French Madeleines

These pretty, delicate shell-shaped cakes are just gorgeous to look at, and even more wonderful to eat! I saw contestants in episode nine of the 9th series of The Great British Bake Off bake these little beauties, and I really fancied having a go myself. Do you remember Kim-Joy’s orange bunny madeleines? Just amazing! I must admit, it did seem slightly excessive purchasing a tin especially for this little cake, but it was definitely worth it. I followed Mary Berry’s French Madeleines recipe on page 151 of Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes.

Making the French Madeleines

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

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

  • 150 g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 level tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon

To bake the cakes in their characteristic shell shape, you will need to use a madeleine tray. I bought a very good non-stick, 12-hole Lakeland madeleine tray. I really recommend this tray, as the cakes came out so easily from the tin. This recipe makes 30 cakes (athough I only got 26 out of it), so you will need to bake the cakes in batches.

French Madeleine Ingredients
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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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Challah

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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