Thursday, February 19, 2015

Wiggs (Whygges)

I was stuck at home today waiting for an exterminator to do a termite inspection (no termites, or evidence of-hooray! They eat books, so it is no small worry.) so I passed the time between lessons with a bit of baking. At a recent book sale I bought a copy of Celebration Breads by, Betsy Oppenneer. Wiggs are said to be associated with Lent in Britain, though rich with eggs, butter, and sugar I don't see how they could be viewed as any sort of deprivation. According to Oppenneer, Wiggs were often lightly toasted with cheese and served in a bowl of red wine or ale. I served them slightly warmed without any adornment and they were well received, though in the future I would skip the caraway seed topping as it is a mess. Caraway with sweet spices is an odd combination to modern palates. I have recipes for candied caraway seeds, cakes of caraway and rosewater, and all sorts of things that might set your teeth on edge today. So be warned, if you associate caraway seeds with a rye bread or cooked sauerkraut, you may wish to sit this one out.

I can't offer photographs as a certain someone broke my new camera. I'll get another at the weekend, but for now I'll have to do my best to describe them. Interestingly, the cookbook does not have a photo or illustration. It would be hard selling a cookery book to a publisher today without glossy photographs.

I made a few changes in technique you may find helpful such as rotating the pan halfway through baking, that vary from the original recipe.

You Will Need:

For the Sponge:
1 scant tablespoon granulated yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup light cream (single) or half and half (double and milk in equal amounts) lukewarm
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plain flour

For the Dough
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3=4 cups plain flour

For the top:
3 tablespoons caraway seeds (pretty, but far, far too many)

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast in  water to soften it. Stir in cream, sugar, and 1 cup flour. Stir until mostly smooth. Cover with cling film and let rest 30 minutes.

Combine sponge, sugar, butter, egg, ginger, caraway, salt, nutmeg, mace, cloves, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat well 2 minutes (I used a wooden spoon). Slowly add the remaining flour a cup at a time until you have a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I only needed 3 cups. Knead, adding flour if it is too sticky until dough is smooth and elastic (about ten minutes).

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let rise until doubled-about an hour. Punch down and divide into three even sections. Roll each into a ball, and then flatten the balls to 1/2 inch thickness. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (or lightly grease) and sprinkle 1 tablespoon caraway seeds atop each loaf. Press into surface flattening as you go. Cover lightly with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.

Cut each round into eighths-you must cut all the way through. I used a pizza cutter. Do NOT pull them apart as for scones as they will rise together. Cover again and let rise another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pan and bake another ten or until lightly browned and internal temperature of buns reads 190 degrees F.

Place on a rack to cool, and break into wedges to serve. The recipe suggests the wiggs will keep frozen for 6 months and can be reheated in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. I have the other two loaves in the freezer, so I will report back when I use them as to how well they hold up.


Mim said...

I have a recipe for Wiggs! I think they may also have been used as funeral cakes, I should dig it out and have a look. Like a lot of things (eg Kentish Huffkins - my favourite name for a dough-product EVER) they're not made much any more.

Goody said...

I'm curious if your recipe calls for quite so many caraway seeds. I have the Elizabeth David bread book, but I haven't checked to see her take on them (I made her Scotch Bun once, and only once as it was a lot of work for a not very impressive bread).

Our funerary food in the American Midwest is raisin pie. Or it was, when people still baked.