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Peter Sidwell – Summertime in Yorkshire

Our columnist, Peter Sidwell, returns to share his tips on making the most of the summer’s seasonal produce, along with a fine recipe for Eccles cakes.

It has been a great Yorkshire summer so far, with family days out and gastronomic adventures aplenty. I’ve particularly enjoyed travelling along the county’s east coast, and I must say, no one does fish and chips quite like Whitby.

This time of year is bountiful for local produce, with the farm shops packed full of amazing food to feast on. And once again, I have fallen in love with the classic Wensleydale cheese. After a lovely day out in Wensleydale, it would’ve been a crime not to enjoy some of this famous cheese.

Blackberry-picking season is in full swing, and I’ve been utilising my blackberry finds for a number of tasty purposes: blackberry and apple jam, blackberry gin for Mrs Sidwell, and blackberry lemonade for the kids.

Why not try making my delicious Wensleydale cheese and prune Eccles cakes? They’re perfect for picnics, and make a great alternative to sandwiches.

Wensleydale cheese and prune Eccles cake
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
A pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp cold water

150g Wensleydale cheese
90g California prunes
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

• Place the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add half the butter into the flour. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour to form a crumbly texture.
• Add the remaining cubes of butter, the lemon juice, and half the water.
• Turn the bowl out on to a clean work surface, and slowly mix together, being careful not to over mix the butter.
• Add a little more water while mixing, until you have a soft ball of dough with butter chunks inside. Leave the pastry to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
• Slice the peeled shallots and place in a saucepan with the vinegar.
• Heat the vinegar until it comes to the boil, then remove from the heat, and leave to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, grate the Wensleydale cheese into a bowl.
• Add in the chopped California prunes, drain the shallots, then add to the bowl before mixing together.
• Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, then fold from the top to the middle, and from the bottom over the first fold. Then roll out again into the same sized rectangle, and repeat the fold.
• Finally, roll the pastry out into 1/2cm thick sections, and using a 10cm cutter, cut out as many clean circles as you can.
• Divide the cheese filling evenly between all the circles of pastry.
• Gather the edge of the circle of pastry and squeeze together to seal in the filling. Then turn the folds underneath the Eccles cake, and roll out a little to flatten it.
• Repeat the process with all the other pastry circles, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
• Brush with beaten egg, make two small cuts in the top of each cake, then bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes until golden and flaky.

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