Week One Hundred & Fourteen – Mary Berry’s Tarte Tatin & Sticky Gingerbread

Week 114 and I am actually blogging about this bake the day I baked it ( I won’t mention that I have only just completed the blog for last week’s bake!)shh

I dipped into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and found a lovely pudding – her Tarte Tatin and the sticky gingerbread recipe. My kitchen was going to have some lovely aromas today! I began with the Sticky Gingerbread recipe.

Mary Berry's Sticky Gingerbread

Mary asks you to put the syrups, sugar and butter in a pan and melt while weighing the other ingredients into a large bowl and mixing. Then mix all the ingredients together and pour into a traybake tin that has been lined with grease proof paper . I used my trusty Lakeland traybake foil tin and lined it with paper and popped it in the oven for about 50 minutes. The smell made our mouths water and we were delighted when the timer pinged. The difficulty was keeping everyone away from it until it was cool, cut up into squares and photographed for the blog!

Kim's sticky gingerbread

The second recipe was Mary Berry’s Tarte Tatin. Mary asks you to put the butter and sugar in a pan and melt gently, our this into the bottom of a sandwich tin or springform tin and then line with the sliced cooking apples. Top with the pastry from her recipe and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp. This is where I had a slight issue with Mary’s guide to times. I checked my tart tatin after 20 minutes, the pastry was still quite raw and the oven was up to temperature because I had already baked the gingerbread. I set the timer for another 10 minutes, then another, and another. Finally the pastry was golden and crisp rather than pale and soft. Mary then asks you to pour the juices from the tin into a small pan and heat until caramelized. Turn the tart onto a plate and pour the caramelized liquid over the tart and serve warm.

Kim's Tart Tatin

This was a lovely recipe to make and smelt gorgeous but looked messy. I looked at other tart tatin’s on Google images and was relieved to see that most looked like mine so I heaved a sigh of relief.


Today is also Mother’s Day and I would like to wish my mum and my other mum a lovely day with all my love now and always.

mothers day

Week One Hundred & Three- Mary Berry’s American Spiced Carrot Traybake

Week 103 here already, it only seems like 2 minutes of so since my last blog (in fact it was only that long as I have been behind in blogs and so am trying to catch up!)

As I had some of the Borrowdale Teabread left from last week, I decided to only do one bake this week and next week’s bakes will be shh -christmas cakes (!) so I delved into Mary Berry
‘s Baking Bible and found this delightful sounding recipe for American Spiced Carrot Traybake.

Mary Berry's American Spiced Carrot Traybake

Mary asks you to weigh out all the dry ingredients first which I did and then add each of the wet ingredients one at a time and mix well in between. I used my trusty food processor for this and it did a great job.

The hairy hoolies were most attentive while I was grating the carrots as carrots are one of their most favourite treats – and yes, they got the end bits that i didn’t grate ! I mixed the wet ingredients one at a time and then poured the mix into a tray bake tin ( Lakeland- my favourite shop- don’t think I have mentioned that before?!) I then popped this in the oven and left it to bake for an hour.

When the pinger went I got the traybake out and it smelled lovely. I left it to cool for a short while then transferred it to a cooling rack.

The topping was soft cheese, honey and lemon juice with chopped nuts on the top. I must admit that carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes and Mary’s twist on americanising this is lovely.

Kim's American Spiced Carrot Traybake

It will be all hands to deck next week as I have big plans to cook all my christmas cakes and put up the decorations so it will be very festive in our house next week!

christmas stress

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 Fifty Seven – Mary Berry’s Ginger & Treacle Spiced Tray Bake & Anzac Biscuits

Week fifty seven and with the clocks going back an hour, the nights are drawing in fast. What better to comfort you on a colder darker evening than a ginger and treacle tray bake? Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible hasn’t failed to inspire me yet. This is a classic Mary recipe where everything is mixed together all in one go.  No fussing or stages to make.

