Simply the best ...
This month we are going to offer you 2 of the simplest and most tasty of sweet treats.
Both of which are often on our glass cake stands of mini homemade cakes. Be they for a christening or afternoon tea or even for a funeral reception.
But, despite always being devoured and everyone asking for the recipes – we hardly bare to share as they are incredibly straight forward.
But, is that not often the case? The simpler the better?
The first is for that ubiquitous favourite of every 1970s tea table- ROCK CAKES.
We can prepare the poshest of little cakes for our occasions, and yet it is often the good old fashioned rock cake (albeit made bite size so smaller than usual) that are often the first to go. At the risk of being very un pc indeed – they also go down a treat ‘usual size’ with our business lunches – especially if there are men present! Sorry – but it is true!
Pre heat your oven to 180' Fan/375F/Gas 5
Using your fingertips rub together ‘half everything to flour’ ie 200g self raising flour with 100g margarine and 100g Demerara sugar. Then add about 100g of dried mixed fruit and a teaspoon of mixed spice and a pinch of salt.
Now using a fork, combine the dried ingredients with one large beaten egg. It may look quite dry but do not be tempted to add more eggs otherwise you will have rock flats rather than rock cakes!
Using a spoon and fork or your hands dusted in flour, divide the dough into about 12 rocky lumps (don’t be precious about smoothing them into rounds) and place on a greased baking tray. Bake for about 12 minutes at 190’c/375F/Gas 5.
Serve slightly warm straight from the oven or if you can bear the wait – cool on a rack, but best eaten on the same day. You can also make 24 smaller ones instead of 12, and we call them ‘PEBBLE CAKES’ – just cook for them for less time.
The next best recipe is for DATE SLICES.
Once again, preheat your oven ! an evenly hot oven is key to getting an accurate bake
Start by soaking about 250g of dried stoneless dates in boiling water.
Now, using your fingertips rub together equal 250g quantities of each; plain white flour, unsalted butter, demerara sugar, porridge oats and a good pinch of salt. It does not have to be too fine and don’t worry too much about any lumps, this will add some texture and crunch.
Press half the crumble mixture into a baking paper lined baking tray. we use a 20x30 tin.
Now, drain the dates and squash them up a little, like a think paste with some chunks and smooth elements. Press them into the crumble base being careful not to break the crumble base and leaving a 1cm edge around the tin free from any date mix.
Once you have a nice even layer, then tip the rest of the crumble on top, sandwiching the dates. Press the top layer of crumble down but not as solid as the base, a few peaks will also add some crunch and a nice artisan look to the bake.
Bake at 160’C/300F/Gas 4 for about 40 minutes.
The tray bake will be done when there is a nice golden brown tips to the entire bake with a small give in the top like a sponge. Be careful of any of the date mixture, this will be piping hot!!
Cool on a wire rack. Tip out the tray bake and cut them into squares, as big or as little as you like.
We like to serve ours ‘bite size’ for afternoon teas or bigger rectangles for coffee mornings.
They are also really good served warm with ice cream as a dessert. You could also substitute the dates for apricots or any dried fruits. The crumble mix itself is also great on top of apples, rhubarb or plums with a tad more sprinkling of Demerara on top to brown it up and add a crunch.
Sue and Tom