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…….

30

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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 ……

32

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.

flu

Week One Hundred & Thirteen – Mary Berry’s Buttermilk & Honey Cheesecake

Week 113 and I decided to choose just one recipe this week as I was very conscious that I had an uneven number of bakes left so I decided to even it up by doing just one bake this week, at least that was the theory! I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and chose one of the few cheesecakes left. I hadn’t been overly keen on the last baked cheesecake I made but hoped that this one would be more to our taste.

Mary Berry's Buttermilk & Honey Cheesecake

Mary asks you to buy a flan base from the supermarket for the base and use this to line the base of a springform tin. This certainly cut down on the preparation and I am all for making life easier when baking! I then followed Mary’s instructions for the topping and poured it onto the flan case bottom and put it into bake. I had never used buttermilk before but as Mary advises in her book, you should be able to find this with the creams in the supermarket, and she was right. I set the timer and did the usual weekend stuff…housework, dog walking, baking, the usual multi tasking and juggling!

multitasking

housework

When the timer pinged, I brought out the cheesecake and allowed it to cool thoroughly before removing it from the springform tin. It looked more like a cheesecake than the last one I had attempted and it definitely tasted better but we still found it quite dense and filling so another recipe to add to the not to be repeated list!

Kim's Buttermilk & Honey Cheesecake

People have been asking me what I will do when I have completed this challenge. I have given this a lot of thought and I have to say that it will be nice to bake something because I want to or it’s what I fancy rather than having to complete the challenge I set for myself. I probably won’t bake every week , I will use the time to improve my photography , or set some more time aside for my artwork which I very much enjoy but never seem to have the time to do anything of worth.

So, having completed just one recipe this week, the number of recipes left to go is …

48

Week One Hundred & Twelve – Mary Berry’s Sticky Ginger & Orange Cake & Treacle Sponges

Week 112 and I delved into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and found two recipes I fancied tackling last weekend. I like a pudding after dinner but try not to indulge too much! I began with Mary Berry’s sticky ginger and orange cake. I wanted a cake I could put under my cake dome and tuck into with a cup of tea when I get home from work!

Mary Berry's Sticky Ginger & Orange Cake

Mary tells you to put the black syrup, the golden syrup and some water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile measure out all the other ingredients into a bowl and mix. Then add the syrup mix, continue to stir and then pour into the prepared, lined cake tin and bake for about 50 minutes.  The resulting cake looked and smelt amazing. Mary advises that you wrap the cooled cake in foil and store for a day or two before icing ( if you want to ice it) . I did that then used the juice from a blood orange with some icing sugar and iced the cake.

Kim's sticky ginger & orange cake

The second recipe was the treacle sponges. Mary asks you to mix about 8 table spoons of golden syrup with a tablespoon of lemon juice and then divide between the pudding cases. I brought some disposable foil pudding cases for this as I had no pudding bowls.

Mary Berry's Treacle Puddings

Mary then asks you to mix the rest of the ingredients together- I just love these kind of recipes- thanks you Mary! Then divide this mix between the cases and smooth the tops. Mary then asks you to cover the top with grease proof paper and foil cover and then steam. I considered using a large pan but then realised I had a steamer in the cupboard that I hadn’t used for ages so I dug it out and put three puddings in the 1st level, and 3 in the second. I filled it up, set the timer and left it to cook. The resulting puddings came out really well and I would definitely do them again..

Kim's treacle pudding

The chief taster has been feeling a bit left out lately with the bakes and sent me a text message with a picture of his lonely empty cake dome…..so he now has half a sticky ginger and orange cake in it!

Chief Taster's Cake Dome

I am still watching the Comic Relief Great British Bake Off, you can see episode 3 here. David Mitchell is hilarious , Michael Sheen seems really down to earth and funny and this is really worth watching. If you haven’t donated or organised some kind of fun bake sale already, please consider it- it’s a great cause.

The countdown continues and there are now 49 recipes left to go…gulp! The end is now very much in sight!

49 recipes left to go!

Week One Hundred & Eleven- Mary Berry’s Wholemeal Sultana & Apricot Rock Cakes & Singing Hinnie

Week 111 and another late blog, think this is the theme for 2015! I delved into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and wanted to find some bakes that were fairly plain and simple and the wholemeal sultana & apricot rock cakes and singing hinnie certainly fitted this brief.

I began with the wholemeal sultana & apricot rock cakes and this was a simple Mary recipe that was a throw every ingredient in together and mix. Then use 2 teaspoons to put rock sized pieces on baking trays, sprinkle with a little sugar and bake.

Mary Berry's wholemeal sultana & apricot rock cakes

Mary suggests as they have wholemeal flour in , that they are eaten fairly quickly as they will dry out but I kept them under my baking dome and they lasted for several days without drying out.

Kim's wholemeal sultana & apricot rock cakes

The second recipe was Mary’s singing hinnie, a northern recipe. It is like a giant drop scone and Mary tells you that it makes a singing noise while it cooks. If it did- I couldn’t hear it!

