Sometimes in life you’ve got to be cruel to be kind. I am being cruel today as I am going to describe to you a family recipe that will make your mouth water like it’s never done before, but not actually give you the recipe as it’s a tightly kept family secret and I haven’t been given the permission to share it. Sorry! However, I am being kind as I am saving you 1000s of calories!
I’ve made various reference to my family providing me with my inspiration for cooking, mainly my great great aunts who live in Bournemouth. Their mother and one of my great great aunts is famous for making Buttercake. Growing up, when spending the weekend in Bournemouth breakfast on Shabbat morning was often a piece of Buttercake. It was something that everyone looked forward too and put a warm smile on your face when you had eaten your slice as you knew you were about to cut yourself another one.
The Green Park Hotel in Bournemouth was owned and run by my great grandparents and my great grandmother’s four and later three sisters. It was known for its outstanding service and out of this world food . Unfortunately I wasn’t born till two years after they closed the doors of the hotel so I just live vicariously through the incredible stories. However, my uncles took a film of the hotel during the last week. One of the scenes they shot was from the bakery, which I’ve been told is where my mum, her siblings and cousins spent much of their childhood. One of the scenes in the bakery is of the baker making rows and rows of Buttercake. It was incredible watching the process and the love and care that went into these cakes, I can see why these were such a hit and are one of the most remembered cakes from that era.
Fortunately, I was able to acquire the recipe for this Buttercake and I decided after my visit to Bournemouth over Rosh Hashanah that it was time I had a go. Buttercake is a very very buttery version of a yeast cake. The main ingredients are butter, flour, yeast, sugar, butter, cinnamon, raisins and currents oh and did I mention butter. Butter is by far the most important and largest ingredient, hence its name!
You make the dough like you would most yeast cakes, but the beauty of this enriched dough is that it only needs 40 minutes to rise. It was such a surprising and very pleasurable dough to work with, and as I am old school I mixed it all by hand. I imagined that this was how my Great Great Grandmother made her Buttercakes so this is how I wanted to make it. At the beginning you can’t envision that this sticky mixture of ingredients will actually form a solid dough that you can kneed, and there is a point when it becomes tempting to add in more flour. However, literally from one minute to the next the dough comes together and forms this silky texture and comes away from the bowl. If there was any reason to make it by hand, it was that moment.
After the dough proved it was time to divide it into the amount of cakes you want to make. The original recipe called for you to split the dough into two equal parts. I think the tins they used in the hotel were slightly bigger than mine, so I divided the dough into three equal parts. Having actually doubled the mixture, I was going to make 6 cakes in total. It wasn’t going to be possible to make this cake without distributing it to all the family members who would have ostracised me if they found out I had made it and didn’t drop them in some to taste!
Once the dough is divided, it has to be rolled out into a flat rectangle, you lather on more butter and sprinkle it with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and raisins/currants. Ordinarily you would think this is the part where you role the cake up. But, before such a thing could happen, do you know what other ingredient needs to be added?… you guessed it Butter! This time in small cubes distributed evenly along the cake. Then it was time to roll up the cake and place it in the baking tins.
I am sure you are aware that heat and smells rise, so often I can’t smell the true essence of the baking and cooking in the kitchen, and therefore I try to walk out of the kitchen or go upstairs to fully appreciate the aromas being concocted in the oven. I felt when making this special recipe it was only appropriate to go upstairs once the Buttercakes were in the oven so I could fully appreciate the wonderful and buttery smells that were making their way around the house.
The only thing left to do was to run downstairs the moment the timer went to get them out the oven, and cut one open.
First published on Arutz Sheva http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/7531#.VgdPNk1wZYc