Every year around this time, our tiny kitchen goes into full mince pie production mode. We make and sell 100’s of hand crafted pies weekly on the lead up to Christmas Day. Buy in boxes of six for friends and family or treat yourself to a warm pie with our homemade chai ice-cream.
300g plain flour
pinch Maldon sea salt
190g very cold cubed unsalted butter
100g seived icing sugar
75ml double cream
To make the pastry – rub the old butter into the flour salt and icing sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs or rubble. Add the cream, knead until just combined and roll into two logs. Cling film and chill for four hours or overnight.
500g mixed vine fruits – currants, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel
250g chopped dried figs/apricots
250g sour cherries, cranberries and golden berries
4 x brambly apples – grated
2 x orange zest
200g vegetarian suet
large lug of brandy/rum/whisky or Amaretto
2 x tsp mixed sweet spice
Leave the mincemeat to marinate overnight or even for a few days…
Butter and flour a large fluted tart tin or a 12 hole muffin tin. Cut out one large round or twelve smaller ones to line the bottom and sides of your tins. Press into the sides. Fill this generously with mincemeat. Cut out a circle to fit over the top of your one large pie or 12 smaller ones. Use a mixture of egg yolk and water to brush the edges and stick them together. Use a fork or your finger and thumb to pinch the edges together and crimp as you go along. Chill the pies for an hour and then bake at 180′ until golden and puffed up. Serve warm with lashings of brandy cream, ice-cream or a sea of cold custard.
Since we started our popular weekend brunch menu, we have spent the last year developing our French toast recipe to perfection, and now we have finally hit the nail upon it’s head. We make our own brioche over two days with a slow rise starter that yields a soft and rich dough. Once the bread has been baked and cooled, it is sliced into thick buttery squares. These are dipped and soaked in a mixture of beaten egg, milk, a dash of double cream and a pinch of sea salt, sugar and cinnamon. Once the bread has soaked in all the eggy deliciousness, it is fried in a non stick pan with a knob of butter and a drop of olive oil until caramelised. The bacon is smoked and streaky and double cooked – first fried and then dried out in the oven – for an extra crispy bite. Cut the toast into triangles, arrange with care and slather generously with maple syrup. Toast some pecans or other nuts of choice and scatter. Perfect with a large pot of very strong breakfast tea.
NB – Obviously you don’t have to make your own brioche if pushed for time – any good quality white bread will work, almost, just as well.
Over the years I have worked my way through a lot of chocolate bars. What started off as love for anything sweet and sugary has now developed into a slightly snobby desire for sophisticated bean to bar satisfaction. Gone are the school blazer pockets crammed full of Snickers bars (then Marathon), KitKats and Twix. Now in my handbag I have nestled between dairies and books, pens and the odd lipstick, large bars of handmade and hand wrapped hand printed even, exotic 70 or 53% chocolate bars. There is such an enormously good selection of exciting bars available on the market at the moment. Last week in Shoreditch, I sampled a Madagascan goat’s milk chocolate (AMAZING and delicious), a vanilla bean and smoke 75% chocolate, and a S’mores bar with piece’s of marshmallow candy and Graham crackers covered in even more chocolate.. Admittedly each of these bars cost in the region of £8 so that all I did was sample, far too tight on a Monday morning to fork out quite that much for a single bar of chocolate, however delectable it might be. On the same day I wandered, quite by accident, into the very cool Mast Brothers Brooklyn chocolate factory re-created and also in Shoreditch. Here they offered single origin drip hot chocolate in a variety of high to higher percentages and their own chocolate spread slathered on toasted sourdough. They also offered a peek, via glass doors, into the pristine and very modern looking chocolate factory itself. In this space, chocolatiers in denim utility aprons navigated enormous chocolate churning machines and the whole thing had a calm and shiny air to it. Willy Wonka’s it was not.
