Week One Hundred & Twenty Six – Mary Berry’s Boozy Fruit Cake & Sponge Christening Cake

Week 126 and my usual dive into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible saw me surface with these two recipes. A boozy fruitcake and a sponge christening cake. I am so close to finishing this challenge but found I have hit the “proverbial wall” in terms of flagging so near the finish! I gave myself a verbal “kick” and dug out the bowls, mixer and ingredients and off I
set.

hitting the wall

finishing line

The boozy fruitcake was an interesting recipe. I had to weigh out all the fruits and add them to the butter, syrup, milk & nuts and heat gently until the better melts. I realised to my dismay that I had run out of golden syrup so I substituted maple syrup which I think gave this cake a tasty twist. Meanwhile weigh out the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly, pour into the prepared tin and bake.

Mary Berry's boozy fruit cake

Once the timer had pinged, the cake was done, I removed it and when it was cool, I had the fun job of adding some alcohol to the cake. My alcohol of choice was some dark rum and then the cake was wrapped in parchment and put in a tin for a few days. When it was time to eat it, it was lovely and moist.

Kim's boozy fruit cake

The second cake was Mary’s sponge christening cake. I didn’t know anyone who was being christened so this became a father’s day cake for the chief taster.

Mary Berry's sponge christening cake

This was an unusual recipe to do for a sponge.  Mary asks you to melt the butter- so far, not unusual, then measure the eggs and sugar into a bowl and whisk over hot water until it is pale and creamy and leaves a trail then remove from the heat and continue to whisk until cold. This was unusual and I was a little afraid that my trusty hand mixer would burn out but it managed it-just! That isn’t the end by any means- next sieve the flours into a bowl, fold half the flour into the egg mixture, then pour half the melted butter around the edge-(getting weirder). Then repeat the other half of the flour and then the butter again- this is just strange now! Finally pour into the tin and bake.The cake rose beautifully and then when cool, Mary asks you you to cut the cake in half and sandwich with a lemon cream and put this over the top and sides then cover the cake in icing and decorate.This is the way I chose to decorate it and gave it to the chief taster on father’s day.

Kim's sponge fathers day cake

Father’s day is always a bittersweet day for me since I lost my Dad on Father’s Day. This photo is from 2005, the last Father’s Day I had with my Dad before we lost him.

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Oh and the countdown……

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Week One Hundred & Twenty Five – Mary Berry’s Coffee & Walnut Sponge Cake & American Apple & Apricot Cake

Week 125 and my ever shrinking Mary Berry Baking Bible suggested these recipes to me to take to a friends house for a b-b-q!

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I began with the coffee & walnut sponge …which ended up being a coffee and pecan sponge- I could swear I had walnuts in the store cupboard but they turned out to be pecans- oh well, still tasted nice and my twist on Mary’s recipe. Luckily this recipe was one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients in together and mix, divide between two sandwich tins and bake.

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Once the sponges are cooked and cool, mix together the buttercream and sandwich the two sponges together and put some more on the top and decorate with some more nuts!

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The second recipe was Mary’s american apple & apricot cake. This recipe used raw baking apple and dried apricots in it , a deep cake tin and a vague baking time from Mary of “between an hour and an hour and a half”… I made one cake and baked it for about an hour, tested it, not done, gave it another ten minutes, it looked done and bounced back to the touch test so I took it out of the oven, only to go back to it about half an hour later and DISASTER! It had caved in and was cooked around the edges but raw in the middle! This hit the bin- no photos allowed and I began again.

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This time I allowed the whole cooking time – an hour & a half and this time it worked – YIPPEE!! I now had two cakes to take to the b-b-q.

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It was lovely catching up with our friends and the cakes went down well. The added bonus was that one of their dogs has just had puppies and they are currently three weeks old so puppy cuddles were an added bonus – and out two hairy hoolies went mad when I got home!

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The countdown is ticking on and is now……

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Week One Hundred & Twenty Four – Mary Berry’s Lemon Griestorte & Petits Fours Aux Amandes

Week 124 and my Mary Berry Baking Bible is shrinking rapidly in terms of what recipes are left to bake! I dived into it and surfaced clutching her lemon griestorte and the petits fours aux amandes.

I began with the lemon griestorte. Mary tells you that it’s made with semolina and ground almonds instead of flour and it has a light but short texture- whatever that means!! I separated the three eggs that the recipe asks for and put the yolks and the sugar in one bowl and whisked them together, then added the lemon juice and finally the lemon rind, semolina and ground almonds. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and fold into the mixture and pour into the tin . Pop in the oven for 35 minutes and then once golden brown, allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes and turn out. Once cool, cut the cake in half.Mary Berry's lemon gristorte

Whisk the cream until it holds its shape and fold in the lemon curd and sandwich the cake together with it and dust the top with icing sugar. Try to use a good quality lemon curd to give it that lovely lemon tang! I usually shop at my local Morrisons and brought their Signature Sicilian Lemon curd which is really yummy!

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The second recipe was Mary’s petits fours aux amandes. Mary says they make very special presents, I wasn’t that keen but another recipe under my belt.

