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Yorkshire Cakes

My great-great-grandmother Ann Vickerman started her working life at Sledmere House near Malton. When she married, her friend, Mary Harrington, who was the cook, gave her a cookery book as a wedding present.The book was 'A New System of Domestic Cookery' by Maria Eliza Rundell. It was first published in 1806 and her copy, which has now come down to me, is the 1840 edition. In the chapter on 'Bread' there is a recipe for something described as Yorkshire Cakes. Unlike modern cookbooks there are no illustrations and much of it is written on the basis that the reader will know what to do! Things such as 'cook in a slow oven' do not translate well to a modern hi-tech oven. With a certain amount of trial and error and filling in the blanks I have reconstructed what I think these were. I cannot find any other recipe for these or mention of them elsewhere. As a proud Yorkshireman I could not let this part of the county's heritage be forgotten. Essentially, it is an enriched dough bread bun, or as we call them in West Yorkshire 'teacake'. Great for lunchtime sandwiches, or a BLT and something really unique to bring out for the summer BBQ.

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2lb Shipton Mill Stoneground Organic White Flour

4oz butter (unsalted)

1 pint of luke warm milk

3 level teaspoons of dried yeast

2 medium eggs

1 teaspoon sugar

3 teaspoons of salt


Add the yeast and sugar to half of the milk and leave in a warm place until it has started to froth, showing that the yeast is working.

Mix the salt into the flour.

Melt the butter in the other half of the milk.

Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the flour with the two milk mixtures. This will produce quite a wet dough which may need to be worked for a little while in the bowl, before being turned out onto a floured surface and kneaded until a good elastic dough is achieved. This will take 5 - 10 minutes.

Place into a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

Knock back and form into 4oz balls which should be placed on a greased baking tray and covered with towels. Allow to rise for at least further hour, depending on temperature. I have found that 1 hour 20 minutes is fine and makes for a slightly lighter bread.

Bake at gas mark 6/180 degrees (fan)/ 200 degrees (electric) for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly browned on top. After 10 minutes I put them on a 'two minute watch' to get them out as soon as they are done. If the tops are browning too fast, cover them with some foil. The original recipe is lacking detail about cooking. All that we are told is to 'cook in a slow oven'. That, of course, would be a coal-fired, fireside oven. When I originally put this recipe up I suggested gas mark 4, treating the dough like a brioche. Whilst this does work - it takes longer - the bread is a little more solid. Further trials have shown that a shorter, slightly hotter, bake gives more rise and a lighter bread.

Glaze the tops of the cakes with melted butter whilst still warm and allow to cool on a wire cooling tray.

Added by: Rodney Noon

Tags: Cake

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We have them in Lancashire too! Perfect for chip butties!

Doversole 23 April 2020


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