1: Sirens

These are a kind of… biscuit. Cake. Scone. Bun. They have jam in the middle. They’re called “sirens” after Sweet Siren Song of Saskatoon, because the first time I made them they had saskatoon berry jam. You can make them with any kind of jam. Quince marmelade is good. In our house they are traditionally made from kinds of jam that have been open for a while and need finishing up.

Pre-heat oven to 210 C or Gas 7, with both shelves arranged near the top.

Take 2 baking trays and have them handy.

Sift 7 ounces of SR (patisserie) flour, 1 ounce of semolina flour, 3 ounces of vanilla sugar and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl.

Using a magic pastry fork, mix in 3 ounces of butter or margarine, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Break one egg into a little bowl or a mug. Add a slosh of milk. You may need a little more milk. Beat with a fork.

Add the beaten egg/milk to the big bowl, and mix in with the fork until the mixture is an even dough. It’s OK to use a bit more milk if necessary.

Open the jam jar, and put a teaspoon in it.

Wash your hands, leaving the soapy water there because you’re going to need it again. Dry your hands. Flour your hands.

The dough in the bowl is going to make a fairly consistent 14 cakes. You can divide it into fourteen balls now, or you can make a ball at a time, whichever you prefer.

Take a ball. Make a hole in it with your index finger. Make it bigger with your thumb. Make it deeper with your little finger. Using the teaspoon, squide in about half a teaspoon of jam. Then — this is the tricky bit — make the thing back into a ball again. You want to sort of pinch it together, and then roll it a bit in your fingers, so the jam is in the middle. I thought this would be impossible, but it’s not all that hard, especially if you use the thumb/little finger thing. If you really can’t seal it, if, for instance, you have put too much jam, you can get a little more dough, put it above the jam, and pinch the edges together and then re-roll it in your hands. But be careful. or you can make a real mess.

When the ball is done, put it on the baking tray. Sigh. Start again. When you have another, put it on the tray, well away from the other. They spread out a lot when they cook. You want seven balls on each tray. When you have seven balls on one tray, put it in the oven on the top shelf. When you have seven balls on the other tray, move the first tray to the lower shelf. Time five minutes, then take the first tray out, taking the cakes off the paper with a fishslice and leaving them to cool.

The recipe says they want 12-14 minutes altogether, but keep checking them. They’re done when they’re just slightly coloured on top.

They’re really surprisingly good. And it’s good hand therapy making them.