If there is one thing Dallas doesn’t have, well, any of, it’s British cuisine. We have pubs, but no legit places to find bangers 'n’ mash. Now, though, you can find the best of Britain’s contributions to the baking world at the Dallas Farmers Market. There may not be a whole lot else to get excited about at the market right now, but Blind Butcher pastry chef Tina Miller’s creations are certainly worth the drive.
On Sunday, Miller debuted her newest project, the Proper Baking Co. When we arrived in the afternoon, she’d already sold out of the two most exciting items — the flaky, rich pork pies that you might have tried at Blind Butcher, and rich and meaty Scotch eggs. If we’d been smart, we would have put our orders in ahead of time, but fortunately, there was still plenty of goodness on offer.
Miller’s assortment of British confections will look unfamiliar to those who haven’t traveled to England or been consumed by the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. In addition to those pork pies and Scotch eggs, Miller’s sweet treats were pretty stunning. Miniature Victoria sponges (that’s “light and fluffy cake” for the unindoctrinated) were piled with rich whipped cream and sweet strawberry jam and barely made it off the table before they were shoved into expectant faces in a shower of crumbs and powdered sugar.
A classic Bakewell tart, layered with shortcrust pastry, frangipane and yet more strawberry jam, was served at the table warm with a big dollop of whipped cream. The strawberry jam so present in Miller's baked goods is like an entire strawberry field crammed neatly into a jar and is perhaps the best strawberry jam ever created. Surprisingly enough, the Bourbon biscuits contain no whiskey, and that’s not even a disappointment. The light, dark-chocolate biscuits (cookie, you dumb American) sandwiched with a Bourbon-style cream were so satisfying that just one would do you fine. But, you know, you’d crave another tomorrow, so go ahead and pick up as many as you like.
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Miller, who has been advertising her wares on Facebook and through word-of-mouth, says expat Brits lined up at the Proper Baking Co. table before she’d even finished setting up. A Facebook reviewer named Allstair Moncrief — a sufficiently British name — says that Miller’s pork pies and cakes are better than he’s had anywhere in the U.K. If that endorsement isn’t enough for you, you’ll just have to schlep up to the Farmers Market next week and try those Bourbon biscuits yourself.
For those of us who suck at baking, Miller is also offering baked tarts and pies for the holidays, but you’re probably going to want to get your order in early. A large Victoria sponge will run you $25, which is a real bargain when you consider how expensive good baked goods are, even at the supermarket. Perhaps more important, you can also contact Miller via Facebook to place your order and guarantee that your pork pies and Scotch eggs are waiting for you when you get to the market next Sunday.