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.

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 & Five – Mary Berry’s Pineapple & Cherry Cake

Week 105 and this blog is a little late- nothing new as this time of year brings other pressures! I delved with pleasure into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and came up with this lovely tea loaf type bake. The recipe was one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients together and mix. The only tricky bit was washing the syrup off the cherries, cutting them into quarters and drying them. The pineapple came out of a tin. I  mixed it all together, lined a loaf tin with a liner from the 99p shop and put it in the oven and set the timer.

Mary Berry's Pineapple & Cherry Loaf

When the timer pinged, I checked the loaf and the skewer test came out clean. I left it to cool in the tin. I took my photo then cut it in half and sent half to the chief testers. Mary does tell you to keep it in the fridge as it will go moldy in a tin in a warm kitchen.

Kim's pineapple & cherry loaf

I can now reveal my finished Christmas cakes as those who are getting them should have received them by now so here are some photos of the mini victorian christmas cakes in the boxes I found in the £ shop and the tiny christmas cakes I made in the silicone moulds and then sandwiched together with marzipan and iced. I didn’t get these boxes from the £ shop but on ebay. I had such fun printing our labels too but my kitchen up until this weekend looked like an Elf factory!

Christmas cake gift Kim's victorian christmas cake

 

Kim's packaging Kim's mini christmas cakes

Well hubby and I will do a seasonal blog shortly but from kimsideas, I would like to wish you all season’s greetings for this time of year.

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I hope for all those of you who celebrate that you don’t end up spending pretty much all of one day wrapping as I did this year- I can’t help it- I love wrapping the presents and making them look pretty but is it exhausting!

stressy wrapping!

Week One Hundred & Four- Mary Berry’s Tiny Fruit Cakes & Victorian Christmas Cake

Week 104 and this week was a feat of organisation -for my annual Christmas cake bake fest! I dipped into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and found the final two christmas type cake recipes and I started on Friday night weighing out all the fruit and soaking it in various alcohols including brandy and port!

On Saturday morning, I took the two hairy hoolies to the park while the ground was still frosty so I didn’t bring them back too wet and  muddy and then rolled up my sleeves and set off. In the kitchen I have an old CD player and my Cd of choice for baking for the last few months has been Robbie Wiliams “swing both ways” and this week was no exception. I just love this CD and find myself dancing and singing while baking, much to the amusement of the hairy hoolies and my hubby! Any how, back to the bake. I started with Mary Berry’s tiny fruit cakes, and made 4 x the amount Mary states in her recipe as each year I make christmas cakes as gifts. Once the fruit had been soaked, Mary asks you to put all the rest of the ingredients in and mix it all together.

Mary Berry's tiny fruit cakes

Mary suggests you use small cake tins or used baked bean tins but as I already had something in mind, I used two silicone moulds to put the cake mix in …but can’t tell you much more at the moment as they will become presents but I will take pictures and reveal all after Christmas.

Kim's tiny fruit cakes

The second recipe I used was Mary Berry’s Victorian Christmas Cake which again was an all in one recipe and I used 2 small spring form cake tins instead of the one larger one that Mary suggests. The difference with this recipe is that it involves pineapple in the cake which is unusual. This recipe made four small cakes …and again, sorry but photos to follow after christmas!

Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas Cake

We had to phone the chief tester to inform him that there was no bake this week for testing, the reaction was hilarious!

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I have watched this year’s “I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here” avidly. It’s my guilty pleasure and great fun to watch. I must say that I was pleased that Jake and Foggy were the final two and I didn’t mind who won  as I was pleased for them both! I don’t  watch the X Factor so I didn’t know who Jake was but he came across as a lovely guy who was very thoughtful. I had heard of Carl Fogerty and he was more patient than I imagined.

I also had time this weekend between batches of cake making to put up  my christmas decorations. Our tree is always decorated with ornaments that we have collected over the time hubby and I have been together and we always buy a new one each year. This year it was a mini rolling pin to celebrate my ongoing baking challenge! On my mantelpiece I always have a little nativity scene which is a little set given to me one christmas by my mum and dad and it came from Woolworths way before it closed when you could get some amazing things all under one roof! For a while now, I had wanted a stable for my nativity figures but every one I found was either way too big or way too expensive so I decided to make one myself….. I don’t think I did too bad a job!

