Tea, Cakes & Pie In My Spring Kitchen

For some reason, Spring seems to have triggered a hitherto dormant baking bug. It might have something to do with the warm fresh weather, the sparkling effervescent sunshine or the green earthy smell of the awakening garden with its blossoming wildflowers. Those wildflowers include a carpet of sunny-faced camomile just outside the back door which I showed in my post, The Tortoises are Back. Many of the flower heads have now been cut and are air drying, waiting to be used as tea – served, naturally, with cake.

In Spring I always get the urge to make my lemon poppyseed cake. This time it was baked in my fancy bundt pan.

When up-ended, all the pretty ridges are near perfect. A slice goes well with a cup of camomile tea.

Pear, lemon and cardamom cake came next. It was made using a modified version of our standard apple and cinnamon cake, a version with more spring-like flavours.

Baking segued into making plain scones. This isn’t something I do often as I tend to make my mother-in-law’s cheese scones. But I had this new batch of strawberry jam just waiting…

I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a recipe in Delia Smith’s classic 1978 cookbook, Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. Reading through it, I was a bit puzzled by the lack of an egg in the mix, but a little internet searching assured me that plain scones were – in fact – made without egg in the batter. The result was a very white crumb. The next batch – with egg – came from that other doyen of British cooking, Mary Berry, with her recipe for Devonshire Scones. It also produced delicious fluffy scones, but with a slightly yellow crumb. Frankly, I couldn’t tell which tasted better. They were equally good.

Spiced hot cross buns were next, sourdough, naturally. My own version substituted fresh lemon zest instead of the usual dried fruit. I followed Maree Tink’s (Around the Mulberry Tree) advice and put the cross dough in a squeezy bottle. Worked perfectly! Not surprisingly, these HCB also go well with that strawberry jam. Just need to tweak the recipe a little and I’ll be posting it soon.

Earlier in the month, I initiated a series of posts on pies – Greek pites – both savoury and sweet, large and small. Below, these are tsigarista filled pitakia – little pies. Fried, not baked, but other pies we made were tucked away in the oven.

It all started with a booklet by the Greek Government department in charge of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Click on the image below for a link to download the free pdf:

My pie obsession will, no doubt, culminate in those traditional sweet cheese pies, kalitsounia, made for Easter. Keep posted! I’m trying one with a softer dough this year. Oh, and more of those hot cross buns…

A monthly IMK (In My Kitchen) post. Check out other IMK bloggers, each of us writing about what’s been happening in our kitchens each month, now hosted by Liz @ Bizzy Lizzys Good Things who has graciously taken up the challenge (and before her by Maureen @ The Orgasmic Chef) to list all of us IMK bloggers. For earlier IMK posts, see the fabulous Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who, began the IMK phenomenon and until 2016 listed all of us IMK bloggers. A chronological listing of my In My Kitchen blog posts can be found on a separate page, just click the link or look under the heading of Diaries in the Menu bar above.
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31 comments

  1. Hi Deb, glad your feeling the renewal of spring, I miss tangible seasons that are not just defined by wet and dry. I’ve never known scones to include eggs, interesting that you were unable to detect a difference. I’ve been perfecting sourdough HCB too. Your lemon poppyseed cake looks delicious, haven’t made my version for ages, I’m off to the kitchen right now..

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    • It must be a challenge getting used to a tropical climate, but I am sure it has its own rhythms. There was a minor difference in the eggless versus egg scone, but you could only detect it if you ate it without butter or jam. Despite what I said in the post, I prefer Delia Smith’s eggless ones. Have perfected the HCB and have had to make endless batches for everyone here to taste. Most of my Greek friends had never heard of them, but they are now converts. Recipe post coming up soon.

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  2. Love the shape of the lemon cake, – sourdough HCBs are also news to me, but love the idea as I find the ones you can buy in bakeries in the UK too sweet, and there is a weird artificial taste to them!?
    When my son was four he came back from his CoE primary school one day around Easter and proclaimed : ‘ Did you know, – Jesus died on a hot cross bun!’. He got very annoyed when we all disintegrated into stitches and was insistent on it being a historical fact. He had obviously gotten the different gruesome Easter stories they were telling him at school mixed up. We still have a good laugh at it once a year for Easter, thus new seasonal traditions are formed.

