I spent Monday morning trapped inside waiting for the BT man and gazing outside at the glorious spring day. It was one of those crisp and crystal clear days where the sky and the grass look almost painfully bright and all you want to do is go for a walk.
As you can imagine, looking out at all this from a flat in the middle of London was a little infuriating; luckily, The Hostess Guide had just the recipe to cheer me up. This incredible publication is something of a handbook for the post-war social climber: The Hyacinth Bucket of 1948 would definitely have had a copy – and used it to throw successful cocktail parties to help her husband secure that promotion. Or to work out what to have for dinner on the maid’s night off (what on earth is this hot metal box with doors on in the kitchen??)
Nonetheless, the Hostess came up trumps this time with Snowdrop Cakes. I couldn’t see any actual snowdrops outside, but I’m sure they’re around somewhere. In the meantime, these are lovely light airy buns which are quick to make, use store-cupboard ingredients, and could probably look quite pretty if you’ve got more artistic flair than me. Or a piping bag.
EDIT: after a confusing conversation with a friend, I should add that this recipe doesn’t involve any actual snowdrops.
1 1/2 oz plain flour
2 oz sugar
1/2 oz butter (melted)
A few drops of vanilla
Pinch of baking powder
Whisk the sugar with one whole egg and the yolk of the other until light and frothy [I used an electric whisk for about half a minute]. Sieve the flour and baking powder and fold in very lightly, also the melted butter. Add the flavouring, then two-thirds fill eight small paper cases with the mixture, put into a moderate oven [I set it to 180 degrees C] and bake about 10 minutes. Whisk the remaining white until stiff, and add to it two teaspoons of castor sugar. Just before the cakes are quite ready put a teaspoonful of this meringue roughly on each and bake lightly until the meringue is set [at this point I turned the oven down to 150 degrees and left it for around 15 mins more].
VERDICT: These were delicious – the sponge rose well, although next time I’d leave it a little longer before adding the meringue as they sank slightly. The meringue sets in a squidgy, sticky way which initially surprised me, but I came to rather like it. In fact, it’s quite like the centre of a Tunnock’s marshmallow teacake. Come to think of it, if you poured a layer of chocolate over the top and let it set, I think you’d have the Cake That Dreams Are Made Of.