Like most keen cooks, I have a collection of recipe books, cuttings from magazines, several somewhat splattered and stained notebooks in which I jot down my own successful (or otherwise) experiments, and nowadays a host of bookmarks to recipe sites and forums etc. Amongst this lot I have accumulated over the years a bunch of charity recipe books: the home-printed kind produced to fund-raise for very local institutions and events, such as a new church roof, a sports centre, the youth football team or drama group etc etc. You know the kind of thing.
I love these little books and pamphlets, as they are full of in-jokes, local lore and references that mean nothing to the rest of us, and the recipes range from the frankly awful, mixing several tins and packets type, to the sublime of someone’s Granny’s perfect apple pie or pot roast that has been handed down for generations.
This recipe comes from a very old and tattered booklet, printed in 1986, to fund-raise for the ancient church in Greensted, Essex, UK. It is credited only to a certain G. French, whoever he or she may be, and I have adapted it very slightly.
This is a very easy cake to bake, and turns out with a somewhat unusual, but very more-ish, finish: not a sponge-type cake, but more a cross between an airy scone and a very light shortbread. Different, and delicious.
Equipment: you will need: two 7inch/18cm sandwich/cake/flan tins, and, although not essential, some baking parchment or similar to line the tins – the cake should release without this, provided the tins are properly prepared, so it is just an extra insurance. You will also need a wire grid or cake rack for cooling.
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It is also useful to have a skewer to poke into the cake at the end of baking, to ensure it is properly cooked through – again, you can do without this, and use the point of a thin, sharp knife.
12oz/340gram Self-Raising Flour – if this is not available, use plain/all purpose flour with baking powder added to the quantity specified on the packet. Baking powders vary in rise and lift, so follow the manufacturers instructions, but the quantity will be approximately one rounded teaspoon.
3oz/85g caster/confectioner’s sugar
One large egg, or two small, beaten
A pinch of salt (only if using unsalted butter)
Your favourite jam or conserve for the filling – the original recipe specifies Blackberry jam
A little icing/fine confectioner’s sugar for dusting the top of the finished cake (optional)
A little more soft butter and flour to prepare the tins – see below.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180C/350F.
Grease the tins thinly with butter, and dust with a little flour until lightly coated all over. Tip out any excess flour, tapping the tin gently. This should provide a very good non-stick finish, but you can also line the base of the tins with circles of baking parchment or similar.
This is an “all in” recipe with no creaming of the butter and sugar, so put all the ingredients into your food mixture and whizz until mixed – you should get a result like breadcrumbs, but if the butter is particularly soft or the eggs slightly larger than specified it may become more like a somewhat lumpy and bumpy dough – don’t worry if this happens, it will still work fine.
Divide the mixture equally between the two tins, and here’s the important bit: firm down and smooth out the dough in one tin – this will be the base of your cake. Leave the other half crumbly, just firming down enough to hold it together.
Bake for about 30 mins, taking a peek at around 25. You are waiting for a light golden colour and for a skewer or knife point inserted into the middle of the cakes to come out clean.
When ready, turn out the cakes onto a rack to cool. When cold, spread the base with the jam, and top with the crumbly half. Dust the top with the fine sugar, through a sieve or tea-strainer, if you like, or leave plain.
Cut carefully: it is as the name suggests, quite crumbly!