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    • The shape of the lemon poppyseed cake was due to a fabulous Scandinavian bundt pan (Nordic Ware brand). It is a substantial, heavy-duty, non-stick pan that bakes cake beautifully. I admit that I still applied some care went into buttering the interior to make sure that all the crevices were covered. HCBs that you make yourself – wether made with sourdough starter or with yeast – are so much better than store bought ones. You can also control the amount of sugar you add. I also prefer the plain ones without died fruit. I’ll be posting on them soon – hopefully before Easter!
      It’s also amazing how family traditions are formed. We have a few in our family that no one else would understand – formed from stories like yours. Even though my son is grown up, we still managed to have a laugh at some of them.

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  3. Love the sound of that pear cake Debi. Could you please post that recipe too. I am building up to the Hot Cross Buns, checking all the differing versions out there. Good to see you back into baking too. Those fresh camomilla look lovely. Sogni’d’oro.

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    • We’ll be making more cakes soon, including the pear cardamon one, so will write up the recipe. We make numerous cakes for serving at coffee time for conferences…and Spring seems to be conference time. The fresh camomile are now dried. The really shrink, so we have only enough for a few pots. Will need to go collect more before they disappear into the ground. HCB making is ongoing, but I’ve now perfected the recipe. The problem is that everyone wants to try them, and once they do, they want more. Recipe for them will be posted before Easter.

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  4. What a beautiful bundt pan Debi, and well done on getting it out so cleanly! I made one this week and ended up with half left in the tin 😦
    Well done on testing Delia vs Mary 🙂 I think UK and Australian scones are generally made with just butter and milk or cream, whereas US recipes tend to add eggs, and sugar – overall a rather more lavish product – though they’re usually not being covered with piles of cream and jam to be fair 🙂
    And I love the fact that the Greek govt has an official publication on pie!

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    • Bundt pan is great – Nordic Ware brand – which my lovely son gave to me a present. Needless to say, lemon poppyseed cake is his favourite, so perhaps there was a connection. Many savour scones have egg in the mixture, including the ones I make frequently – my mother-in-law’s Scottish cheese scones (or bannocks as she called them). I don’t normally make plain scones, so I was a bit surprised when looking up the recipes. The egg one of Mary Berry’s did have an eggy flavour if they were NOT piled with butter and jam. So, I think I prefer the eggless ones. Pies (pites) are universal here in Greece, but they are truly distinctive by region and there are many special ones for holidays, so a great topic for Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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  5. Hi Debi, some beautiful baked goods in your kitchen this month… truly beautiful! Thank you for the very kind shout out, lovely xx

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  6. Your cakes are totally impressive. I love lemon poppy seed cake, but have a friend who makes a great one, so when I want it I just invite her for dinner. She used to ask what she could bring, but now just knows she is on for dessert.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  7. Debi, I’m wishing I could sample your strawberry jam on anything! Your scones (version 1 & 2) sounded amazing, and your pitakia… well, what can I say? DROOL! I’m also lovin’ your department of “Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Sometimes all we have to hold onto is the “intangible” — thanks for depicting your IMK adventures so well that I could “taste” and imagine them. BTW, I’m treating some ladies at a luncheon this week to a fajita-flavored chicken dish made with YOUR fajita seasoning. (So sublime!) I didn’t picture the cool mortar & pestle I recently acquired on my IMK post, but please know that it’s “maiden voyage” will be pulverized (with love) from your seasoning recipe, xo.

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    • Hi Kim, the department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is a fantastic way of documenting all those regional folk traditions. Of course, the pies are a great example of this. Oh my – I have forgotten about the fajita mix. Must look it up on my own blog and give it a go here in Greece. I remember now that I devised it so that I could do it here – at least be able to get all the ingredients! Thanks for mentioning it and I hope the ladies enjoy the luncheon!

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    • I think scones take a practised (and light) hand. It took me a long time to get it right. First, I rub the butter into the flour mixture until you get thumbnail size pieces of butter. Next, when you all the liquids, only mix until it comes together. Don’t over mix or knead the dough. Good luck! Scones are simple and delicious – particularly if you have homemade strawberry jam.

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  8. My mouth dropped open at the lovely cakes, and I am amazed you got that bundt cake out with all the ridges intact! I am glad you are able to share the bounty with conferences, my problem with baking is that there are only 3 of us and we can never finish them before they go stale. But, I am truly impressed by your own.

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  9. What lovely bundt cakes. Lemon poppyseed is one of my favorites. I think the kids and I will bake a bundt today while they are home on spring break. Instead of going to the beach we’ll use our sand castle bundt cake pan and pretend. The strawberry jam looks divine as well. We’ll go berry picking today or tomorrow and then it’s jam time here too.

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  10. All that baking deb. good on you. I’ve never heard of putting egg in scones either. It’s like damper really basically flour and milk and butter isn’t it? Adore your beautiful bundt tin. So pretty.

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