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The recipe was simple enough, I had to whisk some egg whites, fold in ground almonds, sugar and almond extract and put the mix into a piping bag. Pipe rosettes onto a baking tray and top with a small piece of cherry and bake. When golden, mix some sugar and milk together and lightly brush over the petits fours.

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The countdown continues and has now reached….

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One of the chief tasters brought me a little gift recently, some beautiful measuring spoons. Mine are the usual plastic ones but these are rather special, so thank you and much love xIMG_0588 IMG_0589

Week One Hundred & Twenty Three – Mary Berry’s Strawberry Dessert Cake & Crunchy Top Lemon Cake

Week 123, and my usual dip into Mary berry‘s Baking Bible proved troublesome. I decided on the recipes but divided the bake over the week so that we were not inundated with a mass of cakes that might end up stale and in the food recycling bin.

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I chose Mary’s strawberry dessert cake as my first bake . I followed Mary’s recipe carefully and mixed the sponge up carefully. I poured half the mixture into the tin and then sliced and put strawberries on to of this and then poured the rest of the mix on top and levelled the cake. I sprinkled flaked almonds on the top and then baked it for about 1 1/2 hours and then left it to cool a while before turning it out.

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Mary suggests that you serve it warm with cream and who am I to disappoint ?!

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The second recipe later in the week was Mary’s crunchy top lemon cake. Luckily this is one of Mary’s all in one cakes and so it was an easy bake to put together. I baked it in the oven and then once it was cooked, I poured the crunchy lemony sugary topping on and left it to cool.

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It seemed aged before it was cool enough to turn the cake out and the lemony smell was tantalising!Kim's crunchy top lemon cake

I have been following Mary’s new series ” Mary Berry’s Absolute Favourites” , it has given me some great ideas for general cooking and some new twists on some old favourite recipes. I have also enjoyed watching her first fly fishing adventure.

The countdown continues and I have broken the 30 barrier now and it has reached…..

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Week One hundred & Twenty Two – Mary Berry’s Lavender Biscuits & Sugared Pretzels

Week 122 and the usual dip into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible is getting a little restrictive because I am on the “home straight” and have so many recipes already under my belt! After the glutony of the chocolate fest cakes, I chose two of the biscuit recipes that I had yet to do.

I started with the lavender biscuits. I had fancied doing these biscuits for a while but wanted to use fresh lavender. I had brought a small plant several weeks ago but it had not done much so one of my chief tasters kindly went and brought two plants with flowers just emerging so I could make these biscuits and I have some extra plants for the garden to boot! I followed Mary’s instructions carefully and mixed the butter and the lavender together and then added the other ingredients to form a smooth dough – this wasn’t as easy as it sounds!  Mary then asks you to divide the dough in to two halves, roll them out to form 2 sausage shapes, roll these in the sugar, wrap in baking parchment and chill until firm – this took quite a while. Once firmed, cut each roll of dough into about 10 slices and bake them.Mary Berry's Lavender Biscuits

After about 15-20 minutes, the biscuits were done. They looked unusual and the lavender had a subtle aroma. They tasted lovely too but I am not sure about “eating” lavender!

Kim's lavender biscuits

The second recipe was Mary’s Sugar Pretzels, I had no idea how these would turn out as I have lived a very sheltered life and never eaten a pretzel – sugared or otherwise.  It started with Mary’s instructions to rub the butter into the sugar- never my favourite past time! Mary then asks you to stir in the sugar and the egg and vanilla extract until the pastry comes together – and miraculously it did! I kneaded it lightly, wrapped it in cling film and  chilled it until firm. Mary then asks you to divide the dough into walnut sizes and roll out into a thin sausage and then twist into the “traditional ” pretzel shape- thankfully Mary had a picture to roughly guide me in the right direction. Bake for 8 minutes – or as Mary says until they barely change colour and then lift onto a cooling rack and dust thickly with icing sugar.

Mary Berry's Sugared Pretzels

I followed Mary’s instructions to the letter and I think they turned out okay, I thought they were a fairly bland biscuit and probably would not bake them again.

Kim's sugared pretzels

I dutifully divied the biscuits up so we had some and the chief tasters had a plate…unfortunately hubby said that the biscuits “just slid” off the plate, onto the patio when he went to deliver them and so they had quite a few less this week than they should have done- oh well, they do say my baking is expanding their waistlines so  a few less won’t harm them!

shrinking waistline

The countdown continues and I have now reached the landmark number…….

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Week One Hundred & Twenty One – Mary Berry’s Quick Granary Rolls & Chocolate Rum Cake

Week 121 and yes I confess this post is long overdue. I will explain why a little later. I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible with my hubby’s birthday in mind. He wanted to have a b-b-q with some “exotic” meats such as buffalo and I found Mary Berry’s quick granary rolls for the burger buns and her chocolate rum cake for his birthday cake- perfect.

