Baking during the summer is a rare event and as the autumn approaches and the weather starts to change, I begin to look forward to being able to produce that first loaf of bread, the first batch of scones, fairy cakes, tray bakes and biscuits. I also get to wear my baking ‘uniform’ which is adorned with the accolades from Mud and the Mudlets – as you can see, they know what side their bread is buttered on.
The howling wind and driving rain, together with Mud having to get up at stupid ‘o’clock to go down to Head Office, oh and let’s not forget Muds’ old phone which managed to switch itself back on and sounded its’ irritating alarm ring tone at precisely the same moment that the new phone did, all conspired to make sure that it wasn’t only Mud who was wide awake before the birds. Then try as I might I couldn’t get back to sleep for worrying about Mud driving in what were appalling conditions and so I was feeling some what jaded this morning..
The wind and rain also prevented any form of gardening and the laundry was back to waiting for space to appear on the over stove rack. So I decided that today would be a bread making day and that I’d make the Mudlets a treat for their tea and so at 10am I began the process of making Yorkshire Tea cakes.
I love making the tea cakes, as the mixture makes a nice dough which kneads really easily and produces a lovely, fluffy texture once cooked. This is the recipe I have used for around 20 years or so and which never fails:
- 1lb/450g Strong white flour,
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 oz caster sugar
- 7g of dried yeast (I use the fast action which doesn’t need to be activated with milk or water and can be added directly to the dry ingredients)
- 1 oz butter or margarine (the recipe actually calls for lard but I prefer to use butter or margarine and it doesn’t seem to affect the finished product at all)
- 1/2 pint/300ml hand-hot milk and water mix (I tend to do a 50/50 mix of the two)
- 2 oz currants or sultanas
- Milk to brush the tops with
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, stir in the sugar and rub in the fat (which ever type you’ve decided to use).
- Sprinkle on the dried yeast, stir in and then add the milk and water.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients thoroughly and then tip onto a floured side.
- At this point the dough will look quite rough.
- Knead the dough for a full 10 minutes until it looks smooth and feels softer. Another test to see if the dough is ready is to gently press a finger into the top to make an indent (being careful not to break the outer layer) and if it springs back quickly, then the dough is ready for proving.
NB: It is important to ensure that you knead for the full 10 minutes (or longer if necessary), as skimping at this stage will affect the end result and you will end up with a much heavier teacake. You can see from the montage that even at 5 minutes, although the dough was looking much smoother, it was still very, very sticky.
- Apply a light coat of oil to the inside of a large, clean bowl (this will prevent the dough sticking during the proving) and then gently place your kneaded dough into the bottom of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a piece of cling film to prevent it drying out and put the bowl in a warm place out of draughts and leave to double in size which should take about 1 hour.
- Once proved, tip the dough onto a clean work top and knock back until the dough feels firm again. It won’t take long. “Knock back” means exactly what it says – punch the dough!
- Now work the currants/sultanas into the dough (not as easy as it sounds because a bit of the fruit will be determined to escape).
- Divide the dough into up to 12 sections, depending on how big you want your teacakes. I find 10 – 12 gives a good size bun without being either too big or too small.
- Shape the sections into rounds, place onto a lightly floured baking tray and brush with a little milk.
- Cover with clingfilm and leave for another 40 minutes before baking in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200C/425F/Gas 7 (but do remember to remove the clingfilm first please)
Don’t worry if the film appears to have stuck to the tops a little, as a gentle tug will release the film and the teacakes will be fine.
The teacakes are ready once the tops area a lovely golden brown colour and a hollow sound is heard if the bottom of them is gently tapped. Allow to cool on a wire rack and then enjoy. The Mudlets love these as is but I prefer to butter mine when slightly warm. Alternatively you could use a basic white icing to make them into sticky buns.