Scottish Fern Cakes (small batch)

Thursday, 13 July 2023

 



Scottish Fern Cakes






One of the things that I got to cross off my bucket list when I was living in the UK was to visit Scotland. Some of my ancestors had immigrated to Canada from Scotland and I hail from the province known as New Scotland (Nova Scotia) so visiting Scotland was something I really wanted to do.



What a breathtakingly beautiful country, especially when you get away from the cities and in the Highlands.  We stayed at a hotel in the Trossachs National Park which is in the middle of the Highlands and it was gorgeous there.


Scottish Fern Cakes 




I remember one day we were driving along this winding road which closely followed the edge of a ravine on one side and we were able to see down into the ravine and see some deer and a stag walking along the side of the creek in the bottom of the ravine.  Stunning doesn't begin to cover it.



I am ashamed to say that I did not try Haggis. I was not brave enough, but I had myself a wee bracing bowl of real Scottish oats for breakfast every morning.  Did you know that the Scots like salt on their oatmeal?   I prefer brown sugar.



Scottish Fern Cakes






One thing that I really enjoyed was the baked goods in Scotland. The Oatcakes were superb, especially with a bit of cheese.
 

They grow the most delightful raspberries in Scotland and I got to enjoy them in a delicious dessert called Cranachan. Composed of toasted oats, cream, whisky and raspberries, it was a real pleasure.



Scottish Fern Cakes




Scotch Pies were also very good.  And I did enjoy the lovely breakfast buns that we were treated to each morning.  Crisp on the outsides and light as a cloud inside.


That was such a fun trip. I loved their sweet also. Of course there was the shortbread, which was magnificent, and Ecclefechan tarts (similar to Canadian Butter tarts, but with more fruit.)  My favorite of all, however, was these Scottish Fern Cakes, which are actually not a cake at all but lovely little tarts.



Scottish Fern Cakes 





They were very similar to Bakewell Tarts.  I do love me a good Bakewell Tart.   What you have here is something quite like that with a crisp pastry base, a layer of sweet raspberry jam and then an almond frangipane on top.



After baking, they are glazed over with a thick sugar glaze and then traditionally they have a fern drizzled on top of the glaze of chocolate, but I have chosen to do the fern (however poorly) with a green glaze icing instead.



I adapted the recipe from the original recipe which was found on Christina's Cucina to make a much smaller batch. The original recipe made 12 tarts, I have made only 6.  




Scottish Fern Cakes 





WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE SCOTTISH FERN CAKES

I am thinking that most people will already have what they need in the kitchen to make these. I have taken the liberty of using frozen tart shells to make mine, but feel free to make your own pastry if you wish.


  • 6 frozen small tart shells, thawed (about 2 1/2 inches across)
  • 3 tsp raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup (57g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (57g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (57g) ground almonds
  • 1 large free range egg yolk
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
For the icing:
  • 1/2 cup (65g) icing sugar
  • milk to thin (about 1 TBS)
  • drop of green food coloring to make the fern pattern


Scottish Fern Cakes 






I used the Tenderflake frozen tart shells.  You can find them in the freezer section of the grocery shops here in Canada.  You could also use my recipe for butter/lard pastry which is very good.  You will probably only need half the recipe to make these tart shells, but you can freeze the remainder in a disc, wrapped tightly in some plastic wrap and popped into a zip lock baggie.


It will keep for about six months and they you will have a single crust pie crust ready to go for whenever.


I did prebake my tart shells prior to filling them. I find it gives the tarts a nice crisp base. There will be no soggy bottoms here! (As Mary Berry would say!)


Scottish Fern Cakes 




I used seedless raspberry preserves. I have diverticulitis and can't tolerate the seeds. Blackberry jam is also something with the Scots will use. Both are quite traditional.  Don't be tempted to use too much as jam expands exponentially in the oven so a little bit does go a very long way.


I use the ground almonds that you can get at Costco. Kirkland brand.  Ordinary salted butter and ordinary organic granulated sugar.    For the icing I used the ordinary icing sugar you buy at the shops, and I always have full fat milk in my house so that is what I used in the glaze.




