Week Ninety Six – Mary Berry’s Doughnuts & Austrian Apricot & Almond Tart

Week 96 and only a little late in being published! I delved with relish into Mary Berry’s Baking Bible having been inspired by The Great British Bake Off‘s doughnut episode. In the children’s section of the bible, there is a recipe for Mary’s basic doughnuts which I was happy to begin with and found the Austrian tart recipe as my second bake.

Mary Berry's Doughnuts

I set off by making the dough for the doughnuts, as it contains yeast, I had to then leave it to prove for quite a long while. Luckily my kitchen was warm and it rose as it should. Mary then asks you to knock it back and knead it again. Then divide the dough into approximately 16 balls and – this was the weird part- add a spoon of strawberry jam to the centre of each ball and fold in and then leave to prove again. Finally after the last prove, you are asked to deep fry them- this had posed a question, I do not own a deep fat fryer and didn’t want to buy one just to complete this challenge so I bought a basket and used one of my saucepans. this worked well but you can’t control the temperature of the fat as accurately as a fryer. I fried my doughnuts two at a time and then rolled them in the sugar/cinnamon mix and left them to cool.  I then sent a food parcel to my chief tasters and we delved into the rest!

Kim's Doughnuts

For my first foray into doughnuts, I didn’t think they were too bad!

The second recipe, the Austrian apricot and almond tart involved making Mary’s pastry first and then rolling it out to fit in my flan tin. I grated the marzipan and put this in the pastry case first followed by halved apricots. Mary doesn’t really tell you how to lay these in but I made circles of them. Finally you have to roll out a circle of pastry for the top and press it down and it creates a landscape of rolling hills with the apricots. the last step was to put it in the oven.

Mary Berry's Austrian Apricot & Almond Tart

I had to bake the tart for a little longer than Mary suggested but it was definitely worth it, I had a tart that was very tasty – the apricots and melted marzipan flavours definitely complimented each other and there wasn’t a soggy bottom in sight!

Kim's Austrian apricot & almond tart

Austrian apricot & almond tart

The Bake Off has nearly reached it’s conclusion now- the final is this week- I would now like Richard to win but am looking forward to the episode with bated breath!

Week Seventy – Mary Berry’s Irish Soda Bread & Bath Buns

Week Seventy and I am ahead of myself this week. As it was half term, I managed to get a few days holiday at the end of the week and decided to devote Friday to baking and was super excited about it too! I sat with my usual cup of coffee and browsed Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and settled on her Irish soda bread recipe and the bath buns.

Mary Berry's Bath Buns

I began with the bath buns recipe as it involves yeast and therefore rising time. I made the dough as per Mary’s instructions and left the dough in an oiled bowl covered in cling film.  My kitchen wasn’t overly warm but I hoped for the best.

After an hour, the dough had barely risen at all. I wasn’t sure if it was because my kitchen was too cool or the yeast pack past it’s best. I pondered for a while and turned the oven on low. I left the bowl on the oven door with the remnants of the oven heat coming out for another half hour. It didn’t really change. I kneaded it again and divided it into buns and put cling film over them and left them on the oven door which was still slightly warm. At this point I was rummaging through my cupboard. I found a newer pack of yeast and decided to make a second batch. I made the dough again and left it to rise. This time, it did rise but still didn’t double in size. I then divided the dough into buns and covered them with cling film and they did rise slightly again. I decided to bake both batches to see how they came out.

Kim's Bath Buns

The bun on the left is the second batch and the lighter smaller bun on the right is the first batch. Actually they both tasted okay but the second batch was better. I think I will ensure that I have really fresh yeast next time and ensure that the kitchen is warmer but I enjoyed making them and will probably make them again.

The irish soda bread in comparison was an easier bake. The dough was easy to make and no yeast or rising time to contend with. Mary tells you to shape the dough into a round and bake for about half an hour in the oven and then turn it upside down for about 10 minutes to ensure the bottom is baked- no soggy bottoms here!

Mary Berry's Irish Soda Bread

The result was a round rough looking loaf of bread. The weight of it compared to a normal loaf is astounding- really heavy. You could use this recipe to make bricks I think!

Kim's Irish Soda Bread

Anyhow, as my other dad isn’t supposed to eat anything with yeast in it, he got the whole loaf to eat. I did leave him some bath buns too!