habit of trying to turn into liquid if overworked. Pop this into the fridge to chill.
8.Coulis; put the raspberries, sugar and water into a saucepan over a low heat and stir whilst allowing to the simmer. When all the sugar has dissolved, pour into a food processor, blitz then strain through a sieve to catch all those pesky seeds. Keep in the fridge for a hour or so before use.
9.Finally, assemble those cupcakes; pipe a swirl of frosting on top, sink a pair of fangs into the icing and drizzle with your coulis (the tart raspberry flavour should bite through the creaminess and richness of the rest of your cake!) and voila! Blood-Red Velvet cupcakes, great for kids and adults alike!

Spicy Pumpkin Pie

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Now, who doesn’t think of pumpkins when they think of Halloween? There have been records as early as the seventeenth century of people gouging grotesque faces into pumpkins, or turnips and beets and lighting them with a flickering candle. The Jack-o-Lantern is seemingly based upon the legends of Will-o-the-Whisp; a mischievous, sometimes malevolent, spirit that would – using flickering lights and mist – lure travellers to their doom in bogs and moors. However, there is also speculation that the terrifying faces we carve each year are there to represent the souls in purgatory as the first of November is All Saint’s Day.
However, despite most of us preferring to hollow out our squashes and stick a candle in them to ward of ghostly nasties, it has long since been a tradition in America to feast on pumpkins. Records as early as the first settlers speak of roasting pumpkins over open fires and seasoning with spices. This later seemed to evolve (as most good things should) into the spicy-sweet pie we still enjoy today. Now, you can buy canned pumpkin but, as you can’t often get them as readily in supermarkets over here, I say take the challenge and bake your pie from fresh. However, if you discover all the pumpkins in your local shop have been pilfered already, a butternut squash works just as well!

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The all important recipe…

500g pumpkin
140g caster sugar
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spices
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs (beaten)
25g butter (melted)
150g milk
350g shortcrust pastry
Icing sugar and cinnamon (for dusting)

1.Preheat oven to 180°.
2.Scrape the seeds and pith out of the pumpkin, then carve into slices. Place the slices in a microwavable bowl and put on a high heat for 15 minutes until tender. Set aside and leave to cool.
3.Grease a 9” pie tin.
4.Roll out your pastry until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin. Place into a tin, cover with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beads (or uncooked rice if you don’t have any beads). Leave to settle for ten minutes before popping in the oven. Bake for fifteen minutes, then take off the greaseproof paper and beads and bake for a further ten minutes until the pastry is a nice golden brown.
5.Once the pumpkin has cooled, drain the excess water and pop into a blender. Blitz it until it’s a thick, smooth pulp.
6.Mix together the ginger, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon and sugar.
7.In a separate bowl beat your eggs and add in the milk and butter then combine this with the pumpkin and finally your sugar and spices. Mix together until all combined.
8.Pour into the pie shell and bake for 50/60 minutes until the filling is almost set and kind of wobbly.
9.Wait to cool and combine 2 tbsp of icing sugar with 1 tbsp of cinnamon and dust over the pie before serving – delicious!

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Poisoned Apple Cocktails

I remember every year, as a child, apple bobbing at Halloween. For me this pastime is just as synonymous with All Hallows’ Eve as trick or treating and eating far too many sweeties. However, bobbing for apples was not always a childs game! It was often used in the eighteenth century as a parlour game, which held its roots in paganism, and was used to determine a young lady’s true love. She would pluck an apple from the water with her teeth, peel the skin and then toss it over her shoulder to determine the first letter of her soul mate’s name. Now, no longer being a child and certainly not wanting to chuck apple all over my kitchen, I decided the art of apple bobbing needed updating a little. Taking inspiration from the wicked stepmother in Snow White, I have devised an adults game of poisoned apple bobbing. Wickedly delicious.

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The all important recipe…

25ml apple schnapps
50 ml vodka
75ml cherry juice
The juice from ¼ of a lemon
Caster sugar to rim the cocktail glass

1.Take a wedge of lemon and use the juice to wet the rim of your glass before dipping it into a little dish of sugar. Leave your glasses to one side whilst you whip up your cocktail.
2.Thinly slice a nice crisp apple and drizzle with lemon juice to stop the flesh turning brown.
3.Place your schnapps, vodka, cherry and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and blend all ingredients together with a little shimmy.
4.Pour the cocktail into your sugar-rimmed glasses and place a slice of apple in the top. Careful now, they’re lethal….

And thus concludes this spooky tale. Whatever your plans are this Halloween, all the girls at Britain Does Vintage hope you’re taking advantage of all the treats this time of year has to offer. Now, did someone say cocktails?

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We’ll be back soon with more pre-loved inspiration and humbling stories! Alex and Sam x

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