I began with the quick granary rolls. Mary asks you to  mix all the dry ingredients together and rub the butter in with your fingers. Mary then asks you to add the milk and water mixture in a “continuous ” stream while mixing the ingredients to a dough and she suggests using a machine with a dough hook. At this point I read and re-read the recipe, Mary definitely asks you to add 3/4 pint each of tepid milk AND water. I thought this was a lot of liquid but I thought “Mary has been doing this for years and knows what she is doing”.

Mary Berry's Quick Granary Rolls

I ended up with a gloopy mess that even with the dough hook didn’t resemble anything like a dough. I added more flour- I had been using a white spelt flour that I had been given and a granary flour and added more of both until the liquid became a dough.

Dove Spelt Flour Hovis Granary Flour

Kim's dough hook

This took a long time and an awful lot of flour to achieve this. When I had got it to the dough stage, I divided it into the roll shapes and covered them to rise. I then checked on the rising to the Berry blog to see if Anneliese had struggled with this and yes, she too had the liquid issue and had to add more flour so I am glad I was not alone in this. Once the dough had proved, I baked them and even though I had to use an awful lot more flour than the recipe said, I was pleased with how they came out and the buffalo burgers tasted very nice inside these rolls. Hubby was very cheeky though and took a photo of them and said he was pleased with his wife’s baps! This was after we were laughing at one of the search terms on the blog where someone had searched for “kim’s buns”!

Kim's quick granary rolls

The second recipe was Mary Berry’s chocolate rum cake. This was for hubby’s birthday and involved two of his favourite things- chocolate and rum!  I started by breaking up an awful lot of chocolate into a bowl. As usual, Mary asks you to use dark chocolate and I compromised with 3/4 dark chocolate and 1/4 galaxy milk chocolate.. When this has melted, let it cool and whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the chocolate and rum then fold in the flour and almonds.

Mary Berry's Chocolate Rum Cake

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mix and pour into the cake tin and bake. When cooked, while it cools, make the filling/icing by breaking yet more chocolate into a bowl- same mix for me, add loads of butter and stir lots. Cut the sponge in half and use this chocolate icing to sandwich the two sponges together and ice the top.

Kim's chocolate rum cake

Once this was done and set, I then decorated it for hubby’s birthday.

Hubby's birthday cake

We had a lovely b-b-q using meat ordered from the alternative meat company and their buffalo burgers were delicious. Hubby, I hope you had a lovely birthday and this blog is dedicated to you for your birthday.

happy birthday hubby

The countdown continues and has now reached ……

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Now finally the reason this blog is so late – not long after I baked these, I went down hard with flu/norovirus and was really knocked for six with both. I was literally in bed for five days with aching muscles, fever and upset stomach.  I lost a stone in a week and even though I went back to work probably before I should, I was not up to baking or blogging.

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Week One Hundred & Twenty – Mary Berry’s Baked Apple Lemon Sponge & Wholemeal Ginger Cake

Week 120 – phew that’s a lot of baking weeks and I delved into Mary Berry‘s ever shrinking Baking Bible and found her wholemeal ginger cake and baked apple lemon sponge- another hot pudding.

Mary’s wholemeal ginger cake was a tray bake and after melting all the liquid ingredients together with the sugar, all Mary asks you to do is to then blend the liquid with the dry ingredients and bake. She does suggest you put the tray bake tin in a roasting tin and I am glad I did as mine over-spilled and would have made a mess of my oven! I set the timer and began to read what to do on the next recipe.

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After the pinger went, i took a lovely gingery brown sponge out of the oven and let it a cool a short while before turning it out onto a rack to finish cooling. Mary then suggests you use lemon juice and icing sugar to make the icing, I decided to go with the juice from the ginger jar and cut up some ginger to decorate it with. This ginger cake has a twist in that it has some marmalade in it and you can definitely taste the orange in this cake. This was yummy and a tray bake I would be happy to repeat.

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The second recipe was Mary’s baked apple lemon sponge. This is a very rich pudding involving oodles (technical term) of cream, apple slices and lemon curd.  The next step of the recipe is to make a sponge mixture which then goes on top of the apple/lemon mix.

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The pyrex dish then goes into the oven and bakes for about 40 minutes until the sponge is golden brown. I had to give mine another ten minutes or so as mine was still pale. Then Mary asks you to cover the dish with foil and bake for another 45 minutes or so.

I took a very lemony smelling dish out of the oven and it looked okay but smelled better. Again, like last week, it very quickly sank in the middle and didn’t look much but it tasted better than it looked. Again, I am undecided as to whether i would make this pudding again….

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The countdown is now ticking loudly and has reached the heady heights of….

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As the weather has got better, my thoughts have turned to my garden and trying to get it into some kind of shape for the summer for hubby , me and the dogs to enjoy. I spent most of the day on Saturday in the garden, cutting the grass, putting in edging stones and cementing them in and laying some pieces of turf left over from the Chief Tasters garden turfing . I didn’t think I had done that much but my back is telling me otherwise….If anyone has any good tips for dealing with a sore lower back/sciatica, please tell me your secrets.

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My poor mum is seriously struggling with a severe case of sciatica at the moment and as she is a few hours away, all I can do is support her by phone . I want to dedicate this post to my mum and hope she feels better soon x

get well soon mum