An Easter Bake Off

Blogging during the week is always a treat and a sign that the holidays are here!

Today my oldest best friend and I decided to have a day in baking. We try to do something exciting each school break and today was no exception!  We were really busy and managed to produce macarons and some savoury crackers.

The following recipe is taken from The Great British Bake Off How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers book.
Multi-seed savoury crackers
Ingredients
230g wholemeal flour
115g semolina
1/4 teaspoon crushed sea salt
55g sesame seeds
55g linseeds
55g pumpkin seeds (I managed to get seperate bags of each in Tesco)
1 tablespoon of runny honey
3 & 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (plus extra for rolling)
210ml of warm water

The how to
1) Put the flour, semolina and salt in a bowl and mix.
2) Grind the seeds roughly, a kind at a time and then add to the bowl and mix.
3) Whisk the honey and oil with the water and then stir into the dry mix.
4) Knead the mixture until the sides of the bowl come away clean. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 20 minutes.
5) Preheat the oven to 180°c.
6) Rub the worktop with a little oil and then split the mixture into 3 equal pieces. Roll them out one at a time so that it is roughly as thick as a credit card. Cut into rectangles.
7) Bake for around 16 minutes or until the crackers turn golden.

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Helen grinding the seeds.

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Weighing the seeds.

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The mix.

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Nom! The finished product!

We also made macarons (see previous posts for this recipe, or Google Mary Berry macaron recipe and find my previous post) following Mary Berry’s recipe. The only thing we did differently was dipping the macarons in the filling as it didn’t set!

These really worked and were a million times better than my attempts. Putting the almonds into a blender really helped!

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We put edible glitter on some – surprisingly these cooked better than the other tray!

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Half dipped macarons!

Now my hubby and I have plenty of picnic food for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m thinking brie and grapes to go with the crackers. My tummy is rumbling already!

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GBBO Technical Challenge. Week 1: Angel Food Cake.

I imagine that just about every baking blogger who watches the Great British Bake Off will be trying out a few, if not all, of the technical bakes as the series progresses. This is going to be my new challenge!

This morning I set to work making Mary Berry’s Angel Food Cake to take to a family bbq. I found the recipe on the BBC Food website and followed it to the letter as I was a little scared by it! Any recipe with way more eggs than flour always seems like it could go wrong in so many ways.

Mary Berry’s Angel Food Cake recipe

Here are a few photos from this morning’s baking. Yes I did take a small slice. I needed to check for quality obviously!
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My new cake tin especially for this occasion. Not an angel food cake tin but it worked!
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This recipe is ace as it uses both parts of the egg so there is no waste.
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Folding in the flour and sugar.
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The mixture about to go into the oven.
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Cooling upside down.
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Out of the tin!
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Ok, so I had a small slice! It’s really light in texture and colour. It might be a little to dark on the outside but it doesn’t affect the taste. Perfect!
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Making the lemon curd using up the egg yolks and lemons.
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Almost finished!
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Over a litre of lemon curd!
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The entire tub of whipped cream!
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Home-made lemon curd drizzle.
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The finished product with passion fruit drizzle.

I really enjoyed making this and although it doesn’t 100% match the GBBO cake it’s pretty close! I also managed to tidy while it was cooling!
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Happy weekend!

A festive friends & family weekend.

Happy weekend everyone! We are creeping closer and closer to Christmas and I am so, so, so excited! This weekend the festivities continue with a trip to London with my bestie Queenie to see my friend Grace. The plan is to check out a Christmas market, drink mulled wine & go out for dinner. I’ve been counting down to this all month!!

As well as that, tomorrow we’re having a family get together at my parent’s house with my Dad’s side of the family. I have volunteered to take chocolate tea cakes so today will be my second attempt at these treats. I aim to improve them by:
1) Baking the biscuit base for a minute or 2 less.
2) Making the marshmallow thicker.
3) Sealing them with milk chocolate to make them uniform in colour.

I really should get up & baking or they’ll never be made!

