Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Weeks Eight and Nine: Povitica and Schichtorte

Again - a bit of a late catch up here - despite having been fairly conscientious about the baking, I haven't done a brilliant job of writing anything about it in any kind of timely way, but here goes...


Povitica - I put off making this one for AGES, as it looked so terrifying on television.
However, when it came down to it, it was actually pretty straightforward.


I made it on a bedsheet as instructed (though I'm pretty sure that Mr H didn't have fitted sheets in mind when he came up with this one), which was reasonably humorous, though I'm pretty sure I didn't manage to get the dough quite as crazily thin as recommended.
I did a bit of extra stretching, though, after I has rolled it up into a snake, which I fondly imagine might have made up for it a bit.


I didn't have enough walnuts for the recipe knocking around at home, so I just chucked in all the nuts I did have (a mix of lots of things, including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and other things).
It was delicious - like a lovely nutella sandwich. I'll definitely do it again. It disappeared extremely quickly.


The schichtorte, on the other hand, was a completely different story.
First of all, the recipe requires ten eggs. TEN. Crazy.

It was pretty easy to mix, but then, as noted on television, grilling each of up to 20 layers was an extremely long and boring job.


It came out looking pretty and the apricot jam/glaze thing worked very well and gave a nice finish, but, honestly - what a lot of faff for something that is fundenentally just a normal sized cake or a single flavour.


I took it to the office and people ate it, because people will always eat cake. I don't think it tasted that great, though - the actual flavours were fine, but the whole thing, though attractive, was a little bit dense and boring (I think more the fault of the recipe than my execution, though I could be wrong - I don't really see how it could fail to be that way, with the gazillion layers and all).
I don't think I'd bother with this one in normal life (though I might nick the glaze for other things) - there are other things that look just as nice, taste better and take a fraction of the time to do.


Just one more technical challenge to go now (again, very late - maybe there might be a suitable moment at the weekend) - I wonder what my life will become when it's all over!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Week Six and Seven: Prinsesstårta and Kouign Amann

I've been doing a bit more catching up this weekend - two quite fun technical challenges in the most recent episodes, I thought...

Week six brought us the Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake, as seen in Ikea and also, presumably, Sweden), a rather bizarre looking green monstrosity - sponge, jam and creamy stuff covered with green marzipan and a pink rose, said to have been invented in the 1930s for some actual Scandinavian princesses.

The GBBO recipe for this is (and clearly was on the actual programme too) completely bonkers, requiring that you not only make the cake and the cream and creme patissiere fillings, but also the jam and the marzipan. I'm pretty sure that in Real Life, I wouldn't bother with many of these things, but, for the sake of authenticity, I did as I was told this time.




I definitely wouldn't have wanted to do this one in the time - I did mine over two days - I made most of the bits and pieces on day one and then the final cream whippage, marzipan and assembly on day two.



Next time, I would definitely make my creme patissiere a bit thicker - it would be easier to deal with and would give thicker layers.

I *might* also consider making the green a bit less green for authenticity, but I quite like my leafy colour - those gel colours are just too awesome to waste on pastel shades!

Again, not great for taking to work, but I shall see what I can do, as I don't think it's really reasonable to expect poor husband to eat the whole thing.



The Breton Kouign Amann from episode seven, on the other hand are an entirely different prospect.
Nice and straightforward to make, the main problem they seemed to create on TV was just the fact that nobody had any idea what they were making!

I, obviously, having seen their efforts, didn't have the same problem, so breezed through the recipe (admittedly at a far more leisurely pace).



They seem a bit like making croissants - bread dough with layers of butter - rolled and folded in the manner of puff pastry, with a bit of caramelly added sugar.



These are MUCH more transportable, and I'll have to hide them from husband, as they are utterly delicious.



I will definitely make them again - sweet and flakey, they would be ideal for breakfast or elevenses.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Weeks Four and Five: Tiramisu Cake and Wee Pies

Husband makes a fuss about having to watch the Bake Off with me - he would prefer to mainline Game of Thrones (it's as well that we have to ease off that sometimes, in fact. We're coming ominously near to running out of episodes).

However, he is more excited about the Tiramisu Cake from the Puddings episode than he has been about any foodstuff for a long time...

What with that and Ice Cream-gate, it was a pretty exciting episode all round.

Now, I can take or leave tiramisu, generally - I don't really like coffee and chocolatey puddings don't do that much for me, but any recipe which has the nerve to include THREE entire tubs of mascarpone has to be tried at least once in a lifetime, I reckon.

Turns out I don't have a square tin (hard to believe, I know), so mine is round.




Also, who can be faffed with making silly chocolate decorations? Honestly... *sigh*




Because of being on Champagne Holiday last week, I have a bit of catching up to do, so I have also shoehorned Pie Week into this post.




I love pie. I love making pie and I quite like eating it too.

I was hoping that the custard tarts would be the technical challenge of the week, as I am partial to a bit of tartage (as many people that have been here for force feeding dinner here can testify). However, it was clearly not to be, and pear mini pies were the order of the day.

When I saw these on TV, I thought that they were a bit lame, but now that I have made them myself, I am COMPLETELY in love with them - they are gorgeous. Simple and gorgeous.




Definitely one to make again and again (possibly with apples, which are a good deal yummier than pears in my humble opinion).




I'm going to make my family eat all these things at a barbecue this weekend, as the technical challenges are becoming increasingly impractical for transporting into work (BBC, please take note ;) ).

Tune in again for (equally, if not more, impractical) princess cake.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Week Three: Ciabatta

I always think that "bread week" is a bit of a scam on GBBO and this season was no exception.

I mean, HOW long did they give them to knock out those ciabattas? The only recipes I've used have been ones that take literally days. Days.

