Week One Hundred & Thirty Two – Mary Berry’s Walnut & Raisin Loaf & Cranberry & Apricot Fruit Cake

Week 132 and again apologies for the tardiness of the posting but losing our beloved hairy hoolie Bailey, dampened spirits and moral and a lot has happened since then…but more of that later. I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and surfaced after a brief browse with the last of the bread bakes, the walnut & raisin loaf and the cranberry& apricot fruit cake.

I began with the walnut & raisin loaf as this was going to take a while.I mixed together the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, water and yeast into a sticky dough and by hand too this time, back to traditional methods for this last yeast recipe. I kneaded it for a while and then put it in an oiled bowl and covered it and left it to rise. While this was doing it’s thing, I weighed out the walnuts  and began the tedious task of chopping them, then weighed out the raisins and when the dough had finished rising, I had to knock it back and add the raisins and walnuts and divide the mixture into two loaves. I placed them on a baking tray and covered them with a bag and left them for a final rise. I then sent them to the chief taster’s to bake as my other bake was in the oven for a long slow cook and these guys needed a hot quicker bake.

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The loaves arrived back hot out of the oven after about 25 minutes and finished their cooling here. I then sent one loaf back to the chief taster with half the other bake.

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The second recipe was the cranberry and apricot fruit loaf. Mary tells you at the beginning of the recipe that this cake is robust enough to pack for a picnic but could also make a great alternative to a christmas cake.  I had to begin by draining a large tin of pineapple , coarsely chopping it and drying it as much as possible which involved lots of kitchen roll. I then had to cut the apricots into pieces and chop the almonds. Finally I was ready to mix all the ingredients together and pour into a tin and level the top. I didn’t decorate the top with whole blanched almonds as suggested- I forgot!!!

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The cake baked for about 2 1/2 hours and finally was ready, I left it cool as Mary suggested before turning it out. I got great compliments from the chief tasters who thought it made a really tasty fruit cake and dropped big hints about it being nice as a christmas cake!

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I have still been following the Great British Bake Off but with a heavier heart than before , and I have been keeping a close eye on Paul, Tamal and Nadiya and would be happy to see them in the top three.

As you may have read in my last blog, we were devastated to lose our beloved Bailey so quickly. The poem, The Rainbow Bridge gives us both comfort and hope that we will be reunited with all our dogs when it’s our time.

rainbow bridge

The day after we lost Bailey, we went to see our friends who had bred both our dogs to tell them about Bailey as they have his mum and his brother. We couldn’t tell them on the phone and there were lots of hugs, tears and tea. It’s funny how things happen. Three months before, they had another litter of puppies that we enjoyed spending time with and helping to socialise and then we waved them off to their new homes. The day we lost Bailey, they had contact from one of the new owners asking them to take back one of the puppies as they were struggling to cope with him. Our friends knew we were still raw and heartbroken about our Bailey but asked if we would consider having him. We went away and spoke lots about it. Our other hoolie was very down and quiet as she had never been an only dog and was missing him lots…as were we. We came to the decision that when they collected the puppy, that they should bring him back via us to see how the two of them got on….and he never left. We now have 1 1/2 hairy hoolies ! He is not a replacement for Bailey- Bailey can never be replaced, he will always hold a special place in our lives. However, the new young hoolie is helping with the heartache as he needs a lot of attention. He is learning about my baking challenge already and has learned that the oven gloves are fair game!

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The count down continues as is now….9 recipes left to bake!

Week One Hundred & Thirty One – Mary Berry’s Buche De Noel & Old Fashioned Seed Cake

Week 131 and I apologize, I know that is has been longer than usual for either a bake or blog or both and I will explain why further at the end of this blog.

I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible with less than my usual gusto and came out the the old fashioned seed cake and the Buche de Noel. I began with te Buche de Noel which involved making the swiss roll recipe again

Buche De Noel

. Not an easy bake to make/roll and I had an issue in that I wasn’t keen on making a christmas log in August…..so I took the recipe and decided to give it a Kim twist and created a Buche D’ete or a summer log. I made a plain sponge swiss roll, filled it with lemon curd and cream.

kim's swiss roll

I covered it with freshly whipped double cream and decorated it with mini lemon and orange sweet slices. I loved how refreshing it was and I was pleased with it.

Kim's Buche d'ete

The second recipe was Mary’s old fashioned seed cake. This was a sponge cake recipe with caraway seeds and mixed peel. It was one of Mary’s all in one cakes and the caraway seeds revived memories of my Nan baking cakes with this seed and the unique smell and taste of caraway.

Mary Berry's Old Fashioned Seed Cake

Once baked, it was a light sponge with a unique taste. A bit like marmite, you will either love it or hate it, there is no in between!

