Friday, 29 August 2014

Great British Bake Off - Florentines - Mary Berry Recipe

Well, the temperatures are heating up in the Great British Bake Off tent, but today's offering is Mary Berry's Florentines from Week 2 - Biscuits.  Here, they formed the Technical Challenge for the bakers, but it seemed the most important thing to know was how to temper chocolate.  That and correctly measuring out your ingredients.

Firstly, prepare and weigh out the nuts, flour and fruit.  I had some flaked almonds to use up, so used these instead of chopped almonds.  I chopped them into smaller pieces so the mixture would adhere together.  As I didn't have the amount of almonds required, I just used extra hazelnuts.  It is, however, just as I am typing this up, that I realise the recipe called for walnuts, NOT hazelnuts.  Ooopps.  Oh well, still tasted great.

Gently heat the butter, golden syrup and demerara sugar until the butter has melted.  The sugar does not need to dissolve.

Add the flour, fruit and nuts and combine.

You then need to divide the mixture into 18 portions and place 6 on each lined baking tray.  I have quite large baking trays, so will just use 2 next time.  The important thing is they need space to spread.

Pop into a preheated 180c static oven and bake for 8 - 10 minutes.  Mine took 8 minutes on the top shelf and 9 minutes on the bottom.  They need to be golden brown.  Just cooked enough, so they have a crunch as you bite in, but a chewy centre, but not undercooked, so they flop when picked up once cooled.

I don't think I would have won any prizes for equal sizing, but hey, I can work on that!  Whilst they were cooling on a wire rack, it was time for the chocolate layer.  The recipe is also found in Mary's Baking Bible, and here she suggests melting all the chocolate together, then spreading over the base of the Florentine and allowing to cool.  On Bake Off, the chocolate needs to be tempered, so half the chocolate is melted in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until it reaches 53C.  The remaining chopped up chocolate is then added to the bowl (now removed from the simmering water) and stirred until it melts and then cools to 26C.  For this you really need a proper sugar thermometer (now on my shopping list!!) as mine only went down to 50C.  So basically I judged it by whether I could make a zigzag in the chocolate once on the biscuit.

 Simply delicious served with a proper posh tea, in a not so posh but lovely mug!

I shared a few, but most got nibbled straight from the tin as they were so moreish.

I've also been making the most of the late summer fruit harvest. 
Damson Gin, which will mature until Xmas ......... hopefully!

Plus Cinnamon Baked Plums which I found on a great website - The British Larder.
Perfect with yoghurt, rice pudding, ice-cream.
Happy Baking!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Great British Bake Off - Cherry & Almond Cake - Mary Berry Recipe

So in a week I've managed to bake 4 cakes.  Luckily for the waistline, I've only tried a slice or 2 of each.  This weeks offering came from watching Week 1 of the Great British Bake Off .  As it was Cake Week, Mary Berry's Cherry Cake was the choice for the Technical Challenge. 

The technical side of it was knowing what to do with the cherries as Mary DID NOT want them all to sink to the bottom.  To prevent this you quartered each glace cherry (reserving 5 cherries for decoration), rinsed them under cool water, drain and dry well, then toss in 2tbls of the required flour.  Its a new tip for me and might also work when you put fresh fruit in a cake batter as it often sinks.  Removing the glaze and tossing in flour helps them stick to the batter, rather than 'slipping' through it whilst baking.


The remaining batter ingredients are placed in a bowl and blended together for 2 minutes until smooth.

Then gently fold in the prepared cherries and scrap into a buttered Bundt tin.  The recipe asks for a 23cm tin, but mine is 25cm, so will create a wider, but not so deep cake.

Pop it in a pre-heated 180c static oven.  Now time to pour a G&T and sit back and relax while it bakes.  Wouldn't do that on Bake Off would you!

35 minutes later it came out the oven nice and golden.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before turning out to cool completely.

The icing was a simple mix of icing sugar and lemon juice, though as the recipe states the juice of 1 lemon, don't add it all at once.  Lemons vary in size and juiciness. My icing could have been slightly thicker, but I'm happy with it.  Also a good tip is put a plate or kitchen paper under your cooling rack to catch the icing that inevitably drips off the cake!  Adorn with the remaining cherries and flaked almonds and voila!

The destination for this cake was for after my Running Clubs Annual Charity Relay Race around Hayling Island.  A bit more crumbly than expected (probably due to the ground almonds in the batter), but pretty tasty, I didn't get to bring much home.  AND the cherries were well distributed throughout the cake I think.  Would I have passed the Technical Challenge Mary???

A variation of this recipe can also found in Mary Berry's Baking Bible using a round tin, instead of a Bundt tin.

Happy Baking!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Frosted Courgette & Lemon Cake

So it begins.  Another season of The Great British Bake Off!  What a mixture of contestants as usual. 
I was tempted to give Mary Berry's Cherry Cake from Week 1 a go, but as I was off to see my Godson at the weekend and his favourite cake is Victoria Sponge, it seemed right to bake Mary's version instead.  The recipe comes from the Mary Berry Baking Bible.

Such a simple cake, you put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whizz together until blended well.  The only difference in the book from the one I have linked to, is the recommended oven temperature.  In the book its 160c for a fan oven and bake for 25 minutes.  Mine were starting to darken on the top, so I just covered with baking parchment for the last 5 minutes.  I'm still cheating and using cake tin liners, hence the ridged edges.  Mary would not approve!

I did, however, fill it with homemade strawberry jam with a hint of rose syrup.  So I may have redeemed myself.  Lovely and light, it certainly didn't last long.

Always on the look out for more recipes to use up the 'Allotment Glut' of fruit and veg, I stumbled across a recipe for Frosted Courgette & Lemon Cake on the BBC food website.

Again, another simple sponge recipe with the addition of lots of grated courgettes.  This one used a 50/50 mix of white self-raising flour and wholemeal flour.  It meant I got to use some Emmer flour from Doves Farm Organic that my Sister had found me.  Wholemeal, but without the bits!

You use 300g of courgettes in the batter so it makes for a really moist cake.

I baked mine at 160c for 25 minutes, turning part way through so they cooked more evenly.  They look a bit pock-marked, but that's due to all the courgettes.

The first one I made for a friends husband as a thank you for buying us all lunch.  I followed the recipe by filling and topping with the frosting and lemon curd in the middle.

The second attempt just had filling and lemon curd, as I needed to use up the remaining full fat cheese tub.  Just as delicious and a bit more portable if you want to give away some!

I might give the Cherry Cake a go this weekend, but then there's all the biscuits to try from Week 2 of Bake Off.  Oh the dilemma!

Happy Baking!