Teacakes always remind me of my primary school days when me and my mum used to go to the breakfast club before school and have a toasted teacake for 30p. Times have changed and the teacakes in the supermarket just don’t compare to freshly baked homemade teacakes, warm from the oven and with lots of butter on them!
My twist on the classic teacake recipe which usually contains mixed peel or currants is to replace them with dried apricots. Dried apricots add little pockets of sweetness when you bite into them as well as great colour. I always find sultanas and dried apricots to be fairly dry and shrivelled (surprisingly this word didn’t pop up yesterday ahem!) so any time they go into my recipes, I always rehydrate them in boiling water before using.
There’s an added advantage to this step; once the fruit has been plumped up and has been drained, the fruit still retains lots of the heat from the hot water so when it gets incorporated in the dough, it’s hot enough to really give the yeast a good boost but not kill it so the dough rises amazingly when proving – it had doubled in size in around 50 minutes, great considering the dough is heavily enriched with egg, milk and sugar.
When kneading the dough, it should be soft but not sticky. As I always seem to add too much liquid to the dough, I always make sure that I put less flour (around 30-50g) less in the dough in the first instance so that I knead in the remaining flour, making the bread the perfect texture. I also find that keeping a dough scraper or rubber spatula on hand to free the dough from the table is always handy – think of It as your other hand!
Like Stacey did in the show, I brush the teacakes with milk which makes them softer than if I used egg wash. I prefer using milk instead of egg wash, both of which do the same thing; the protein in both the milk and egg undergo the Maillard reaction when baked which is what gives it that attractive golden brown colour. But I always find that egg wash is always wasted and you can’t really use it for anything else but you can control the amount of milk you use.
This recipe makes 10 large teacakes and even after flattening them to 1.5cm before the second prove, they ended up slightly larger than the teacakes you would find in the supermarket – basically they didn’t fit in my toaster 😦 however they were fine when placed under the grill to toast. You could very well make 12.
100g dried apricots, chopped to the same size as the sultanas
550g strong white flour
50g granulated sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 x 7g sachets of fast action dried yeast
About 250ml milk
About 100ml boiling water, plus extra to rehydrate the fruits
In a bowl, add the sultanas and chopped dried apricots and cover with boiling water to rehydrate. Set aside until needed.
In a large bowl, place 520g of the strong white flour and add the sugar, spices, salt and yeast, placing the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl so the yeast is not retarded by the salt. Make a well in the centre and add in the egg.
In another bowl, combine together the margarine, milk and 100ml boiling water, stirring to melt the margarine, heating in the microwave briefly if required. Stir well and pour around three quarters of the liquid and use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together. Add enough of the liquid to form a soft sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, using the reserved flour to dust.
Drain the rehydrated fruit of its water and set aside.
Knead the dough for around 5-6 minutes by hand until the dough begins to look smooth. Flatten the dough out and place around three-quarters of the rehydrated fruit in the centre – it should feel warm but not too hot to the touch. Fold the dough to cover the fruit and continue to knead the dough for a further 5 minutes, gradually adding in all of the fruit and adding slightly more flour to bring the dough back to the soft not sticky texture from before adding the fruit. Shape the dough into a ball and place into a floured bowl to prove for about an hour or until doubled in size.
When the dough has proved, the inside structure should look something like this (trypophobes look away!!). The structure is irregularly aerated and light too.
Lift out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 30 seconds to dispel large air pockets. Weigh the dough and divide into 10/12 equally (mine were around 120g each for a batch of 10).
To shape, lift and tuck the sides of the dough underneath itself and repeat until the surface looks smooth and the bottom should be rough. Use your hand to flatten the dough down to around 1-1.5cm thick and place onto a baking tray lined with lightly greased baking parchment. Repeat for the remaining teacakes and cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to prove for a further 30 minutes.
Once proved, preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the surface of the risen teacakes lightly with some milk and then bake the teacakes for around 15 – 17 minutes until the teacakes are a strong rich brown colour, the bases have browned and there is a hollow sound when you tap the bottoms. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
The teacakes are best served sliced in half and warm straight from the oven with a slab of butter but are just as good the next day sliced in half, toasted and again with a slab of butter and even some apricot jam!
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