The Great Village Show by Alexandra Brown is the second in the series about fictional village, Tindledale. The first, The Great Christmas Knit Off, was, obviously, a Christmassy novel – containing a delicious Panettone Bread & Butter Pudding and focussing on Sybil and the haberdashery shop in the village.
It is now summer, and we have Meg's story. Meg is the headteacher of the village school. Her son, Jack, has just left home for university, leaving a bit of a hole in Meg's life. So she decides to throw herself into village life, and, in particular, The Great Village Show. If she can make the show a success she could get much needed publicity for the village. This would encourage more people to move there and more children would be enrolled in her school, which, sadly, is threatened with closure.
One sunny Saturday morning, Meg is up and about, raring to go. She strolls around the village sorting out plans for the village show and chatting to people. Then she makes her way to Kitty's tearoom, called The Spotted Pig (which, incidentally, is where Sybil sees the sign for the panettone pudding) and treats herself to a sandwich with locally sourced cheese and homemade chutney, along with a huffkin bun and a hot chocolate with the works. Seriously, my mouth is watering as I write that sentence. You had me at 'locally sourced cheese' if I'm honest.
But what, I hear some of you asking, is a huffkin bun? A huffkin is a traditional British bread originating from Kent. It is distinctive by the indentation in the centre. This indentation can be filled with 'caramelised cherries' as Kitty does at The Spotted Pig. I'm filling mine, however, with homemade plum jam on the advice of Alexandra Brown. She says it tastes delicious. I have to agree, as I take my first bite, that I very much agree.
(Reproduced with kind permission from Alexandra Brown)
480g (1lb) plain white flour
8g (1/2 tablespoon) fine salt
7g (1/4 oz) easy-bake dried yeast
8g (1/2 tablespoon) sugar
150ml (1/4 pint) lukewarm milk
150ml (1/4 pint) lukewarm water (or more)
30g (2oz) lard
- Put all the ingredients except the lard in a mixing bowl and mix to a dryish dough.
- Turn out onto the worktop (if you are not using an electric mixer) and knead until smooth – you may need a little more water.
- Cut the lard into small pieces and dot a few over the surface of the dough. Fold it and knead, then repeat until you have incorporated all the fat.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and divide it into three pieces weighing about 280g each.
- Shape each into a flat oval loaf and use your thumb to press a hole in the centre.
- Place on the baking sheet and leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. The leaves should almost be a little overproved, with large bubbles and a flat appearance.
- Preheat the oven to 220c/425F/Gas Mark 7, then bake the huffkin buns for 20 minutes or until they feel approximately 1/3 lighter in weight.
- Take out of the oven and wrap them in a cloth so the crust stays soft.
- Pour a filling of your choice into the hole on top and enjoy!