Month: November 2015

Winter Warming Hot Toddy Cake

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This is a perfect cake to enjoy while you hear winter’s wind and rain battering your windows! Inspired by the Scottish drink known as a ‘hot toddy’ (hot water, whisky, honey, and lemon), it combines a whisky and lemon sponge with whisky icing and a drizzle of honey on top. Because winter is the time when you want to indulge a little we went a little mad and added some whisky liqueur chocolates on top too!

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We went extra indulgent with this one!!

For the Cakes

We used this recipe from the Stork website but with a couple of tweaks

225g (8 oz) Stork with butter or Stork
225g (8 oz) caster sugar
4 large eggs
225g (8 oz) self-raising flour, sieved
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon and dash of whisky

For the Icing

300g of butter
600-700g of Icing Sugar
Whisky to taste.

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Almost too good to eat…almost.

Step 1

Cream the stork and sugar together

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Step 2

Add an egg and beat it into the mixture. Repeat for the remaining eggs. The last egg add in a little flour so as to avoid curdling. Beat until incorporated.

Step 3

Fold in the flour and lemon zest. Mix until fully incorporated.

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Step 4

Divide into 2 cake tins and bake at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean!

Step 5

Allow cakes to cool for 5 minutes then turn out onto a drying rack. The cake will have risen in the centre so you will need to cut the tops off to create an even cake. Once this has been done, take the lemon juice and whisky mixture and, using a pastry brush, brush onto the tops of the cake.

Step 6

Cream butter for the icing. Pour in 2-3 shots of whisky

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Step 7

Beat in the icing sugar a little at a time. Use at least 600g to ensure it is thick enough to ice. Add more whisky to taste.

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Step 8

Assemble the cake. Smear icing across the top of the bottom cake. Add top cake and then smear icing across the top, working your way down the sides. Use an icing bag with a star tip to create fancy decorations!

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Step 9

Finish off the cake with your own choice of decorations! We used whisky chocolate liqueurs on top and giant white chocolate buttons on the sides. Drizzle with honey to finish off!

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Step 10

Admire your handicraft briefly and then get stuck in!!

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The Untold Happenings of Burns Cottage

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Burns Cottage has had a long and interesting history experiencing life as a farm, pub, and museum, in the growing village of Alloway. Over its time it has witnessed success and destitution, propriety and debauchery, and a good dollop of disaster! Today we shall be telling you about three surprising things that happened to Burns Cottage that we are sure you never knew about!

Burns Cottage...not really such a quiet place
Burns Cottage…not really such a quiet place

Exploding boilers.

In 1888 there was a smithy next door to Burns Cottage which made use of a 6ft boiler to power its lathes. One Thursday afternoon the boiler exploded, flinging a large section of it plonk through the roof of the Burns Cottage byre! The byre at the time was the bedroom for the Cottage keeper, and his family, and the boiler’s safety valve landed right on the bed that the keeper’s children slept in at night. The Cottage, though damaged, survived the fire from the explosion with quick use of a fire hose and, while there were some small injuries to children who had been close to the smithy, there were thankfully no causalities.

The Ordinance Survey map of Alloway in 1857 showing the smithy next door
The Ordinance Survey map of Alloway in 1857 showing the smithy next door

The Transatlantic Haggis

In 1859 the Boston Burns Club wrote to Cottage tenant, Davidson Ritchie, to prepare and send a haggis to be pride of place in a grand Burns Supper celebrating the centenary of Robert Burns’s birth. Ritchie rose to the occasion preparing a haggis and a box of Burns relics which included a picture of Burns’s sister, Mrs Begg, the autographs of three of Burns’s sons, and an impression of Burns’s seal. The Burns Cottage haggis was served as part of an elaborate and ostentatious meal comprising of 8 courses, which included interesting delicacies, such as mock turtle soup, truffled duck in jelly, and calf’s head in turtle sauce!

Menu from the Boston Burns Club Centenry Burns Supper
Menu from the Boston Burns Club Centenry Burns Supper including Haggis a la Burns Cottage

Gun Shot at Burns Cottage

The following year of 1860 was a tragic one for Davidson Ritchie of Burns Cottage. In October, just four months after his wife had died of pneumonia, Davidson Ritchie went down to his fruit orchard with his 16 year old son to shoot some birds. After his son had taken a few shots, Ritchie then asked for the gun and told the son to go down and frighten the birds into the air. His son handed over the gun and walked to the trees when, suddenly, a shot rang out and he turned to see his father falling to the ground. The boy managed to call for help but sadly Ritchie died not long after. Following his death there was a discussion as to whether it was accident or suicide. Ritchie had shot himself in the stomach, not seemingly a typical place to aim when attempting suicide, however, not an easy thing to do with a double barrelled gun! Whether it was accident or suicide, however, we will never be able to find out.

