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 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 Thirty One – Mary Berry’s Special Shortbread Biscuits

This week I wanted a quick easy bake, I will tell you why a little later…. so I decided to do Mary Berry‘s Special Shortbread Biscuits as I always have a weakness for shortbread.

Mary Berry's Special Shorbread Biscuits

I needed just three ingredients for this, plain flour, butter and light muscovado sugar. Mary “just” says put the flour and sugar in a bowl and rub in the butter and form into a dough….sounds easy huh? Well, I tried ….and I tried…..but it was so crumbly , and I managed to get it into a dough but then it fell apart when I tried to roll it out. Luckily, I thought I would take a peek at Rising To the Berry blog to see how Anneliese got on with this. I was thankful that she struggled with the crumbly mix too. I eventually put the mixing bowl in the microwave and put it on high for 10 seconds. I allowed the butter-which had been at room temperature already to soften a little further and keep the dough together. I managed to roll it out and cut out the biscuits. Even with the smallest cutter, I struggled to get the amount Mary says out of this. At the end of the recipe Mary recommends other varieties including cherry and walnut. They both sound delicious but when your hubby is one of the tasters and doesn’t like either of these, I had a little look in my cooking box and found pistashio nuts. I thought perhaps one or two biscuits topped with pistashios might be different but again hubby wasn’t so keen.

Into the oven they went and I set the timer. After the timer went ping, I checked them and to my surprise they were all a golden brown with a fairly even bake so I was pleased! I will even go so far as to say that the pistashio shortbread was lovely!

Kim's special shortbread biscuits

Next week is hubby’s birthday so I feel another Mary Berry “special” cake coming on.

Week Twenty One – Mary Berry’s Millionaire’s Shortbread

Although this blog is a little late in being published, I made Mary Berry’s Millionaire’s Shortbread on Sunday. This brings back lots of childhood memories, my mother used to make this a lot but it was known as Wellington Squares in our house. As my dad loved these so much I have dedicated this recipe to his memory and renamed it to Billionaire’s Shortbread as his name was Bill………..

Anyhow,  the recipe was very familiar to me and I made it in one of the infamous Lakeland tray bake disposable tins which come in very handy. I have been aware of not taking so many pictures of various stages recently to have taken a few more this week as there are three distinct stages to this scrummy cake.

Mary Berry's Millionaire's Shortbread

The shortbread base is first and fairly easy to do, it’s just getting the balance of golden rather than burnt!

 Kim's Billionaire's Shortbread base

Then there is the caramel middle, Mary Berry is not wrong when she says stir ALL the time, if you don’t, it will catch and burn and you end up with burnt bits in it. This didn’t catch but it has done for me in the past so be careful.

Kim's Billionaire's Shortbread caramel middle

The topping is then the melted chocolate. Mary recommends just a plain top or a mix of plain, milk and white chocolate in a marble pattern. Traditionally in our house, it’s a milk chocolate topping with white lines and then swirled so that’s what I did and love the look of it. So here you have, Kim‘s Billionaire’s Shortbread in memory of my lovely Dad who was taken too soon by illness.

Kim's Dad Bill Kim's Billionaire's Shortbread

Oh and don’t forget to support the Comic Relief Bake Off and make a donation here:



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!!