Thursday, 12 July 2012

Dorset - How I made Dorset Tea Bread and Lyme Bay Fish Pie

In my search for a recipe to represent Dorset, I found myself ordering a copy of Favourite Dorset Recipes: Traditional Country Fare by Amanda Persey.  The book is part of a series of Favourite recipes and I already have copies of the Favourite Devonshire, Cornish and Irish recipes, having bought copies of the first two when I was hiking the South West Coastal path and being given the Irish recipe book by my friend's daughter, who knows how much I enjoy cooking!

I like these little books, as the recipes are fairly straight-forward without too many fancy or unattainable ingredients - I'd definitely recommend them, if you're interested in learning about English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh cuisine.

I want to cook everything in Favourite Dorset Recipes but, for the purposes of this blog, I decided to limit myself to just two things.

How I made Dorset Tea Bread

It's more of a heavy, rich cake really than a bread - I can see myself making this one again in future.

The ingredients

Ingredients for Dorset Tea Bread
180g butter
1 cup of tea (without milk)
3 medium sized eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
225g soft brown sugar
350g mixed dried fruit
350g self-raising flour (the book advised self-raising wheatmeal flour, but I couldn't find this, so settled for self-raising plain white flour and it worked fine!)


First I melted the butter in a saucepan, then added the brown sugar, dried fruit and black tea.  I let this simmer gently until the fruit had expanded a bit.

Melt the butter
Add the brown sugar, black tea and dried fruit

Whilst the mixture was simmering, I sieved the flour into a bowl, then added the cinnamon and mixed spice, before adding the beaten eggs.

Sieve the flour into a bowl

Add the ground spices and beaten egg

After this, I slowly stirred the tea, sugar and fruit mixture into the flour and poured the entire mixture into a cake tin, which I had already greased with butter. 

Mix everything together and put in a cake tin

I'd preheated the oven to 170 - the recipe recommended leaving the cake there for 2 hours, but I thought this was a bit excessive, so I left it for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  In retrospect, even this was too long and the 'crust' of the Tea Bread was a bit hard, as a result.  Perhaps this is the desired effect though, as the bread preserves well.  I can vouch for its tastiness after a few days in an airtight container!

Dorset Tea Bread

How I made Lyme Bay Fish Pie

After reading Remarkable Creatures - I couldn't resist cooking a dish from Lyme Bay!  In comparison to the Tea Bread, this dish was really easy to make.  I got my hands on some really nice white fish and seafood, which makes all the difference with a dish like this.


The Ingredients for Lyme Bay Fish Pie
A bunch of scallions (spring onions)
120g white mushrooms, wiped and sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped into thin slices and with the seeds discarded
2 fillets of white fish
500g of assorted seafood (I used scallops, prawns and mussels)
1/2 pint of fish stock
30g plain flour
1/4 pint of white wine
60g butter
250g filo pastry


First I fried the scallions and mushrooms, until they'd gone fairly soft. Then I stirred in the flour, before adding the fish stock and white wine, allowing the pot to come to the boil before reducing the heat slightly.

Chopping the scallions

Cooking the mushrooms and scallions

Next I added the fish, seafood and tomato slices, again allowing the pot to boil before reducing the heat.  I allowed it to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the fish and seafood was cooked.

Add the fish, seafood and tomato slices

Whilst I was simmering the ingredients in the pot, I prepared the filo pastry.  I've never used filo pastry before, so I was surprised to see how paper-thin the sheets of filo are.  They also seemed quite large, so I decided to cut them in half. 

Experimenting with filo pastry

When the fish and seafood had cooked, I poured the mixture into an oven-proof dish and started putting the strips of filo pastry on top.  Following the recipe in the book, I melted the butter in a small pan, so I could use the melted butter to glaze the strips of filo pastry. 

Put the cooked ingredients in an ovenproof dish

Cover with sheets of filo pastry

Glaze with melted butter and cut triangular shapes into the pastry

Basing my knowledge of pastry on previous experience with puff pastry, I allowed the slices of filo to hang over the edge of the dish, but I wonder now if it isn't better to keep them inside the dish, on top of the pie mixture.

Anyway - I popped the dish into the oven with the Tea Bread and left it for about 30 minutes.  I had pierced the pastry and tried to cut triangular shapes in it, to make it look good.  The end result looked fine and tasted amazing! 

Lyme Bay Fish Pie (closed)

Lyme Bay Fish Pie (open)

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1 comment:

Matt C said...

Both look fantastic Michael, and thanks for teaching me a thing about my own county's culinary heritage! Look forward to trying.