Wednesday, 26th December 2018 – Recipes (Streusel Cake, Deluxe Mince Pies, Ground Rice Tarts)
These are things that are baked in this house but once a year. I’m not the world’s best baker, largely because of my tendency to wander off-piste from recipes, which tends not to work well for baking that requires precision. However, I’ve been baking all of these for many years and thus I have now finally got all of them to work in the way I might hope rather than it being wildly hit–and-miss as to whether we get lovely soft streusel cake with a firm base or something that’s fine on the outside but claggy and dense and – to be brutally frank under cooked – in the middle. The first of the recipes is the one that has given me the most trouble over the decades, probably because it’s taken from the German cookbook which my Oma (my paternal grandmother) used to use, and it’s somewhat less than precise about a number of things including the oven temperature required (22 minutes at a good heat whatever that means!), and then my Dad used to also use it to his great frustration on a number of occasions. It used to be known as Breakfast Cake in our house, because it would come out along with the Stollen for breakfast on Christmas Day and each day thereafter until there was none left. It’s popular with me for reasons of nostalgia as well as for its taste, because done right it has an almost scone-like base and a crumbly, vanilla and cinnamon topping that I love, especially dredged with icing sugar to look like snow.
Oh and for those who need to know this sort of thing, the cookbook in question is “Das Praktische Neue Kochbuch” by Gertrud Oheim, originally published in 1953, though I have inherited the 1958 edition. It’s fair to say my copy looks much tattier than that.
Here’s the recipe for one cake (using the small, oblong cake tin that I use).
For the dough:
- 100g unsalted butter
- 125g granulated sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 pinch of salt
- 500g self-raising flour, sifted
- 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
- 250mls milk
For the topping:
- 200g self-raising flour, sifted
- 150g granulated sugar
- A little vanilla sugar
- 125g unsalted butter
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment or grease it with butter.
- For the dough, cream the butter. Add the sugar, salt and egg together, then add the flour, baking powder and milk. Mix this together until you have a dough that can be pulled and torn. Push it into place in your baking tray using a wet metal spoon.
- For the topping, mix together the flour and sugar, then add the butter, cut into small cubes. Rub the butter, flour and sugar into crumbs using your fingers as you would when making pastry.
- Top the dough with the crumb mix,
- Bake at a good heat (200°C or 180°C – 360°F or 400°F – if you are using a fan-assisted oven/Gas Mark 6) for 22 minutes or more (For the size of tray I use it needs 50 minutes to cook right through). Check that it is properly cooked by inserting a wooden skewer into the cake. If it is wet, then leave the cake for a little longer. The skewer should come out dry.
Notes: You could make this using a food mixer or processor but that seems to make failure more likely. I know. I’ve tested it and the results weren’t great. This year’s, made entirely by hand, has worked perfectly.
Deluxe Mince Pies
I used to think I hated mince pies. And I did until many years ago my Mum found this recipe in this splendid little book. The orange-infused pastry and the creamed cheese and sugar make all the difference and I will happily eat as many as I can! This makes 24 normal size mince pies or 48 small ones. They are very, very moreish, and although my Mum has been gone since 2011 it brings the memory of her back.
For the pastry
- 200g butter
- 100g lard
- 400g plain flour
- Grated rind and juice of 1 large orange (or 3 tangerines)
For the filling
- 400g-500g good-quality, shop-bought mincemeat
- 250g soft cheese
- 50g caster sugar
- A spot of milk
- Caster or icing sugar for dusting
- Cut the fat into the flour and rub with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the grated rind.
- With a knife, stir the orange juice into the pastry until it just begins to stick together (if there isn’t enough juice, add cold water). Gather into a ball, wrap in foil or plastic and put into the fridge for half an hour or more before using.
- For the filling, mix the cream cheese with the sugar and set aside.
- To make the mince pies, knead the pastry lightly and roll out more thickly than usual. Using a 7cm fluted cutter, cut out 24 rounds, rerolling as necessary, and line greased patty tins with the rounds.
- Fill to about half their depth with mincemeat. Then put a spoon of the cheese and sugar mix on top of the mincemeat. Roll out the remaining pastry, and with a smaller 5cm fluted or star-shaped cutter cut out another 24 rounds or stars.
- Moisten the underside of the rounds or stars and place them on top of the filled pies. Press the edges lightly together and make a small slit in the top of each pie.
- Brush with cold milk and bake in the centre of the oven, preheated to 220C/425F/Gas 7 for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown. The pastry is crumbly, so let the mince cool before easing from the tins with a round-bladed knife.
Before serving either warm (best) or cold, sprinkle generously with caster or icing sugar.
Ground Rice Tarts
These were something my maternal grandmother, my Nana, would make, and the recipe has been passed down to me. They slightly fell in on themselves this year, so I think I may have used slightly too little filling.
For the pastry:
- 115g lard (or butter for a richer pastry)
- 225g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
For the filling:
- Raspberry jam (though it doesn’t have to be – I used plum this year)
- 75g butter
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g ground rice
- 1 egg
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt.
- Cut the fat into the flour and rub with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- With a knife, stir 1 tablespoon cold water into the pastry until it just begins to stick together (if there isn’t enough water, add more). Gather into a ball, wrap in foil or plastic and put into the fridge for half an hour or more before using.
- For the filling, cream the butter, then add the ground rice, baking powder, sugar and egg and mix until you have a smooth sticky filling.
- To make the tarts, knead the pastry lightly and roll out. Using a suitable cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can, rerolling as necessary, and line greased patty tins with the rounds.
- Place 1 teaspoon of jam into the bottom of the rounds, then top with a teaspoon or so of ground rice filling.
- Bake in the centre of the oven, preheated to 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 15 minutes until light golden brown. Let the tarts cool before easing from the tins with a round-bladed knife.
Oh and I also made jam tarts and lemon curd tarts because you can’t have Christmas without them!