Teacakes are not something I never even knew existed before I moved over here to the UK. I had never heard of them before. There used to be a bakeshop on North Gate street in Chester where you could get thick slabs of toast, and toasted teacakes, slathered in butter along with a hot drink. I was so disappointed when we moved back here and found out it had closed down.
Teacakes are not cakes. They are puffy fruited and lightly spiced sweet yeasted buns . . . you split them in half through the middle and then pop them under a grill, so that they get toasted on the cut side only . . . and then you spread them with oodles of cold butter . . . at least in most of England at any rate. In East Lancashire a teacake is a round bread roll which is cut in half to make sandwiches. They do not contain any sort of dried fruit. They can be made with either white, brown, wholemeal or granary flour. I've never had one of those . . .
I like the fruited ones. Oh my . . . they speak to my soul . . .
The outsides stay all soft and puffy . . . the cut edges get all crisp and golden . . . stogged full of lovely mixed raisins, sultanas and currants . . . and then slathered in butter . . . all that golden richness melting down into all the crags and crust of that toasted surface . . .
Nothing is more satisfying . . . or comforting . . . for elevenses . . . for tea . . . for an impromptu evening snack.
You can toast them under the grill . . . but a purist lucky enough to have an open fire might like to toast them over the fire using a long fork . . . I can only imagine how lovely they would be done that way.
I am not usually that good at yeast breads, but I am getting better each time I try. Today I made these scrummy (tired of that word yet?) teacakes that we toasted for our mid afternoon tea break. They were luverly . . . just luverly.
Come on . . . just a little nibble . . . I promise you, you'll be totally smitten . . . totally . . . mmmmm . . . mmmmm . . . . mmmmm!!
Satisfying and deliciously comforting any time of day, but especially nice in the late afternoon or evening.
225g strong white bread flour (generous 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
15g soft light brown sugar (generous TBS)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g mixed dried vine fruits (raisins, currants, sultanas) ( 1/2 cup)
40g butter, melted (2 3/4 TBS)
120ml full fat milk, plus extra for brushing (generous 1/2 cup)
Cold butter to serve
Sift the flour, salt, yeast, sugar and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir in the dried fruits and make a well in the centre. Put the milk and butter into a saucepan and heat just until warm to the touch. Pour into the flour mixture and work together to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball and place into a lightly buttered bowl. cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into 8 portions of equal size. Shape each portion into a ball. Flatten slightly and arrange on a large nonstick baking sheet. Cover lightly with a large tea towel and leave to rise again until double in size, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Brush the tops with some milk. Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To serve, split in half and toaste under a heated grill on the cut sides. (Leave the other side as normal) Spread generously with butter and serve immediately. (If you are really keen you can toast them using an old fashioned toasting fork over an open fire!)