Friday, June 1, 2012

Cooking with Betty Anonymous

Another  great email from Betty Anonymous!  Special thanks to Ruth from The Pink Whisk for allowing us to share her recipe (I think this sounds perfect for celebrating the Queen's Jubilee this weekend!).

Dear Betty Debbie,

A while ago, I looked up recipes for teacakes, since they are mentioned and consumed so often in the Neels canon. I found this lovely recipe and thought I’d share it with you. So I wrote an email to the author, Ruth Clemens, to ask if it was ok for me to 'print' it in a post for our blog, linking it back to her website. Today, I found her answer in my inbox.

Thanks for your email,  yes I am happy for you to use the tea cakes recipe linking it back to The Pink Whisk

Many thanks,

Now, isn’t that nice of her? So, could you please post it for me, if and when you have the time?
Thank you.

Betty Anonymous

'How about a pot of tea, buttered teacakes and jam? I like jam. 'Eugenia said wistfully, temper for the moment forgotten: 'I used to make jam with Mother. We had a big garden – red currants and plums and gooseberries and strawberries and ...
Heidelberg Wedding, 1984
They were on the A303 by now, going fast through an early dusk, but as a roadside service station came into sight he slowed.
    'Tea, don’t you think? We still have quite a way to go.'
    Over tea and toasted teacakes she asked him anxiously,
'You don’t have to drive back this evening, do you? And won’t you be too late for the evening ferry? I didn’t think – I’m sorry I’ve made things so difficult for you.'
    'Not at all. I’m staying at Salcombe until you’ve got things settled as you want them.'
Emma’s Wedding, 2001, page 112 (of 192)

She saw a Happy Eater as they approached the city but Sir James didn’t stop; they were on the other side of Exeter, halfway to Honiton when he stopped outside a hotel by the side of the road.
    'Tea?' He sounded friendly. 'Go on in while I see to Bellum.'
    He opened the door for her and then bent to put a lead on Bellum and she went inside. It was pleasantly warm with a bright fire and comfortable chairs roung small tables. First, though, the Ladies’ – plenty of hot water and large mirrors and time to see her face. Her hair looked awful too. She did the best she could and went back to find him already at a table with Bellum sitting on his feet. He got up and pulled out a chair, offering it to her, and Bellum arranged himself between them.
    'Oh, I ordered – you don’t mind? Tea, toasted teacakes and a dish of pastries.' They didn't linger over the meal and Deborah, her head full of questions, forbore from asking them because she sensed that he had no time to waste. He drove on, keeping to the A303 until he ...
Waiting for Deborah, 1994, page 92 (of 192)

He took her to the University Arms and gave her teacakes, hot and dripping with butter, and then ticked off the items she had bought. 'Raincoat?' he wanted to know. 'Wellington boots— for when you come with me on my rounds and we have to walk through muddy farmyards...'
    Phoebe went delicately pink. 'Oh, may I come with you sometimes? I’ll like that.'
A Summer Idyll, 1984, page 66 (of 192)

Crisp was waiting for them with tea and toasted teacakes, and presently Franny took Auntie to the room she was to call her own until such time as she decided to have her own home again. Franny settled her on her bed for a nap, ...
The Fortunes of Francesca, 1997, page 190 (of 256)

At Burford he stopped for tea at a hotel in its steep main street, a warm and cosy place where they sat in a pleasant room by the fire and ate toasted teacakes oozing butter and drank the finest Assam tea. 'This is bliss,' said Eulalia, mopping a buttery mouth. She smiled at him across the little table. 'I've had a heavenly day. Now we have to go back, don't we?' 'I'm afraid so. I'll settle up and see you at the car.'...
Dearest Eulalia (Mistletoe Miracles), 2000, page 26 (of 378)

Homemade Teacakes
 Homemade Teacakes

Homemade Teacakes – none of this shout ‘whip’ if you find a piece of fruit, lovely toasted slathering with butter is of course essential!
Makes 8 Teacakes
500g strong white bread flour
2 tbsps caster sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsps dried yeast or 1 sachet of fast action yeast
330 ml milk, lukewarm
130g sultanas
20g butter, melted for glazing
The dough can be made by hand (muscles at the ready), on the dough setting in a breadmaker or with a stand mixer – my method of choice, I’m a weakling or a lazy lump take your pick!
Add the flour, sugar, salt and dry yeast to the bowl of the mixer.

Measure out the milk and warm gently either in the microwave or in a pan.  It should be lukewarm – the warmth gets the yeast going straight away.  Now before you add it to the mixture check the measurement.  A key part of making sure a dough is not too tough or too sticky is measuring the liquid content correctly.  When I do this double check I often find the milk has either magically evaporated slightly or has multiplied in volume, nothing at all to do with measuring incorrectly you understand?!

So, add the right amount of milk, 330ml, to the dry mixture.

Turn the machine on, to medium speed and let it knead the mixture for you for five minutes. After five minutes turn it off and let it rest five minutes, then back on for another five.  Watch out the mixer can’t go jumping off the counter, keep your eye on it, set your mixer up on the floor, at least there it can walk without leaping from a height
If you’re being good and doing it by hand bring the dough together and knead for ten whole minutes, set the timer or you’ll cheat.  Don’t add any extra flour to your worksurface, it will make the dough tougher.  It might be a little sticky to begin with but will soon come together and be manageable for you.

After kneading the dough should be nice and smooth.  Lightly oil a bowl with a little veg/sunflower oil.  Add the ball of dough and turn to coat it.  Don’t use a bowl that’s too big and roomy a 2litre pudding bowl is just right – then the dough is nice and snug and will fill the bowl once it has doubled in size.

Cover it with clingfilm and put it somewhere warm, for me it has to be the airing cupboard but maybe your husband isn’t as mean with the heating!
After an hour to an hour and half the dough will have doubled in size.

Tip it out onto your worksurface and knock it back, punching the air out of it gently with your fists.

Spread the dough out into a rough flat shape and add the sultanas.

Gather the dough up around the fruit sealing it inside,  now you need to the knead the dough to incorporate the sultanas and distribute them evenly.  They’ll try and jump out, just keep posting them back in and eventually you’ll will the fight.

Split the dough into 8 equal sized pieces, if you’re measuring they should weigh about 125g each, but doing it by eye will add to their homemade charm.

Form each piece into a round ball, place your hand over the ball like a cage with your fingertips touching the surface, move your hand in a circular motion keeping the tips of your fingers touching the worktop.  That should turn them into neat rolls for you.

Prepare a baking tray by greasing well, lining with baking paper or bake-o-glide.
Line up the teacakes in two rows.

 Cover them with a clean tea towel and leave them to rise again for half an hour or so until puffy and doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 180c (Fan)/200c/Gas Mark 5.
Once the teacakes are risen nicely bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter and after the ten minutes take the teacakes from the oven and brush liberally all over with the butter.

Return to the oven for a further ten minutes to finish baking.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Homemade teacakes are best eaten within a day or two of baking, they can be frozen as soon as they have cooled if you don’t have a hoard of hungry gannets waiting for them to be toasted and served!
 Homemade Teacakes


  1. I looove teacakes, and my mouth is watering -- but I don't see any near-term opportunity to start a batch at mid-day so they'll be ready by tea-time. Perhaps I shall nip out to Starbucks (yawn) and find a scone to butter.

    1. I wish I could go delicately pink, or blush charmingly, I just get a sweaty upper lip when I'm embarrassed. Not heroine-ish at all..

      Sweaty Betty von Susie