Tuesday, 27 August 2013

GBBO Bake along - Week 1

Just when we thought we couldn't wait any longer The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens. We now have week after delicious week of baking highs and lows and I know I will literally be glued to my tv. 
Halfway through the first episode I decided that I was going to attempt to bake-along with the show, choosing either the signature bake, the technical bake or the showstopper.

The technical challenge of week 1 jumped straight out at me. I had vaguely heard of angel food cake, not to be confused with angel cake, but I had never seen, eaten nor made it before. Not only did it look something of a challenge, but it also looked completely intriguing; like a strangely cloudy bath sponge (totally not selling it!). 

And so, after purchasing a crazy amount of eggs and inviting my sister round to help with her electric whisk the GBBO challenge began...

This recipe came from Mary Berry, naturally, and the original is available on the BBC website. 

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd

125g plain flour
300g caster sugar
10 large egg whites
Grated zest of 3 lemons
1 tbsp lemon juice 
5g cream of tarter
1/2 tsp salt

300ml whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g lemon curd

Start by preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
In a bowl mix the flour and 100g of the caster sugar together, then put to one side. In a separate (large) bowl, use an electric whisk to mix the egg whites for a minute or until they are frothy and have doubled in size. 
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream of tarter, salt and continue whisking until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. 
Then turn the speed up and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Whisk until firm, but not stiff peaks are formed.
Gently sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture into the bowl of egg whites and gently fold in. Continue gently adding the flour mixture and folding in until all is combined. Make sure there are no pockets of flour mixture, but be careful not to knock the air out of the egg whites. 
Gently pour the mixture into a 25cm tin (DO NOT GREASE OR LINE!!) and cook in the oven on a low shelf for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
When cooked, remove for the oven and immediately turn upside down on a wire rack and leave to cool. 
Once cool remove from the tin by running a knife round the edges and a pallet knife between the base of the cake and the tin. 
While the cake is finishing cooling you can make the topping. 
Whisk the cream and vanilla extract in a bowl until soft peaks form. Then spoon the topping over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing it down to form smooth sides.  
Finally spoon the lemon curd on to the top of the cake and pull a cocktail stick across in parallel lines to finish. 

Naturally the next step is to cut a slice and try out this cake! 

I have to say, I was unsure about this cake to start off with, but it really started to grow on me. The texture, if you are not used to it, is surprising. But it's a light cake which doesn't leave you feeling full. Not to mention that anything lemon flavor is good with me! 



p.s. Posted just in time for GBBO Week 2.!! (Trying not be apprehensive about bread week!) 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Time for Coffee

Some cakes are just so decadent that they call to you. This is one of those cakes. First you get the teasing smell of coffee when you are mixing up the cake batter. Then you get the delicious waft filling the house as the cake cooks. Then, finally, it's time for the taste.   

This is a very simple recipe and the cake it produces is not only scrumptious but it lasts for days (if you can make it last that long!) 

Coffee & Walnut Cake

175g butter
3 tbsp instant coffee 
100g walnut halves
150g self raising flour
50g wholemeal flour
200g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs

Filling and Topping
400g icing sugar
200g butter
2 tbsp instant coffee

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and grease and line 2, 20cm sandwich tins. 
Mix the coffee powder with 2 tablespoons of water from the kettle and finely chop half of the walnuts. 
Put the flours, sugar, baking powder in a bowl and combine. Then add the wet ingredients, the butter, eggs, coffee mixture and chopped walnuts. Beat until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Divide evenly between the 2 tins and put them in the oven for 25 minutes on a middle shelf.
Once the cakes are done, check that a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean, remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
For the filling and frosting beat the butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl. Mix the coffee powder with a tablespoon of boiled water, and then add to the buttercream, stirring until combined. 
Put the first cake on a serving plate and then coat with a thick layer of coffee buttercream, place the 2nd cake on top and then cover the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. 
To finish, place the remaining walnuts round the edge of the cake and then dive in!



Monday, 5 August 2013

A Classic Challenge!

I think I literally jumped in at the deep end with this one. Until last Christmas I had never even tried marzipan, and I had never eaten a Battenburg, talk about make one. After a little bit of research (Wikipedia...) I was disappointed to learn that the origin of Battenburg cake is unknown. So sadly, there's no interesting fact about it, other than it's a teatime classic.

Half of the challenge of this cake is the construction, and trying to keep it neat. But it can be done and have no fear, this post will be picture heavy! This recipe makes two cakes, which when you make this for the first time is a blessing. It means you can work out how to do it on the first cake without worrying too much about keeping it tidy. My second cake was a dream!

I used Edd Kimber's recipe for this as a guide.

Battenburg Cake

4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
275g caster sugar
185g unsalted butter
235g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
red and yellow gel food colouring
500g marzipan
170g raspberry jam

Stick the oven on and pre-heat to 180C/160F and line a 23 x 33cm brownie pan with baking parchment, creating a divide down the centre. 
Put the eggs, vanilla & almond extract and 70g sugar in a large bowl. Whisk using a machine or by hand until the eggs are thick and fall from the whisk slowly in a ribbon, adding the remaining sugar as you go.
In another bowl mix the softened butter, flour and baking powder. Add a quarter of the egg mixture, and combine, then add a little more, and combine. Continue until all the egg and flour mixture are combined. 
Then divide the mixture equally between two bowls and add a small amount of food colouring to each (gel food colouring is potent, so be careful not to overdo it!) Pour the yellow mixture into one half of the prepared tin and the pink batter into the other. 
Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or until a cocktail stick comes out from the centre of the cake clean. 
Allow to cool completely before the construction!

Once cool, trim the edges of the cakes (including the top if it forms a skin), then cut the cakes length-ways into four equal sized pieces. You should then have 8 pieces in total, 4 yellow and 4 pink. 

Now divide your marzipan into 2 and roll out each piece (dusting the surface with icing sugar), ensuring each piece is long enough for the length and width of the cake. 
Brush the marzipan with the jam and stack the cakes, coating each side with a layer of jam. (Don't forget to alternate the colours).
Finally, roll the remaining marzipan around the cake and trim the excess length (as close to the cake as you can). Cut a slice off each end to create a neat finish (and eat the scraps). 
Repeat with the second cake. 

The result will be two Battenburg Cake's, a slice of which go perfectly with a cup of tea!

Good Luck!