Thursday, 20 March 2014

Banbury Cakes

Banbury cakes hit just the spot as a tea time snack on a spring day.

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When the sun is warm, but the wind cool and there is still a gentle nip in the air nothing, beats a cup of tea and a freshly baked cake. Don't you think?

I had never heard of a Banbury cake. But over a breakfast coffee, flicking through Mary's old book and thinking about what I'd share with you, I came across this recipe. 

Banbury cakes are something between an Eccles cake and a shortbread. If you don’t know what Eccles cakes are, they are a kind of scone, made out of flaky pastry, stuffed full of currents and named after the English town of Eccles. Banbury cakes are named after the English town of Banbury, made out of a kind of soft shortbread and also packed full of currents. Both cakes are melt in the mouth delicious.

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This recipe comes from the oldest of the two book’s. At first glance it looked easy, (nothing could go wrong), and, true to the book's word, they were fool proof (a perfect first bake).  It’s found on page 70 and looks a little something like this.

Half 1b. flour, 6 oz. butter, 2 oz. powdered sugar, and a dessert spoonful for rolling pin, 2 oz. currents. White of one egg. Roll the sugar very fine and melt the butter, before you add it to the flour add the white of egg, and mix into a stiff paste. Roll this out thin on buttered paper, sprinkling powdered sugar over it to prevent it sticking to the roller. The currents should be mixed in the flour, cut in rounds and bake in slow oven”


220g plain flour
170g butter
50g icing sugar (plus extra for rolling)
50g currents
One egg white

First up, pre heat your oven to 150 degrees (back in the day I imagine they wouldn't have had to think about this, the oven would have been lit early in the morning and kept going through the day)

Add your flour and currents to a large bowl.

Now separate your egg white and place into a cup and put to one side. 

Melt your butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Carefully add in the egg white and icing sugar, keeping the heat very low. Stir and stir until a thick glue like goo has been formed.

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Pour the goo into your flour and currents; stir. At first it will appear runny, but as the mixture cools down it will slowly stiffen up to form wet soggy dough.
Sprinkle icing sugar on a clean large surface and all over your rolling pin.

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Roll the dough out to around 1 cm thick (the eventual size of your Banbury cake). Cut out as many round circles as you can (I managed 12).

Place the little cakes on a sheet of grease proof paper and pop in the oven to bake for 25-30 mins at 150 degrees.

Once done... 

There's one thing left to do....

Pile 'em high and serve warm.

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