Bedfordshire is a county in the south-east region of England, and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Bedfordshire area. All of the recipes below are regionally authentic, originally coming from recipe books published in the 1800s or 1900s, with the weights and measurements adjusted (alongside the old standards) where appropriate for the modern kitchen.
APPLE FLORENTINE PIE
- 4 good cooking apples
- 2 tablespoonfuls sugar or golden syrup
- 1 Lemon, grated lemon peel
- short pastry.
- 1 Pint (560ml) of hot spiced ale (see below)
Core the apples, wash them, and place in a deep pie dish. Put sugar over, add lemon peel and cover with short pastry. Bake in moderate oven for 30 minutes. Remove the pastry, pour over hot spiced ale, cut pastry into required pieces and put back in dish. Serve hot.
For The Hot Spiced Ale
- 1 pint ale (560ml)
- a little grated nutmeg and ground cinnamon
- 1 whole clove
- 1 tablespoonful sugar.
Spiced ale should be heated very gently with spices and sugar. Do not boil.
For The Short Pastry
- 300g plain flour (sifted)
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 75g unsalted butter (softened and diced)
- 75g lard (softened and diced)
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle in the sea salt. Rub in the softened, diced butter and lard until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you could do this in a food processor). Add the cold water to the flour mixture a little at a time, (you might not need all of it) and, using a knife, mix the water into the flour, using your fingers at the end to firm up the pastry mixture. The pastry should be of an even colour, firm (but not tough) and at a consistency for easy rolling. Put the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes wrapped in cling film.
BAKED ONION BUTTER
Ingredients : –
- 1 onion (medium-sized)
- 4oz. (115g) butter.
Take all the juice from the onion and stir into the butter in a saucepan. Brown the butter and serve hot.
CATHERINE CAKES (or Kattern Cakes or Catterning Cakes)
Called after Catherine of Aragon, who used to live at Ampthill Castle. Specially made for the 25th November, St. Catherine’s Day.
Ingredients : –
- 2lb. (900g) Bread dough
- 2oz. (60g) butter
- 2oz. (60g) sugar
- 1 egg
- a few caraway seeds.
Dough made with yeast, as for bread (see below). Knead well with butter, caraway seeds, sugar and egg. Leave to rise in a warm place for 2 hours. Place on floured baking tin and bake in a moderate oven for 2 to 3 hours.
For The Bread Dough
- 800g plain white bread flour – unbleached stoneground (plus extra for dusting etc.)
- 1tsp of salt (sea salt ground)
- 600ml of warm water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold)
- either – 24g of dried yeast & 1 tsp sugar (make up according to instructions)
- or – 50g of fresh yeast & 1 tsp of sugar (make up according to instructions)
Dried Yeast: If using dried yeast as a raising agent – in a small bowl or jug pour in half the warm water, (300ml) dissolve in the sugar, and sprinkle in the yeast and whisk it thoroughly. Leave to sit for 10 minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4–5 minutes, it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top. Do not allow the yeast to sit longer than 12 minutes before using, leaving it too long will exhaust the yeast before it is in the dough. When ready, stir and pour in all the remaining warm water 300ml.
Fresh Yeast: If using fresh yeast you need twice as much fresh yeast as dried yeast and you must use it in half the time after activating it. Make in exactly the same way as above.
Make The Bread Dough
Into a large mixing bowl sift in the flour and sprinkle over the ground sea salt, (mix the ground salt in well with the flour, so it does not interfere with the yeast when added) then make a well in the centre. Add the yeast water into the well and bring the flour and water together into a dough with a knife, wooden spoon, or your fingertips
Add some more plain white bread flour (if needed) until you form a firm dough which you can knead, it should still be on the ’sticky’ side, but not so that it is difficult to remove from the bowl. You are looking for it to be springy and elastic. Take the dough out of the bowl and onto a flat floured work surface.
Start kneading the dough to make your Bread for 7 minutes (kneading dough is a ‘push-pull’ technique to break the gluten and starches down in the flour). If sticking to the work surface sprinkle over a little extra flour, it will probably need a few casts of extra flour over the 7 minutes, but do not over do it. When ready it will become satiny and when pressed with a finger tip the indentation in the dough will rise back out. Then use in the Catherine Cakes as directed above.