Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Bolton Flat Cakes

For this month’s Random Recipe challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has teamed up with the Tea Time Treats Challenge hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked. So from quite a small pile of suitable teatime books I randomly grabbed ‘The Sainsbury Book of Teatime Favourites’ written by Brian Binns and published in 1983.

This was one of a series of little hardback books sold in the supermarket for the massive sum of 99p each. The books covered a wide range of different styles of cooking and the recipes were mostly sensible and straightforward but with a few slightly odd things thrown in now and then. (Anyone else remember eating the tinned soup, tuna and sweet corn bake topped with potato crisps?) The books sold by the shedful. Personally, I think this particular book was one of the best of the series.

On opening the book at random, I found myself faced with Bolton Flat Cakes. The first thing to say about the flat cake is that it isn’t really a cake in the usual, modern sense. I recently posted a recipe for Eccles Cakes and I hope that I won’t offend anyone in Bolton if I say that these are in the same family (as are Chorley cakes and sad cakes). I was a little doubtful that I’d enjoy these but, actually, I thought they were lovely, old-fashioned treats – like portable versions of the jam tarts that I had as a kid.

I’ve made a few minor adjustments to the recipe, most notably to the filling. Mr Binns used only jam in his filling and that may well be authentic. On the other hand, I’ve been told categorically that traditional flat cakes must contain some dried fruit. So I added some currants and I think it makes them even nicer. The type of jam isn’t specified and I’m sure it’s intended to be whatever you happen to have. Well, I had some of my wife’s homemade marrow and ginger jam and that worked really well.
Bolton Flat Cake
I’ve halved the quantities of the original recipe to make one cake.

125 g self-raising flour, sifted
pinch of salt
38 g lard
2 tbsp of milk plus a little more to glaze the cake
80 g jam
50 g currants

Put the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the lard. Once the lard has been fully incorporated and the mixture feels a little like sand, then add the milk. Mix together until you get a smooth and cohesive dough. You may need a little extra milk to make the dough hold together, but don’t overdo it. Divide the dough into one piece of 125 g and one of 65 g. Form each piece into a ball, cover and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll out the larger piece until you have a round shape of about 20 cm diameter. Spread the jam over this round, leaving a border of about 1 cm. Scatter the currants over the jam. Roll the other piece of dough out into a round of about 18 cm. Dampen the border of the larger piece and lay the smaller round on top of the jammy dough. Turn up the edges of the larger round to seal up the jammy parcel.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the cake on a greased or non-stick baking tray with the smooth side uppermost. You need to be a little careful turning the cake over, but the pastry should be robust enough to stay together. Use a fork to prick a series of holes in the top and brush with milk. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until the cake is a pale golden colour.

The cake can be eaten cold but is even nicer served slightly warm. Cut into wedges and spread with a little butter for extra richness, if you wish.

25 comments:

  1. I remember very well those Sainsbury's slim volumes and bought several of them. I disposed of quite a few in a house-moving cull many years ago and I don't remember this one.....I love the idea of a giant jam tart with currants in.....sounds like a really good school dinner pud !! (The dinners in my school were yummy!)

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  2. they look interesting. I am sure I had them before in the UK but never homemade ones. I am sure these taste wonderful. They look good too.

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  3. I don't think I've ever had one of these before but they look good! I've only tried baking with lard once and it worked quite well!

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  4. Recently I came across these when researching Chorley cakes...will re tweet living on the Bolton cusp to entice my hungry local followers...they look 'beltin' as we say up north.

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  5. I've never heard of this bake before, what a treat. I wish Sainsbury's still made those books, they sound like a real find.

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  6. This sounds interesting and a different way to use up all the jams that I have made this year. Thanks for the idea. Keep well Diane

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  7. I think I may have eaten this before... it is such a brilliant and simple little cake but tastes divine... an excellent and very lucky pick for Random Recipes... and a great tea time treat... divine!... love that its from the Saisnbury's book published in the 80's... it does have an 80's sensibilities...

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  8. Hi Phil!! Thank you for stopping and commenting on my scones! As you can tell, I took some time off from blogging, but I am very excited to get back into it.

    This cake looks absolutely delightful. It is a perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea and good book! I know I would enjoy this very much.

    Cheers my friend,
    Tammy

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  9. What a lovely old fashioned cake, much more sophisticated than a jam tart though. I do have a weakness for a good marrow and ginger jam, so I suspect I would have been very happy with a slice.

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  10. Another lovely tea time treat, would love a slice with my coffee now:)

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  11. When I saw Bolton, I had a feeling this might your entry! I love some of those Northern treats like Eccles cakes but hadn't heard of Bolton cakes. This looks like the kind of thing we'd have for school dinners. Looks yummy...

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  12. It looks good. I wouldn't mind having a piece right now. :-)

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  13. That looks great - like a giant enclosed jam tart. Who wouldn't like that? Homemade jam must make it even better.

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  14. Ah, the North and their cakes. We seem to spend a lot of time naming our confectionery (and meals!) after towns. This looks 'proper', full of the all the ingredients it should be before a ton of custard is poured on it, at least, that is how I would like to eat it. It looks amazingly good!

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  15. It sounds like a great little book. This looks really interesting, not a cake like you say but delicious none the less!

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  16. As always, you always come up with the most interesting of recipes and this is no exception; I love the look of these wee cakes, and I often find that old recipes have the word "flat" in the title, such as Flat Bottom Muffins (NOT the USA cake type) and Flat Bottom Buns.....great entry to the RR and TTT combined challenge, thanks! Karen

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  17. It looks really good, a jam tart and dried fruit - mmm! I love old traditional recipes, and I have a few of the Sainsbury's books, but not this one.

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  18. Marrow and ginger jam - now that I would love to try!!

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    1. Well worth trying, believe me. An excellent jam to make if you happen to let your courgette plants get out of control like me.

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  19. This Bolton Cake looks lovely. They do have a resemblance to Eccles cakes, but I would definitely like to try these to taste the difference. It looks delicious!

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  20. I was with you all the way up until, "Place the cake on a greased or non-stick baking tray with the smooth side uppermost"! Such potential for a mess. :) I can't wait to give this a try since yours turned out so lovely.

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  21. These look like a jazzed up version of a barcookie in the States called fig newtons - a fave with a cup of tea. I think I prefer your crumbly cake though, it's much nicer aesthetically. Marrow and ginger jam ... hmm. There are those marrows again ... and I just don't have any experience with them! This cake is just such an interesting recipe!

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  22. This is my absolute favourite way to eat jam! Fantastic!

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  23. They look very similar to something my mum used to make, but hers had currants, sugar and butter as the filling. She was from Preston. I think variations on this were made all over Lancashire (what used to be Lancashire anyway) as a way of using up bits of left over pastry. That's what my mum did anyway!

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