Week One Hundred & Thirty Four – Mary Berry’s Gateau Moka Aux Amandes & Rich Fruit Cake

Week 134 and I make no excuses for the lateness of these blogs, just blame it on having a puppy in the house! Time just flies by and I have done nothing of substance! This dip into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible brought forth Mary’s gateau moka aux amandes and her rich fruit cake.

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I began with the gateau and read Mary’s recipe through….but obviously not well enough. This is a sponge mix where Mary asks you to whisk the eggs and sugar together until it is “thick enough to leave a trail” (big clue in the recipe there) and fold in the flour. Who only knows what my brain was thinking but I mixed away, folded in the flour, put the mix in the tin and put it in to bake, expecting to see a well raised sponge when the timer went…boy was I disappointed. It was plain to see that I hadn’t spent enough time on the whisking and it looked like a pancake.

failed sponge!

I carried on and made the creme au beurre moka and cut the sponge in half….covered it and decorated it. Hubby and I sampled it …took one mouthful each and…..

failed gateau moka aux amandes

condemned it to the food recycling bin! Oh well, chalk that one up to experience.

food recycling

The second recipe, Mary’s rich fruit cake began the night before when I measured all the fruit out and chopped the apricots and cherries and soaked the mix in brandy.

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The next  day I lined my tin carefully, and measured out the dry ingredients and the soaked fruit and mixed it all together and poured it into the tin. Mary suggests you decorate the top with some blanched almonds and cherries and put it into bake. Hours later, the timer went ping and out came this beautiful cake. I let it cool in the tin and turned it out. Mary suggests then feeding the cake with  more alcohol but I thought it was rich enough. I left it in a tin for a few days and sent half to the chief tasters and “forgot” to mention the failed bake of this week!

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The countdown continues and there are now……6

bakes left.. This is a quick glimpse of the little pickle who is taking up most of my time…and yes he looks like butter wouldn’t melt..but remember, appearances can be deceptive…

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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.

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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 & 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 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……

24

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 & Nineteen – Mary Berry’s Coburg Buns & Hot lemon Souffle Pudding

After the gluttony of last week’s chocolate fest, I looked for something with absolutely no chocolate in when I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible. I found these unusual buns and a lemony pudding.

I began with the Coburg buns. These seem quite a plain little bun that I have never heard of, they have some all spice and ginger in them and some flaked almonds. Mary suggests you make them in mini brioche tins but can make them in a bun tin which is what I decided to do. The mix is fairly easy and Mary asks you to put some flaked almonds on the bottom of each bun tin, put the mixture on top and bake.

Mary Berry's Coburg Buns

The resulting buns rose beautifully and were a lovely golden colour . They came out of the bun tins quite easily and Mary then suggests you present them bottom up so the almond flakes can be seen. They are quite a plain bun and something I probably won’t bother with again but it’s another recipe to tick off the list.

Kim's Coburg Buns

The second recipe was a whole other story. It’s Mary’s hot lemon souffle pudding. It seemed quite a fiddly recipe. Mary asks you to beat a  small amount of butter with the sugar. Once smooth, beat in the egg yolks. Add a little flour, grated lemon zest and also the juice. Then add the milk.Mary reassures you that the mixture can look curdled. Luckily mine looked okay…so far so good… The next step was to whisk the egg whites until they reached the soft peak stage.Fold the whites into the lemony mixture and put into an ovenproof dish before placing the dish into a large roasting tin. Mary then asks you to fill the roasting tin with boiling water and place in the oven…CAREFULLY!  Mary says it should take around an hour in the oven. I checked it when the pinger went and it looked brown on top but didn’t look particularly appetizing. Mary says that this is a pudding she has successfully reheated.

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Mine hadn’t been out of the oven too long before it began to sink in the middle so I took my photo quickly and split it between us and the chief tasters. It was okay, not sure it was quite how Mary’s would have turned out but again, another recipe under my belt.

Kim's Hot Lemon Souffle Pudding

The countdown continues and with these two done and dusted, I now have…

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recipes left to go…..