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Spiced Tea Cakes

We are relatively sure that when we get to heaven (fingers crossed) we will arrive to the wafting aroma of yeast bread baking! Then, of course, we will be offered a cup of tea and a spiced tea cake slathered with a ridiculous amount of butter — that’s heaven, isn’t it?!? However, until then, we shall be quite content to make our own and judiciously control our butter consumption. Here is the perfect recipe: split in half and toasted — heaven!!

Spiced Tea Cakes

1 lb. 2 oz. white bread flour (3¾ cups)
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. butter, cubed
1 package fast-acting dried yeast
1½ oz. caster sugar (3½ tbs.) plus 3 tbs. for dusting
4 oz. currants (scant ¾ cup)
4 oz. mixed peel (scant ¾ cup) [we like to use only orange peel]
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
8 fl. oz. warm milk, plus 2 tbs. for brushing

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the yeast, sugar, currants, peel, and spices. Make a well in the center and pour in ¾ of the milk. Mix together, adding more of the milk if needed, to make a soft dough.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and knead the dough for 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough by punching it, then knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 12 pieces, shape into flattened balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic wrap and lightly brush with reserved milk. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pale golden. Heat the 3 tbs. sugar with 3 tbs. water until dissolved. Brush over the tea cakes and serve warm or cooled and toasted.

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