I don't know what kind of trickery they use to make it work on TV, whether it's editing magic, secret advance preparation or just inedible over yeasting, but I'm not altogether sure I approve.

Interesting, Mr H's recipe, per the BBC website, which at least *looks* like the one used on the show, also purports to take at least six (likely way more) hours.

I usually use a recipe from my most utilised and bizarre bread book, The Christian Aid Book of Bread (which I thoroughly recommend, if you want a really clear easy book full of bread recipes), but instead, in the interests of Doing Things Properly, I used the one linked above for this.

Do to a slightly hectic schedule and a general lack of organisation, both proves of this loaf were a little (or a lot - these things are all relative, right?) longer than intended and the final stage stretch and fold was a little half hearted.




I also made it into one loaf instead of two, which meant that it was bigger and less flat than the recipe intended, but more practical from a household bread perspective.




It turned out ok - I think I probably could have cooked it for a teeny tiny bit longer and better folding would have made nicer bubbles.

I'm probably not going to ditch the Christian Aid recipe in favour of this - I like it better - it's a wetter dough and gives an airier, more ciabatta-like texture, but this one was better than I expected.

I still wouldn't want to do it in an hour, though, or whatever the silly TV time is.







- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, 15 August 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Week Two: Florentines


I confess that I wasn't massively excited about biscuit week - I have a few nice biscuit/cookie recipes that I use over and over again, as they clearly represent a handy portable baked item, but I can't say that I find them very, well, exciting.

Anyway, the technical challenge turned out to be florentines, which I'm not certain I'd ever really considered even to be a biscuit, but I'd certainly never made before.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/marys_florentines_49833

Not super challenging, I think, other than the tempering of the chocolate (I used a nasty cheap chocolate for the first lot that entirely refused to temper and switched to some kind of Aldi dark for the remainder which worked much better), but a bit of microwaving took care of that.

They turned out pretty well, though I was far too lazy to make the proper zigzags that the judges were so inexplicably keen on :)


Husband conducted a taste test during a period of extreme hunger when I was late home for dinner last night.
He declared them "OK - tasty (and crisp like Mary Berry wanted), but not really a biscuit", which, I think pretty much sums them up.

I might make them for Christmas - they seem festive.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Baking Along With GBBO: Week One: Cherry Cake

Like much of the rest of the country, I tuned in to watch the first episode of the Great British Bake Off last week.

I'm not certain I love it that much as a concept - it's all a bit "reality TVish" what with the tears and recriminations and whatnot - but I do like cake and, as with all these things, they are very good at making it compelling viewing, even if it makes the viewer feel a bit grubby ��.

Anyway, I thought that maybe I could use it to channel my baking energies and become an Awesome Baker, so I'm going to try to "bake along" with the technical challenges.

(In all likelihood, this will only last for a week or two - I have a very back track record with consistency...)

Here's the first one, then - the Mary Berry Cherry Cake, which can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/marys_cherry_cake_17869

It seems like a pretty straightforward one to start with - I don't think it was too challenging for the TV people, or, happily, for me...

I've never washed glacé cherries before, though - that seems like utterly bizarre behaviour to me.

Here is my cake. I think MB would be disappointed with the consistency of my icing, but otherwise pretty good (and it was her recipe, after all ��).


And here is the inside - good distribution of cherries, I'd say, though a wee bit dry for my taste, perhaps.




I also made a big (entirely unnecessary) pile of doughnuts from the Justin Gellatly book of loveliness.


And a birthday Iggle Piggle cake for the lovely charity that is Free Cakes for Kids Hackney.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Simple Shortbread Cookies and the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

This year, whilst mindlessly flicking through Twitter, my attention was drawn to this - the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Of course, I signed up immediately and spent the next few weeks constantly plotting what kind of utterly mind-blowing cookie I could come up with.

My workmates came up with all kinds of wacky suggestions, some of which we actually experimented with, but, in the end, it was all too complicated and I plumped for something a bit more classic - I'm sure my cookie giftees were relieved!

Shortbread seemed practical for posting - it lasts well and is delicious. The addition of sour cherries and almonds seemed kind of festive to me - also, sour cherries are kind of unbelievable - they taste quite a lot like tangfastics :)

Sour Cherry and Almond Shortbread

Ingredients:

- Butter (at room temperature)
- Caster sugar
- Plain flour (I like the superfine stuff)
- Ground almonds
- Pinch of salt
- Dried sour cherries
- Blanched almonds

Method:

- Preheat the oven to about 150.
- Mix together the butter, sugar, ground almonds, flour and salt - I did this in an electric mixer - you can also use a wooden spoon or your hands. Don't overmix - just do enough to make sure that everything is properly combined.
- Gently mix in the sour cherries and almonds (I kept the almonds whole - I like the great big chunks in the cookies - but there would be no harm in chopping them up a bit if you preferred).
- Roll the whole lot out into a big sausage, wrap it in greaseproof paper and stick it in the fridge for at least half an hour (overnight is totally fine).
- When you're ready to bake the cookies, take the dough-sausage out of the fridge,  chop it into (fattish) rounds and arrange on a lined baking sheet. They don't spread much, but worth leaving a bit of space between them just in case.
- Stick them in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. They won't colour much and might look undercooked (always the way with shortbread), but you just have to believe.
- Take them out of the oven and cool on wire racks.

Super easy, no?

You can decorate them with drizzled white and dark chocolate if you want, or try to make pretty icing patterns on them for extra bakewelliness, but I chose to leave mine plain - I like them better than way.




The best part about the Cookie Swap was that I also received THREE batches of delicious cookies from three other lovely bloggers - I'll update on those later.

Happy baking, everyone!