Many restaurants and caterers will not divulge their recipes for a plethora of reasons. However, whilst there are a few Merrow Savouries’ dishes that we would not want to reveal their secret (coronation chicken is one and the other is our chocolate and amaretti cheesecake!) both Tom and I are quite happy to share our recipes and ideas. We take it as a compliment when someone asks. It means they must have liked it. So, here is the first of many sweet treat ideas we would like to share.
One of the most frequently requested recipes is for date slices. Actually given to me by mother in law over 30 years ago (as are so many of my recipes) and still as popular as it was then.
Using your fingertips rub together equal quantities (say 250g of each) of plain white flour, soft margarine, demerara sugar, porridge oats and a good pinch of salt. It does not have to be too fine. More a breadcrumb consistency. Meanwhile soak about 250g of dried stoneless dates in boiling water or better still for a good hour until they are soft. Press half the crumble mixture into a greased Swiss roll tin. Drain the dates and squash them up a little. Press them into the crumble. Then tip the rest of the crumble on top, sandwiching the dates. Press the top layer of crumble down. Bake at 170’C/300F/Gas 4for about 40 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut them into squares, as big or as little as you like. We like to serve them ‘bite size’ for afternoon teas or bigger for morning coffee. You could substitute the dates for apricots or mixed dried fruit (soaked in orange juice to soften them). Or at Christmas use mincemeat inside and sprinkle with nuts on the top layer, dust with icing sugar once cooked and offer as a delicious alternative to mince pies. The crumble mix itself is also great on top of apples, rhubarb or plums with a tad more sprinkling of Demerara on top to brown it up and add a crunch.
Another much requested recipe of ours is for rock cakes which are always thoroughly enjoyed as a part of our cake platters. Whilst so very quick and easy to make, very few recipe books seem to mention them. Although incredibly simple -it seems that the more often you make them, the better they get. Perhaps they are a bit 1970s? but who cares, they are always devoured. As before use your finger tips to rub together ‘half everything to flour’ ie 200g self raising flour with 100g margarine and 100g Demerara sugar. Then add about 100g of dried mixed fruit and a teaspoon of mixed spice and a pinch of salt. Now using a fork, combine the dried ingredients with one large beaten egg. It may look quite dry but do not be tempted to add more eggs (ok a tad of milk if you must) otherwise you will have rock flats rather than rock cakes or buns! Using a spoon and fork or your hands dusted in flour, divide the dough into about 12 rocky lumps (don’t be precious about smoothing them into rounds) and place on a greased baking tray. Bake for about 15 minutes at 190’c/375F/Gas 5. Serve slightly warm straight from the oven or if you can bear the wait – cool on a rack, but best eaten on the same day, just like scones.