An unexpected snow storm surprised me today. The view outside my window is cold and grey. It’s the perfect day for baking!
For awhile, I’ve had a hankering for teacakes, slightly sweet bread with dried fruits (such as raisins) in them. Split open, toasted, and slathered with homemade jam, they are one of the best things ever to go with a cup of afternoon tea.
Start with a pound of all-purpose flour.
Add a teaspoon of salt to the flour and stir. Then add about an ounce of butter.
A little extra butter won’t hurt anything! Now rub the butter into the flour until it is thoroughly blended in. My mother taught me to use a pastry blender, but I later learned that clean hands do a quicker job. The results are better, too, because the butter is dispersed more evenly through the flour when you use your hands. Just keep rubbing the flour and butter together until you no longer see or feel clumps of butter. Add 1 ounce of sugar, and set this bowl aside.
Next, you’ll need to proof your yeast. Add a teaspoon of sugar to 1/4 cup of warm water, then sprinkle 1/2 ounce of yeast over it. Stir well, and allow to sit until the yeast is foamy.
Don’t skip this step! It’s the only way to make sure your yeast is still potent. If you use old yeast, your teacakes won’t rise properly.
Now add 2 ounces of raisins to the flour-butter mixture and stir well.
Now, make a well in the flour-butter-raisin mixture, and pour in your yeast. Measure 10 ounces of milk in a pitcher, and slowly drizzle it into the bowl as you stir, gradually incorporating the flour into the dough as you go.
Mix until the flour is fully incorporated and you have a nice mound of dough. It will be slightly sticky.
Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. It should take about an hour, but may be more or less depending on the warmth of your room.
Once it is doubled, it’s time for kneading. I really don’t like kneading bread, but this only takes about five minutes. I can handle five minutes.
Place your dough on a floured surface. I use a floured pastry cloth.
Knead for five minutes in order to develop a good bread texture. Then divide the dough into six balls, and flatten to about half an inch thick. You can use a rolling pin if you like, but I just flatten them with my hands. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to rise until doubled in height, about another hour.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place the rack in the middle of the oven. Bake your teacakes for 15 minutes until they are golden brown.
Allow to cool on a wire rack. Then split them in half, toast them, slather them with butter and homemade jam, and you have a wonderful afternoon treat!
Here’s the short version of the recipe:
Teacakes (makes 6)
1 lb. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 oz. butter
1 oz. sugar
1/2 oz. dried yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar for proofing the yeast
2 oz. raisins (you can use other dried fruits if you choose)
10 oz. milk
1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until well incorporated. Mix in 1 ounce of sugar. Set bowl aside.
2. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp. sugar with 1/4 cup warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water; stir well. Let sit a few minutes until yeast mixture is foamy.
3. Stir the raisins into the flour-butter-sugar mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the yeast mixture and some of the milk. Stir, gradually incorporating the flour into the mixture as you slowly add the rest of the milk. You will have a smooth, soft dough that is slightly sticky.
4. Cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
5. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and springy. Divide into 6 balls and flatten into disks about half an inch thick. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise until double in height.
7. While teacakes are rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
To serve, split teacakes in half, toast them, then spread them with butter and jam.