devonshire splits with plum jam

sticking to the current theme of plum-related loveliness, i’ve been loving the soft-set plum jam that i made a few weeks ago. this was a nigel slater recipe and was, i think, an excuse for him to make devonshire splits. it was also an excuse for me.

devonshire splits are yeast-risen buns that can be served as an alternative to scones. not that i did – i made both. i preferred the splits (in part this is due to the fact that the scones were too crumbly and therefore not easy to eat without making a mess – can anyone recommend a t&t recipe? i used hugh f-w’s version which includes double cream – double decadence!) but they aren’t perfect – they start to go stale very quickly so don’t plan to make more than you need. instead, plan to eat more than you should -  an almost perfect approach as far as cream teas are concerned!

nigel slater’s devonshire splits (makes 8-10)

nigel says “this is my variation on elizabeth david's recipe. she used fresh yeast for hers. if you can get hold of it, you should use 30g for the amount of flour below, and cream it with the sugar before adding the warmed milk.”

450g plain flour

½ a teaspoon of  salt

14g dried easy-bake yeast (2 sachets)

2 teaspoons caster sugar

30g butter

285-300ml milk

a little extra flour for kneading

sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. sprinkle the yeast and caster sugar into the flour. warm the butter and milk in a small pan until the butter has melted. let the milk cool slightly, until it is just about cool enough to dip your finger in.

pour enough of the milk and butter mixture into the flour to form a soft dough. you may not need all of it. the dough should be soft and slightly sticky. mix it with your hands to form a ball.

tip the dough out on to a floured work surface. knead the dough lightly for about five minutes until it feels slightly elastic. return to the bowl and cover loosely with a clean tea towel or clingfilm and put in a warm place.

after an hour or so the dough should have doubled in size. turn the dough out once more on to the floured board and cut into 8 to 10 pieces. roll each one into a ball, placing them on a lightly floured baking sheet as you go. i find this easiest in the palm of my hand, but other people like to roll them on the board.

set the oven at 200c/gas mark 6. dust the buns lightly with flour and leave to rise slightly, covered by a tea towel, for 10-15 minutes. bake for 18-20 minutes until they are pale gold on top and sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom.

remove the buns from the baking sheet to a cooling rack for a few minutes. serve while they're still warm.