Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Stack O' Stotties

The older I get, the more Geordie I appear to be getting. And since getting my mixer, resplendent with its dough hook, i've been trying to make more bread (although bread making is often delayed whilst I end up wandering around my kitchen, making myself giggle by pretending to be a pirate with the dough hook) So it's amazing really that I've never yet gotten round to making my own stottie cakes yet. But, tonight, I made my first attempt.

For those of you of a Southern disposition, you may well have no idea what I'm on about. The stottie is one of the shining lights of Geordie cuisine. Within its fluffy, dense interior is the inimitable feeling of home. 

Stotties bread is only proved once, giving it a dense, beautifully soft texture. It's like the marshmallow of the bread world. It's particularly good at soaking up liquids, so great for a bacon sarnie as the sauce (brown, obviously) and fat soaks into the bread. Traditionally, it was make by housewives on baking day, as they used to take a section of dough after first proving to bake straight away for their man's bait (that means lunch, by the way, not some weird northern mating ritual). Off the man would go, down the pit, with his ham and pease pudding stottie in hand.

So anyway, my first attempt at them went alright. I tried to make them smaller than a usual, plate-sized stottie, and I probably made them too thick. I left some of them in the oven a little too long as well, so they started getting a crust, although this certainly isn't unpleasant, just not very traditional. 

And here, dear friends, are My First Stotties: 

St Catherine's cakes

People who know me will know that I am not in the least bit religious. But I do like cake, a lot. So the other week, I dug out an old recipe book and gave these St Catherine's cakes a try.
I assume they're named after St Catherine of Alexandria, in which case naming a pretty little patisserie cake after the wheel-shaped rack she was tortured on seems a bit morbid. They're little pinwheel shaped cakes. The other alternative is St Catherine of Siena though, and this would appear to be even less appropriate as her life appeared to be mainly categorised by fasting, anorexia, and bulimia. Anyway, whichever they are named after, the fact of the matter is that I spent a few minutes researching the various Saint Catherines whilst these were baking. Learning through cake.

Anyway, these are tasty, not overly sweet little crossovers between biscuits and cake. I spread a little bi of glitter over them once they were done to add a little bit of glamour. I didn't really put that much effort into presentation, to be honest, but I think with patience and a little bit more effort these could be really pretty and dainty.

350g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon mixed spice
25g ground almonds
225g caster sugar
225g butter/margarine
50g currants or mixed fruit
1 egg, beaten
25g Demerara or granulated sugar.

Sift flour, bicarb and mixed spice into a bowl and add the almonds ad caster sugar.

Rub in the butter, then stir in the currants.

Add the egg and mix to a dough. Knead and roll out into a rectangular shape about 30cm x 20cm. Trim the edges so they are straight.

Cut into long strips, about 1cm thick. 

Brush each strip with water, then sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Roll each strip up into a coil and space them out on a baking tray, with plenty of room in between each roll.

Bake at 200 oC for about 12-15 minutes or until browned.