Leicester is in a state of high excitement; practically a frenzy. The last time this happened was when Sam Bailey won the X Factor. This time it’s an altogether more regal affair. Richard III is being properly buried. The correct name for this is ‘reinterment,’ but no one knows how to say that or indeed exactly what it means. Anyway, I thought I’d make something that good old King Richard might have eaten at a banquet whilst entertaining young ladies.
Now then, the recipe. I have removed the sandalwood and pepper to suit modern tastes a little more, but feel free to add 1/4 tsp of each if you wish. I do not know where you can find sandalwood, I have too many children and a husband who’s rarely here to be searching for it, so you’ll have to be your own google if sandalwood interests you. Oh, I also swapped mace for nutmeg. Mainly because it’s what I had to hand and it’s that bit stronger in flavour.
I have gone for an oven baked option rather than deep frying, however do fry if you can handle the calories and indeed, the stress of dealing with bubbling oil. (Bubbling oil… now that does sound medieval). I often have young children with me in the kitchen, so anything involving deep frying scares the hell out of me. I’ve read too many stories in the Daily Mail to allow me to deep fry without evacuating the house first.
Rysschews of Fruit
For the dough:
- pinch saffron, ground
- 90mls cold water
- 180g plain flour
- 50g castor sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 20mls vegetable oil (or other oil you have to hand)
For the filling:
- 75g chopped dried figs (use scissors to chop)
- 75g chopped dried dates (use scissors to chop)
- 25g pine nuts
- 20g currants/sultanas
- 2 cloves, ground
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch salt
- pinch saffron, ground
Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 8 and line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Start by infusing the saffron in the cold water (for the pastry) and setting it aside for 10 minutes. In the meanwhile measure out the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl, mix and set aside.
Mix together all of the filling ingredients and divide into 9 roughly equal amounts and set aside. Make the pastry by adding the water (including saffron bits) to the dry ingredients until it just forms a soft dough, using your hand to pull it together – you will likely not need all the water, though it depends on the brand of flour you use – some flours absorb water more than others. Roll the dough into a sausage, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 1 hour. The chilling makes it much easier to handle, you can miss it out if you wish, but it’s a sticky dough.
Divide the dough sausage into thirds, then cut each third into 3 equal pieces. You should have 9 pieces of dough all of the same size. Roll each piece into a ball, squash the dough to flatten it and then place a heaped teaspoon of the filling in the centre. Fold the dough edges into the centre to completely cover the filling and pinch together, then roll between your palms to ensure the fruit parcel is a sphere shape. Repeat until all the dough is used up. (If the dough is very hard for you to handle then oil your hands first).
Now strictly these should be deep fried but as I am making these for more modern tastes and calorie controlled diets I suggest you place them on your lined baking sheet, brush liberally with oil and bake for 25 minutes until lightly browned. You can of course deep fry them in oil if you feel medievally inclined.
The original recipe says to eat these warm but I prefer them cold with port and cheese.