Scottish Fern Cakes 






HOW TO MAKE SCOTTISH FERN CAKES 


These are a real doddle to make and oh-so-tasty!



Preheat the oven to 400*F/200*C/ gas mark 6. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly prick the bottoms. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes while you make the filling.



To make the filling melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, almonds, almond essence and the egg yolk until smooth and well mixed together.



Remove the tart shells from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F/180*C/ gas mark 4.



Place 1/2 tsp of jam in the bottom of each shell and then top with a heaped spoonful of the almond mixture to cover the jam. Do not overfill. It should come just to the rim of the crust.



Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes and golden brown. They should be set and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the foil tins.



To make the icing, whisk just enough milk into the icing sugar to give you a thick but runny drizzle. Divide the drizzle between each of the tarts to cover the tops. You should still have a bit left at the end.



Put a drop of green food coloring into the icing that is left. Using the tip of a spoon drizzle some of the green icing over the top of each tart in a fern pattern.  Leave to set completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.





Scottish Fern Cakes 






These are really REALLY delicious and such a simple bake.  I enjoyed one with a hot cup of Mint Tea and then took some across to my friend Glenna across the road (who is also my cousin).   She really enjoyed them also!


These would be perfectly at home on any tea time table, or for the holidays, or even for even "just because."





Scottish Fern Cakes
 





Some other Scottish treats I have baked here in my English Kitchen are:


SCOTTISH STEAK PIE FOR TWO - Tender chunks of beef in a rich beef gravy, topped with a beautifully flaky crust.  This is delicious served with some parsley buttered boiled potatoes and a vegetable on the side.



SCOTTISH DUNDEE CAKE -  This is one of my favorite fruit cakes. Rich and buttery with a white batter and filled with lots of dried currants. Flavored with orange zest and mixed spice and topped with blanched almonds, you can make this as either small cupcakes or a full sized fruit cake.  Delicious!




Author: Marie Rayner
Scottish Fern Cakes (small batch)

Scottish Fern Cakes (small batch)

Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 35 Min
A Scottish bakery classic, downsized for the smaller family. Delicious with a hot cup of tea!

Ingredients

  • 6 frozen small tart shells, thawed (about 2 1/2 inches across)
  • 3 tsp raspberry jam
  • 1/4 cup (57g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (57g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (57g) ground almonds
  • 1 large free range egg yolk
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
For the icing:
  • 1/2 cup (65g) icing sugar
  • milk to thin (about 1 TBS)
  • drop of green food coloring to make the fern pattern

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven t 400*F/200*C/ gas mark 6. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and lightly prick the bottoms. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes while you make the filling.
  2. To make the filling melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, almonds, almond essence and the egg yolk until smooth and well mixed together.
  3. Remove the tart shells from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F/180*C/ gas mark 4.
  4. Place 1/2 tsp of jam in the bottom of each shell and then top with a heaped spoonful of the almond mixture to cover the jam. Do not overfill. It should come just to the rim of the crust.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes and golden brown. They should be set and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the foil tins.
  6. To make the icing, whisk just enough milk into the icing sugar to give you a thick but runny drizzle. Divide the drizzle between each of the tarts to cover the tops. You should still have a bit left at the end.
  7. Put a drop of green food coloring into the icing that is left. Using the tip of a spoon drizzle some of the green icing over the top of each tart in a fern pattern.
  8. Leave to set completely before serving or storing in an airtight container.
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Scottish Fern Cakes







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4 comments

  1. These look tasty! However as some in my household have nut allergies, is there a substitute for the almonds? Maybe just a crumb mix? I am not a baker, cook yes but baking challenges me. Who knew if you follow a cookie recipe exactly you get a perfect cookie? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found a recipe for you that makes a simple cake batter topping: http://www.hungrybrowser.com/phaedrus/m1006M03.htm

      You will need to scroll down the page a bit, but not a nut in sight. Not exactly authentic, but they do sound tasty!!

      Delete
    2. Thank you! That sounds doable! :)

      Delete
    3. You are very welcome! Happy to help! xo

      Delete

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