These fruit-filled teatime treats are thought to be a refinement of the original ‘handbread’: a shaped roll made on a flat tin. You can add a teaspoon of allspice to the flour, if you like. Serve them split and buttered, either warm from the oven or toasted.
450g/1lb strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
5ml/1 tsp salt
5ml/1 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
40g/1½ oz caster sugar
300ml/½ pint lukewarm milk, plus extra for glazing
40g/1½oz butter, diced
1 Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
2 In a jug or bowl mix the yeast, 5ml/1 tsp of the sugar and the lukewarm milk and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
3 Add the remaining sugar to the flour and make a well in the centre. Pour in the milk a little at a time and mix well, adding just enough to make a dry dough. Add the butter and knead briefly, to bring it together.
4 Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 15 minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky and full of little bubbles, adding a little extra milk if necessary. You can also do this in a food processor using the hook attachment, for 10 minutes.
5 Shape the dough into a ball, place in a clean bowl and cover with a dampened dish towel. Leave at room temperature for 1 hour, until it has doubled in bulk.
6 Generously grease two baking sheets. Turn out the dough and knead in the dried fruit until it is evenly distributed. Divide the dough into eight to ten portions, and shape into balls. Flatten each one into a disc about 1cm/½in thick.
7 Place the discs on the baking sheets, 2.5cm/1in apart. Cover with oiled clear film and leave in a warm place for 30–45 minutes, or until they have almost doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
8 Brush the top of each teacake with milk, then bake for 15–18 minutes, or until golden. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool slightly.
9 To serve, split open the teacakes while warm and spread generously with butter, or let the teacakes cool, then split and toast them.
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