A photograph of Burns Cottage featuring Davidson Ritchie who died so unfortunately. Note a mistake had been made regarding the date as Ritchie died in 1860.
A photograph of Burns Cottage featuring Davidson Ritchie who died so unfortunately. Note a mistake had been made regarding the date as Ritchie died in 1860.

It is amazing what can happen at a house over 250 years, and Burns Cottage has clearly seen some unusual incidents! However, we hope that the next 250 years are quieter than the last!

The People of Burns Cottage: The Drunken Miller

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Many different people have lived in the Cottage over its years. One particularly infamous and long standing resident was John Goudie, known colloquially as ‘Miller Goudie,’ who lived at the cottage for forty years with his wife, Flora Hastings. It is he and Flora who start the pub at Burns Cottage and over the years of their tenancy he was remembered as ‘seldom ever sober’!

This painting shows Flora and the Miller entertaining a group in the Cottage kitchen.
This painting shows Flora and the Miller entertaining a group in the Cottage kitchen.

As a young boy Miller Goudie moved to Alloway to work at the Dutch Mill and it is there that he met and married Flora Hastings. Of their union, Flora claimed that she had married Goudie to spite another man, but there must have been some attraction as she described her husband in his younger days as being ‘brawest wee man that ever stepped in shoe leather.’ Together they ran a pub called The Sign of the Bush, before spotting an business opportunity in the Cottage, which was becoming a place of pilgrimage. It is they who seem to start the tradition of the Burns Supper, holding them in the Cottage kitchen.

The Haggis Feast, 1840, Alexander Fraser. A romantic depiction of the first Burns Supper in 1801.
The Haggis Feast, 1840, Alexander Fraser.
A romantic depiction of the first Burns Supper in 1801.

The Miller had unfortunate relationship with drink, with one account recalling him sitting drunk in a corner. It was Flora who ultimately ran the business, not trusting her husband to do anything more than help the customers drink the liquor! Over the years Goudie became known as a henpecked spouse with one local resident stating that ‘Flora never could fancy him in any other position than Miller Goudie in, not of, Burns Cottage.’ She would often tell him off in public and kept him penniless so that he was kept in the house and out of trouble! In Reminiscences of Auld Ayr, the author recalls this experience of seeing the Miller secretly hunt for cash after Flora had left the room

the Miller then rose, and going to the drawer, began to turn over what we deemed to be a lot of old nails. As he was fumbling amongst them, the door opened and in stalked Flora, to take some things from a press in the apartment. The Miller was dreadfully taken aback. Hurriedly pushing the drawer back in its place, he resumed his seat. Flora said nothing but departed. The Miller then resumed his search, and this time, not being interrupted, succeeded. ‘Dod man,’ said he, as he again took his seat, ‘I was nearly catched there.

An 1829 etching by David Octavious Hill showing the Miller and Flora in the Cottage kitchen
An 1829 etching by David Octavious Hill showing the Miller and Flora in the Cottage kitchen

Goudie was also mentioned as an old man in the Dumfries Courier which said that, ‘when visiting Alloway you shouldlook in on Miller Goudie at the cottage who, though now an old man, and by no means a teetotaller, seems in better keeping condition than he was 30 years ago.’ The Miller died in 1842 and, for all Flora claimed to have married him out of spite, she was not the same after his death and died herself in 1843. At their funerals this poem is said to have been recited:

‘For forty years it was his lot
to share the poet’s humble cot
And, sometimes laughin’, sometimes sobbin’
Told his last interview wi’ Robin.
A quiet blithesome body
Without a foe was Miller Goudie.

And scarce twa simmers leaves were shed
When Flora by his side was laid
A landlady more kind and couthie
Ne’er set a stoup afore the drouthie.
To thousands upon thousands she
Brought smiling in, the barley bree,
With mingled awe and pride revealing
The neuk where Burns first graced her shieling
For fifty years cherish’d ither
And now in peace they rest thegither.’

The grave of Miller Goudie, his wife Flora and their infant son John at Kirk Alloway
The grave of Miller Goudie, his wife Flora and their infant son John at Kirk Alloway

The grave of the Miller and Flora can be found at Kirk Alloway ,where they are buried with a son who died in infancy. So next time you are at Burns Cottage remember not only Robert Burns, but also the lives of this eccentric and colourful couple who lived for so long in Burns’s house!