Mary Berry's Ginger & Treacle Spice Tray Bake

I used my trusty Lakeland tray bake tin to put the mixture in and into the oven. Job done and timer set. The ping of the timer went off about 40 minutes later and the tray bake was risen, a lovely brown colour and the smell was amazing. The cake was left to cool and then Mary asks you to add the juices from a jar of ginger to make your icing. I must say that the amount of icing Mary suggests was very pitiful. I doubled what she suggested and it only just covered the tray bake evenly.  I then sprinkled some chopped ginger from the jar over the top and after the icing had set, cut the tray bake into even slices.

Kim's Ginger & Treacle Spice Tray Bake

Anzac biscuits were next, these are an Australian biscuit also known as Digger biscuits. Mary asks you to put the treacle, butter and sugar into a pan and heat gently until melted. While this is melting, put the dry ingredients into a bowl which would be the flour, porridge oats and desiccated coconut. Add the melted mixture to this and mix well. Place teaspoons of the mixture onto a baking tray and press the middles down slightly.

Mary Berry's Anzac Biscuits

Mary’s recipe asks you to ensure the biscuits have room to spread so you can only add so many to a tray at a time. I managed a 3×3 square on each tray. Mary is right, they do spread so don’t be tempted to bunch them up. They go into the oven for about 10 minutes which isn’t long but long enough when you are cooking in batches. Leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for about five minutes before trying to move them, this allows them to cool and set together more. the result, an unusual, nutty, oaty, syrupy biscuit. I liked these and would probably make them again.

Kim's Anzac Biscuits

I am in seventh heaven this week as Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood are doing The Great British Bake Off Master Class programmes pretty much all week, woo hoo and it just helps keep the inspiration going! I have picked up a few hints and tips and have only watched 2 of the four programmes!

Week Fifty Six – Mary Berry’s Bishop’s Fingers & Viennese Fingers

Week fifty six ….and this week it was all “fingers” and hopefully no thumbs! I had some work commitments on Saturday so I didn’t have a lot of time on Sunday to fit in cleaning, shopping, dog walking….and any kind of bake! A quick delve into Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and I came up with these two recipes. What will I do when there is less choice and the recipe is complicated? I could see some late nights coming up!

 Mary Berry's Bishop's Fingers

Any how, I set to making Bishop‘s Fingers first. The recipe was a variation on the other shortbread recipes already done so I wasn’t daunted by that. However, Mary asks you to use a square shallow tin….slight problem and cash flow was a bit tight but then I had a revelation….my invaluable tray bake tins from Lakeland ( have I mentioned it’s my favourite shop?!). I re-use the tins where I can so I had an older one in the cupboard that I cut and shaped ( or cannibalised..) into what I hope would suit the job in hand! I had to add some almond essence (yuk) and then sprinkle the top with flaked almonds (double yuk!).  Into the oven it went and the timer set.

Kim's improvised Lakeland traybake tin

When the timer pinged, I checked the shortbread but thought it was a bit pale so I popped it back in for another five minutes or so. Finally it was done, out it came, I marked it into fingers and sprinkled it with caster sugar. I left it to cool in the tin and then cut it into the fingers as described!

Kim's Bishop's Fingers

The second recipe used my trusty mixer to make the mix, and I had to rummage under the stairs to find an icing bag and a suitable piping nozzle. I haven’t piped for a while so approached this in a slightly more nervous manner.

Mary Berry's Viennese Fingers

Mary asks you to pipe a “finger” shape about 7.5cm long- no pressure then…..I gave it a go and was quite pleased that they were mostly the same length and size, just a few wavy lines- I call them character! The fingers went in the oven and I needed to keep an eye on them as they could quickly change from a golden brown colour to ….burnt if you weren’t careful. The biscuits had to then go immediately on to a rack to cool. Then Mary asks you to melt some dark chocolate and dip each end of the biscuit into it and allow to cool. Well, by now you may have realised that I am not overly keen on dark chocolate but as the other tasters do, I compromised and did half in dark chocolate and half in milk chocolate (and a big thank you to my other mum and dad for coming to the rescue in getting some chocolate for this x).

Kim's Viennese Fingers

The biscuits look quite nice and I think the milk chocolate ones are nicer but that’s just my preference.

