March 2014

March 2014

Monday, October 21, 2013

Apple, cinnamon and sultana scone loaf

Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea has been a British institution since Anna Maria, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, asked her footman to bring her a pot of tea and light refreshment one afternoon in 1840. The ritual caught on and afternoon tea became the corner stone of high society dining. These days taking tea as a light afternoon meal has become much more accessible, but has not lost a crumb of its charm.

A full Afternoon tea is commonly composed of sandwiches – usually cut delicately into ‘fingers’ – scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes. Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century.

Today, luxury country hotels and traditional tea rooms will provide welcoming surroundings for this decadent treat which really is a special experience to take your time over, an occasional indulgence and a treat to be had on special occasions.

However, at home, what is nicer than a scaled-down afternoon tea – simply a cup of tea and a scone or slice of cake? In the following recipe you have the best of both worlds. It’s an Apple, cinnamon and sultana scone loaf. Serve sliced when warm and butter generously.

100g wholemeal self-raising flour
125g white self-raising flour
75g butter
40g golden caster sugar
100g sultanas
50g grated apple
4 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
1 large egg
4-5tbs milk

Also, for the topping  - 1 tbsp milk, ½ apple sliced, a little demerara sugar for dusting and a little ground cinnamon for dusting.

Preheat oven to 200C, 400F, gas mark 6. Grease and dust with flour a 2lb loaf tin.

In a large bowl, place flours and salt. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add caster sugar, sultanas, apple and cinnamon. Stir until everything is well mixed. In a jug whisk the egg with the milk and then pour into dry ingredients.  Mix well before turning out to lightly knead together. Roll into large sausage shape and place in tin.

Brush with milk and decorate with a little sliced apple down the length of the loaf. Dust with demerara sugar and finish with a generous sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

Bake for 30-35 mins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Latest cake with fondant icing - in pictures!

Ready to roll!

Preparing blossom decorations
Ready for detail
Sparkle added
Ready for transport

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The mysterious Marlborough bun.

Marlborough bun
When we moved to Higham Ferrers in 2010 it was more luck than judgement that we found it had a huge Waitrose store not more than ½ a mile away. Since then, needless to say, we have visited on many an occasion and have taken to partaking of a free coffee (a Waitrose cardholder scheme) and sometimes – when we are feeling the need – accompanying it with a rather tasty Marlborough bun. 

Kneading fruits into sweet dough
Sweet bun dough, enriched with good things like milk, butter, fruit and sugar, has for centuries been made at celebratory times but buns, as a whole, I believe are diminishing in favour and more refined treats like cupcakes and muffins appear now to be more popular. What a pity – I think there should be a Great British Bun Revival

I have always thought that traditional English buns - like the Chelsea, Bath, or Hot cross - are second to none and now, thanks to Waitrose, the ‘Marlborough’ has joined their ranks  but can I find it elsewhere or, better still, can I make it myself?

Second rise before baking
Now, where to find a recipe? I have scoured the internet and, although the Marlborough bun does get a mention now and again, I can’t for the life of me find too much on the subject. Even books by baking high priests Dan Lepard and Paul Hollywood also drew a blank and so a little experimentation was called for and I have started with a recipe found on the BBC food website for ‘Dried fruit and almond buns’. 

Hot buns
The buns turned out to be just about acceptable but were nothing like the mysterious Marlborough and so I must now tinker with the recipe, visit Waitrose when the need arises, and my research will undoubtedly continue.  Watch this space!