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Christmas Greetings and New Year thoughts….

It’s been a little while since my last post – I am not catholic but that sounded quite like a confession to me! Between recovering from my operation, hubby having an operation and Christmas looming fast there just didn’t seem to be enough time to think let alone bake! I can finally reveal my Christmas cake decorations. I have never made decorations like these before and they are a bit lumpy but for my first exploration into the world of sugar craft figures I was fairly pleased with them.

Kim s Christmas Cake 1

I made four cakes from Mary Berry‘s fast mincemeat recipe. One cake for hubby and I, one for his mum and dad, one for my mum and one for good friends Bet & Ian who also bred  our two beautiful dogs. I decorated 2 with an eskimo sitting up fishing and 2 with an eskimo laying in his igloo fishing. I then put them in cake boxes and made big labels with a picture of Father Christmas and words to the effect of made by L&K Bakery at Santa’s Workshop…a bit of fun.

Kim's Christmas Cake 2

It’s this time of year when everything and everyone seem to go mad and rush out spending. This year, I didn’t do that, I just watched those around me dashing back and forth. The only rush I had was to get presents wrapped for family in Somerset and do the present run down there in the middle of that dreadful weather. Whether you get lots of presents or none, whether you feast on turkey and all the trimmings or have a sandwich, I think that Christmas feeling begins and ends within you and you do not need to spend a lot of money or stress out cooking loads of stuff to enjoy this time of year. My favourite times are just curling up on the sofa with hubby and the dogs watching a Christmas feel good movie such as Miracle of 34th Street- either version , or The Santa Clause, or a variety of other old favourites.

New year is looming and people always ask what you are doing to mark this. I personally think that you are made to feel like a no body or a kill joy if you are not invited to a party or a celebration. The best new year‘s Eve’s I have had have been with either my other half or just a few friends or family.

I hope that 2014 brings you peace and happiness. I hope for hubby and I that it will bring a more settled year……and that I get to finish this challenge before the year is out!

P.S. Hubby here :0)

Well it’s certainly been another interesting year and have to admit at times, incredibly stressful… Sadly some of that stress will continue at least into the beginning of 2014, but by always supporting each other, we both hope that a whole heap of sh*te can be put behind us.

As for me, well by the middle of the year I find that my shoulder isn’t sorted and that further surgery would result in a 50% chance of losing the use of my arm!!! Let’s just say any further arm surgery is, funnily enough, on hold LOL. If it’s not one joint, then it’s another; Suppose that’s the joy of having a bone disease, but further hip surgery just before Christmas appears to have been a great success thank god.

I can’t say I’ve done much photography at all this year, for some reason time just seemed to run away from us, although I have spent a lot of time this year enhancing my PhotoShop skills, especially in areas of HDR (High Dynamic Range).

So what does 2014 hold in store for the two of us? God only knows, but as long as we have the two hairy hooligans with us, we’ll be fine and face it head on. I just pray that 2014 is far less stressful than the past 12 months and that Kim and I can focus more on the things that we both love doing.

Well that’s all from me for now, at least until 12 months time. I too would just like to wish you all a very happy New Year and a peaceful and fulfilling 2014.

We would both like to thank you for reading and following our blog, mainly Kim’s baking challenge of course, and we hope that you enjoy the future posts to come :0)

Week Sixty Two – Mary Berry’s Bakewell Slices ( and some sugarcraft too!)

Week Sixty two and only a week’s gap, not so bad. I’ve had my operation, let’s just say all that should have been done, was not and I will have to back again..sigh. The general anaesthetic and procedure has had me feeling tired and generally under the weather, hence no bake until this weekend and only one.

Mary Berry's Bakewell Slices

So I delved as ever into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and decided to do her Bakewell Slices. They looked easy enough. Mary asks you to make a shortbread type of base , I made this and rolled it out and as ever, Mary’s quantities don’t go as far as she seems to be able to make them. I struggled to get the pastry to cover the bottom of my ever faithful Lakeland tray bake tin. Eventually with a lot of prodding and poking, I covered the base.

