Cream tea with a difference.

cooking apples, greengages, plums and blackberries

Early September and an abundance of wild blackberries in the hedgerows and garden fruits dropping from the plum, greengage and apple trees.


In an idle moment last week thumbing through my Instagram feed  BBC Good Food’s post, a gorgeous picture of Viennese whirls, caught my attention. These soft buttery biscuits just happen to be my favourite. Not because I particularly love biscuits, in fact I am quite happy to pass them by, but because I have memories of making a very similar mix from a recipe in Katie Stewarts classic cook 1960’s cookbook, ‘Cooking Better All The Time’. I still have my mum’s copy – the one that as a little girl I would spend happy, mouth-watering hours gazing at the beautiful pictures, and often making some of the more simple recipes. The Viennese shortcakes page still bears the sticky marks of little fingers. The recipe was easy for young arms because the high butter content makes for a soft dough that is easy to stir. The suggested piping of the mix could be avoided by simply dolloping it into the cupcake papers in spoonful’s. But the best bit as far as I was concerned ,was scooping out a teaspoon full of the creamy sweet dough so that each cake had an indentation deep enough to hold a teaspoonful of strawberry jam. It wasn’t the jam that was the best bit – it was because as far as I was, and still am concerned, raw cake mix is the best of the best of cooks perks!

I decided to revisit the memories, and below is my adaptation of the BBC Good Food recipe.  I was making the biscuits for adults  so I thought I would fill them with something a bit less sweet than buttercream and jam. It just so happens that the blackberries are ripening and the apples are beginning to fall off the tree, so the answer to the filling was obvious, a dark and delicious blackberry and apple compote and whipped fresh cream.

The next conundrum was the flavouring to complement the compote and the season. Early  September is a liminal time, the seasons  on the cusp of  change. It is no longer quite Summer, the leaves have a hint of yellow and gold and the evenings are drawing in and chilly, yet it’s not quite autumn, the day time temperatures are still high and the sun is shining. Cinnamon then seemed a bit heavy and vanilla too light a flavour. Nutmeg was an idea, but I didn’t happen to have any in the store cupboard. However, I did have whole pieces of mace. I ground the mace to a powder with a pinch of flaked sea salt and added it to slightly sweetened cream for the filling.  The result I hope you will agree is something of a triumph. The sweet and salty mace gives the cream a unique almost caramel flavour which marries beautifully with the apple and blackberry compote. Sandwiched between light and buttery Viennese whirls this is truly a cream tea with a difference.

Viennese whirls sandwiched with blackberry and apple compote and a sweet and salty mace flavoured cream


Viennese whirls, blackberry and apple, mace cream

Cream tea with a difference. Viennese Whirls filled with luscious apple and blackberry compote and a sweet and salty mace flavoured cream.


Makes 12 or 6 pairs of sandwiched biscuits

 Ground mace

4 large pieces dried Mace

1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

 Viennese whirls

200g salted butter, good and soft

50g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of the ground mace

200g plain flour

30g cornflour

½ teaspoon baking powder


Set oven to 170c/gas 5

Line 2 flat baking trays with parchment paper.

First grind the mace: Put the 2-3 large pieces of mace into a mortar along with the pinch of salt and grind to a powder. Measure out one teaspoon and reserve the rest for the cream.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the soft butter the icing sugar, the vanilla extract and one teaspoon of the ground mace until pale and very fluffy.

Sift in the flour, the cornflour and the baking powder and stir gently to combine.

Fit a large piping bag with a star nozzle and fill the bag with the Viennese whirl dough. Pipe evenly spaced whirls of about 3cm onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave a small gap between each as they spread a little when cooking.

Put both trays into the oven one on the upper and one on a lower shelf. Bake for 7-8 minutes and then switch the trays around. Bake for a further 6-8 minutes or until the biscuits are just beginning to turn a pale gold.

Remove the tray for the oven and leave the biscuits to cool for a while to allow them to set before removing them to a cooling wire.


Blackberry and apple compote

200g diced cooking apple from 3-4 windfall apples, peeled and cored.

200g blackberries freshly picked

50g sugar

1 tablespoon water

Put the prepared fruit into a pan with a lid and cook over a medium heat with the lid on until the blackberry juices flow. Remove the lid and bubble for a further 10-15 minutes until the apples pieces are pulped and the consistency is thick and jam like. Remove from heat and cool completely.


Salted mace sweet cream filling

200ml double cream

2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar

½ a teaspoon of the mace ground with salt (above)

Put all of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Cover and chill until required.

To serve:

To finish take pairs of Viennese whirls that fit well together. Put a tablespoon of compote on the flat base 1 and a tablespoon of cream on the other and sandwich together. Arrange the filled biscuits on an attractive plate and serve either as an alternative to a cream tea or as a dessert with an extra bowl of blackberry and apple compote.


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