Regular readers will remember that last month I went to an amazing event to launch a new range of Tate and Lyle Fairtrade cane sugars. As part of that, I was given a goody-bag of the sugars to try.
It has taken me a while to decide how best to showcase the three samples.
The Mediterranean-inspired light soft brown sugar is described as "Medium bodied butter, flavour strength 4". Whatever that means. A "moist sugar with fine sized, quick-dissolving crystals, lending its delicate, subdued flavour to Mediterranean-inspired sauces and fruity preserves".
Well, the middle of the Hungry Gap is not really the right time to be preserving and I couldn't think of any Mediterranean-inspired sauces that needed sugar in any appreciable quantity. And it was almost Easter and I wanted to bake some buns.
I'd also been craving Apricot Delight. A delight which seems unknown outside Australia. It's cubes of dried apricot and coconut and was always seen as a "healthy" treat. Gorgeous stuff. I found this recipe for homemade Apricot Delight and decided to use it as a filling for my spring buns, substituting the Tate and Lyle soft brown sugar for the honey and leaving it a bit looser.
I made an enriched yeast dough flavoured with saffron, cardamom and cinnamon. After the first rise I rolled logs of the apricot delight mixture in portions of the dough and shaped them into rosettes. Another rise and into the oven.
Now, at this point I asked Paul's opinion and I shouldn't have because he was wrong. I asked whether he thought I should brush the hot buns with a lemon syrup or if I should drizzle them with glace icing and he wanted the icing.
So once they were cooled I iced them with lemon glace icing and topped them with balls of the remaining apricot delight. The flavours were excellent but the buns were just a bit too hard on the outside - which would have been mitigated by the hot syrup. The buns we didn't eat fresh made a really majestic bread and butter pudding though.
The Barbados-inspired dark muscovado sugar ("Full bodied rich, flavour strength 5") was of particular interest to me because dark muscovado sugar gets used almost daily in our house. It's our preferred sugar for adding to our coffee because it adds a real caramelly depth.
What I really wanted to make with it was Gypsy Tart, an old-fashioned (and very sweet) dessert from Kent which to me seems like alchemy. You chill a can of evaporated milk, whisk it into muscovado sugar and pour it into a pastry case. After a few minutes in the oven apparently it sets to a caramelly custard. Just evaporated milk and sugar. Extraordinary. But I couldn't face the 15 minutes of sustained whisking required and all the recipes seemed to make lots more than two people should sensibly eat.
Instead, I went back to an old favourite, which really is a perfect showcase for the deep flavours of muscovado sugar. I don't know why I've never blogged about Steven's Butterscotch Allspice bars. They are a very simple shortbread base topped with a mixture of butter, sugar, allspice and pecans (I usually use walnuts) and they are one of Paul's absolute favourite things to have with his morning coffee.
The Tate and Lyle sugar seemed finer-grained than the muscovado in our sugar canister and had the most wonderful molasses aroma. It's this that stops the butterscotch topping from being too overwhelmingly sweet. It's 70p/kilo more expensive than our usual sugar, but it is a fairtrade product, so I think we will shift over to that one when we next buy sugar.
|Sorry to disappoint - the colour is from the sugar, not chocolate|
The last sugar sample was the one that had Lorna Wing, the food consultant and flavour expert at the Tasting House, most excited. British-inspired golden syrup sugar "rich, bold and beautifully distinctive with a luscious, lingering sweetness" - it was certainly the one that had stood out the most in my tasting, because it just smelled so much like golden syrup. Which, for you poor ignorants who haven't had the pleasure, is lovely and very distinctive.
There was only one way I could go with this one. It had to be a steamed syrup sponge pudding. I mostly followed Felicity Cloake's recipe, but added the zest of the lemon to the sponge mix and used the juice of the whole lemon in the syrup topping. It still wasn't strongly lemony, it just had a discreet tang that brightened the rich pudding. We ate it with cold double cream. Some would say anything but custard is heresy, but I don't mind a bit of iconoclasm.