Jul 02, 2018

English Desserts

By MaryAnn Miano

Book of English Desserts by Constance Chambers

Many people in America are of English heritage, and this July’s holiday of our country’s independence can be celebrated with The Book of English Desserts by Constance Chambers. It’s available for checkout from Colts Neck Library’s extensive Catherine Henning Collection. This book is chock-full of favorite recipes for cakes and sweets well-loved by the British.

If you enjoy tea time as much as the Brits do, this book lends authenticity and value to the cook who would like the English experience. Many of these 200 delicious recipes are original, and each was made and tested personally by the author. Some are old family favorites (or should I say “favourites?”); others were given to her by friends who considered the recipes especially good.
While many of the recipes require some skill in their preparation and a good knowledge of cooking, less experienced cooks and cooks in a hurry will appreciate the simple, straightforward instructions provided. In addition to the excellent and sometimes unusual recipes, the cookbook includes tips on cake baking and sweet-making (and how to avoid pitfalls), and various tables on measuring, oven temperatures, consistencies, etc. A useful table showing the number of eggs needed for various recipes in the cookbook is a novel addition.

Section One of the book contains recipes for biscuits, buns, scones, shortbread, cakes and cookies, and fillings. Section Two is full of sweets such as fudge, truffles, fondant, peanut brittle, marzipan, and icing.
If you’d like to try “Scots Bun” or a “Wimmy Sandwich” or use some Devonshire Cream for the top of your English scone, this lovely book will satisfy your Downton Abbey-type addiction.

SCONES
½ lb. of self-rising flour
3 oz. butter or margarine
¼ pint of milk
¼ teaspoon of salt
A heaped teaspoonful of granulated sugar
A bare ¼ level teaspoonful of baking soda
A bare ½ level teaspoonful of cream of tartar
Note: Buttermilk is best, but if this is used, omit the baking soda and cream of tartar.

400-450 degree oven, center shelf.

1. Grease a baking sheet
2. Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar into a bowl.
3. Rub in the butter or margarine lightly, lifting and incorporating as much air as possible.
4. When the mixture is crumbly, make a well in the center and quickly mix in the milk to make a soft dough. Turn this onto a lightly floured board or slab, just flatten or give one light roll to make the dough about ¾ inch thick, and cut it into rounds with a small floured plain cutter.
5. Turn the scones upside down onto the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Do not over-bake.
6. Handle the dough as little and as quickly as possible.
7. For Sultana (raisin) Scones, add an extra teaspoon of sugar and a few sultanas.

Recipe from The Book of English Desserts, page 56, By Constance Chambers, Publisher: A.S. Barnes and Co., Inc., 1965