I followed exactly the same recipe as last time except I doubled it to make 12 forgetting that I had leftover biscuit dough last time! I have frozen the extra though for next weekend.

I also made them heartshaped this time!
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I also added jam again as that proved a popular choice last time.

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The finished product…
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A little of what you (fondant) fancy.

I admit it. I have a problem. I love baking for other people!

After my tea cake escapades yesterday I was feeling a little guilty about how I hadn’t made enough for the staffroom. I had enough to give to my 2 taste testers (Trisha and Becki) and my family-in-law to be, but not enough without leaving us devoid of any.

On the drive back from my h2b’s gan gan I decided I would attempt some fondant fancies… The lessons I learnt from this? Follow the recipe!!! I admit that I tend to glance at recipes, pick out the key bits and then freestyle. This was my downfall today.

For the cake I used my usual sponge cake recipe: I weighed 3 eggs then used this weight for the self raising flour, butter & castor sugar.

I began by beating the sugar and butter before adding the beaten eggs (with a teaspoon of vanilla extract) and sifted flour a little at a time. I use a metal spoon as I heard from somewhere that a metal spoon creates a reaction to make the sponge airier. It always works for me! I then baked for 20 minutes in an oven set at 180 degrees Celsius.

This is where I went wrong. I made buttercream icing using butter, milk and icing sugar and royal icing using food colouring, icing sugar and water. I then cut the sponge without measuring and made clumsy looking squares.

I put a blob of buttercream on each before coating the sponge squares with the icing.

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I then drizzled with orange icing. The h2b laughed at how ‘cute’ they were!

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I doubt Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry would even want to taste them!

They’re not perfect and I’m still not sure they’ll even be taken to school, but I tried and definitely decided that next time I will follow this recipe as Mary Berry definitely knows best!

Time for tea.

Happy Saturday! I have been busy baking since 11 this morning and I have to say I’m quite proud of my results.

Inspired by Salt, Pepper and a Dollop of Cream’s (which is a blog I would definitely recommend following) I attempted my own tea cakes. My only dilemma, I was too impatient to wait and order tea cake moulds. So I used my initiative and used silicone cupcake cases. You’ll have to read on to find out how they turned out…

I made the biscuits first and really took my time over each step. I followed the recipe from The Great British Bake Off Showstoppers cookbook but it’s also on the BBC website here.

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I followed advice and made them approximately 3mm thick and they cooked for 12 minutes. The mixture made 15, 4cm in diameter biscuits.

I then set to work on the chocolate. I tried melting the chocolate over water but managed to knock the bowl into the saucepan and ruin it. I was more than a little annoyed. Nonetheless, I persisted purchasing milk chocolate this time and melting in the microwave. Finally it worked!!

I coated the cupcake cases with the chocolate and when I had finished the first coat, went back and added another layer before the first layer set.

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I also coated only one side of the biscuit with melted chocolate and then left that to set as well.

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As you can see from the above picture I used a hand whisk and it took about 25 minutes of the h2b and I whisking. Well worth it though!

I left the marshmallow to cool for 30 minutes before spooning it into each case, leaving space for the biscuit to fit in. I then added a spoonful of jam to each as I have a weakness for jammy tea cakes before finally fitting the biscuit on top. Then I melted a little more chocolate and sealed the tea cakes.

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Voila, my finished product! The marshmallow is perhaps a little runny but apart from that I’m really pleased. The tea cake moulds have gone onto my Christmas list so that my next attempt can be a little more conformist in shape, but for now, a cup of tea to enjoy my tea cake with.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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Inspired but where to start!?

This post is a ‘we’re almost at the middle of the week, thinking about the weekend’ post. I’m taking a break from working to watch BBC Two’s Great British Bake Off. A show many of my colleagues and friends think I should enter. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. The problem with this show is there are too many ideas and I want to try them all, right now. Next Wednesday is my birthday & it’s traditional to take in some baked goods. I’m currently weighing up trying macarons for the first time or being a little more daring. Even if I don’t decide, it’s a lovely distraction for now!