The We Should Cocoa Challenge for this month, hosted by Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes, is to make something combining chocolate with ginger. This is a combination I have never baked before so I spent a happy time browsing through my cookbooks for ideas. There were quite a few delicious looking chocolate and ginger cakes, fabulous sophisticated tarts and plenty of ginger biscuits dipped in chocolate. Then I spotted a half jar of ginger jam in the fridge and wondered if I could do something with that !! I remembered some little buns I used to make years ago - a kind of rock cake dough but with a blob of jam in the top, dead easy to make and very moreish so I set about finding the recipe.
These days they are sometimes called by a modern name, “thumbprint cookies”, but I remember them as “raspberry buns” because that’s what we always put in them – a blob of raspberry jam.
But I couldn’t find my recipe anywhere. I could picture the accompanying photo in my mind – a few buns on a plate – but I searched through my growing collection of cookbooks and found nothing. In actual fact that’s not absolutely true, I found a couple which used the creaming method to make the dough, which I was sure was wrong as I definitely remember rubbing butter into flour to make them. A Mary Berry recipe for “mini jammy cakes” came close but they didn’t quite seem how I remembered them.
I was sure I would find the recipe in the Be-Ro book but it wasn’t there – which is strange because I remember making them with my mum and the Be-Ro book was the only cookbook she ever used, apart from a few handwritten recipes and magazine cuttings that she kept in a folder. I also seem to remember making them at school, which would be in about 1964 !!
Then I had a eureka moment. I woke up at 3am the other night and instantly remembered where the recipe was – in the only book I hadn’t checked, my ancient copy of the “Homepride Book of Home Baking”, from about 1970. And there it was, the very first recipe in the whole book, in the “rubbing in method” section.
The odd thing is, if my mum used to make them in the 1950’s and 60’s (which I’m sure she did as my dad and I were very fond of anything with jam in it) and the recipe wasn’t in the Be-Ro book, where did she get it from? Maybe it was in a magazine or a pamphlet, and became one of those things that mums always know how to make without ever having to look at the recipe again, like pastry or Yorkshire pudding. I suppose it’s possible that she used the recipe that I brought home from school.
I adapted the recipe by adding some cocoa powder and using my ginger jam. The buns were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and I loved the craggy look of them – just as I remember how the raspberry buns used to look. They were not too sweet and could have stood a little more intensity of the chocolate and ginger flavours so next time I think I might add some chocolate chips and glacé ginger to the dough…..I’ll add to the post to say how I got on.
Thanks again to Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes for another inspiring We Should Cocoa Challenge, also to Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog, and Chele of Chocolate Teapot, for having the idea in the first place!!
200g self raising flour
a small pinch of salt
100g cold butter or margarine (I used a block of Clover), cubed
100g caster sugar
1 tblsp cocoa powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tblsp milk
Preheat the oven to 220°C / 190° fan / gas mk 7. Grease a large baking sheet or line it with baking parchment
Sift the flour and salt into a large bow and rub in the butter to get fine breadcrumbs. (Or pulse in a food processor.)
Stir in the cocoa powder and sugar, make a well in the centre and mix in the egg and enough milk to make a firm dough.
Knead lightly on a floured surface and divide the mixture into 12 parts. Shape each one into a round by hand and place them well apart on the baking sheet. Using your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon, make a dent in each round and drop in a scant teaspoon of jam.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until risen and brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. (Remember not to taste too soon when they come out of the oven as the jam will be very hot and can burn.)
Makes 12 buns.
(For regular raspberry buns, omit the cocoa powder and use raspberry jam.)