Mary then asks you to use 4 tablespoons of raspberry jam to cover the pastry and then proceeds to tell you to be generous with it as the jam makes all the difference. Again, four tablespoons over a tray bake tin didn’t go very far, by the time I had added an even layer, pretty much the whole jar of jam had gone- well she did say it made the difference! Finally the sponge topping, one of Mary’s throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix instructions and spread over the jam. Not easy and took a while to get it all even. Finally I sprinkled flaked almonds over the top and popped it in the oven for 25 minutes.

The final product looked nicely browned and when cool, sliced well. I am not overly keen on cakes with almond in but I must say, I didn’t mind it at all!

Kim's Bakewell Slices

A Bakewell SliceA quick update from the Christmas cakes made. They are all marzipaned and iced now and had a little bit of port to “feed” them.

Kim's Christmas Cakes

I have begun to make some of the decorations, here is one I made earlier, I am not going to reveal much more as some of the cakes are going to friends and family and I don’t want to reveal too much! Spoilers……..

Kim's icing igloo

Week Sixty One – Mary Berry’s Fast Mincemeat Christmas Cake & Carrot Cake

Week sixty one and my bakes this week helped take my mind off what I am facing tomorrow…but more of that later. This week’s bakes were also disappointing in some ways too….

I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and wanted to make a start on my Christmas cakes so I chose her fast mincemeat Christmas cake recipe and dug out my trusty Lakeland cake tin that can be divided into smaller cake sizes so I had four square cake tins.

Mary Berry's Fast Mincemeat Christmas Cake

Mary’s recipe is the strangest Christmas cake recipe I have ever made, and I make Christmas cakes for friends and family most years. usually I am up to my armpits in various dried fruits, candied peel, brandy etc. but nope, not this year. Mary’s recipe uses mincemeat in a jar along with some sugar, currants, flour, butter and some eggs. That was pretty much the recipe. I made four batches and poured them into my tins which were greased and lined. I popped them into the pre warmed oven for the hour and three quarters that Mary states. After the timer pinged, I got my trusty skewer and checked the cakes. Imagine my disappointment when I saw that all four cakes had sunk. I hadn’t opened the oven at all during the bake and had pre warmed the oven so I don’t know why they did. I was very disappointed but took heart that the bottoms of them were flat so that will effectively become the top but I will know that they weren’t right. I will now wrap them in foil, feed them a little alcohol- Mary doesn’t add any to this cake and I think a little gives it some flavour. I will also then decorate them and fancy trying some sugar craft modelling…..

Kim's fast micemeat christmas cake

The second recipe was Mary’s carrot cake. I had a major problem with Mary’s recipe because it has banana  (in a carrot cake?!) and I can’t use banana in anything at home because of hubby’s allergy. So I looked on Mary Berry’s website and found that she does a lovely carrot cake recipe without banana here . I also decided to make it as a tray bake rather than the usual cake.

Mary Berry's Carrot Cake

I mixed all the ingredients together and popped the tray bake into the oven. After the allotted time, the cake was done and a lovely golden brown. I left it to cool in it’s Lakeland tray bake tin and set about making the creamy topping. I spread the topping over the tray bake and put pecan nuts on it rather than walnuts and popped it into the fridge. I can’t wait to try a slice of this….

Kim's carrot cake traybake

For those of you who drop by this blog occasionally you will know that at New Year last year, I had to go into hospital for some surgery. Well tomorrow I have to go in again for another small procedure- small in time spent in theatre but a reasonable time recovering. Hence the blog actually being on time today and I am not yet sure if I will feel up to baking at all next week yet. I am having this procedure done.

Finally, I got to see the Day of the Doctor last night. In case you hadn’t guessed, I am quite the Dr Who fan and thoroughly enjoyed the 50th anniversary program last night. Well worth the wait and way beyond any hype. I pressed the red button after the program and also enjoyed the Five doctors (almost) which had Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in a spoof drama trying their hardest to get cast into the program. It was hilarious!