A good excuse to do a recipe is cake day at work – every Wednesday – so I thought I’d look through the book to find something to make where I’d got all the ingredients in the store cupboard, and came across (#56) Stuffed Monkey; a favourite of Jane Grigson’s. She lifted it herself from a book of Jewish Cookery, but has no idea what makes it particularly Jewish, or indeed what it has to do with monkeys. If anyone knows please tell me. Although Jewish, it does have an English feel to it – it’s basically an almond and candied peel filling sandwiched between two rounds of very sweet pastry that’s almost shortbread in texture and flavour. When baking, it’s difficult to tell whether it’s ready or not, so add an extra 5 to 8 minutes to the cooking time I’ve given if you think you would prefer your Stuffed Monkey more biscuity. Don’t worry, no monkeys were harmed in the making of this sweetmeat.
Here’s how to stuff your very own monkey:
Make a sweet-spiced pastry by mixing together 6 ounces of flour and a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Rub in 4 ounces of chilled butter that has been cubes until fine breadcrumbs are formed. I always to this with a mixer set on a slow speed these days as it stops the butter softening and turning it to a paste too early. If you don’t have a mixer, use your fingertips. Mix in 4 ounces of soft brown sugar and an egg yolk, and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough. If it is too dry to come together add a teaspoon or two of milk. Allow this to rest in the fridge for half an hour, or the freezer for half that time.
Whilst you wait for this, make the filling by beating together 1 ½ ounces of melted butter, 2 ounces each of chopped peel and ground almonds, 1 ounce of caster sugar and an egg yolk.
Roll out half the pastry so it fits in the bottom of an 8 inch cake tin, spread the filling over the top, then roll out the other half and place on top. Brush with egg white and bake for 30 minutes at 190 degrees C. Cool in tin.
TOP TIP: Sweet pastry is a tricky bugger to roll and lift without it braking apart, so roll it on cling film that’s been floured. You can pick it all up at once without tearing.
#56 Stuffed Monkey – 5.5/10. It was an unusual sweet biscuity with a wonderful chewy citrus and marzipan flavored centre. I found it a little dry, however I think I may have overcooked it a little (I added an extra few minutes to the cooking time). That said, it got polished off pretty quickly and many people went for seconds, so what do I know!?