This is a recipe passed to me years ago by my 93 year old mother-in-law. She used to knock up these biscuits for my boys when they came home from school, or make a batch to go with fruit and ice-cream for our Sunday dessert.
I made them today to accompany strawberries and whipped cream. I know it’s only April and the temperature outside makes it feel more like March, but the strawberries in Waitrose looked so beautifully red and plump, I couldn’t resist buying them. They did not disappoint.
These biscuits are buttery, short and light and couldn’t be easier to make.
For about 16 biscuits
225g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
175g butter, softened
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or mixer and mix until combined in a soft dough
Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of approx 5mm
Cut out into rounds, using a 7cm cutter
Slide a metal spatula or a large palette knife under each (rather delicate) round and place on the full size Aga baking tray lined with Bake-O-Glide. You will need to do bake these in two batches
Place the tray on the third rung from the top of the baking oven for about 10 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown
Leave them on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack
At a shoot lunch towards the end of the season, my husband was served what he termed “the best pudding I’ve ever eaten”. He loved it so much he asked his hostess, Clare Pelly, for the recipe so that he could make it at home. Only joking; I mean so that I could make it for us all. I don’t mind at all: I’m happy to be the cook in our relationship because I enjoy it and because I’m better at it than he is, just as there are many things I don’t like doing which he is happy to do and is better at than me. I imagine this is how most successful partnerships work.
As it turns out, I’m very grateful to him for getting me the recipe for this “best ever” pudding because it’s absolutely delicious. Clare is also an Aga cook and the pie is particularly suited to Aga cooking because it can be baked on the floor of the roasting oven, which gives wonderful, crisp pastry.
For 1 x 10″/26cm or 2 x 7″/18cm flan tins
8oz/200g plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
2lbs/900g cooking apples
4oz/100g plain flour
4oz/100g caster sugar
10floz/285ml double cream
2oz/50g caster sugar
Pre-heat conventional oven to gas mark 6/200ºC
To make the pastry, sift flour, rub in butter, stir in icing sugar and bind together with yolk and water. Wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes
Roll out thinly and line your prepared tin(s) with it. No need to bake it blind
Peel, core and slice your apples and mix with the raisins
Make a crumble by sifting the flour, stirring in the sugar and rubbing in the butter
Spoon half of this into the tin
Cover with the apple/raisin mixture and pour over the cream
Spoon over the remaining crumble mixture and sprinkle on the topping
Bake on the floor of the roasting oven for about 30 minutes until it’s bubbling and caramelised or brûléed on top. Your pastry should be lovely and crisp, although you won’t know this until you’ve cut into it
Conventional oven: after 25 minutes turn it down to gas mark 5/190ºC for 10 minutes
Can be served hot, warm or cold
I always worry about the Aga cooling down if you give it too much to do at once but yesterday I cooked a pheasant, some roast potatoes and this pie in the roasting oven in the space of one and a half hours and everything was perfectly cooked.
The first time I made this pie we were a little disappointed that the cinnamon flavour wasn’t very strong. Cinnamon is one of my husband’s favourite things so he did a bit of research. First of all he saw that the cinnamon I’d used (by Bart’s) was a blend “sourced from several Fairtrade producers” and that the cinnamon considered to be the best is from Ceylon. So from the website cinnamonhill.com I bought some Ceylon cinnamon sticks and the next time I made the pie, we used the fine Microplane grater to grate some for the topping and reader, I can confirm it tasted noticeably better.
I hope it’s still correct to say apples are in season, because it’s already a couple of weeks since I made this apple cake with autumn in mind and only now am I getting round to writing about it. On the other hand, it’s not exactly a seasonal cake because we all cook with apples throughout the year and to make this cake I bought Bramley apples from the supermarket.
Regular readers will remember that I like making apple cakes and prefer them to pies and crumbles, partly because they work both as puddings (with whipped cream, say) and as teatime cakes.
You can’t have two many apple cake recipes in your repertoire, in my view, and I’m happy to add this Delia recipe to mine. The lazy baker in me particularly appreciated the fact that peeling the Bramleys is optional. That was a no brainer: I didn’t peel them.
To make the job even simpler I used the all-in-one method to mix all the ingredients together before folding in the apples and orange zest.
225g self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Bramley apples
175g soft light brown sugar
2 large eggs
75g butter, softened
Grated zest of an orange
1 tbsp milk (if needed)
A little icing sugar
Conventional oven: pre-heat to 180ºC
Grease and base-line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin
Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into your mixing bowl and add the butter, sugar and eggs
Beat until thoroughly blended. I used my KitchenAid. You could use an electric hand whisk
Chop the apples into small dice (with or without peel, remember) and fold into the mixture with the orange zest. Add a little milk if the mixture seems dry
Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin
Bake in the baking oven of your Aga (or in the centre of a conventional oven at 180ºC) for about 1 hour, but do check on it every 10 minutes or so after the first half hour. I put a piece of greaseproof paper loosely on top at this point because my cake was looking a little dark
The cake is done when it feels springy to touch and is starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so before turning out onto a rack