An early episode of GBBO featured English Teacakes. They simply called them Teacakes but as American Tea Cakes are very popular in the southern US, I added the ‘English’ modifier for clarity.
Teacakes are a classic sweet yeasted bun with dried fruit and aromatic spice. English cafes serve teacakes, usually toasted, liberally buttered along side a pot of tea.
The term, teacake, derives from a tradition of ‘yeast cakes’ and are more bread-like than cake-like. They are basically a simple bread dough enriched by adding extra fat (usually butter and/or eggs) so it becomes softer with a delicate crumb.
Teacakes – Traditional English
• 1 cup milk (236 ml) warmed to 100 – 110 °F (38 – 43°C)
• 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 3 ½ cups (455 grams) all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon all spice
• ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 cup (128 grams) dried currants, raisins or cranberries
• 6 tablespoons unsalted melted butter
• 2 large beaten eggs
• Zest of a large lemon – optional replacing some spices from above
• 1 additional beaten egg combined with 1 Tbl water for an egg wash
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the milk, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer bowl. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes (maybe more) until you start to see it bubble a little.
- Add the flour, salt, spices and currants and mix well.
- Add the butter and beaten eggs. Use a flat beater to incorporate the liquids into the flour. When the dough comes together, use a dough hook and knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. It should be slightly but not overly sticky. Add more flour by the tablespoon until that is achieved. It should not clean the walls of the bowl.
- Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for about 45 mins to rise.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly for a few minutes until smooth. Divide the dough into 12 balls (~90g each) and shape each into a bun that is a flat round.
(12 balls will make a traditional teacake size. Divide into 45g balls for small snack sized cakes. Adjust the bake time accordingly.)
- Place evenly spaced onto the baking sheet and cover loosely with a towel. Leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until they double in size.
- Preheat oven to 400°F /200°C.
- Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown (time may vary depending on your oven). I rotate the pan after 8 minutes to compensate for uneven temperature in the oven.)