For those who do not know, the BCN Marathon Challenge is a race involving narrowboats. No, this is not an oxymoronic concept. You must all stop laughing. Now. It is actually a gruelling endurance test involving very little sleep, ridiculous numbers of locks, little used pounds filled with weeds and old sofas, all within a time limit.
I had a very background role. Ground being the operative word. Many would question my involvement at all. Indeed I believe the Captain himself would dispute my participation. It is true I did not join the crew of Wand’ring Bark while they executed the 86 locks of Saturday. Nor did I share the delights of the weed hatch today. In fact, I was not exactly part of the crew at all. You will not find me on the log sheet. But I like to think my role was nevertheless crucial. Baking. That was my part.
But not just any baking. Oh no, this was baking with foraged ingredients! It seemed deeply appropriate to be making things with rose petals I found on the Wolverhampton 21. Which is part of the BCN (Birmingham Canal Navigations). I had used some of the petals to make rose sugar (500g caster sugar, handful of japanese rose petals). In fact, I had made quite a lot. Consequently, baking seemed the Right Thing To Do.
First up, was Rose Petal Victoria Sponge Cake. I simply added one tablespoon of rose petal syrup to the cake mix. Then sandwiched it together with Rose Petal Jelly and whipped cream flavoured with rose petal syrup. Finally I dusted the top with a sprinkling of rose sugar.
Next, a small batch of Lavender Shortbread. This was just for the Captain and crew. I really intended to concentrate on Rose Petal Shortbread but got sidetracked. The recipe is very like the one that follows which a few changes. Obvious changes. I am sure you can work them out.
My main batch of baking was making wee bags of the Rose Petal Shortbread prettily packaged. I should probably get out more …
Rose Petal Shortbread
175g plain flour
75g rose petal sugar
175g butter, softened
75g fine semolina
For topping: sprinkle with extra rose petal sugar or drizzle with icing made from rose petal syrup and icing sugar.
Pre-heat oven to 150C / gas mark 2
Grease and line a baking tin 28 x 18cm
Beat all ingredients in bowl till thoroughly mixed and soft dough formed. Use hands to shape to a ball then press into tin evenly. Use a fork to prick all over. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool in tin for 10 mins. Cut into fingers and place on wire rack till completely cool.