Mary Berry's singing hinnie

I had read the Rising to the Berry blog and remember it said that this was not one of Anneliese’s favourite recipes. I must admit that it seemed to go well for me- maybe because I divided my mix into two pieces and rolled each one out into a round so it was the thickness Mary suggests and it fitted in my big frying pan as I don’t have a griddle. Mary suggests it is best eaten warm, split and buttered and put back together- she wasn’t wrong, it was delicious and certainly a recipe that I would consider doing again.

Kim's singing hinnie

The Comic Relief Great British Bake Off continues and I watched last week’s with glee. I have missed the GBBO and this certainly has been entertaining. Episode two was very entertaining. If you missed it, you can see it here. Please consider buying the recipe book to help you raise some money for your Comic Relief Bake Off.

The Great Comic Relief Bake Off

Week One Hundred & Ten – Mary Berry’s Austrian Curd Cheesecake

Week 110 and I delved into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible to look for just one recipe this week as there were still left overs from last week’s bake and I hate any kind of waste where food is concerned. This challenge is to stretch and enhance my baking skills , not to bake so much that food is wasted. I found this unusual Austrian Curd Cheesecake and chose this. Mary asks you to grease and line a springform tin and then mix all the ingredients together and pour into the tin. This cheesecake has no kind of biscuit base and has a lot of soft cheese in it and dried fruit and eggs. I did wonder how it would turn out as it didn’t sound like any kind of cheesecake that I had eaten before. I mixed the recipe and poured it into the tin and put it in the oven to cook.

Mary Berry's Austrian Curd Cheesecake

Mary suggests baking the cheesecake for half an hour , then cover the top of it with foil and bake for another half an hour then turn the oven off and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven. Once cool, remove from the oven , take the springform side off and sprinkle with icing sugar. Mary says it is a moist cheesecake that will need no cream with it.

Austrian Curd Cheesecake

I must admit, I love cheesecakes and so does hubby and the chief taster but this was the most unusual cheesecake I have ever made. Hubby and I didn’t like the texture of it and found it quite bland. Unlike most of the recipes in the baking bible, this is not one that I will be repeating.

This week saw the first of the Comic Relief Bake Off celebrity episodes and it was so so funny. The celebrities all did a sterling job but the one that made me laugh the most was Dame Edna’s approach to baking- if you haven’t seen it, you can find the episode here. A must watch if you want a laugh.

Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

Also seeing Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry with their red noses on is enjoyable on it’s own.

mary berry red nose Paul Berry red nose

On a more serious note, Comic Relief raise money for very deserving causes and I will be donating as usual. Please consider donating or even doing yours own bake to raise money.

Finally as I am late with this blog again, it has fallen on Valentine’s Day and I would like to wish my hubby a happy valentine’s day, we will be cooking our own Valentine’s meal at home with fresh bruschetta, Italian prawn pasta – Jamie Oliver style and a lovely bottle of rioja to share….I asked my hubby if he could choose a “romantic” movie to watch, what would he choose- to my surpise, he said there were two- Sleepless in Seattle and The Truth About Cats & Dogs. The Truth About Cats And Dogs is my most favourite romantic move so I was really pleased he likes it too!

imgres

Week Nineteen – Mary Berry’s Iced Fairy Cakes

Have you missed me? I am “back in the saddle” as they say and while still recovering from my surgery on New Year’s Eve, I wanted to get back to some kind of normality so decided I would spend a little time in the kitchen and Mary Berry‘s bible has 2 recipes– her fairy cakes and then on the next page, iced fairy cakes so rather than do this twice, I combined it, made the fairy cakes and iced them!

Mary Berry's Iced Fairy Cake

I made 2 batches of fairy cakes, one plain as per Mary Berry’s recipe and one to which I added cocoa so they were chocolate fairy cakes and the icing had cocoa in it to make it chocolatey too. A simple recipe and probably really easy to do but making them was the longest I had stood in the kitchen for a while.

Kim's fairy cakes

 

The results were good, I was pleased with the cakes and as they are very moorish , I gave my hubby’s mum and dad some to save our waistlines.

Kim's finished fairy cakes

I didn’t put many details on about my recent ill health and surgery, but I had an amount of time where I thought I might have a serious illness and was “off my game” for a while. Luckily, I had a lovely GP who sent me to the hospital and I found myself on a Fast Track to surgery rollercoaster. I had never had surgery before and was a little anxious to say the least. I have come out of it the other side, recovering well and the results show that my fears can be laid to rest. To give you a flavour of what I went through, you can read further here:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Hysteroscopy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Laparoscopy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oophorectomy

On a lighter note, I hope you have managed to watch The Great Comic Relief Bake Off http://www.rednoseday.com/whats-going-on/whats-on-tv/bake-off, it certainly helped my recovery and gave me the motivation to get back to my baking challenge. I will also be making a donation to this very worthwhile cause and ask that if you can , you do so too.

Finally, and yes this is one of my longer blogs, I would like to thank my hubby, my mum and my other mum and dad for all the love, help and support over the last month or two, without you guys, it would have been so much tougher. Much love to you all. x