Tag Archives: pastry

Shropshire Mint Cakes

Well, this is my first post in what I hope will become a series of Shropshire recipes. ( I suppose Fidget Pie was the first, but hey…).  Over the summer I found three books on Amazon,

and I found another today, which is winging its way through the British postal system as we speak.  I want to share some of these recipes with you to celebrate the traditional recipes of my lovely county.

The reason I found this fourth book is because I found the recipe for these mint cakes in the red and white book by Mary de Saulles, unfortunately the list of ingredients omits the sugar. So I found myself searching for the original recipe to find out how much sugar I should be using and I think it is in this book and I found the recipe online.

Whilst searching for this though, I found that a recipe for Shropshire Mint Cakes was published in an Australian newspaper on 24th April 1935.  How fantastic is that?  A Shropshire lass in search of a local recipe is assisted by a newspaper article published on the other side of the world 76 years ago.  The internet is a marvellous tool.

I couldn’t use this recipe either though because this one doesn’t seem to specify the amount of butter that you use.  The search has also revealed that like all recipes these little cakes can be adapted, one recipe uses currants but suggests that you could also use dried figs and the other recipe suggests the use of both currant and mixed peel. One recipe suggests that you make them by spreading the mixture over a square of pastry and topping with another square, cook, then slice into squares.  The other suggests that you make individual cakes.  I thought the latter would make for a neater cake, especially if my lack of dexterity became involved.

The Shropshire Mint Cake is a bit like the Eccles Cake, but with the addition of fresh mint.  You can really taste the mint and at first you think that these might be an acquired taste, but I can assure you that they soon become just that.  I had acquired a taste well before I was eating the fourth one in a row, warm from the oven (my well-known lack of willpower again!).

I urge you to give them a try.

For the pastry:

200g plain flour
100g butter, diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
enough cold water to mix

For the filling:
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
80g caster sugar
80g currants
50g softened butter
1 egg to glaze

Method

First of all place the chopped mint into a bowl and add 40g of the caster sugar and mix well. Leave to sit for at least an hour until the mint juices start to run.

Make the pastry by placing the flour and the diced butter in a bowl and rubbing the butter into the flour using the tips of your fingers, lifting your hands up high over the bowl to incorporate air. (I would use my food processor, but it broke and is at my Dad’s as he valiantly tries to repair it for me – thank goodness for Dads). When it looks like fine breadcrumbs, stir in the tablespoon of sugar and add enough water to make a smooth dough. Flatten the dough slightly into a disc and  wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for thirty minutes.

Place the currants, mint mixture, remaining sugar and the butter into a bowl and using a fork combine well.

Roll the pastry quite thinly and cut out discs using a scone/cookie cutter.  Place half of these discs onto two baking sheets. Then place teaspoonfuls of the currant mixture in the middle of the discs. I used a scone cutter that measures 6 cm and this made 24 little cakes.

Beat the egg with a fork and then brush a little of the egg all around the edge of the discs of pastry and place another disc on top, sealing well around the edge by pressing with your finger.  Brush the egg all over the tops and then place the baking trays in a preheated oven at 200°c, gas mark 6 or the middle/bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove carefully onto a wire rack and leave to cool a little before you sample your first one.

 

 

 

 

Apple pie in the Aga

A lady called Una contacted me to ask how to cook an apple pie in the Aga as she could not find a recipe online. Well I do love apple pie, it definitely ranks up there as yet one more of my favourites ( well I like my food, so there are a lot of favourites).  So as soon as I was given some apples by a friend I made this and have now finally got around to blogging about it so hopefully rectifying Una’s dilemma.

Apple pies, in my opinion, need a shortcrust pastry and a good cooking apple – preferably a Bramley.  Now I like my apple pie to be on the tart side of things so I am more sparing with the sugar, if you prefer yours a little sweeter then add another 25g (1 oz) of sugar.  You can make shortcrust with all butter, but I do like it with half butter/ half shortening or lard.  Make sure both are straight from the fridge and that your hands are cool, as warm pastry is not a good thing.

