Shipton mill traditional organic white flour ….450gm
Shipton mill organic yeast…9g (1 sachet), or 15g fresh yeast.
Unsalted butter/heavy cream/clotted cream….120g .The butter should be soft or melted.
Currants and or sultanas or raisins or dried cherries, total of…120g….warm them at the same time as the flour.
Milk, best you can source…175g…if using a stronger flour, the dough will absorb more milk, up to 200g, so have some extra on hand just in case.
2 teaspoons of spice.
1 loosely packed level teaspoon of saffron threads…. more if you are wild about saffron….or indeed less, say ½ teaspoon if you are unsure but would like to try this traditional golden cake.
A teaspoon of good salt.
The very first thing to do is temper the saffron. Place the threads in a small bowl or glass. Heat the milk until very hot and pour it over the saffron threads, reserving about 2 tablespoons which will be used to cream the yeast later. Leave this for at least an hour before proceeding…it can be left overnight to good measure.
Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk, add the yeast and a tablespoon of flour stirring until smooth. Cover and leave to activate at least 15 minutes…while you weigh out and prepare the rest.
Warm the flour. At the same time, warm the dried fruit.
In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugar salt and spices.
Add the creamed yeast and saffron milk and mix with the flour.
Add the butter or cream and mix in well until the dough is “clear” and smooth.
This should form a soft-ish dough.
Knead or mix it well for 2-3 minutes. Depending on whether you use clotted cream or butter or thick cream, the texture can vary, but simply adjust with a little more milk or flour if the dough isn’t a soft kneadable consistency. This is quite a forgiving cake and will not suffer from extra mixing if you dont get the required texture at first.
Add the dried fruit and mix in thoroughly.
Briefly knead to form the dough into a round and put it in a bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic film or put in a plastic bag. Leave it in the warm-ish spot for 2 hours. It should have doubled in bulk. Because of the amount of butter, the fermentation is slowed and requires time, and most especially warmth.
TIP… Do not let this dough get too cool, or the hardening butter will suffocate the yeast.
A bakers slip is invaluable for the next procedure.
Without deflating it completely, lift the dough on to a lightly floured surface, it will still be a round, so gently re-round it. The top should be as smooth as possible, but extra terrain is characteristic! Place on a buttered/papered baking tray.
Ensure the tray is big enough for the loaf to double its diameter. Cover with the mixing bowl and keep it warm. This needs an hour to fully rise.
Just before baking, “dock” or prick it right through to the bottom with a skewer, about 7 times. Not an arcane ritual...this should prevent seismic bursting, although all such rustic shapes are acceptable as long as the flavour is good!.
Preheat oven to 220 o. Place cake in the centre and turn down to 200 o. Bake for 30 minutes.
At the completion of baking ,slip it off the tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes more. This cake is actually crusty!
Dip a pastry brush in the honey and gently brush the cake with honey as soon as it leaves the oven and is hot . The crust soaks-in the honey and is a delight to eat.
If the honey is hard, mix with a tiny amount of hot water and stir it well before brushing the cake.
Post-modern variation on the theme……deconstruction re-mix.
Follow the above recipe, but add 2 heaped tablespoons of authentic cacao powder to the flour mix.
Finely grate the rind of 1 medium sized orange. Mix with 2 teaspoons of authentic vanilla essence or the seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans. Let this sit for a while. Mix in at the same time as the butter/cream.
Use dried cherries as the fruit. After rinding the orange, squeeze the juice on to the cherries and marinate for at least half an hour. This will add some more liquid to the mix, which is enough to absorb the cacao.
Use cinnamon as the sole spice…2 teaspoons.
Glaze with heather honey.
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