Kim's old fashioned seed cake

I have been avidly watching The Great British Bake Off and have been predicting the person who leaves with good accuracy, as the numbers begin to dwindle I like to place my bet on the winner!

Now it is with a heavy heart where I need to share some sad news. I have frequently mentioned my two hairy hoolies and how they watch me bake each weekend. Well my big boy had a sudden illness that he was unable to recover from and we sadly had to say goodbye and let him cross the rainbow bridge to join Rosie, Tai and my Dad to await us to join them. We are devastated and heartbroken and all thoughts of baking went out of the window as we nursed him through his final time. Many tears have been shed as he was more than a pet- he was part of our family and leaves a  huge hole in our lives. xx

pawprints on our hearts

pooped pooch

The countdown has now reached….11

Week One Hundred & Thirty – Mary Berry’s Devil’s Food Cake & Jane’s Fruit Cake

Week 130 and I apologise for the lateness of posting this blog, hubby and I have had a well earned rest and break in our caravan in South Wales and it was really needed. I did a bake just before we went away but didn’t get a chance to blog it and haven’t got the energy to bake today after the unpacking, washing etc. I have now put little bookmarks in my Mary Berry Baking Bible so that I can see at a glance where the remaining recipes are and how many are left. I had pulled out Mary’s devil’s food cake first. The sponge recipe was not quite one of Mary’s throw every thing in and mix ones but it wasn’t too complicated and once mixed, I put it into two prepared sandwich tins. Once baked, I had two lovely dark chocolate sponges. The next part was to make the American frosting and I had already made this once with one of my previous challenge recipes so I knew what I was doing……kind of!

Mary Berry's Devils food cake

I made the American frosting and then the race was on to spread it over the cake before it set and I kind of lost that battle but although it wasn’t pretty, it tasted better than it looked!

Kim's Devils Food Cake

The second recipe was Mary’s Jane’s fruit cake. I have no idea who Jane is and Mary doesn’t explain in her recipe but hey-ho! All Mary says about this recipe is that it is a good family cake that goes quite dark when baked because of the wholemeal flour. I also had to go and find some buttermilk  in the supermarket which I have never seen before. I found it in the cream section!

Mary Berry's Jane's Fruit Cake

The bonus of this recipe is that it is one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients in and mix recipes. I did this and poured the mix into the prepared tin. This cake is baked long and slow- over three hours of cooking time! Once baked, I wrapped it and put it in a tin and it travelled to Wales with us and kept us fed and energised for our holiday!

Kim's Jane's fruit cake

The Great British Bake Off is now going into it’s third week and I have been avidly watching. I was pleased to see that in the first week, Mary asked the contestants to bake her frosted walnut cake which I had already done so I watched with great interest having already done this one and commenting as they made their frosting. The biscuit week was interesting, I have not hear of or made Arlette biscuits and having watched the contestants, I think I will be giving them a miss! The next episode is bread week- always a giggle!

the countdown continues and I have now reached the giddy heights of

13recipes left to bake!

Week One Hundred & Twenty Nine – Mary Berry’s Chocolatines, Mokatines & Apricot & Almond Gateau

Week 129 and my ever shrinking Mary Berry‘s baking bible and came out with three recipes this week, the chocolatines and mokatines were so similar for the recipe base that I could combine the two and then chose the apricot & almond gateau too.

I started with the chocolatines & mokatines recipe which both started with a genoese sponge. I made this sponge mix which was quite a list of instructions in itself.

Mary Berry's Chocolatines Mary Berry's Mokatines

I then halved the ingredients for both toppings so I could make both cakes without any waste. The genoese sponge came out well, I allowed it to cool and then cut it into squares and sandwiched some with the chocolate icing and some with the coffee icing. I then coated the chocolate ones with more chocolate icing, rolled them in crushed nuts and piped little rosettes on the top.

Kim's chocolatines

I did the same with the coffee ones and thought they looked rather smart.

Kim's mokatines

The second recipe was Mary’s apricot & almond gateau. This recipe involved making the meringue mix with whisked egg whites and the monotonous task of adding the sugar a teaspoon at a time until stiff. Mary then asks you to fold in some ground almonds and then spread into 2 20cm circles and bake.

Mary Berry's Apricot & Almond Meringue Gateau

Once the meringue is made, add the apricots and some water to a pan and heat gently until tender and put into a blender to puree. Mix the puree with some of the whipped cream and sandwich the meringues together. Decorate the top with a dusting of icing sugar and swirls of whpped cream. This was a crunchy, gooey tasty pudding.