Oh no- it was the final of The Great British Bake Off tonight- what will I watch on a Tuesday night to keep me inspired now? I sat on tenterhooks for the whole hour and was so so pleased when Frances was announced as the winner- especially as I had been on Team Frances from day one! Well done Frances!

Week Fifty One – Mary Berry’s English Madeleines & French Madeleines

I was on a roll this week and full of enthusiasm and ready to bake. I had found a few bargains for these bakes and surprise surprise, they weren’t from Lakeland this week but from T K Maxx of all places! The tins were a fraction of the price they should be and the silicone dariole mould was from Ebay.

Kim's madeleine tin and dariole mould

Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible lists both types of madeleines and I made the French madeleines first. The batter was easy enough to mix and I used a spoon to put some in each shell space and put the tray in the oven- oh I did oil and flour the mould first to try and ensure no sticking. The first batch came out soon enough and they came out of the tray fairly easily. The second batch went in soon after. The mould provides a shell shape with some ridges. I wasn’t overly keen on these, I thought they were quite plain and needed something to liven then up, perhaps dipped partly in icing of some flavour? I didn’t fancy dipping them in my tea as Mary suggests!

Mary Berry's French Madeleins recipeKim's French Madeleines

The second recipe, English madeleines looked lovely but I was a bit more daunted by these. I oiled and floured the silicone mould, made the batter and filled each dariole mould half way. I put the mould on a baking tray and into the oven it went. When this batch was done, I left the cakes to cool slightly and then had the fun of trying to get the cakes out of a floppy mould….it is a technique! I refilled the mould and put that in. Mary’s recipe asks you to cut the bottom of the cake so that it sits upright. Then push some jam through a sieve, heat it, put the cake on the end of a fork, roll it in the jam and then into a bowl of dessicated coconut. Finally top them with a cherry half and I found instead of normal cherries for cooking, I have found morello cherries- they are very tasty but are quite a lot darker as you can see in the picture.

Mary Berry's English Madeleines recipeKim's English Madeleines

The Great British Bake Off is getting more exciting by the week, I loved the traybakes this week and I though Christine deserved the Star Baker award this week, she was on top form. The tuiles were a challenge and a half…and there is a recipe for almond tuiles in Mary’s book that I have yet to do….gulp!

Week Forty Six – Mary Berry’s Coffee & Walnut Tray Bake

Week forty six and I seem to have found my “oomph” again and enjoyed sitting with a coffee and looking through Mary Berry‘s Baking Bible and ticking off what I had done already and realised there are so many more yet to do! I chose the coffee and walnut tray bake and made sure I had everything in this week so there were no mad dashes to find an ingredient late on a Sunday afternoon!

Mary Berry's Coffee & Walnut Tray Bake

As usual , Mary’s recipe encourages you to put every thing in a bowl and mix it together well. No fussing or various stages to this recipe! Then I put it in a foil tray for tray bakes from Lakeland ( one of my favourite shops!) and into the oven for the allotted time.

Forty minutes later, the timer pinged and I returned to find a lovely raised, browned sponge tray bake with a lovely coffee aroma. I set it to one side and left it to cool for a while.

Kim's Coffee & Walnut Sponge

The second step of this bake was to mix some coffee flavoured buttercream, spread it over the sponge and then put some walnuts on the top. In Mary’s photo she put the walnuts on “haphazardly”. I decided on a more methodical approach so when I cut the sponge, hopefully every slice has a walnut on it!

Kim's Coffee & Walnut Tray Bake

I have seen the adverts and now I am really excited to see that The Great British Bake Off is back on TV next week, I am so looking forward to it!  People ask if the show is something I would apply for. Definitely not! I am strictly an amateur baker, who can follow a recipe but take away the recipe instructions and I am lost! I enjoy baking and the art of putting it together and hopefully making it look pretty and edible…..

Week Four – Shortbread!

Week four and I decided to go with Mary Berry’s “The very best shortbreadrecipe. I already had a shortbread mould from Lakeland and thought that this would come in useful with this recipe.

