By Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking. See facebook.com/bakermike001
ONE of my strongest childhood memories was the ritual of our family’s Sunday tea, which always took a certain form.
Mum would pop the kettle on to boil and whistle just before five and a pot of steaming tea would soon be brewed and strained.
There were sandwiches made from the leftovers of our Sunday roast dinner and if we were lucky, a box of Viennese whirls, French fancies, jam tarts or Battenberg slices, depending what was on offer at the supermarket.
My brother and I would always look forward to this with some enthusiasm, but the Viennese whirls were something to savour while watching Bullseye on the telly.
Of course, you can still buy these today, but they just don’t seem to taste the same somehow and have shrunk in size too.
Trying to recreate a fondly-held memory doesn’t always work out, maybe it shouldn’t – maybe it’s better to leave them in the past to that particular place and time and simply enjoy them for what they are. Maybe if they couldn’t match Mr Kipling, it can be hard to recreate a fond memory as expectations will always run high.
Should I get the mixing bowl out and have a go? Probably yes! I love Viennese tarts and memories are treasured times in our lives which we always look back on as we get older and remember our loved ones.
Most people will be put off when flicking through a recipe book and Viennese tarts pop up, quickly turning the page over.
But the sheer simplicity, delightful taste and texture of these little cakes are to die for. Redcurrant jam can have a modern-day alternative of using raspberry jam which has a pleasing result.
Nearly all the recipes call for cornflour, which means buying a big box that soon goes out of date. Why cornflour? Maybe it adds softness to the tart, but let me tell you, Viennese tarts can be made without the cornflour – and you will get the full buttery flavour from the recipe without the dryness from using cornflour. My recipe can also be used to make chocolate-dipped Viennese fingers, which I remember making at W Day’s bakers as a young apprentice baker.
So what are you waiting for? Bully’s star prize this weekend is Viennese tarts and not a speedboat!
175g / 6oz butter, softened
175g / 6oz plain flour
50g / 2oz caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 level tablespoons icing sugar, sifted for dusting
1-2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly or raspberry jam
1. Prepare a large piping bag with a star nozzle.
2. Line fancy paper cases into bun tins, then preheat the oven to
180C / Gas Mark 4.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until soft and fluffy.
4. Sift in the flour gradually, beating well after each addition.
5. Beat in the caster sugar and vanilla essence.
6. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, and pipe the mixture in the shape of rosettes into the paper cases.
7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20/25 minutes or until golden in colour.
8. Cool on a wire rack, dust with the icing sugar, then poke a small hole into the centre of the tart and pipe in a blob of jelly or jam.