Tuesday, 9th July 2019 – Recipes (Towcester Cheesecakes, Yorkshire Cheesecakes, Maids of Honour)
I think there is no doubt that each of these three recipes are very closely related, and are in fact subtle variants of pretty much the same thing, and they clearly date from a time when sugar was becoming more available, but wasn’t exactly common. In fact, I suspect sugar may well be a substitute for honey or something similar, because the more I look, the more I suspect a medieval origin for all of the following!
These used to be available from Oliver Adams Bakery until they went into liquidation some months ago, presumably taking the recipe with them. One of the family used to own the Pickled Pig or the Pickwick or whatever it was called at that point, and it was a visit there that sparked off this train of thought. This is not the original recipe, which is rumoured to also include breadcrumbs, but it is close. I would suggest adding breadcrumbs to the filling (rather like for this treacle tart recipe) would produce the desired texture, but I haven’t tried it yet.
- ½ lb ounces shortcrust pastry
- 6 oz curds or cream cheese
- 2 oz butter
- 2 eggs
- 3 oz caster sugar
- 4 oz currants
- 1 finely grated lemon, rind of
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, for dusting
- Roll out the pastry and use it to line 14 to 16 lightly greased patty tins. Set oven to 180°C/350ºF or Gas Mk 4.
- Beat the curd or cheese until smooth.
- Put the butter, eggs and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until thickened, but do not allow to boil!
- Remove from the heat and stir in the curd or cheese, then add the currants, lemon rind and almond essence.
- Combine well and fill the tins.
- Sprinkle a little nutmeg over each and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and golden.
- Serve hot or cold.
Yorkshire Curd Tartlets Recipe
These were a childhood thing, available in all the bakeries in my home town, and I dind’t actually like them at the time, largely because I didn’t much like dried fruit. How wrong I was! The main differences between these and the Towcester tarts seems to be the addition of brandy to the filling here and the absence of butter.
- 100g (3½oz) butter, diced
- 200g (7oz) plain flour
- 30g (1oz) caster sugar
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 250g (8oz) curd cheese
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 75g (2½oz) caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 60g (2oz) currants
- 1 tsp finely chopped mixed peel
- 1 tbsp brandy
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Icing sugar, for dredging
- Set the oven to Gas Mk 4 or 180°C/350ºF.
- Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar, then mix the egg yolk with two tablespoons of cold water, add to the mixture and stir with a round-bladed knife to make a firm dough.
- Knead the dough lightly into a disc shape, wrap it in cling film and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, fairly thinly, and cut circles to line the your patty tins.
- Soften the curd cheese in a bowl, then beat in the eggs and sugar.
- Stir in the lemon zest, currants, peel and brandy.
- Spoon the cheese mixture into the pastry cases and grate a little nutmeg on top.
- Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and the filling set.
- Dust with icing sugar.
- Serve warm or cold, with cream, if you like.
You can use cottage cheese instead of curd cheese and add 4 tablespoons of single cream. Vanilla extract can be used instead of brandy.
Maids of Honour
No one is going to convince me that this is not just another variant, this time with the addition of cold mashed potatoes, and the removal of the dried fruit! The ones from my childhood used to be vast things, about the size of a saucer, and with a layer of white icing on top (which I thought was the best bit – again, my tastes have changed!).
- 450g (1lb) shortcrust pastry
- 100g (4oz) curd cheese
- 75g (3oz) butter, softened
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 65ml (2½fl oz) brandy
- 75g (3oz) caster sugar
- 75g (3oz) cold mashed potatoes
- 25g (1oz) ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Grated rind of 2 lemons
- Juice of 1 lemon
- If making your pastry, chill for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to Gas Mk. 4 or 180°C/350°F.
- Grease 24 patty tins.
- On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry and cut 24 circles using a 7.5cm (3in) cutter. Use them to line the prepared patty tins.
- Beat together the curd cheese and butter.
- Add the beaten eggs, brandy and sugar and beat again.
- In a separate bowl beat together the mashed potatoes, ground almonds, nutmeg, lemon rind and juice, and gradually mix in the cheese mixture.
- Beat thoroughly.
- Spoon the mixture into the pastry cases and bake for 35–40 minutes until risen, golden and firm.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5–10 minutes before lifting carefully on to a wire rack to finish cooling.