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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love Sam xx