Friday, 15 April 2016

Cheltenham Dippers

I always enjoy seeing the round up of recipes gathered under the Tea Time Treats umbrella each month, although I've been a bit lax about joining in, lately. But this month's theme is local and regional specialities, which is always a topic close to my travel-obsessed heart, so I especially wanted to make sure I came up with something suitable this month.

But where to start? I couldn't decide whether to focus on the town where I was born, or the county where I spent most of my childhood... I was even tempted by the regions my parents and grandparents hail from. There are just so many great recipes to choose from.

Then I read an article about the history of cake in Oxford, which referenced a couple of traditional Oxfordshire cakes that have subsequently gone out of fashion, and it got me wondering what local delicacies I might not yet have discovered in the area where I live now. I tried feeding a couple of local towns into Google without much luck, but before long I turned up this recipe for Cheltenham dippers. I've never noticed these in the shops, although they're apparently related to lardy cakes, which I've seen but always steered clear of (because lard is perhaps the least-veggie cake ingredient you could imagine). But how could you go wrong with layers of bread dough, fruit, butter, and sugar?

And these were utterly, ridiculously delicious -- it was hard to stop at a single slice, even knowing just how much butter went into the recipe. And they were also really fun to make. I'm grateful to Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and Janie at The Hedgecombers, for hosting this challenge and inspiring me to try something a bit different. I adapted the original recipe slightly as I was only using butter, and I used a mixture of sultanas and cranberries for the filling, though I imagine you could make all sorts of interesting combinations with different fruits.

Cheltenham Dippers
Makes 10

For the toffee base:
30g butter
2tbsp brown sugar

For the dough:
500g white bread flour
1tsp salt
15g butter
7g fast-acting 'easy' yeast granules
300ml warm water

For the filling:
150g butter
150g sultanas
50g dried cranberries
90g brown sugar

For the glaze:
1tbsp sugar
1tbsp boiling water

  1. To make the toffee base, grease the base and sides of a deep, large (22x30cm) baking tin with butter, and scatter sugar evenly across the butter. Set aside.
  2. Mix the salt into the flour, and rub in the 15g butter.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and add to the flour.
  4. Bring the flour and liquid together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Knead until smooth (I found about 5 minutes of vigorous kneading was enough).
  6. Place the dough in a bowl and covered with cling film or a damp tea towel to prevent it drying out.
  7. Set the bowl in a warm place, and leave to rise until doubled in size (mine took about an hour).
  8. Combine the sultanas and cranberries, and divide into thirds. Also, divide the butter for the filling into three equal parts.
  9. Once the dough has risen, roll it out to a fairly large rectangle. (I always use cling film on my work surfaces to stop the dough from sticking too much.)
  10. Spread one third of the butter over the surface of the dough (in lumps is fine) and scatter with a third of the fruit. Scatter across a third of the sugar.
  11. Press the fillings lightly into the dough so it doesn't all fall off during the next step.
  12. Fold one third of the dough into the middle, and then fold in from the opposite end, to create a layered 'sandwich' of dough and filling.
  13. Roll out to form another rectangle, and repeat steps 10 to 12 to form the next layer.
  14. Repeat this process for a third time using the last of the fillings.
  15. Once you've formed the final layers, lightly roll out again to the size of the baking tin.
  16. Arrange the dough in the baking tin, and set the tin in a warm place to rise again.
  17. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  18. Once the dough has risen (I left mine for about 30 minutes), bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  19. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in hot water, and brush over the top of the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  20. Cool for a few minutes in the tin, before cutting into squares, and removing to cool on a wire rack. (Although don't let it cool completely, as in my opinion it's best eaten fairly fresh from the oven!)

Cheltenham Dippers

Cheltenham Dippers

Cheltenham Dippers


Janice Pattie said...

Sounds really tasty, Rachel

Optimistic Existentialist said...

These look SUPER delicious!!!

Rachel said...

I always loved lardy cakes, but we didn't make them very often. In fact I rather suspect my mother substituted butter for the lard..!

mypixieblog said...

If I bake (which is admittedly not often) I don't shy away from butter. As the German expression goes "ein mal, ist kein mal" (or something like that. Essentially it means one time is nothing). :) anyway, this sounds absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing a piece of your local culture!!

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