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Wendy And Me And Scottish Fern Cakes

by Donna Easto

Previously, I put out a call for recipes and food-related stories for inclusion in a unique cookbook. What follows is an example. Send your recipes, stories and pictures to herbladycrone@gmail.com or mail to Box 555, Lumby, B.C. V0E 2G0 – please print!

The Story:

Wendy & Donna, 34 McCord Rd.

Why is this recipe special to me? Wendy and I grew up across the road from each other. Kindred spirits from the first, we were seldom apart. Spring, summer, autumn or winter, neither of us ever travelled beyond the city. Our little street was so quiet that we built snow forts in the middle of the road! And we explored; the TTC was our ticket to adventure. We investigated our neighbourhood and beyond. We rode the Ferry to Toronto Island, walked Toronto’s beaches and boardwalks, explored every inch of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. So you may ask, what have Fern Cakes to with this life-long friendship? Wendy and I usually walked home from High School along Mount Pleasant Road. En route was an old-style Scottish bakery that made scrumptiously desirable Scottish Fern Cakes. If the sight of those lovely tartlets in the window didn’t draw you in, the scent of the baking would! Every Friday, we would nip into the bakery on the way home and combine our meagre allowances to buy four. Of course, they must be eaten before arriving home. Wendy’s dour Scottish grandmother looked dimly upon such frivolities. In assembling this recipe/story collection, no combination seemed more fitting than that of Wendy and me and the Scottish Fern Cakes. My dear friend is gone now, taken by cancer. But, I can still picture us sitting in Davisville park, savouring the Cakes’ almondy sweetness and the sweetness of the moment. Friends forever.

The Recipe

  • Ready in 20 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Calories 149

Ingredients:

  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F
  • Tart Shells (your recipe)
  • Filling
  • Icing 
  • Chocolate for the Fern Design

Preparation

Filling:

  • 3-4 tbsp raspberry or blackberry jam
  • 6 oz butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Icing:

  • ⅔ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp water or milk

For the fern design:

Melted chocolate in a small plastic bag with a tiny bit of the tip cut off

 Instructions:

Make your favourite sweet, buttery pastry, cut into circles to fit mini tins. Press small holes with a fork into each shell’s bottom and sides and bake for about 15-20 minutes. They should not be fully cooked. Remove and set aside.

Spread the jam on the bottom of the crust.

Make the Filling:

  1. Melt the butter, remove from heat and stir in sugar, ground almonds, eggs and almond extract. Pour the mixture over the jam, not too full.
  2. Reduce oven to 350F/180C and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown and the middle has set. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Decorating:

  1. Make the icing thick but still runny; cover each tartlet with the icing.
  2. Right away, draw zig-zag lines with the melted chocolate in each tart’s centre, drag a toothpick or knife through the design to make the traditional fern motif. Allow to set before storing – or eating!
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