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
50g softened butter
1 egg to glaze
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.