Bara Brith

At the end of last month, I decided to bake bara brith for the first time. ‘Bara brith’ means ‘speckled bread’ in Welsh. Dw i’n dwlu ar yr enw (I love the name) – it’s such a descriptive name for this fruit cake which features currants and sultanas. I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 100 of her book Mary Berry 100 Cakes and Bakes. It’s a pretty simple cake to make and it came out a lovely brown colour. It was really delicious and quite moist, sticky, sweet and fruity. It’s a dense, heavy cake that will fill you up, so it was perfect for our wild camp trip to the Brecon Beacons earlier this month!

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Welsh Cakes

Being able to make Welsh cakes (‘pice ar y maen’ in Welsh) is almost the law being married to a Welshman! My mother-in-law made wonderful, heart-shaped Welsh cakes for our wedding in 2017, and I’ve pretty much been smitten since. She even bought me a pancake pan especially so that I could make these beauties! I’ve made Welsh cakes several times and I never tire of them, as they are so delicious. The recipe I follow is one handed down to me which is known in Will’s family as ‘Mam-gu’s recipe’ (‘mam-gu’ is Welsh for ‘grandmother’). Welsh cakes often have mixed spices in them, but Will’s grandmother didn’t like spice so these are spice free. I’ve not tried one with spice, but all of Will’s family say how much they dislike them, so I’ve always stuck to this recipe. One day I might go rogue and make a batch with spice in it just to see what it tastes like hehe!

Making the Welsh Cakes

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

Here are the ingredients that I used:

  • 283 g self-raising flour
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 113 g butter (softened)
  • 28 g Trex
  • 1 large egg
  • 72 g sultanas
Welsh Cakes Ingredients
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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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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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Butterfly Cakes

Last weekend I decided to bake butterfly cakes – another first for me 🙂 I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 51 of her book 100 Cakes and Bakes. I love this book – it’s full of great recipes and I come back to it time and time again. I thought it would be nice to bake these butterfly cakes in pretty baking cases, so five minutes before my hubby went to the shops, I asked him to look for some. But when he returned, he said he’d forgotten to look! Typical eh! So I made do with the plain baking cases in my cupboard. To make the cakes look visually more exciting (and because my husband is a chocolate fiend) I decided to bake half the batch with plain butter cream icing and the rest with chocolate icing. I think they turned out well – I just wish I hadn’t taken 235 photos, as it made selecting photos for this blog post a little tedious 😉

Making the Cakes

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

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

  • 100 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder

I still haven’t bought matching bowls for my ingredients yet!:

Cake Ingredients
Butterfly Cake Ingredients
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