Monday, August 6, 2007

Fine Cakes - English spiced shortbread

This recipe is from "The Widowes Treasure" which was published in 1639. It is pretty much a spiced shortbread, but made, interestingly, with pre-baked flour. This gives them a really beautiful crisp texture.

The original version:
Take a quantity of fine wheate Flower, and put it in an earthen pot. Stop it close and set it in an Oven, and bake it as long as you would a pasty of Venison, and when it baked it will be full of clods.Then searce your flower through a fine sercer.

Then take clouted Creame or sweet butter, but Creame is best: then take sugar, cloves, mace, saffron and yolks of eggs, so much as wil seeme to season your flower. Then put these things into the Creame, temper all together. Then put thereto your flower. So make your cakes. The paste will be very short; therefore make them very little. Lay paper under them.

My version:
1 cup plain flour
90 g butter
1 generous pinch of saffron
3 cloves
1/8 tsp mace
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk

Bake flour for 20 minutes at 180 degrees, in a closed caserole dish. Sift.

Grind spices with sugar. Cream butter, sugar/spice and egg yolk till the consistency of thick cream. Fold in flour.

I pressed small amounts of this mixture into molds to make flour shapes, which popped out of the flexible mold easily. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180 degrees.