Raspberry Sorbet

Okay, so I officially dislike making sorbet. It sucks! Don’t set out to make sorbet from scratch if you think it’ll be easy (like me); save yourself the headache, and get an ice cream maker! Last weekend I decided to make the raspberry sorbet from page 490 of Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook. I really did chose it because I thought it would be simple to make, but I was very mistaken. It took me two attempts to create something that I could even justify calling sorbet 😉 Let’s just say folding egg white into a raspberry purée is not my favourite activity – here is what happened:

Unsuccessful Sorbet
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Last weekend I baked bread for the first time; I don’t know how I have gone 40 years without doing so – it is so much fun! Given my inexperience, I probably should have chosen an easy bread to start with, but no, I decided to choose a pretty one instead 🙂 I found a recipe for a lovely looking plaited loaf on page 416 of Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook. The bread is called Challah, and it is an important bread in Jewish cuisine. It is often eaten on Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening), which is Judaism’s day of rest, so I guess it was appropriate that I baked it on a Saturday! During Shabbat, two Challah loaves feature as part of three special meals, and a blessing is recited over the bread during two of these meals. As I’m not Jewish, there were no blessings involved, but it was a small miracle that my loaves turned out as well as they did, and I was naturally very grateful for that!

Making the Bread

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First I gathered together all of the ingredients for making the bread:

  • 500 g strong white flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 x 7 g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (plus extra for greasing)

Just a few notes on some of the ingredients for future reference; I used Allinson’s strong white bread flour, M&S table salt and Hovis fast action bread yeast. I spent quite some time researching which type of salt to use, as the recipe didn’t specify this. I learnt that when baking bread, it’s best to use non-iodised salt, such as sea salt, as iodine can give the bread an unpleasant flavour. It’s also best to use fine salt as opposed to coarse, as it’s easier to measure. Whilst fine sea salt would have been the best option, I only had coarse sea salt so I decided to use the table salt I had which didn’t list iodine as an ingredient (and hoped for the best).

Challah Ingredients
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Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake

This week I turned 40 (eek!), and to celebrate, I decided to bake myself Mary Berry’s ‘Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake’; you can find the recipe on page 204 of her book 100 Cakes and Bakes. Needless to say, Will was very supportive of the idea. It’s funny, because I’m more of a sponge cake with buttercream kinda girl, but for some reason I decided to make my husband happy and go for a chocolate cake! It was definitely a great choice though, and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Making the Cake

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First, I gathered together all of the ingredients to make the cake. Here’s what I used:

  • 1 large egg
  • 5 large eggs (separated)
  • 215 g caster sugar
  • 265 g dark chocolate (54 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
  • 1 level tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1 tsp hot water
  • 150 g ground almonds

The recipe actually calls for plain chocolate with 39 per cent cocoa solids, but I could only find chocolate with 54 per cent cocoa solids. I was a bit worried that the cake wouldn’t turn out right, but it was really nice, so I had nothing to worry about! I used Dr. Oetker’s dark chocolate. For the instant coffee powder, I used Tesco’s classic rich roast full flavoured instant coffee granules, and for the ground almonds, I used Whitworths. Equipment-wise, you will need a deep, round 23 cm (9 in) cake tin.

Cake Ingredients
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Almond Tuiles

Compared to baking a lemon tart, baking almond tuiles was a rather pleasant and soothing experience! Last weekend I decided to bake these lovely, delicate biscuits. Interestingly, ‘tuiles’ means ‘roof tiles’ in French, and this is why the biscuits are curved, to resemble the curved roof tiles used in France. I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 520 of her book Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook.

Making the Biscuits

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First, I gathered together all of the ingredients. Here’s what I used:

  • 2 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 60 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 60 g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 30 g flaked almonds

To melt the butter, I heated some water in a pan and placed the butter in a bowl over the top, stirring it until it had melted. Then I left it to cool down:

Melting butter in a bain-marie
Ingredients (should have featured a 1/2 teaspoon here, and not a 1 teaspoon!)
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Gregg’s Tangy Lemon Tart

So, there was me thinking that profiteroles were hard to make… then I tried to make a lemon tart on one of the hottest days of the year… OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY! This was definitely by far the hardest bake I have attempted to date, but also one of the most rewarding as I had to persevere to get it right. This bake spanned both Saturday and Sunday of last weekend because it took me three attempts to get the pastry right. I’d never baked a tart nor tried making sweet, shortcrust pastry (pâte sucrée) before; it really was quite epic, and I definitely chose a silly time weather-wise to attempt it! I have, however, learnt so much from this experience and I think for my baking education, this post will be a really important one for reminding me of things to do and things not to do when baking future tarts.

I chose to bake “Gregg’s Tangy Lemon Tart”, a recipe I found on the BBC Good Food website. It had 104 five-star ratings, so I figured it must be a fairly decent recipe to try. There were, however, two big things going against me on Saturday; my inexperience at making sweet, shortcrust pastry and the heat. I tried to make the pastry twice, but both times were unsuccessful. I did, however, successfully make the filling (hooray!), which I kept in the fridge overnight in the hope that I would be successful at making the pastry correctly on Sunday (which I was – double hooray!!). I think it’s important to learn from things that go wrong, so before I outline how I made the tart successfully, first I will write a little bit about my first two unsuccessful attempts at making the pastry. If you’re not interested in reading about that, you can skip straight to the successful part!

Continue reading Gregg’s Tangy Lemon Tart