Kim's apricot & almond meringue gateau

I was really excited to begin to see adverts for The Great British Bake Off 2015, I can’t wait, it’s the highlight of the year and hopefully the end of the challenge for me while the program is on….as my countdown because of 3 recipes this week has reached…

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Week One Hundred & Twenty Eight – Mary Berry’s Sachertorte & Coffee & Banana Vacherin

Week 128 and I dipped my toe into Mary Berry‘s Baking bible– it’s about all that will fit into what is left to bake and I came out with Mary’s Sachertorte and Coffee & Banana Vacherin.

I began with the sachertorte. This has oodles of dark chocolate in it and you know I really don’t like dark chocolate so I compromised and had 3/4 dark chocolate and 1/4 milk chocolate to take away some of the bitterness. Mary asks you to melt the first amount of chocolate and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile beat the butter and then add the sugar, beating well still and then add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract, then the egg yolks then fold in the dry ingredients. Mary advises you that by this point the mixture will be quite thick- she fails to mention about the gut busting amount of calories already in this and we haven’t finished yet! In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and add to the chocolate mix. Pour into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes until well risen. Mary Berry's sachertorte

Remove from the tin and allow to cool. To make the slimline(!) topping, melt the chocolate gently and add the double cream, allow to cool slightly and pour over the cake spreading it gently. Finally when set, write “Sacher” on the top. The icing came out nice and glossy especially considering mine had some milk chocolate in it too.

Kim's Sachertorte

The second recipe was Mary’s coffee and banana vacherin. I had no idea what a vacherin was so I looked it up and it says it is a meringue dessert filled with cream. This recipe caused me a great headache as I thought I had done all the banana desserts while visiting my family but this one popped up !! So I followed the principle of the recipe- a meringue filled with cream and made mine a fresh cream and raspberry vacherin instead as this house is a banana free zone because of hubby’s allergy- don’t want to kill him with my baking!

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Mary Berry's Coffee & Banana Vacherin

Mary asks you to whisk 4 egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar-225g of it-one TEASPOON at a time ..zzzzzzZZZZZZ. Once all the sugar is mixed in, the meringue mixture will be very stiff. Spoon it into a piping bag and pipe 2 20cm circles and bake. Once baked, allow to cool in the oven . This is where Mary and I parted company , I whisked the cream and used fresh raspberries to create my vacherin and thought it was very tasty!Kim's fresh cream & raspberry vacherin

The countdown reaches 18

Week One Hundred & Twenty Seven – Mary Berry’s Continental Cheesecake & Frosted Walnut Layer Cake

Week 127 and the old Mary Berry Baking Bible is now looking well used and “lived in” and there are few recipes left to choose from but I delved in with a bit more vigor than last week and came out with the last cheesecake recipe from that section and a frosted walnut layer cake.

Mary Berry's continental cheesecake

I began with the cheesecake as this a cooked cheesecake which involves several stages. I made the base first and I know Mary is quite lean on the biscuit and butter for her cheesecakes so I doubled the biscuit and butter amounts and melted the butter while crushing the biscuit for the base. I thought this gave a nice base to the cheescake with no gaps or holes. I put it in the fridge to set. Once it was set, I then set off to make the filling. This involved enormous amounts of ricotta cheese, with butter , sugar, flour, lemon and egg yolks all whisked together. Then fold in whipped cream and whisked egg whites and pour onto the biscuit base and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake in the oven for a further hour. Finally remove the cheesecake from the tin and decorate with cream and summer fruits.

Kim's continental cheesecake

The recipe actually called for cooking some redcurrants, blackcurrants and blackberries in 2 tablespoons of water and sweeten to taste and then blend some arrowroot with some cold water and add the fruit and allow to thicken. I chose to keep mine simple with cream, strawberries and raspberries. We haven’t been overly keen on baked fruit cakes but this one was quite nice and would be nice possibly to do again.

Mary Berry's walnut layer cake

The second recipe was the frosted walnut layer cake. The initial sponge cake was one of Mary’s easy throw everything in a bowl and mix cakes – one of my favourites! Pour into the sandwich tins and bake. Once cooled prepare the frosting. This is where is got a little more complex!  Mary asks you to put all the frosting ingredients in a bowl and whisk over a pan of hot water – FOR 10-12 MINUTES!! My poor hand mixer was definately pushed to it’s limits of endurance, as was my wrist! Once the mix forms little peaks, sandwich the layers together with the frosting and then cover the top and sides with it, putting little peaks on the top and decorate with walnuts. Mary tells you to work quickly as the icing sets rapidly.

Kim's walnut layer cake

Leave the cake to set in a cool place and enjoy! This was a yummy cake and definately one I would make again.

The countdown has now reached another milestone now …… so near and yet……

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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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