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Exceedingly good teacakes

17th June 2011 - Gayle Lazda

Oliver Peyton's handsome new book of British Baking showcases favourite recipes from his Peyton and Byrne bakeries. With stomach-rumble inducing photography, the book covers the whole gamut of baking, from cakes, through biscuits, pies and puddings, to savoury breads and buns, along with all the necessary extras: jams, cordials and more varieties of icing than you will ever need. It always manages to stay just the right side of twee, making it slightly more grown up than a lot of baking books around at the moment.

Which isn't to say it's not fun: in between the very useful recipes for British standards - Madeira cake, apple pie, a delicious looking Victoria sponge - is scattered a glorious selection of mildly ridiculous but deliciously nostalgic recipes - jammy dodgers, Battenberg and TWO DIFFERENT SWISS ROLLS! Because one type of Swiss roll just isn't enough.

Image of teacake recipe page

But the standout recipe that I just have to try is the marshmallow teacakes. I find it very hard to believe a teacake can be that much more delicious than Tunnock's sublime version that it can possibly be worth the effort, but I'm more than willing to be proved wrong. So here goes.

To begin, a rich vanilla biscuit base (two egg yolks and a tablespoon of double cream!), which miraculously I manage not to burn - I always, without fail, burn biscuits when I try to make them, so a promising start.

Image of teacake biscuit bases

But on to the most exciting part. In so far as I have ever wondered how marshmallow is made, I assumed it must only be possible in a factory, and involve various kinds of unsavoury chemicals, but apparently, it can be made in your own home! And with all-natural ingredients! Egg whites, sugar, golden syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt, heated gently in a bain-marie and then whisked into soft peaks, and there it is - homemade marshmallow, and so delicious is it, that it is only by great show of will-power that I haven't eaten it all straight from the bowl.

Piping the (remaining) marshmallow on to the biscuits is surprisingly easy (even in my makeshift baking-parchment-and-sellotape piping bag) and I'm thoroughly impressed with the professional-looking job I've made of it.

Image of marshmallow topping on teacakes

Unfortunately, my efforts with the melted chocolate are not quite so successful, and I end up with something akin to twelve reject Walnut Whips. Oh well, I suppose it's the taste that really matters, and my shaky will-power is again called into action as the recipe demands I wait up to an hour (a whole hour!) for the chocolate to set completely.

But gosh, it was worth the wait: gooey, sticky and sickly sweet, in the best possible way. I wouldn't like to say they're better than Tunnock's, but... well, they're pretty good. The recipe states that the teacakes should be eaten on the day they are made. I don't think we'll have any problems there.

Half-eaten teacake


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