Cake-Of-The-Month: Cornish Cream

Buttered Crumbs has just returned from a well earned holiday in Cornwall, land of clotted cream. Somehow we never got round to having a proper cream tea (though I recall a fair amount of clotted cream ice-cream), so we had a slap up Cornish style afternoon tea today, with scones, Cornish fairings and a beautiful clotted cream cake. Using clotted cream instead of butter and the seeds from a vanilla pod, it tastes just like ice cream in cake form, what’s not to love? Serve with more cream and some strawberries (quartered, sprinkled with a little sugar and left for half an hour to develop some syrupy juice) for an extra special treat.

clotcream cakeClotted Cream Cake (from a recipe in The Great British Book of Bakes)

  • 2 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • a vanilla pod
  • pinch of salt
  • a tub of clotted cream (around 225g usually)
  • 200g self raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 170°c/150 fan. Grease and line a loose bottomed/springform cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and mousse like. Stir the cream until it becomes runny. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and add them to the eggs.

Add the cream and salt to the eggs and whisk until only just combined.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon until just combined. Transfer the mixture to the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. If the top gets brown before the cake is cooked, cover with a sheet of baking paper (not foil). Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Novel Gothic

Today dear Crumbies, we celebrate Goth day. Not the East Germanic peoples who enjoyed beating up Romans and who had largely disappeared by the middle ages, nor the decorative style of architecture originating in 12th century France. Yes indeed the goth subculture, a post punk offshoot starting in the late 70’s, characterized by wearing black, dying your hair black, being pale, and listening to The Sisters Of Mercy (do they still do that?) Heavily influenced by the aforesaid Gothic architecture as well as Gothic novels (think Frankenstein, Dracula etc), horror films and Pre-Raphaelite art.

I was something of a goth during my teens and contrary to popular belief it’s not about being miserable but about dressing up and having fun. We did all the things normal teenagers did: going up town, going to see bands, watching scary films and so on, only we did those things while dressed in black and wearing a lot of makeup. And we felt the interest in art and literature made us intellectual.

But what to eat to celebrate goth day? Is there any Gothic food as such? Well, not really unless you want to go down the cheesy recycled Halloween route.We ate normal food like every one else, a few may profess a liking for very rare steak but there was also a large percentage of vegetarians among us. However there was a drink. A drink imbibed by those in goth clubs but scorned by normals as girly and Gothic, I refer of course to (drumroll) cider and black, ordinary cider with a shot of blackcurrant cordial. I never drank it myself as it sounded a bit sickly. But cake should be sweet and sticky so I present you with:

Cider and Black cake

  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 6oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4floz blackcurrant cordial
  • 7oz plain flour
  • 1oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 tbsp blackcurrant jam
  • purple food colouring (optional)
  • you will also need some cider, still if you can get it, more butter and jam and icing sugar, read through the recipe to check the quantities.

Pre heat the oven to 180°c. Grease and line two sandwich cake tins.

Beat the sugar and butter till fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the blackcurrant cordial and jam.

Sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the mixture. If you want to, add some purple food colouring. I used a natural colouring which didn’t really work very well. Divide between the cake tins.Bake for around 20 mins or until a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooking make a syrup by dissolving 3 tbsp sugar in 3tbsp of cider and boiling until it becomes a thin syrup. Cool the cakes in the tin for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack. Poke the cakes allover with a skewer and brush generously with the syrup. Leave to cool completely.

Make some buttercream with 4oz of butter and 8 oz sifted icing sugar and a couple of tablespoons of cider. Heat 3tbsp of blackcurrant jam with 2 tbsp of cider till runny. Leave to cool. Divide the buttercream between the top and middle of the cake and drizzle the blackcurrant glaze on top.

World Baking Day

Just think of the possibilities! If you’re having trouble thinking of the possibilities there is a handy list of cakes and baked goods from around the world on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cakes

Mouth watering, isn’t it? I particularly fancy the Romanian Aranygaluska, a dumpling like yeasty dough with raisins and custard and the German Beinenstich made with honey and caramelized almonds, mmmm.

But how to choose? Well, I love cake, gooey stuff and funny words (which doesn’t narrow it down all that much) so I’m going with the Tres Leches cake from Mexico, which has cream, evaporated and condensed milk – gooeyness galore! But it makes me think of a group of dirty old men (less appealing) because in  English a lech(e) an abbreviation of lecher is exactly that.

Results: It’s um…squishy? A bit like soggy bread only sweet. The sauce is lovely, being a mixture of condensed milk, evaporated milk and double cream, but the cake itself wasn’t for me. Next please!

