Traditional Yorkshire Tea Cakes. 


As the name implies, teacakes originated in the North of England and were used principally as a meal for breakfast or lunch by the workforce who had no facilities for obtaining food when away from home. The usual way of eating plain Tea cakes  was to split them and fill with a savoury filling such as ham, bacon and even a fried egg when available. As the pasty was to the Cornish miner so the tea cake found favour to the mill workers of the North. It was in effect a sandwich but because of its nature was more robust. With the addition of a little more fat and sugar + fruit, such as currants, it became a sweeter and an ideal product for latter in the day. Any that were not eaten could be kept for later and "freshened up"  by toasting in front of the open fire when the days work was finished. The Toasted Teacake was born. Today this product has become the custom through out the UK. 

The method used for making these Tea Cakes is known as "The Ferment and Dough Process"

It is a two stage process. 

The reasons for using this method  are:

  1. Because of the fact that yeast reproduces itself in the ferment , it is possible to use a slightly smaller quantity than if the straight dough process were used and therefore would be more economical.
  2. It produces a Tea Cake with a softer crumb.
  3. It gives a lighter bun of greater volume.
  4. Improves the flavour (not so yeasty taste)
  5. Because it gives a softer crumb it, improves the keeping qualities.

Plain Teacakes.  Makes 6.

First stage:  The Ferment.

 Milk (for best results use full cream)  140ml (5oz)   @38C (100F).
 Caster Sugar    1 Teaspoon.
 Fresh yeast. 21g (3/4oz).   If using dried active yeast (not fast acting) 12g.
 Strong bread flour 28g (1oz).

Carefully warm the milk to 38C (100F) If you do not have a thermometer this is just above Blood heat. (To give you an idea of the temperature required, mix 1 cup of boiling water with two cups of cold water and the temp will be approx 38C).
Place the warm milk into a bowl big enough to allow the volume to treble in size. Into the milk place the sugar yeast and flour and whisk to ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Cover with cling film or a cloth and set aside in a warm, draught free area for 30 minutes. This will create a ferment, do not worry if it peaks and then drops, some bakers prefer this to happen, my own opinion is that you should take it at its peak just before it drops.  See Below

  While the ferment is working , weigh and measure the ingredients for the Dough stage. If not already done so: 

TURN ON OVEN.  245C, Fan 225C, 485F, Gas 9=10

2nd Stage  The Dough.

 Strong White Bread Flour  390g (14oz)

 Salt 7g (1/4oz)

 Fat 35g (11/4oz) can be lard,butter or Trex.

 Milk @ 48C (120F)  100g (4oz)


Mixing the Dough.

  1. Sieve the flour and salt together into a mixing bowl (or machine bowl) add the fat and rub in .
  2. Add the risen ferment from stage 1, along with the warm milk to the bowl and mix to a dough.
  3. If using a machine ,use the dough hook and stir on slow speed for 2 minutes.
  4. If mixing by hand use a large spoon/spatula (wood is good) and bring all the ingredients together to form the dough.
  5. The dough is soft so do not be tempted to add extra flour.
  6. When the dough is formed it needs to be mixed to develop the gluten. On a machine,use medium speed for at least 5 minutes. By hand: turn the dough out onto the work surface and develop by hand kneading .
  7. Once a clear developed dough is formed, place into the mixing bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm, draught free place for 30 minutes.
 Processing the dough.

After the 30 minutes the dough should have doubled in size. Carefully turn out on to the work surface .
You now need to scale/weigh the dough into 112g (4oz) pieces. As you weigh, set the pieces of  dough in pairs. When all 6 are weighed go back to the first pair and make into a ball (round up) and replace on to the work surface. See below. 
Cover with a cloth or lightly greased cling film and leave for 10 mins to recover.

 Starting with the first  dough piece that was rounded up , roll out to a disc aprox 41/2in diameter and place onto a lightly greased or baking parchment lined (lightly warm) baking tray. Dock the centre with your finger or a fork, this will stop the centre from rising too high.

You now need to Prove the Tea cakes. They need to be in a warm, moist atmosphere. This will allow the yeast to grow and stop a skin forming on the surface of the product. The best way is to place the whole tray into a large plastic bag ((bin liner) making sure the surface of the plastic does not come in contact with the dough and then place in a warm, draught free, area for aprox 35-40 minutes during which time the tea-cakes will double in size. To test if they are ready, gently press the side with a finger tip , it should leave a small indent, if it springs out this will indicate that it may need a few more minutes. 

The proving of tea-cakes is a very important part of the process, if left for too long (over proved) they will tend to flow out more in the oven and become thin at the edges. If they are not given enough time ( under-proved) they will have pulled and crinkled sides with a possibility of a hole under the top crust.

Oven Temp:  245C,  Fan 225C, 485F, Gas 9-10

When fully proved carefully place into the pre-heated oven, taking care not to bang or knock the tray as this could expel the gas created during the proving stage. As can be seen, teacakes are baked in a very hot oven for quite a short time.

Bake for 12-15 minutes 

Currant Teacakes.

To produce a fruited Tea cake, use the same 1st stage ferment as for plain. 

2nd Stage.

Strong white bread flour  390g (14oz)

Salt   7g (1/4 oz)

Fat 98g ( 31/2oz) can be lard, butter or Trex.

Sugar 84g (3oz)

Currants 168g (6oz)

Milk @ 48C (120F)  100g (4oz).

  1. Sieve the flour and salt together into a mixing bowl (or machine bowl) add the fat and rub in .
  2. Add the risen ferment from stage 1, along with the warm milk and sugar to the bowl and mix to a dough.
  3. If using a machine ,use the dough hook and stir on slow speed for 2 minutes.
  4. If mixing by hand use a large spoon/spatula (wood is good) and bring all the ingredients together to form the dough.
  5. The dough is soft so do not be tempted to add extra flour.
  6. When the dough is formed it needs to be mixed to develop the gluten. On a machine,use medium speed for at least 5 minutes. By hand: turn the dough out onto the work surface and develop by hand kneading .
  7. Once a clear developed dough is formed, add the currants, this is best done by hand by carefully tearing into the dough until all the fruit is evenly distributed. Place into the mixing bowl, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm, draught free place for 30 minutes.
Proceed as for the plain Teacakes. Because of the additional fat,  sugar and fruit , the yield  will be increased by 2 to give you aprox 8 . (shown below)

Baking.
 Due to the increase in sugar content you will need to reduce the temperature of the oven.
240C, Fan 220C, 475F, Gas8-9.

Note:
Can be made with wholemeal or wheatmeal flour but you will need to increase the milk in the 2nd stage by 28g (1oz).



Baked Fruited Yorkshire Tea-Cakes