Obviously we don’t really have a celebration like Independence day in the UK. Probably because we are just that, a United Kingdom, each of our little parts has celebratory Saints days of sorts (St Piran’s day for me!) but we don’t have one specific holiday for all of us. I’m not even really sure what we would celebrate if we did have one, the signing of the Magna Carta maybe? I suppose we have fireworks on Bonfire Night and we have public holidays for the Queens Jubilee (thanks your Maj!) but that’s probably as close as we come.
Being Brits over here means that we do get a little bit of good-hearted ‘Brit-baiting’ around the 4th of July but I have to say that it’s not a date that really means anything on my usual side of the pond. I missed out on last years celebrations (I went back home for the Glastonbury festival and stuck around for a week or so) but I have high hopes for seeing this years festivities in D.C.
So anyway, in the spirit of embracing Independence Day, which is actually a whole lot of fun (I love a good firework display!) I’ve come up with this UK-USA cross-over pudding. Something that we Brits over here can enjoy along with our American cousins. American cheesecake disguised as British trifle in the colours of both our nations flags. It’s like edible diplomacy!
Once these have been in the fridge for a while they’re pretty stable so you could even build them up in little jars to make portable picnic treats.
75g plain flour
15g Demerara sugar
45g salted butter, cut into small pieces
Blueberry compote layer
250g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp sugar
Macerated strawberry layer
250g fresh ripe strawberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp gin/Pimms/lemon juice
270g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla paste
50g icing sugar
150ml double cream
Start by making the shortbread crumble and the compote so that they are cool when you assemble the trifle.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c. Combine the sugar and the flour in a bowl and rub the butter into it. Once it looks likes a sort of rubble-y mixture press it into a baking tin or dish, keeping it quite chunky so that you have decent sized lumps when you break it up. Bake this for around 20 minutes, until it starts to look golden then set it aside to cool.
For the blueberry compote simply combine the sugar and berries in a small pan and allow them to gently bubble together for 5-10 minutes, until the juices become very thick and syrupy. Try not to stir the pan, as you’ll break up the fruit, just give it a swirl or a shake every so often. Leave this to cool once it’s done too.
Chop up the strawberries (quarters is usually fine for the smaller ones) and mix them with the sugar and booze or lemon juice. Put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to macerate together.
The creamy cheesecake layer is really very easy to make. Use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it becomes quite thick and fluffy.
Once you have all of your components you can assemble the trifle, either in one big bowl or separate smaller glasses. It doesn’t really matter which order you put things in but I like the blueberry layer at the bottom so that the juice doesn’t leak through the other layers. I also make sure that I have cheesecake mixture either side of the shortbread crumble so that the fruit juices don’t make it go soft.
Once you’ve layered everything up you can decorate the top and then leave it in the fridge for a good couple of hours to set and become more firm.
Our most recent road-trip adventure took us in a southerly direction to Tennessee (amongst other places). Now, I’m not going to lie to you, during this road trip I ate A LOT of biscuits (the US sort not the UK sort). I think I must have had one everyday. I’ve been doing double P.E at the gym to make amends ever since! Some were good, some were like stale hockey pucks but hands-down the most delicious ones were at the Tupelo Honey Cafe in Knoxville TN. They were so light and fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I had to look up how to make them as soon as I got home. If I become morbidly obese I’m going to blame the internet for allowing me to find out this recipe. Thinking about it maybe Mr Colonial Cravings needs to set up some sort of filter on my laptop.
The reason, I found out, that their biscuits taste so amazing is that they’re made with cream. It seems so obvious now I know! Because, and I know we’re never supposed to mention this, fat makes food taste great.
Tupelo Honey Cafe advise using a particular type of self-rising flour but I never have self-raising flour in the pantry so I used plain four with some raising agents. Also I want to be able to make these when I move back to the UK and our self-raising flour works differently to American self-rising flour. Or at least in my experience it does.
So this is my version of those deliciously fluffy biscuits. You say rip-off, I say tribute. Po-tay-to-Po-tah-to.
You obviously don’t have to include the black pepper if the idea scares you at all but I think it adds a nice little bit of warmth to the flavour and perks up the blueberries. I’ve also kept these deliberately small in the interests of portion control but you can of course make them as thick and as big as you like, just adjust the baking time accordingly.
Makes 20 ish
300g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
60g very cold butter
black pepper and extra melted butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
scant tbsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and brush a cake tin with a little melted butter. Baking these in something with quite deep sides will really help to support the biscuits as they rise.
Sift together the flour and raising agents into a large mixing bowl and then mix through the salt and sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces and lightly rub it through the flour. It doesn’t have to be too uniform.
Add the cream and buttermilk, a bit at a time as you may not need all of it and bring it all together to form a soft dough. Don’t over mix the dough or you’ll get tough biscuits. I use a fork to mix it so that my hands don’t warm up the mixture either.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out to about 1/2″ thick. Fold it in half and then pat it out again. Fold it one more time and pat it out again so that it’s 1/2″ thick. Stamp out 2″ rounds using a pastry cutter. It’s very important that you don’t twist the cutter though. Put the biscuits in the buttered cake tin, it’s okay for them to touch. Brush the tops with a little extra melted butter, sprinkle with black pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes. Once they are all puffed up and golden you can let them cool a touch before devouring them whilst they’re still a bit warm.
For the compote use a small saucepan to combine all of the ingredients. Gently simmer them until the juices begin to thicken and become syrupy. Try not to stir the compote too much, you don’t want to mush up the fruit. Leave the compote to cool completely before serving it with the biscuits so that juices are syrupy when they soak into the tender crumb of the biscuits.