A Buzz in the Air

This weekend was Bug Weekend at Cragside and we’ve certainly celebrated all things creepy crawly with lots of mini beast inspired activities for all the family. In the tea room we’ve been extremely busy but that hasn’t stopped the team getting inspired by all the fun….

No, don’t worry, I didn’t put chocolate covered ants in the scones or grasshoppers in the soup but with a visit from The Alnwick and District Bee keepers Association honey seemed to be the obvious ingredient crying out for a place on our menu this weekend. Honey is a hugely adaptable ingredient that can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and is perfectly at home in anything from casseroles to cakes and puddings.

On Saturday afternoon I managed to take a few minutes out of the kitchen and have a look at the display the beekeepers association had set up in the courtyard. They were a lovely bunch and we chatted about the importance of protecting bees and the ways in which honey is collected. Of course as an avid foodie I couldn’t leave without sampling the offerings; my favourite being the delicious heather honey which has a beautiful subtle flavour.

Part of the Bee Keepers display
Part of the Bee Keepers display
Candle making in the courtyard
Candle making in the courtyard
Bee keepers protective clothing.
Bee keepers protective clothing.

Whilst honey cake is a regular on the tearoom menu, I wanted to try something a little different this week and decided to put a honey and lemon twist on one of my favourite recipes; the bakewell. The classic version of this tart is always extremely popular with our customers and is equally delicious eaten cold with pouring cream or gently warmed and served with custard.

Honey and Lemon Bakewell Tartlets (Makes 12)

Honey and lemon bakewell

For the Pastry

12oz/340g Plain Flour

8oz/225g Butter/margarine

4oz/115g caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

For the filling

12 tsp Raspberry jam

6oz/170g Butter/margarine

6oz/170g caster sugar

3 eggs

3oz/85g Self Raising flour

3oz/85g Ground almonds

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp honey (1 for the mix and 1 to glaze the bakewells with)

1 oz/25g flaked almonds

  1. Make the sweet pastry by rubbing together the flour and the fat until it resembles breadcrumbs, incorporate in the sugar and then add the egg. Bring together with a palette knife or your hands until you have a soft dough. Pop the pastry into the fridge to rest for an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 150c

  3. Whisk together the butter and sugar in a bowl until it becomes light and fluffy, add the eggs and a little of the flour and mix. Add the rest of the flour and the ground almonds and fold through the mix. Lastly add the lemon zest and 1 tbsp of honey and fold through.

  4. Roll out the pastry to line each tartlet tin then spread a teaspoon of the jam in the base of each tart. Divide the almond mix between all of the tart cases and then sprinkle with the flaked almonds

  5. Place the tart cases onto a baking tray and put onto the middle shelf of the oven. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the tarts are golden and firm to the touch.

  6. Lift out of the oven and glaze with some melted honey. Set aside to cool slightly and serve warm with cream, custard or ice cream (I’m particularly partial to Doddington’s heather honey ice cream).

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