Sunday, November 30, 2008

Paradise Cakes

Today with the The Women's Institute of 650 Favourite Recipes, we enter the Prizewinner's section. Happily, we skip past "Kate's Surprise", which contains (surprise!) gelatine, anchovy essence, prawns and cottage cheese. We also miss out on "Secret Salad", which will alas remain a mystery, and we hastily hasten past "Hasty Fish Pie", which appears to actually take about an hour and a half. Hasty, no; tasty, perhaps not given the addition of 600ml/1 pint parsley sauce, AKA Tasteless White Goo With Green Bits In.

No, today our rural repast will be Paradise Cakes, with apologies to John Milton.

First, though, a glossary, because the fruit of that forbidden tree is probably called something different where you live, because the words for ingredients, clothed in reason's garb as they are, differ across the world.

Sultanas are dried white grapes: white raisins. Glacé cherries are crystallized. Currants are not red- or blackcurrants, but are small raisins. (Incidentally, did you know that the currant is named for Corinth, the Greek isthmus and city-state?) If you can't find the precise dried fruit, do just use whatever you have, although plain raisins won't taste of much. Caster sugar you may not be able to find; superfine should do it if you can't. Oh, and I never use margarine for cakes, so butter is fine. And a Swiss roll tin looks like this.

On to the recipe, sadly unaccompanied by a picture today because the cats are both outside and unwilling to assist.

Paradise Cakes

Makes 25-30

175g/6 oz margarine
150g/5 oz caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
100g/4 oz ground rice
75g/3 oz ground almonds
50g/2 oz sultanas
50g/2 oz glacé cherries
75g/3 oz currants
shortcrust pastry, made with 100g/4 oz flour
caster sugar to dredge

Cream the margarine and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, then mix in the ground rice and almonds. Fold in the fruit.

Roll out the dough and use to line a Swiss roll tin. Spread the fruit mixture over the dough. Bake in a preheated moderate oven (180°C/350°F, Gas Mark 4) for 45 minutes.

Cool, then cut into fingers and dredge with caster sugar.

The thing I love about the sound of this recipe — and the way it fits into our gift-giving theme — is that I'd imagine that one could easily cut them into festive shapes (trees, stars, crescents, bright consummate flowers, Flying Spaghetti Monsters) and decorate the tops as desired. I'd imagine that a good stiff Christmas Cake icing would be particularly delicious with a layer of marzipan. Plus, the shortcrust pastry and the adhesive effect of the baked dried fruits will almost certainly make it shippable.

Quaff immortality, or perhaps tea, and enjoy!
On a personal note, sharing a WI cookbook is particularly poignant for me today, because my dear Great-auntie Helen, a lifelong member and keen blancmange-maker, died this morning. So long, Auntie Helen, and thanks for all the cake.

1 comment:

  1. I think, in honor of Helen, you should post a blancmange recipe.

    Sorry for your loss, darlin'.