I wrote yesterday about yeasted fruit breads – so delicious, with or without butter, and even when they go a bit stale they are good toasted and spread with plenty of butter! I mentioned that there are traditional cakes from all across the country which are similar, but each with its own individual taste or twist (as they say on Masterchef!) I wrote about some cakes I knew and have made, bara brith, barm brack, Cornish saffron cake, but I also looked up to see what other recipes there were. One which I’ve never heard of is Guernsey gâche. As Wikipedia says –
Guernsey gâche is a special bread made with raisins, sultanas and mixed peel. In Guernésiais, gâche means cake.
Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands (along with Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and Lihou) Its name, like that of Jersey, is Norse in origin and the islands themselves were formed about 8,000 years ago when sea levels rose, creating the British Isles from what had been the European landmass.
I’m sure there are many varieties of gâche (some including apples, but here is one recipe Guernsey milk is rich and lovely and makes rich and lovely butter – if you can’t get it, just use the best butter you have, and proper (not skimmed) milk::
- 1½lbs plain flour
- 1½lbs Guernsey butter or suet… I think I prefer the butter version!
- two eggs, beaten
- 4oz candied peel (orange is used in some recipes, mixed in other – make sure it is good quality and not bitter little lumps)
- 1lb mixed dried fruit ( or just sultanas, or currants, whatever you prefer – I love the underrated flavour of currants, but sultans are juicy, raising juicier!)
- ¼ pint of Guernsey milk, warm (not hot)
- 2oz yeast
- ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, cinnamon, mixed spice (don’t use all/any if you don’t like – or use allspice, underused and underrated – like currents!)
- pinch of salt
- 2oz dark brown or Demerara sugar
- cream together the butter and sugar until really pale and light
- add the eggs and flour alternately
- add the yeast to the milk, let froth up
- make a dip in the centre of flour and butter, and pour in the frothing milk and yeast – mix in really well and pull together into a dough
- add the fruit and salt then knead really well until soft,, smooth and elastic
- let it rest and rise for two hours in a warm place
- knocking back and kneading again lightly then put in a greased loaf tin, sprinkle with the brown sugar
- bake in a moderate oven,180°C , 350°F, gas mark 4, for one hour until the top is golden brown and lovely looking