The Simple Things
SERVE WITH nostalgia
SOME CAKES ARE SO GOOD, THEY GET HANDED DOWN FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION. RACHEL ALLEN CELEBRATES RECIPES FROM MOTHERS FILLED WITH MEMORIES
For many of us, a love of baking began at a young age when it was all sticky fingers, floury noses, wooden spoons to lick clean and the eager anticipation as a sweet aroma filled the house. Then there were the sublime cakes and desserts that our mums or grannies seemed to whip out at the end of a meal as if by magic, providing all the motivation needed for eating up vegetables. Sometimes the smell of melting chocolate, a forkful of buttery pastry or the taste of lemon curd as it hits the tongue is enough to cause a wave of nostalgia and a yearning to get into the kitchen and bake. The following recipes were gathered by cook Rachel Allen, from her mother-in-law Darina, her mother, grandmothers and friends’ mothers, too. Some have a modern twist – all are delicious.
This recipe is from my friend Nessa’s mum, Margaret’s leather notebook held together by threads and containing recipes handwritten by her mother and grandmother, with Margaret’s notes jotted between.
Makes about 24 fingers
75g butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing the tin 175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 50g caster sugar ½ tsp baking powder 1 egg, separated 50ml milk 1tsp vanilla extract 4tbsp sieved apricot jam 50g icing sugar A few drops of almond essence 25g flaked almonds 1 Preheat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/ 350F. Brush all over the inside of a 20x30cm Swiss roll tin with a little melted butter. Or line the tin with baking parchment if you prefer. Place the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and mix. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients.
2 Place the egg yolk in a small bowl; add the milk and vanilla extract and whisk to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to a dough.
3 Tip the dough onto a floured work surface, dust with a little flour and roll out to a rectangle to fit the prepared tin. Transfer to the tin and smooth out so it is evenly spread in the bottom of it, then spread the apricot jam evenly over the dough.
4 Place the egg white in a bowl and whisk until frothy. Sift in the icing sugar and add the almond essence, then spread thinly over the jam. It will be quite sloppy. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top.
5 Bake in the oven for 20–25 mins until golden brown all over. Take out of the oven, let cool for a few mins, then cut into fingers to serve.