My grandmother recently gave me her mother’s recipe for brownie. Now this is brownie not as most of the world today knows brownie, (a chocolatey, decadent dense slab.) This is brownie that was born out of two world wars and one great depression. A time when making do and frugality skipped hand in hand and landed with a plop on your kitchen table top.
During this period, sugar was readily available, locally grown sultanas were in abundance and a simple slab of this would easily fill up hungry bellies. My grandmother in the 1960’s did the same thing with her children, reducing the sugar somewhat (it’s achingly sweet) and filling my dad’s childhood bottomless belly along with that of his siblings. I remember eating great squares of it when I would go and visit. The ting of the metallic cake tin as eager hands would cut just a little more.
Twenty plus years went by and speaking with Grandma she reminded me of it again. Asking whether I would like the recipe for the bottomless bellies of my own Monkeys. I sure did, but…. couldn’t promise I would adhere strictly to the recipe. (I have a proud “Hack Baker” reputation to uphold here!)
(original recipe without the mixed spice)
First go, and I did follow it to the letter, (well almost, I didn’t have any mixed spice, which sort of loses the ‘brown’ effect. Ooops.)
It’s tooth achingly sweet, but gets a thumbs up from Little Monkey and visiting friends tasting it. One friend said it’s exactly as her grandmother would have served up during the same era in the UK. I do like it, it’s very plain and simple, but I think I could probably fiddle with it and jazz it up just a little.
So I did.
Now I had set my self rules with this though. It still had to be frugal and simple, with minimal butter, and no egg at all. I did wonder to myself as I handed out another slab for The Monkeys to eat, what my Great Grandmother would have thought about this slightly jazzed up version of her trusty old recipe.
I like to think she’d have liked it.
Great Grandma’s Brownie
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup sultanas
1 tbls butter
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice and baking powder
Boil water, sugar, sultanas and butter together for approximately 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool, add remaining ingredients. Bake in a greased and lined tin at 180C for approximately 30 minutes.
My Old Fashioned Brownie
1 1/2 cups currants and raisins (or mixed fruit)
2 cups water
3/4- 1 cup brown sugar
zest of a whole orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
3 cups self raising flour (450g)
Add all ingredients together (except flour) in a pot and boil for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Add flour, fold through and pour into a greased and lined square tin.
Bake at 180C for approximately 40 minutes.