Monday, August 15, 2011

retro recipe revamp: toad-in-the-hole with apple and thyme

I don't know if shows, but I collect stuff. Like, lots of stuff, of all different kinds. It isn't about completing sets of anything and it isn't about the chase. I just love old things - a lot. I have a bunch of salt and pepper shakers that I use as decoration, because the designs are so bonkers that you can't use them to shake seasoning out of. I have a giant old biscuit tin of vintage buttons. I love things - almost anything - made from old plastics. I think it drove my poor parents nuts when I was a teenager living at home, because beyond the door of my bedroom was a realm of perpetual chaos. I'm sorry about that, Mum and Dad.

But actually all the things I collect these days, I use in some way. I love my vintage dresses and sweaters, because I live my life in them. I love my vintage dressmaking patterns, because they're this portal into the past that I can look into for inspiration, or instruction. And I love my vintage cookbooks, but, I don't really get to use them very often. I've been thinking recently about how I might change this, but the answer was pretty clear.

One of my favourite bloggers, Casey at Casey's Elegant Musings, often shares pages from her collection of vintage magazines and books - and I love those posts. So I thought I'd share some of the wonders I come across in my own collection of recipe books. Some look delicious, some look ridiculous; there are many reasons I love my books. But I've decided, in the spirit of actually using the books, to try and revamp recipes (where necessary). The idea is to help translate some of these dishes into things we might actually want to cook and eat, without losing too much of their original appeal. Some I think will be easier than others, but I'm looking forward to the challenge!

So, first up, I've chosen a dish from what was probably the first vintage recipe book I become fascinated with: The Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book. My Mum had a copy in our cupboard and then I chanced upon another years later at a book fair. I picked it up and realised that I knew all the recipes and illustrations by heart, because I'd leafed through it so often as a child. It's full of wonderful recipes, great photos and illustrations - and every one of them features Golden Circle canned pineapple.

I'd been looking for an excuse to make toad-in-a-hole for a while. I mean, sausages baked in batter? Yes please! The Golden Circle recipe book has you add an entire can of drained canned pineapple to the batter; I couldn't quite bring myself to do this. But I did like the idea of a little bit of sweet fruit cutting through the richness of the pork sausages and moistening the batter. So I threw in some apple and added a little fresh thyme to make the batter a little more savory and moody. Then, 'why stop there?' I thought, so I replaced the milk with buttermilk and the full-sized pork sausages with Jonathan's chipolatas - and baked the dish in individual little pie tins. This is what mine looked like.

It was totally delicious. The apple did just what I'd hoped it would and the thyme lifted the batter to new heights. I'll totally make this again, perhaps though with gravy and company, served as part of a retro menu.

I think we're off to a good start...

*Please note: apologies if when you first visited the recipe wasn't here. It disappeared without me realising. All fixed now!

Toad-in-the-hole with apple and thyme
Adapted from The Golden Circle Tropical Recipe Book (circa 1965)
Serves 2

butter, to grease
6 good-quality pork chipolatas
115 g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
a few grinds of black pepper
a sprig of thyme, leaves removed and chopped if necessary
1 egg
130 ml of buttermilk
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 6

1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Grease individual tins with butter. 

2. Cook pork chipolatas in a frying pan over medium heat until browned. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and thyme leaves until well combined. In a smaller bowl, whisk egg and buttermilk gently until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until combined. 

4. Pour batter equally into greased dishes. Top each with three sausages and squeeze a piece of apple between the snags, three each dish.

5. Pop into oven and bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. 


  1. Oh, Lexi! This is just utterly fabulous. More, more, more! I have always adored the way that cookbooks read as sociological/historical texts and, in less fancypants language, as a glimpse into the past. I can't wait to see what else you do!

  2. Thanks Hannah! I think it's going to be lots of fun - I'll try and do one once a week. I couldn't find the exact publication date for this book, but there's all these great pictures in there of the plantations and cannery in Queensland in the 1960s. "Thousands of visitors from all states have toured the Cannery with Golden Circle Hostesses." Golden Circle Hostesses!


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