A Brief History of Tea Time

It is generally accepted that the custom of afternoon tea began with Anna Maria 7th Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857). Dinner was being served at the ludicrous but fashionably late time of eight or nine in the evening, which is a long time since lunch.I expect that many posh ladies were sneaking down to the pantry before Anna Maria took the bold stand of saying ” But I’m hungry NOW!!!!!”

Starting with a modest repast of a cup of tea and some bread and butter, this daring social reformer soon progressed to cake and pastries. Celebrity culture being much the same as it is now, soon all fashionable ladies were “taking tea” in the afternoons. It didn’t take long for the custom to filter down the social ladder until it was so popular that tea shops and tea rooms began to open for the benefit of the general public!

In the line of research I came across an article that argued very convincingly that in fact the Duchess was just adding to the popularity of a custom that was already in place. Probably true, but it gave the same feeling you get as a child when you find out that Father Christmas / fairies / whatever, don’t exist.

Doughnuts!

May 9th is the start of doughnut week, though I was surprised to find out the event is in aid of the Children’s Trust for children with brain injury and not just a celebration of one of mankind’s crowning achievements.

http://www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/page.asp?section=428%C2%A7ionTitle=National+Doughnut+Week  Buy doughnuts or host a doughnut party to help a worthy cause.

Doughnuts did not originate in any one place, most countries will have had a variation on the fried cake, be it specially made or to use up leftover dough. Dutch immigrants introduced the “olykoek” literally “oily cake” to America (though to be fair the Native Americans had their own version) where it became as popular as  something fried and coated in sugar deserves to be. The centre tended to be stuffed with fruit or nuts to prevent it being gooey and uncooked (something my local co-op still haven’t got the hang of), the ring doughnut is credited to one Hansen Gregory, a ships captain circa 1847 and the first automatic doughnut machine was invented in 1920 by Russian born Adolph Levitt. Doughnut giants Krispy Kreme donated a Ring King Jr ( once the most advanced machine) to the Smithsonian Institute on their 60th birthday.

The best doughnuts I have ever eaten were simple sugared ring doughnuts on the Greek island of Corfu, huge, plump, very fresh with the perfect doughy taste. The second best were from a bakery in Oxford during the 90’s, filled with cherry pie filling and thick custard. Now I’m drooling and will have to go out and buy doughnuts…

 

Jeremy Who?

May 10th heralds the start of Sandwich Week.

” The open air movement, and the tendency of modern folk to get away from home at the weekend with the motorcar or bicycle, has probably accounted for the popularity of sandwich fayre of recent times, and many innovations have been made.”

Mrs Stanley Wrench M.C.A 1935

The ‘ Complete Illustrated Cookery Book’ by the aforementioned Mrs Wrench (first name Mollie) had a whole chapter dedicated to the art of making sandwiches. Most of us know the story of the Earl of Sandwich, who wanted his meat to be placed between two slices of bread so he could eat without interrupting his card game (or office work, depending on which historian you believe). Imagine my delight as a lover of silly names, when she stated that his name was Jeremy Twitcher. Brilliant! What a ridiculous name for an Earl! But then I remembered a scene from Blackadder The Third where he asks for a “couple of rounds of Geralds”. So what was he called, Jeremy or Gerald? Actually neither! John Montagu 4th Earl of Sandwich is credited with the invention of the sandwich.

Jeremy Twitcher is a character in the Beggar’s Opera written in 1728 by John Gay. Apparently Lord Sandwich was given the nickname when he joined the KitKat club in 1765 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kit-Kat_Club) Oh well! Though according to Mrs Wrench sandwiches were called Jeremy Twitchers for a while.

Old cookbooks are a fascinating glimpse of life in the past, and it’s fun to laugh at the gross things people used to eat (minced udders anyone?) In the 50′s everything seems to have been jellied in aspic, or garnished so heavily you couldn’t see the food. One dish containing what were basically burgers, was “garnished” with sausages!

What I like best about them is that pudding and cakes were considered a vital part of the diet, especially for growing children.

The 1935 cookbook I mentioned is unusual in that it has recipe sections for expectant mothers and feeding babies and children. I wonder what the Anti-Packed-Lunch Brigade (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15123065) would think of her sandwich suggestions for children: Chocolate and banana, raisins and cream etc, and the command to “not stint the butter”. I suppose they do contain fruit!

Other sections give instructions on what to feed during various childhood illnesses and tips for slimming – all you were allowed for afternoon tea was a cup of black tea and a dry biscuit.

A favourite quote:

” Since sugar forms an important part of our dietary, homemade sweets and candies are not the unnecessary luxury which many appear to think”

I always said that sugar was good for you!

First posted on Guide to Afternoon Tea Oct 11, 2011