Lemon Madeira Cake from The Great British Bake Off Celebrations.

Along with millions of others I got whipped up into all the excitement now that The Great British Bake Off is back!  Week one started with cakes.  Now for me that wouldn’t be a problem but may be with Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry watching me I might feel different.

First of all the bakers were asked to bake their Signature Cake- their take on a Madeira Cake.  To me, a Madeira cake is a well loved classic that shouldn’t be messed about with too much. I think the simpler the better and the recipe on page 17 of The reat British Bake Off Celebrations book fits the bill perfectly.  It is a lemon flavoured cake with accompanying home made candied lemon peel. It has a closer texture than an ordinary sponge and I use a Madeira recipe when I want a plain cake to carve into a shape for a birthday cake.

Madeira cakes first became popular in Victorian times where a slice was served with a glass of Madeira wine.They don’t come from the island of Madeira like I originally thought!

Last Thursday, the day after the Bake Off had been on TV I had a day at home.  I had lemons in the fruit bowl and wanted to bake.  Bake Off has two effects on me, it makes me want to get my apron on and also to stuff my face! It was also a crazy day, I had to take my dog to the vets, run around after my two teenage children and get some ironing done in between all that. But at least I had time in between.

First of all I needed to make some candied lemon peel.  I’ve never made this before, seems such a faff. I had to cut a large lemon into 8 wedges, cutting off the flesh and leaving the pith and some peel behind.  Then each wedge needed to be cut into 4 strips.

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Preparing the lemon strips to make the candied peel.
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The lemon peel strips were then put into a pan with 300ml water and some granulated sugar. This was then dissolved over a low heat and simmered for about 3/4 hour until the lemon strips became soft and translucent.
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Drying the lemon peel on a lined baking sheet for it to dry out. It then went into my oven on a very low setting for about an hour.

At this time I had to break off to go and take the dog up to the vets and then collect my son’s friend from the train station.  I had to leave the peel out on the surface to harden up and hope it turned out ok later on.

Later on I finally got round to actually starting on the cake itself. I was still giggling and laughing to myself about the Bake Off the previous night with all the innuendoes flying around the tent, this week was all about showing your cracks! Mary Berry said that she expected a Madeira cake to have a crack and a dome. So of course I wanted to make sure I had a “crack” too!

The lemon Madeira cake was baked using an all in one method and mixed together using my hand held mixer. Butter, caster sugar, self raising flour, ground almonds, eggs and the grated zest of a large lemon were weighed out and combined.  This was done until the mixture was smooth, yet well combined.  It was then put into a deep filled 18cm diameter cake tin which had been lined and greased carefully.

The cake was meant to be baked in the oven first for about 35 minutes. Then you added a few pieces of the candied peel to the top of the cake and returned the cake to the oven for another 20 minutes or so.  This was until a cake tester poked into the cake came out clean. Unfortunately my phone started ringing as I was putting the cake in the oven so I stupidly forgot to switch the oven timer on.  I had to guess the time I’d put the cake in the oven.  So it does look a little bit pale on the top but it was definitely cooked when I tested it!

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My finished Lemon Madeira Cake as featured on the Great British Bake Off as the Signature Bake for Week 1. Yes, I do have a crack and a dome!

I did take the cake out of the tin when it was still a little bit warm and it was a bit crumbly when I cut a slice. I should have waited but I was running out of time. It tasted absolutely delicious although it didn’t taste as lemony as I thought it would.

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Sneaking a piece to try with a cup of tea for 4 o’clock munchies time!

The Technical Bake featured on the Great British Bake Off last week was Mary Berry’s Walnut Cake. It was described as “the de-caf version” by Mel and Sue. Usually you do get coffee and walnut together in a cake but this cake was different. The recipe is featured in the new Bake Off book but there is also a version like this in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I baked this cake last year and it didn’t come out too well.  It was the icing that let me down.  It just wouldn’t thicken up and I was too ashamed to take it along to my WI meeting as one of my contributions to our supper.

