As one remembers back to their childhood, there is always a delicacy they remember eating - whether only on special occasions, perhaps when visiting grandparents, or simply the staple baking Mum had in the pantry. For us it was Queen Cakes... delicious little vanilla type cupcakes with sultanas through them. Plain and simple but they always hit the spot... and still do!
When planning an afternoon tea last year (it was my hen's party and an introduction into all the skills I would need to be a housewife!), I was faced with the challenge of taking a plate. The catch was, the plate (well, the baking on the plate) had to be a recipe that was popular in the 1950s - so I decided to make Neenish Tarts.
Little did I know that Neenish Tarts to my father were the equivalent of Queen Cakes to me. Neenish Tarts were the sweet he always remembered his mother making, and the sweet he always enjoyed sampling.
Being my father's daughter, I have inherited a sweet tooth. Needless to say, after that one afternoon, Neenish Tarts quickly became one of my favourite things!
This is the recipe I made, taken from Ladies, A Plate: Traditional home baking, by Alexa Johnston
Published by Penguin Books. You can buy it here on Amazon
Sweet Short Crust Pastry
For the filling:
2ox/55g icing sugar
1/2tsp vanilla essence
pinch cream of tartar
1 tsp gelatine
3 tbsp boiling water
For the icing:
1 cup/120g icing sugar
1tbsp hot water
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp butter
Making the pastry cases
1. Roll out the pastry and use it to line 12-18 patty tins
2. Prick the bases lightly with a fork and chill the cases for about 30 minutes, before baking them at 350F/180C for about 10 minutes until they are golden brown and crisp.
Making the filling
1. Cream the softened butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, then mix in the vanilla essence and the cream of tartar.
2. Add the gelatine (dissolved in the boiling water), a teaspoon at a time. You should have a creamy mixture.
3. Fill the cooled cases, level the tops and leave in a cool place until firm.
1. Put the icing sugar into a heatproof bowl, mix in 1tsbp hot water and heat over simmering water until the icing softens.Add the vanilla, then use immediately to ice on half of each tart.
2. Add the sifted cocoa and butter to the remaining icing, return the bowl to the heat and stir until glossy. Add more hot water if needed.
3. Ice the other halves of the tarts (By heating the icing you ensure that it will set quickly and avoid the two colours running together). This is just enough icing for 12 tarts; make more if you need to!