At treacle we always have a few different chocolate cakes, tarts and ice-cream on offer. We have cakes that are warm and squidgy and others that are cool and crisp. What they all share in common is the quality of the chocolate used. It is always 70% and it is melted slowly over a pan of simmering, never boiling, water. Sometimes a brute cocoa powder is added for depth, or a few shots of espresso or whisky for extra layers of flavour. The magic though, the one thing that makes our customers, and staff, come back for more is the addition of Maldon sea salt. And by addition I mean, not just a pinch, but heaped teaspoons of the stuff. It is also never completely crushed so that tiny flakes of crystal salt burst their salty deliciousness onto your tongue with an intriguing moreish ness. Granted the odd customer is aghast and returns their slice of cake in confusion but on the whole we have a dedicated clientele with the sea salt caramel and pretzel tart being the most prevalent choice by far.
Please find below a really lovely chocolate cake recipe:
Velveteen chocolate birthday cake with raspberries
1 x 8” in 3 x layers – bake for approx. 35mins
250g 70% chocolate
60g cocoa extra brute
4 x eggs
300g soft light brown sugar
175g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ level teaspoon Maldon sea salt crushed lightly in the palm of your hand.
250g sour cream
½ capful good quality vanilla extract.
2 x shots strong espresso
Preheat oven to 160’
– Melt the butter with the salt and the vanilla in a large saucepan
– Take the pan off the heat and and stir in the chocolate, the espresso and the cocoa mixing until you have a thick and glossy emulsion
– Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light, and the gently fold this into the chocolate mixture. Stir constantly until you have a smooth emulsion.
– Sieve together the flour and bicarbonate of soda
– Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the chocolate and stir well to combine
– Add 1/3 of the sour cream and stir
– Repeat this process again until you have used up all the flour and sour cream. Do not over beat at any point. I usually use a large spatula to fold everything together.
– Spoon into pre-prepared tins and use the back of the spoon to level each cake. Bake until the top of cake feels springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean.
150g very soft butter
150g icing sugar sieved to remove any lumps (I use unrefined or Demerara icing sugar…)
1 x capful vanilla essence
– Beat together the sugar and butter until very soft and light in colour.
– Use this icing to sandwich the chocolate cake together and to swirl attractively on the top most layer.
– Cover with as many raspberries as possible and then dust these lightly with cocoa powder. You can also break up raspberries and put these in between the layers for an extra fruity effect.
There seems to be a definite trend these days towards vegetable themed cakes. I myself am a complete culprit when it comes to experimenting with these more unusual textures and savoury flavours.
Close your eyes and imagine your grand dad’s allotment: the prize carrots, courgettes and squash. The enormous pumpkins set against the delicate herbs: mint, thyme, lavender and rosemary and the ever synonymous garden shed. The cleaner purer air is just a stone’s throw away from the faintly buzzing hum of the M25. Hardly Delia’s kitchen but a step closer to something really quite wonderful nevertheless…
Please find below a recipe for our autumn pumpkin fruit cake – proof that you can grow your vegetables (or raid a friendly allotment) mash them into a sponge and bake a lip smackingly delicious cake…
Pumpkin fruit cake
1 x 10” cake in 2 x layers – approx. 30/40mins
500g steamed mashed butternut squash
250g soft butter
280g soft light brown sugar
4tbs golden syrup
4 x eggs
500g self raising flour
370g mixed vine fruits
(4tbs chopped stem ginger)
Large pinch Maldon sea salt
Preheat oven to 160’
– Cream butter and sugar
– Add the golden syrup in a slow and steady stream and beat well until fully incorporated
– Slowly add the eggs with a pinch of flour in between each addition to prevent the mixture splitting.
– Stir in the mashed pumpkin and dried fruits
– Sift the flour and gently fold through
– Divide amongst the 2 tins and bake until firm to touch and golden.
Thoroughly cool the sponges on racks before sandwiching together with vanilla buttercream.
To make the buttercream: beat together 250g very soft unsalted butter with 250g unrefined icing sugar until very light and creamy. Swirl attractively and decorate with your choice of chopped nuts and berries.