||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
In the interest of experimentation, I baked a fruit cake at the weekend to the full NCOTAASD specification and brought it to work to have at elevenses with a block of Wensleydale cheese.
The idea was to introduce the non Yorkshire members of staff (myself included) to the alleged practice of eating fruitcake with cheese.
The Yorkshire member of staff was disappointed that the cake provided was not Simnel cake, but having been assured that the cheese was indeed Wensleydale, he quickly relented and tucked in.
The initial reaction was that the cake was a bit on the dry side. This was probably due to my temperamental oven cooking at a higher temperature than that indicated by the dial. This will be rectified on my next attempt.
Apart from the dryness of the cake, the consensus was that the cheese added very little (except in calorific terms) to the cake eating experience as the mild flavour of the Wensleydale was completely overpowered by the fruit.
I am intending to try again with a moister cake and a white Stilton, but I don’t really see the practice catching on.
|Nicey replies: Keith,
Thanks for taking up the challenge on this one. Sorry to hear your cake was a bit dry, it will change its texture with keeping which is why we always leave ours a week in the tin before we tuck in. So it will probably improve a good bit by the weekend. Also as you say ovens can be very tricky. Our gas oven changes it behaviour depending on what its in it and how the heat circulates. If I have two things on two shelves then we are into the realms of needing super-computing models like those used to forecast the weather to predict what will happen. I think in our first few dabblings with fruit cake we would sometimes over do it a bit so it does come down to a bit of trail and error to get them just right.
I'm now struggling with the fact that I now seem to aspire to owning an oven thermometer. This seems a bit Heston Blumenthal-esk, and therefore counter to the free spirited and artisanal nature of baking. I can see both sides of the argument so really need to work this one through a bit more.
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
I have just read with interest the correspondence from Nick Q relating to the consumption of cheese with fruitcake.
This very topic was discussed in the office recently with one of my colleagues, Nicky, admitting to indulging in this very practice.
This blows the theory that it is a ‘Yorkshire thing’ as she comes from somewhere just north of London and has no connections with Yorkshire.
I was initially slightly perturbed at the concept, but curiosity is beginning to get the better of me and I will probably try some fruitcake with a bit of Wensleydale at the weekend, using your very own recipe.
I might also give the tea loaf recipe from Lois McGrath a go. This sounds a bit like something my mother used to make, but she never weighed or measured anything so getting a recipe from her was virtually impossible.
|Nicey replies: Yes I'm slightly curious to know what it's like too. I think if the atmosphere was relaxed with the right sort of cheese and a cake that I was comfortable with then I might give it a go.
I did make the tea loaf, I think it could have had another five minutes in the oven as its just a tiny bit soggy at the top. I can see that it certainly is the sort of thing that one could fiddle around with bunging in a bit of this and that. We are about to see this little lot off in a minute with the YMOS.
My Grandad was a big fan of a bit of cheese with his Christmas cake. All that side of the family did it. They were Lancastrians. I don’t recall him ever leaving his hometown of Clitheroe in his entire life apart from his jaunt to North Africa in the 1940s to deal with Rommel and catch malaria so I don’t think it was a habit he acquired outside his natural environs. The cheese of choice was a nice bit of Tasty Lancs. which is a crumbly cheese with quite a sharp, tangy flavour.
I am a Yorkshireman so generally don’t like to discuss my part-Lancastrian ancestry but I feel it is important that I make this contribution to the discussion as it suggests the cheese/cake combo. is not limited to the East of the Pennines.
I hope this helps in the debate.
|John E Noir
||Dear Nicey, Wifey and YMOS,|
Hope you enjoyed your bicycle tour and are fully recovered from any lingering saddle soreness.
As you may be aware I have expressed interest in fruitcake elsewhere in your lovely site. Your recent fruitcake symposium prompted me to muse on the acceptability of serving fruitcake with cheese.
It is traditional in this part of Yorkshire to serve a fruitcake with a nice bit o' Wensleydale a la Wallace and Grommitt. Other similar crumbly cheeses such as Lancashire may pass muster (but NOT in Yorkshire!) It is my opinion that a good moist cake could also stand a nice mature cheddar but it would seem unacceptable to muck it about with blue cheeses or waxy cheeses like Edam or Gouda. I also have reservations about the newer varieties of Wensleydale that incorporate fruits in the cheese such as cranberries or apricot. Not that I have anything against cheese like this just served with fruitcake it seems to be "Gilding the Lily"
I am sure your readers would welcome your opinion on this delicate subject and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter.
I include a picture of a recent dabbling into cheese/cake combining and also another pic not necessarily of my addiction to cheese but just to prove the exceptionally dark beverage in the first pic is actually tea served black rather than coffee.
John E Noir
|Nicey replies: I think my thoughts on this is that it's a Yorkshire thing that I have no direct experience of. It has been mentioned before but always in the context of Yorkshire-ness. Mind you I do imagine that Caerphilly cheese would work too.
We visited Caerphilly in May on a rainy day to see the excellent castle. Afterwards we had a spot of lunch in the town but couldn't find any Cearphilly cheese for sale which was a bit of a blow.
Here's a picture of the castle not the cheese
||Biscuits or cakes?|
I asked a friend when we were discussing the contentious issue of the jaffa cake and she said that she thought oatcakes could f*ck off. I felt that this was a little harsh and asked other friends what they thought. None were kind to the oatcake. One even said that they were a pariah forced traverse the shopping aisles in their oaty doom. Another said that oatcakes were flapjack zombies.
Does anyone else like oatcakes? Am I alone?
Cake or biscuit?
|Nicey replies: Yes that was a bit uncalled for. Still the Oatcake can be quite confusing as it looks like a biscuit and is called a cake, but clearly is really some form of cracker. There are sound historical reasons for all of this, mostly to do with living in Scotland a very long time ago. Still I like oatcakes but tend to munch them with some nice grapes and some tasty cheese and a nice glass of wine. Once again this is plainly not their original intended purpose.
So in summary, Cake or Biscuit?, no Cracker.