Fanny prides herself that everything featured in the weekly partwork has been tested, tested and tested again in the Cradock kitchen. Presumably by the ever energetic and eager assistants. Fanny herself was quick to criticise Mrs Beeton for being a 'shameless charlatan', claiming that had she cooked everything in her Book of Household Management she'd have been locked in the kitchen all her life. Going one step further Fanny lets us know that everything we see has been made by Fanny herself, garnished by Fanny and photographed by Michael in the Cradock home. Unlike Mrs Beeton, Fanny has a lifetime of experience. With one solitary exception. Fanny shares a very special photo with us all which breaks her golden rule. A very fancy bread indeed, the traditional Harvest-time Loaf.
The version Fanny shows us is a rectangular centrepiece depicting a windmill, with plaited borders. It was made for her by a wonderful Master Baker credited only as Mr Hall. He is a wonder with shapes, plaits and rings seemingly. He also has a large oven, much larger than any ordinary domestic oven we are likely to find in our own homes. Fanny reckons these are required to make such a masterpiece, which is the reason she has decided not to share the technique with us, which seems rather a tease.
Fanny lets us know that she herself has a huge caterers' cake baking oven, but there would be little point in her making this in hers as it is so unlikely that any of us would have the same in our modest homes. So essentially Fanny could make this herself, could garnish it herself and Michael could photograph it, but still she gets the enigmatic Mr Hall on the case. Clearly it never entered her wonderful head that all she had to do was make it SMALLER and then we could all enjoy it too?
In tribute to the fantastic, fabulous Fanny, I set about recreating her own familiar, fearful face in my harvest-time showpiece. My very favourite image which I use for my Twitter profile seems appropriate. Fanny says that these sensational show-off specimens can be fashioned in white bread dough, brown bread dough or in brown scone meal dough. The scone meal dough has no yeast or raising agent in it, so would seem most suitable for Fannys Face, I don't want to end up with Fanny portrayed in a puffed up portrait, bloated as if she'd forgotten to take her slimming tablets. Television piles on the pounds. The scone meal bread seems more like a pastry. Butter is rubbed into the flour with only salt added. Once at the breadcrumb stage, a mix of water and milk is blended in to make a dough, which is kneaded until smooth.
As Fanny refuses to give any instructions as to what to do next I improvise, or should I say use the Cradock knowledge that I have accumulated to date. So, half the dough is rolled into a rectangle shape around the same size as my baking sheet, to ensure it fits in my domestic oven. I trim it very neatly, and with the trimmings I roll out very thing strands of dough. I use these to create an 'image' of Fanny for which I hope she'd approve. Don't judge my artistic endeavours too harshly, I am no Master Baker. The other half of the dough is divided into thirds and rolled out into long strands to plait for the border. Once my harvest highlight is hatched, I brush it with an Anglaise glaze - which Fanny does give the recipe for - which is simply beaten egg and salt. Thankfully once baked for around half an hour, Fanny is still visible and almost recognisable. Almost. Can you see her? Maybe I should've started with a windmill? Or Maybe, like Fanny herself, just skipped this and got someone else to make it?