50g (2oz) vegetable shortening or lard
50g (2oz) butter
225g (8oz) plain flour
203 tbsp of cold water

2-3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
50-75g (2-3oz) granulated sugar

Method

If you are using a food processor then tip the flour into the bowl of the processor, add the diced butter and shortening/lard and pulse for a few seconds until the fat is incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add 2 tbsp of water and pulse again (you may need a little extra water or not quite that much) until the mixture starts to come together.  Try not to over process, you need to stop as soon as it starts to come together. Remove the blade and form the mixture into two flattened discs. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

If you aren’t using a food processor then make sure your hands are cool by running cold water over them.  Then place the flour and the diced fat into a bowl and using the tips of your fingers rub the fat into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add the water and then mix using a pallet knife at first and then your hands until it is a smooth dough.  Try to handle it as little as possible.  Divide into two flattened discs and cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

You will need a pie dish or plate. Mine is 20cm in diameter and 3cm deep.

Remove the pastry from the clingfilm and lightly flour the worktop and your rolling-pin. Roll the first disc of pastry until it is big enough to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish. Press it carefully into the dish.  Place your chopped apples into the dish and sprinkle with the sugar.  Roll the second disc until it is large enough to cover the dish. Brush a little milk around the edges of the pastry and place the lid of pastry on top and crimp around the edge to form a seal with two fingers.  Cut off any excess pastry. You can brush the top with milk too.

Place the pie on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden. In a conventional cooker, place in a preheated oven at 220°c for about the same amount of time. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying warm with lashings of cold double cream or custard. My mouth is watering at the very thought.

Eccles cakes

My parents have an old friend who makes the most wonderful Eccles cakes.  Since I was little I have looked forward to the appearance of Joan’s old Roses tin with a batch of the most sublime cakes inside.  Her pastry is wonderful, so delicate, and that combined with the crunchy caramelised sugar topping and the sweet spicy bite of the currants and you are transported to cake heaven.

As a result of Joan’s marvellous cakes I have always been a bit put off from trying to make my own Eccles cakes in fear that they wouldn’t even come close to comparing to hers with her years of experience and pastry skills.

This weekend though I thought I would jump in at the deep-end and give it a go.  The girls were asking to make mince pies and the mincemeat from Christmas has all been used up.  I thought these may be an acceptable alternative.

I am really pleased with how they turned out and to my surprise they were nearly as good as Joan’s.  My youngest daughter, at three, surprised me with her pastry folding skills, some that she made were better than mine. It was a lovely way to spend an early Sunday morning.

I used Delia’s filling recipe as a basis for mine, but this did provide a little too much filling for the amount of pastry I had.  This isn’t too much of a problem though as I have just put the leftover filling in the fridge and I will make some more cakes with it, hopefully later today if I get a chance.  I have fetched it out of the fridge in anticipation.

Delia and Rachel Allen both use mixed peel, so you could substitute 50g (2oz) of the currants with mixed peel if you wanted to, but as I was trying to recreate Joan’s wonderful cakes and I have never discerned mixed peel in her filling I kept to a currants only filling.

500g (1lb 2oz) ready-made all-butter puff pastry (fully defrosted if frozen)

For the filling;

75g (3oz) butter
150g (5oz) soft brown sugar
200g (7oz) currants
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
grated rind of 1 orange (or of 2 clementines)

For the glaze:

2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

To make the filling, melt the butter and add all the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Leave to one side.

Roll the pastry to about 3 mm think and using a round cutter (mine is 8cm) cut out circles, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

Place a teaspoonful of filling on to each circle. Using a pastry brush, brush a little water all around the edge and fold one edge over to the other and seal well.  It should look like a little Cornish pasty at this stage.  Turn it over so that the seal is underneath and roll carefully with the rolling-pin to flatten it into a round.  Place on a baking sheet.  Repeat with all the other circles. Make three slashes in the top of each with a sharp knife and brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake in a preheated oven at 220°c (gas mark 7, roasting oven of the Aga) for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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