I can remember my good friend Jacquie telling me, before I ever came over here to England, that they had the loveliest bake shops and cakes over here, and indeed, she was right! My first trip over I was only here for three weeks, but I was amazed at all the baked goodies on offer.
One of the first places Todd took me was to a little bakeshop in Chester for toast in the mornings. I was staying in a room at a boarding house run by a lady from our church, and she was letting me stay there for free, so I didn't want to bother her for breakfast or anything like that in the mornings, so Todd would show up every morning about 9 to pick me up and we would hike into downtown Chester and have a hot chocolate and some toast at one of the small bake shops next to the Chester city walls.
Why does toast always taste so good when someone else makes it for you? Just the smell is enough to bring you running. But, I digress . . . bakeshops . . .
After I moved to England and was living here full time. I used to take myself off several mornings a week to the lovely market they have in downtown Chester . There were tons of stalls there, all full of lovely things to buy. You could get fresh meats and fish, beautiful vegetables, toiletries, candies, cards . . . you name it, they had it.
At the cheese man's stall I used to buy bags of cheese crumbs, two for 99 pence and bring them home to make lovely macaroni cheese, cauliflower cheese and cheese on toast. From the bake stall I would bring home delicious viennese short cakes and lovely apple crumble bars, not to mention some lovely sweet buns that were filled with thick custard and cream, all dusted with icing sugar on top.
Britain has lots of lovely sweets, cakes and puddings to enjoy. There seems to be no end to the variety. There are delicious delicacies such as Eccles Cakes and Treacle Tart, and lets not forget Battenburg Cakes and the ever lovely Victoria sponge. Mr Kipling puts out a lovely bunch of store bought varieties of all the British favourites, but let me tell you, nothing can come close to lovely tea time treats you make on your own from scratch at home . . .
I adapted this recipe from a small booklet I picked up at the grocery store one time. Be-Ro Flour Home Recipes, 40th Edition. They are really delicious. There's only one left and it's got my name on it! Cakes are good for breakfast, right? This one has fruit in it! (ok . . . so it's jam . . . )
Not only are these a real treat for the eyes, but they are delicious as well. They look complicated but they really are very easy to put together.
175g (6 oz) of prepared shortcrust pastry (make your own or use ready made)
2 ½ ounces of butter
2 ½ ounces of caster sugar
3 ounces ground almonds
1 medium egg, beaten
Few drops of almond essence
Butter cream icing
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Roll out the pastry thinly and cut into rounds, using a 3 inch fluted pastry cutter. Use this to line 18 patty tins.
Cream the butter together with the sugar until fluffy and well incorporated. Stir in the ground almonds, beaten egg and the almond essence. Mix well.
Place a small spoonful of the almond mixture into each pastry case. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until set and nicely browned.
Remove from the oven to a rack to cool. Once they are thoroughly cooled, carefully remove the almond filling with a knife. Fill the pasty cases with the jam and pipe a bit of butter cream on top of each. Replace the almond filling on top, dust with icing sugar, and serve.