The other retail therapy item I treated myself to was the perspex cookbook stand from Lakeland which is fast becoming my second home. Each week I was struggling to find space on a work surface to cook, weigh, roll out etc while keeping the recipe book at hand and relatively clean. This solved this issue, I can clearly see my book now and it keeps it nice and clean.

Lakeland perspex cookbook holder

I followed Mary’s recipe for her very best shortbread and got out my Lakeland mould and followed the instructions on that to prepare the mould. I carefully pressed the dough into every nook and cranny of the mould and put it in my pre-warmed oven. I checked it after the time Mary recommended and decided to give it about another 10-15 minutes. Then I took the mould out of the oven and left it to cool completely. It then said to “turn it out onto a rack and dust with castor sugar“- it didn’t say “how do you get the stupid shortbread out of the mould in the first place?” ! I used a knife around the edges, I turned it onto the rack and tapped the back of it. It just wasn’t shifting!

Eventually I resorted to chiseling it out and it still stuck!

Well, being ever resourceful, I decided to google this issue and came across a blog with the same issues as I was having with this mould. http://cakesbakesandcookies.com/tag/shortbread/

Lakeland also have some comments/feedback under their website for this item with the same issues. http://www.lakeland.co.uk/11537/Shortbread-Mould

I decided to call it a day, go and get some more ingredients to make this again. I decided to make 2 batches, one in a tin as per Mary’s recipe and one giving the dratted mould another go.

The mix went well for each batch. I pressed the shortbread into my tin and after oiling and then flouring the mould, I pressed the mix into the mould. I had taken on board the tips on the websites to turn the temperature down a little and cook it for longer and in the oven it went.

Lakeland recommended a lengthy bake, allowing to cook to the colour of toast. I set the time for 45 minutes, then after this had gone by, added another 15 minutes…..then another 15 minutes….and eventually decided that they were done.

I turned the tin shortbread out fairly quickly, dusted it with castor sugar and cut it into fingers. The mould I left to cool.

The shortbread fingers were golden in colour and the semolina in the recipe gave it a nice crunch.

Now to the mould quickly becoming my nemesis. I went around the edge with a knife and tipped it onto a tray no movement yet. I tapped it gently all over. Still no movement. I used a small meat hammer to tap it smartly and hey presto, it released onto the rack.

I was not impressed with the result, the thistle mould could barely be seen, despite carefully pressing it into the design. The colour was too golden and it was very crunchy!

Oh well , I have achieved my goal and the tin of shortbread I was happy with the results so task done, but I am going to have to read more into the solutions to my mould it will not beat me!!

Week 2……and a bit…..the lemon swiss roll

Yes, I know…the plan was to bake a recipe a week and blog about it…..and no excuses but boy what a week it was though…my hubby had a medical emergency that I needed to help him with and when it was sorted, we got home at about three in the morning!

That evening, after very little sleep and a full day at work, I attempted the recipe..and it was a disaster. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have baked while shattered and stressed but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The tin I used was also wrong so the sponge came out a lot thicker than it should. So my swiss roll was more of a swiss fold!

Then further disaster struck…..yeah I know, not my week at all! I was making porridge in the microwave and when it was done, took it out and placed it by the sink in order to get the dates, nuts and berries I wanted to add to it. ( I was trying to be healthy!) The bowl tipped off the work surface and without thinking, I went to grab it and got a hand full of boiling porridge! OUCH! The rest then went on the floor and I must have looked a right sight because I had to get my hand under the water as soon as I could while trying to keep the dogs away from the hot gooey mess on the floor. Then i had to try to clean it up.

When the air hit my hand, it really began to hurt and I realised that I had done some damage to it. So a trip to the local Urgent Care Centre was needed where the lovely staff patched me up.

I spent a day or two feeling sorry for myself and took a retail therapy trip to Lakeland to buy a swiss roll tin. (Such a hardship…)

I rolled up my sleeves today, and tried the recipe for the second time. This time, although it isn’t as perfect as Mary Berry’s roll, I am pleased with it. It might not make the “Great British Bake Off” grade but hey, we all have to start somewhere…..

This is mine……

So , I have a day or two before week three comes around..and I have already decided what this weekend’s challenge is going to be….so watch this space.