Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Banbury Cakes

I recently joined a new baking group called What’s Baking. Every other month a host selects a theme and we all select a recipe that fits the theme. This month, the host is Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen and the theme she chose was to bake something celebrating our heritage. I’m pretty much American through and through and I don’t really identify with a heritage beyond that, so this was tricky. My husband is British, so I chose to bake something from his heritage.

I asked my husband what I should bake and he sent me a couple of recipes that he recommended. I looked at the Banbury cakes and thought that they looked great. I talked to him some more and he said that Banbury is a village in Northamptonshire that is closest to where he grew up: Brackley. What a perfect choice then!

These are little puff pastry cakes filled with a spiced currant filling. I don’t always have the best luck with puff pastry, because I try to rush the thawing process. I took my time and I was ok this time. I had all the ingredients on hand except candied orange peel. I used orange marmalade instead and it worked out great! The picture on the BBC website wasn’t very good and I honestly didn’t know what these were supposed to look like. My husband came home the day I made these and he said they looked perfect, which was such a relief! These are flaky little pastries with a lovely sweet/spicy filling. These were such a success and I had a lot of fun making this recipe.

Banbury Cakes
1 package puff pastry (17.3 ounces)
3-1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon honey
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3.5 ounces currants
2 ounces candied orange peel or marmalade
1 egg white, beaten
1 tablespoon clear sanding sugar

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, honey, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add the currants and the orange peel and mix well.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to 1/8” thick (the thickness of a £1 coin). Cut out 4” circles; I was able to get 4 circles from each sheet of puff pastry. Divide the filling between the circles.

Bring up the edges of the pastry to enclose the filling and crimp the edges of the pastry together to look like little purses. Turn the pastries over, with the folds underneath. Roll or pat each pastry out gently to an oval shape, taking care not to expose the filling. Place the pastries on the prepared baking sheet, making sure the folded side is down. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or, if served cool, with butter.

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