Bread and Better

Bread and Better

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Currant Tea Cakes and Spelt Bread

My mum recently bought me 'Good Things in England', a re print of an old fashioned cook book by Florence White containing a wide collection of recipes that were written between 1399 and 1932. It's such a fascinating book, especially if you are interested in how we used to cook and eat. Most of the older recipes contained ingredients I had never even heard of or had any desire to cook with (Calf's Head Soup, no thank you).
    Being obsessed with bread I jumped right to that chapter, and having been craving toasted tea cakes for a while, I decided to go with Currant Tea Cakes.
  I have to say, even though the ingredients were in pounds and ounces, the recipe wasn't that different from ones produced today. To make the tea cakes I used 1lb of flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 oz butter (the recipe suggested lard but I used butter as I don't eat meat), 1/2 pint milk, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons of yeast (I just used a 7g sachet). I rubbed the flour, butter and salt together and then added the milk yeast and sugar. I mixed in about 100g of currants, kneaded and then left to rise for about an hour. I then shaped into eight tea cakes, left to rise for another fifteen minutes and the baked in a medium oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes. The book suggested that, when they had come out of the oven, you should rub them with butter and place under a tea towel to keep them soft. I found this really worked and my tea cakes stayed soft for a few days in the bread bin.

I am obsessed with spelt flour, and use it in most of my baking. It's an ancient cousin of wheat and I tend to use it a lot because some people find it easier to digest than its relative. To go with a dinner of homemade pasta I made some toasted bread (yes carb overload) by cutting my spelt loaf into slices the topping with a little olive oil, sea salt and rosemary and then toasting under the grill. I find that this is a really tasty way to use up any left over bread you might have. It was lovely dipped into the pasta sauce.

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