What to bake this weekend
- Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis
I’m not going to get into a debate this week (despite one of my kids having started it) about what the pictured bake is. Who needs labels? Not me.
Anyway, if we’re going down that path...what do you think a Jaffa Cake is?
I like to think of these creations of a distant cousin of the Eccles cake and a squashed fly biscuit. Like an Eccles cake, they’ve got a boozy, slightly syrupy filling. But like a squashed fly (garibaldi in case you thought I was being weird) you roll over the fruit inside, so it just peeps through.
The inspiration came from my new favourite tipple – the Rusty Nail. No, I haven’t got slightly mad. The short serve classic cocktail is a blend of whisky and Drambuie, combined and served over ice.
I’ve tended to shy away from pure spirit drinks. Unless they’re mixed with juice or some kind of tonic I’m liable to climb the table and start singing karaoke hits.
But when a bottle of Drambuie (a sweet, silky blend of whisky, heather honey, herbs and spices) landed on my desk I thought, ‘sod it, I’ll give it a go’.
It is, readers, my new vice. Imagine me perched on the sofa with a glass in hand, the cloak of night falling at the window, a good book propped on my lap. I don’t have a roaring fire, but you get the picture. It’s a smooth, sippable joy that I thought could work in a pud, cake or pie. And I was right.
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For this recipe, a shot of each spirit is melted into butter, brown sugar and fudgy dates, then captured in sweet shortcrust pastry. The result is almost as addictive as the drink – some of the mixture didn’t make it from the pan to the oven, I must confess.
The filling, doubled would make a truly decadent and moreish alternative to mincemeat in those traditional pies this Christmas – especially for anyone who hates glace cherries, sultanas and chopped peel!
Rusty Nail Pies
For the filling
50g brown sugar
150g dates, chopped roughly
Pinch salt to taste
For the pastry
75g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
150g plain flour
Line a large baking sheet and turn the oven to 190C.
Combine the butter, icing sugar and flour for the pastry to make breadcrumbs. Add iced water, little by little, to bring together into a dough. Wrap and chill in the fridge.
For the filling, place all the ingredients in a saucepan on a low heat and cook gently until thickened and gloopy – a few minutes. Allow to cool.
Flour a worksurface and roll the pastry to 5mm thick. Cut out 5-6cm circles and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Place 1tsp of the mixture in the centre of half the circles and wet the edge lightly with water. Press another piece of (unfilled) pastry on top, press the edges, and then roll over the top with a rolling pin to flatten to about 8cm wide.
Place on your tray and bake for around 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden and bubbling. Serve with a tot of whisky!