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!

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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 Seventy One – Mary Berry’s Apricot Swiss Cakes & Lemon Cream Tartlets

Week seventy one and this week’s venture into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible found these two recipes. The first was the lemon cream tartlets. This tartlet has a shortbread base so I followed Mary’s recipe and made the shortbread and then had to wrap it in cling film and pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes.

 Mary Berry's Lemon Cream Tartlet

When the time was up, Mary asks you to roll out the shortbread and use a cutter to cut out 12 circles and put them into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Once cooked, Mary tells you to allow them to cool in the tin before attempting to get them out- wise advice, I only attempted one while they were warm and took part of the edge off!

Kim's shortbread cases

When they are completely cool, whip some double cream and add some lemon curd. This is the filling for the tartlet. Mary tells you one important thing here- only fill the tartlet when you are ready to eat it or the filling will make the crispy shortbread go soggy- and you do not want a soggy bottom here! Mary suggests adding a strawberry to the top. I decided to stick with the citrus theme and added a clementine slice.

Kim's lemon cream tartlet

The second recipe was the apricot swiss cakes. This is pretty much a mix all the ingredients together recipe and then add to a piping bag and pipe circles into 12 cake cases and bake for 15 minutes.

Mary Berry's Apricot Swiss Cakes

Once cooked and golden brown, allow to cool and add a spoon of apricot jam to each cake and sprinkle with icing sugar. These remind me very much of Viennese whirls.

Kim's Apricot Swiss Cakes

As usual, the hairy hoolies were in the kitchen while I was cooking. Hubby came in at the end to see if he could scavenge some remnants from the bowl- his favourite part and he allowed the hoolies to sample a little of the whipped cream- not all of it I hasten to add and then thank goodness for a dishwasher!

The Hairy Hoolies

Well I did a really silly thing just now- I decided to count how many recipes I had left to cook- I thought it would be significantly less by now but no …. I still have …..126 recipes to go….but at least I now have a countdown!

On a lighter note- Mary Berry is back on the television this week- yay!

Week Fifty Nine – Mary Berry’s Iced Apricot Fruit Loaf & Double Chocolate Cookies

Week fifty nine and I am beginning to wonder where the time goes in between the bakes…it just seems to gallop along! I had quite a sweet tooth craving this week and decided upon Mary Berry‘s iced apricot fruit loaf first. Mary’s recipe from her Baking Bible is the usual “add everything to a bowl and mix” which is really easy when you have so much else to fit in at the weekend. I mixed it and poured it into a loaf tin and put it in the pre heated oven for an hour and ten minutes.

Mary Berry's Iced Apricot Fruit Loaf

I began to get the lovely baking aromas in the kitchen about half way through it baking and it began to make my tummy rumble. Soon enough, the timer pinged sounded and I got my trusty skewer to check it was done- yep, all done, Mary recommends you leave it to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before tipping it onto a cooling rack. It seemed to take forever to cool and be ready for the icing topping. Mary asks you to combine some water and apricot jam, heat both together to combine and then add icing sugar. It makes a tangy apricot icing. Mary then recommends finely cutting two apricots and sprinkling them down the middle. I decided to slice mine so it had more of a Mohican look!

Kim's Iced Apricot Fruit Loaf

Mary’s second recipe was double chocolate cookies. This involved melting some dark chocolate with some butter then adding a tin of condensed milk– I could see this was going to be a usual slim line Mary recipe! Once the chocolate had melted and the condensed milk added, you needed to leave the mix to cool then add to the dry ingredients. This then had to be chilled until it was easy to handle. Mary asks you to grease some baking trays and add teaspoons of the mixture in regular intervals, leaving space for expansion.

Mary Berry's Double Chocolate Cookies

The cookies only take about 10-15 minutes to bake, they are quick and easy to make and seemed to go down well with hubby which is always a bonus!

Kim's Double Chocolate Cookies

Well I have been having withdrawal symptoms from The Great British Bake Off finishing but I am bolstered this week by the 50th Anniversary episode of Dr Who – I am a true Whovian! I am also looking forward to watching the antics of the celebrities in I’m a Celebrity…….