Orange Curd Kisses and 27 hours on an Arty Pilgrimage to Liverpool

Chris took the van to Manchester for a lads weekend last friday,  so I had a couple of homeless days by myself. I decided to get the train to Liverpool and go on an art gallery pilgrimage, something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. Liverpool was a big provincial supporter of the Pre Raphaelite art movement of the late 19th Century and has a number of wonderful paintings hanging in its galleries, which I was wanting to see.

I stayed overnight at the YHA, in a girls dorm, keeping the whole trip cheap and cheerful. I’d rather have the company of other people in a hostel when travelling by myself, better than sitting alone in a hotel room. The hostel was really friendly, close to the city centre and a short walk to the lovely Albert Docks. It made an excellent base for exploring on foot.

I visited the Walker Art Gallery and The Lady Lever Art Gallery over in Port Sunlight, on my Pre-Raphaelite quest. They were both wonderful and fascinating, the Lady Lever Gallery had a beautiful collection of paintings, tapestries and furniture. Paintings which I was particularly thrilled to see were William Holman Hunt’s May Morning on Magdalen Tower and The Scapegoat, John Everett Millais’s The Black Brunswicker, Edward Burn Jones’s The Beguilling of Merlin and the charming A Christmas Carol by Rossetti. There was also a delightful exhibition of work of Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale. Port Sunlight itself was really pretty, built by the Lever brothers to give the workers at their soap factory somewhere pleasant to live. The village is greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement, all the houses are different and it has a leafy idyllic feel.

The main painting I wanted to see was Dante’s Dream by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There is a smaller version hanging in the McManus Gallery in Dundee which I’m very familiar with, and adore, and I really wanted to see the larger original at the Walker Gallery; beautiful, it did not disappoint. I spent a good few hours happily wandering around this magnificent gallery. In addition to the permanent galleries there was an fabulously eclectic exhibition of Rolf Harris’s career so far, much of it made me want to go back to Australia!

The weather was pretty good, considering the rain we’ve been having, so I had a good wander around exploring. I found Mathew Street, home of the Cavern Club, a pole star for all Beatles fans. It was quiet, it was a sunny Saturday morning, there were a few tourists wandering about taking photographs and buying Fab Four souvenirs. I would have liked to see the street in an evening, with the hubbub of people out drinking, going to see live bands but alas I was due on the train to Birmingham at 4.30. With a couple of hours to kill I had a look round Tate Liverpool.

This was my first visit to Liverpool and I really liked it, it was easy to get around, well signposted and the people were friendly. I definitely will return and spend a bit more than 27 hours, it just wasn’t long enough.

I bought a little biscuit cutter in one of Liverpool’s many department stores while I was there. I’d been to a charming little vegetarian cafe for my dinner on the Friday evening and was wandering slowly back towards the river through the city centre. The store was in sale so I thought I’d go and see what was in the kitchen department. The little cutter was half price, a nice little useful souvenir.

I’m down near Birmingham now, staying at my brothers. The little biscuit cutter is the only piece of baking equipment I have with me, so I used it to make these orange curd kisses this afternoon, the persistent rain keeping me indoors.

oven 170 C /  gas 3

2 cookie sheets lined with parchment

  • 175 g plain flour
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 75 g golden caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 125 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges
  • orange curd, about half a jar {approx 10 teaspoons}

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and stir in the caster sugar. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the butter is well distributed and the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

Mix in the egg yolk and the orange zest and bring it together into a soft dough with your hands. Give it a little knead then wrap it in clingfilm, rest it in the fridge for 20 – 30 minutes.

Separate the dough into two balls, roll the dough to about 3 mm, I find this is easiest done using cling film, this prevents it tearing. Lay a long sheet of clingfilm onto the work surface and put your ball of dough towards the left, fold the cling film over, leaving plenty of room for the dough to spread as it is rolled. Roll directly onto the cling film to your desired thickness then carefully peel the top layer of cling off. Dust the work surface then turn your rolled out dough, still on the cling, onto it. Peel the rest of the cling off and now you’re ready to cut out your biscuits. This technique is particularly good if you are using a makeshift rolling-pin, as I was {it was a large bottle of Pimms!}

Lay your cut out cookies onto the baking sheets, leaving a couple of centimetres between each one. Now, take one of the baking sheets and cut a hole out of the middle of each of the biscuits on that sheet with a small cutter. This means that half the biscuits have a hole and half do not. I made do with a cocktail stick box for this as I had no other cutters.

Bake for 10-12 mins until they just start to colour. Remove from the oven and leave on the sheets for a minute or so to firm up. Keep your oven on. Take the cookies off the sheets and on to a wire cooling rack. Take a teaspoon of orange curd and put it into the centre of each of the whole cookies, spreading it out a little, but not to the edges. Sandwich a cookie with a hole onto the top and put back on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the biscuits. Pop them back into the oven for about 4 – 5 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack then lightly dust with icing sugar for a fancy finish.

6 Responses

  1. Liverpool sounds great! Makes me see how much there is to do in Britain. I think we could go back 10 times and still have so much left to see. I’d really love to the see the Cavern Club and all the other Beatles hangouts. We visisted some Beatles sites in London which was great too!

    • yes, it was my first visit and so much better than I thought it would be. There are loads of Beatles tours and sights. Britain is crammed with good stuff, it’s a case of finding what interests and doing it bit by bit! Luckily it’s all pretty close together and easy to get to. I need to do a post like this for Birmingham, I love it, no Beatles thought, how about some Black Sabbath instead?

  2. Beautiful pictures as always. I’ve been so close to Liverpool but have never made the trek. I’ll make it a point my next UK trip. You make it look wonderful!

  3. Christine says:

    Ah, Europe — I’ll never forget just how amazingly CLOSE TOGETHER everything is! Art pilgrimaging up to Liverpool, a bottle of Pim’s for a rolling pin, and orange curd biscuits on a rainy summer afternoon — girl, you’ve got THE LIFE. 😀