As I’ve been writing the novel that never seems to be finished – Escape to Curlew Cottage – I’ve been researching British tea-time treats; the novel, you see, is set in The Cotswolds.
As research tends to do it’s taken me down a rabbit hole of regional variations on tea-time treats – and trust me, there are massive variations as you go from county to county.
Today we’re in North-East England, that area around Sunderland, Newcastle and up to Northumberland; and we’re making Singing Hinnies.
Okay, before I go any further, just how fabulous is that name? The singing part of it refers to the sound of the lard and butter in the dough as it hits the hot pan or griddle. As for the Hinny, it’s how they pronounce “honey” up north, a term of endearment for women, girls and children. ‘Y’areet hinny?’
Also known as Nothumberland Fried Scones, which doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, the Singing Hinny is a griddle scone, a type of bannock, if you will. Common in miner’s or pit worker’s homes, they were traditionally cooked on a griddle over a fire back in the days when most working-class families didn’t have an oven in their kitchen.
In Scotland, they’re known as “fatty cutties” (a name I also love), and in Wales, where the recipe includes added sugar, they’re known as Welsh Cakes. Yeah, that name definitely needs work. Cacennau Cymraeg maybe? In any case, they’re very popular in Wales for St David’s Day which is March 1.
The texture is rich and crumbly – much like a fruity scone – but although they don’t rise like a scone does, you still get those lovely buttery, lardy, layers. They’re served with butter – yes, more butter; a healthy snack these are not – or jam and cream like a scone. We served them the other day with a lemony cream cheese.
This recipe comes from James Martin’s Islands To Highlands. The usual guidelines around scones apply here – don’t overwork the dough, and try and keep the butter cold. Here in South-East Queensland where it’s difficult to keep anything cold, I’ve taken to putting the bowl of flour and rubbed-in fat back into the fridge for 10 minutes.
Okay, that’s enough chelpin’, let’s get onto the recipe.
What you need
- 450g plain flour (plus some extra for rolling out)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder,
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 110g butter, diced (plus a little extra for frying)
- 110g lard, diced (plus a little extra for frying). If you really don’t like using lard, just use all butter
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 185g mixed dried fruits
- 120ml milk
- A little caster sugar for sprinkling
What you do with it
- Into a large bowl tip the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt and stir it all together
- Add the butter and lard and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. At this point, I pop it back in the fridge for 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon zest and dried fruits and stir through. Pour int the milk and mix together with a knife before bringing it all together with your hands into a soft dough.
- Lightly dust your rolling pin and surface with flour and roll out the dough until it’s about 3mm thick. Use a large scone cutter (8cm cutter) to stamp out the circles and re-roll the dough to cut more.
- Heat a flat griddle pan or heavy-based frying pan over high heat and add a little butter and lard. Once the butter is foaming reduce the heat to medium, pop the rounds into the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown. This could take anywhere from 3-5 minutes depending on the heat of your pan.
- If you want, sprinkle them with a little caster sugar – although I really don’t think they need it.
For the lemon cream cheese
Mix together 150g full-fat cream cheese, 100ml crème fraiche until smooth and swirl through 200g lemon curd.
This recipe also appears on Brookford Kitchen Diaries …