The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting.  The cake was finished with walnut halves.
The finished cake, filled sandwiched and topped with more walnut frosting. The cake was finished with walnut halves.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
A cut slice of the walnut cake.
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!
The Walnut Layer Cake with some slices cut out of it!

As you can tell from the above picture it looked nothing like it should have done and to me, it also tasted strange.  One for me to practise again in the future!

The final challenge for the Bakers was to produce a showstopping Black Forest Gateau.  I love the flavours of Black Forest Gateaux and really enjoyed baking one a couple of years back for my hubby’s birthday.  Even though he doesn’t have a sweet tooth, he was impressed with the cake I baked for him using a recipe in the Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation book.

The mixed dried fruit was left to soak in tea along with demerara and dark muscovado sugars.
The mixed dried fruit was left to soak in tea along with demerara and dark muscovado sugars.
The black forest cherry filling was spread on top of one of the layers.
The black forest cherry filling was spread on top of one of the layers.
Ta-da !Here is the finished cake in all it's glory.
Ta-da !Here is the finished cake in all it’s glory.

 

I had forgotten to put the candles on!
I had forgotten to put the candles on!

I’m looking forward to the Bake Off again tomorrow. Biscuits this week. I can’t wait to see what everyone’s baking and I fancy having a go myself later on this week if I have time.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

 

Syrniki from the Great British Bake Off Celebrations.

I’m a bit at sixes and sevens with my blog posting recently.  I started writing this post last week but the WordPress app kept crashing on my ipad. I had nearly finished it too and the whole thing was lost.  I was fuming and ended up giving it up on the night.  Now I’m trying to type it on my laptop while crossing my fingers at the same time.

Anyway, you’ve all probably gathered I’m a real Bake Off fan and I love watching the series.  I did apply for series 2, the one that Jo Wheatley won back in 2011.  But looking back I could never put myself under that pressure. I would cry my eyes out if Paul Hollywood said my cake tasted like wallpaper paste or like rubber. So I have immense admiration for all the contestants who take part in the series.  I’m content with baking from the book and trying out new recipes without Paul and Mary commenting on it.

Instead I have the critical eye and tastebuds of my family. My son is usually the one who comes out with all the comments, like “That looks like a giant turd” or “It tastes like cat wee!” Then again he is fifteen and being nice to Mum isn’t what he does!  The same went for when I tried to make Syrniki the other day for breakfast.

Syrniki? Well I wondered what they were, too!  According to the recipe in The Great British Bake Off Celebrations book on page 68, they are “a treat for Easter morning” and are “the festive version of the thick Russian breakfast pancakes popular also in Ukraine and Poland.” They are usually made with local soft cheese to produce a thick pancake batter.  The recipe in the book used Quark.  I had bought a tub of Quark the week before to go in a recipe but ended up not using it. The recipe also was quite fiddly because you had to separate the eggs.

First Quark was mixed in a large bowl along with some sugar and a little lemon zest.  After that I added in some plain flour and then some egg yolks.  The egg whites were whisked separately and then folded in to the mixture. Finally I added some raisins to the batter.

The batter came out really thick, even thicker than American pancakes or drop scones.  I fried two of them at a time and asked my children to stand with a plate ready to get one as they were being cooked.  My son took one look at them and said “I’m not eating them, they’ve got raisins in!” My daughter ate one and said the cheese made it taste “wierd”. So I cooked a couple for myself and tried them out.

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Syrniki-a type of thick Russian pancake.

I served the Syrniki with some blueberries. You could also have them with yoghurt, jam or maple syrup. I found them filling and the taste did not put me off like it was with my children.  I guess it’s what you’re used to, these had less sugar in them.

Would I make Syrniki again? Probably not as my family weren’t keen on them and I found having to separate eggs a bit of a faff first thing in the morning when everyone is hungy and wanting their breakfast.

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx