Crumbly Shortbread Fingers

I’ve still lots of recipes to try from my Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book, so here’s another.  An easy recipe but a stable favourite that’s a base for so many other recipes.

What you need:IMG_1944

220g unsalted butter, softened
30g icing sugar
80g caster sugar
30g cornflour
300g plain flour

What you do:
Heat your oven to 160c. Grease a traybake tin or cake tin.

Beat the butter in a mixing bowl either with a wooden spoon or electric mixer till creamy.

Sift the icing sugar into the butter and mix.

Beat in the caster sugar for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.

Sift in the cornflour and beat in.

Shortbread

Sift in the flour and mix in with a wooden spoon or spatula, it will end up as a crumbly mixture.

Tip into the prepared tin and spread, press down and don’t forget to do the corners.  Prick all over with a fork.

Shortbread

Bake for approx 35 minutes until golden brown.  Although I had to bake mine for 45 minutes.

Once out of the oven, cut into fingers. The recipe reckons you get 24, I got 18.  Sprinkle with some caster sugar and leave to cool completely before attempting to remove from the tin.

Shortbread Crumbly Shortbread Fingers

The shortbread fingers will keep for about a week in an airtight container (if they last that long). They are very crumbly and just melt in the mouth!

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Baking 101

gbbo_fool_proof_recipesI’ve had my Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book for a year now and so I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt as a novice baker over the past twelve months.

There are 100 recipes in this book ranging from cakes and biscuits to puddings and bread. I’ve managed to bake 15 of them. Not a massive amount from this book but I have been using other baking resources too.

 

Favourite recipe Blackcurrant Buttermilk Sponge because it just melts in your mouth
Best result – Simnel ‘Chelsea’ Buns because it was the first time I’d got the dough to proof properly and double its size
Worst result Vanilla Sables because they didn’t taste of vanilla

Here’s what I’ve learnt this year:

You don’t need loads of fancy equipment to produce good results

I don’t have a fancy mixer or blender, I’ve been using a £5 electric mixer which works just as well. I don’t see the point in investing in expensive equipment if you don’t need too or until you know that this is a hobby you will stick with. My baking tins etc are just basic ones that I’ve bought from Asda (other supermarkets are available) or our local market.

You don’t need to buy the most expensive ingredients

Baking can be done on a budget. Buy the shop’s own flour, baking powder, chocolate etc you don’t need to use expensive branded products, in my limited experience it really has no effect. One exception to this rule would be butter for shortbread or using it for butter icing. My personal preference is to use an unsalted block but that’s just me!

One recipe I made said 300g dark chocolate with 70% cocoa, mmm in Aldi this was £1.19 per 100g bar so I used their £0.59 per 100g instead, same result achieved at a fraction of the price

Read the recipe properly before you start

A few times recently I’ve picked a recipe to bake and then come to back it and it’s been a whole load of faff. Please bear in mind when I say this, I do 75% of my baking on a weekday evening so having a cake that takes an hour and a half to bake is not ideal. Therefore, I recommend reading through your recipe before you decide you’re baking it.

Read the ingredients list properly

As with the recipe method check above, again check your ingredients correctly. However, saying that, I’ve sat and wrote a shopping list whilst I’m looking at the ingredients and I’ve missed something off; on one occasion I forgot to buy almond essence to go in a bakewell cake!

Recipes don’t always go to plan

Even my trusted Mary & Paul GBBO recipes haven’t worked out perfectly even when I’ve followed the instructions to the letter. Generally they’ve needed additional baking time. You have to be prepared to adapt.

Icing sugar is no one’s friend!

Like a cloud of dust that descends into your kitchen and onto everything in it. All you need to do is open the bag and the you can see the cloud spread. It might make a nice buttercream but it’s a flipping nightmare to whisk in and clean up.

Greaseproof paper or baking parchment is every baker’s friend!

Why did I ever try and bake a cake without greaseproof paper?! This stuff is a God send. Ok, it’s a right faff to cut it to the right shape and size but the benefit at the end when your cake doesn’t stick and has nice smooth edges is totally worth it!

Enjoy it

For most of us this is a hobby, and you don’t want it to turn into a chore. It doesn’t matter if your bake isn’t perfect, in my experience things often taste better than they look. If you’re baking something to take somewhere I’m sure most people would prefer a homemade bake (so long as it’s edible ha)!


Fancy trying some of my experimental bakes; click the images to see the recipes

Blackcurrant Bakewell

Blackcurrant Bakewell

Egg Custard Tarts

Egg Custard Tarts

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns

 

 

Apricot Tart

Wobbly Apricot Tart

Sticky Mousse Cake

Sticky Mousse Cake

Cranberry & Marzipan Cake

Cranberry & Marzipan Cake
















Do you have any baking tips or most valued lessons to share?

Sticky Mousse Cake

I was looking for a chocolate based cake for this week’s bake and found this one in my Great British Bake Off Everyday book (page 22).

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“More like a baked chocolate mousse than a cake; this gluten-free bake is a very rich and sticky affair!”

What you need:

1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee powder or granules   IMG_1649
150ml boiling water
300g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids)
225ml double cream
4 medium free-range eggs at room temperature
150g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the topping (optional)

200g crème fraÎche, chilled
50g chocolate coffee beans

What you do:

Heat your oven to 160°c.

Prepare a round springclip tin, greased and line and wrap foil around the base of the tin to prevent leakage. (I didn’t have any foil but it didn’t leak).

Make your coffee and leave to cool.

Break up the chocolate, put in a heatproof dish and melt over a pan of simmering water.  Pour over the cooling coffee, stir occasionally. When smooth, leave to cool.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Whip the cream till it makes soft peaks (this happens really quickly, I over whipped mine and it makes it really difficult to add to the mixture later).

Put the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until frothy.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Add the sugar and whisk for a further 4-5 minutes until mousse-like. It does literally double in size. Using a large metal spoon (still don’t know why) start adding the chocolate coffee mixture in batches to the egg/sugar mixture. Fold in carefully.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Sift the cocoa powder on top and fold in. Then fold in the whipped cream in 3 batches.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Pour into your prepared tin and place into a roasting tin. Pour lukewarm water into the tin, about half way up the cake tin. This was the first time I’d ever baked a cake in a bain marie so that’s something else I can add to my baking CV!

Bake for approx 75-80 minutes.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Leave to cool in the tin. When cold, remove from springclip tin. It will be quite crumbly and soft.

Sticky Mousse Cake

Sticky Mousse Cake

 

When I unclipped my cake, and removed it, even though it hadn’t leaked it looked quite damp. It did dry out overnight and tasted lovely so this may have been normal.

 

If adding crème fraÎche (the crème fraÎche is nice on the top as it does counteract the very dark chocolate taste), stir well and spread on top of the cake, scatter the chocolate beans.

Sticky Mousse Cake

This wasn’t massively popular among my work colleagues who were my guinea pigs. I think it was just too rich. A milk chocolate version maybe a better option as it’s a bit of an acquired taste (although not because of the way I baked it, I think that was spot on). This is much more suited to a dessert rather than a slice of cake to have with a cuppa.

 

Paul’s Egg Custard Tarts

Last week’s Bake Off episode was all things pastry so for my pastry challenge I baked Paul’s Technical Challenge Egg Custard Tarts from my Everyday Bake Off recipe book (page 238). Looks aside, I nailed it; no soggy bottoms here!  🙂

gbbo_fool_proof_recipes

“One of the tests of a good baker; custard tarts sound plain and simple to make but require care and skill to achieve superb pastry cases – no holes or tears or soggy bottoms – and smooth creamy custard.”

What you’ll need:

1 x 12 hole non-stick muffin tray (the recipe didn’t say grease but I greased my tray to be on the safe side as I think it lost its non-stick capabilities a long time ago).

For the sweet pastry

165g plain flourIMG_1347
25g ground almonds
120g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
55g caster sugar
1 medium egg

For the custard filling

700ml full-fat milk
7 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
90g caster sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg

What you do:

To make the pastry mix the flour and ground almonds together and then add the butter, rubbing in so it looks like breadcrumbs.

Egg Custard TartsStir in the sugar. Add the egg and mix to form a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, shape into a ball and wrap in cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.

Egg Custard TartsRoll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thickness (mine were about 3mm thick and fine). Recipe suggests an 11cm fluted cutter but mine was smaller and again perfectly adequate. Gently press into the muffin moulds; the pastry should sit slightly higher. Chill the pastry cases while you make the custard.

Egg Custard tartsHeat the oven to 200°c. To make the custard, gently warm the milk until just below boiling. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a heatproof bowl until creamy. Pour the warm milk into the yolk mixture in a thin steady stream stirring constantly to make a smooth liquid. Pour into a jug with a good pouring lip.

(Admission!! I didn’t read the recipe properly and used all the egg not just the yolk, ooops! This may be why my custard was quite thin and didn’t seem to thicken as I poured the milk into the egg. It didn’t make any difference to the end result  though, still set and was yummy).

Egg Custard TartsCarefully pour the custard into the pastry cases and sprinkle the centre of each tart with a good pinch of nutmeg. Bake for about 15 minutes on 200 and then turn down to 180°c for a further 10 minutes.

Egg Custard TartsThe tarts are done when the custard has a wobble and is slightly domed. Too much dome = overdone and boiling. If yours overdome, place the tray in a tray of cold water and they will settle without sinking.

Leave to cool for approx 30 minutes before attempting to remove from the tray.

My overall evaluation!

I couldn’t find my muffin tray so ended up using a regular shallow baking tin that you’d make jam tarts in = not very deep custard tarts. However, served the purpose!

I’d also used half the ingredients again which made 9 shallow pastry cases but there was a huge excess of custard though. But you know what they tasted delicious, just as good as any custard tart you buy in Greggs 🙂

Egg Custard Tarts

Mary Berry’s Wobbly Apricot Tart

Inspired by last week’s episode of the Great British Bake Off which was dessert week, I baked Mary’s Wobbly Apricot Tart; a signature bake, from my Everyday Bake Off recipe book (page 226) for tea at my mum’s.

gbbo_fool_proof_recipes

Described as “two layers of perfectly crisp, rich sweet pastry with a very simple, but glorious, filling of marzipan and tinned fruit”

What you’ll need:

1 x 23cm deep loose-based flan tin

For the pastry

225g plain flour                                         IMG_1310
100g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free-range egg

For the filling

375g marzipan or almond paste
2 x 400g tins apricot halves in natural juice

To finish

Sifted icing sugar, for dusting
Crème fraîche or single cream, to serve

What you do:

Put the flour, icing sugar and butter into a bowl. The recipe suggests using a food processor but I don’t have one so had to resort to good old-fashioned rubbing with fingertips to make a crumble looking mixture. Add the egg and mix until forms a light dough.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly dusted work surface with flour and gather together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes.

Apricot Tart

Whilst the pastry chills, heat the oven to 200ºc and put a baking sheet in the centre of the oven to heat up.

Take the pastry out of the fridge. Cut off a third (for the top), re-wrap and return to fridge. Roll out the pastry and line the tin (easier said than done, took me 3 attempts to roll it successfully and get it to the tin).

Grate or finely chop the marzipan and scatter evenly over the base of the pastry case. Thoroughly drain the apricots, pat dry with kitchen paper and arrange the apricots, cut side down, on top of the marzipan.

Apricot TartRoll out the pastry for the lid and carefully lay over the fruit filling. Press the 2 layers together gently to seal. Try not to cause a scene of devasation in your kitchen, like I did with mine 🙂

Apricot TartPut the tin on the hot baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Carefully remove from the tin and allow to cool.

Apricot TartDust with icing sugar and serve with cream, crème fraîche or ice cream or whatever takes your fancy.

Note: I actually made 1.5 x the pastry amount because my tin was slightly larger than what the recipe required. It was just as well really because I don’t think there would have been enough even if I had used a smaller tin. Also, I had quite a few apricots left over. Would also like to try this recipe using pears instead.

Upon having a slice there was just too much marzipan in the pie really, it was actually quite overpowering of the apricots and the delicious sweet pastry. I’ve made over half a dozen of the recipes from this book and in my humble novice opinion the ingredients measurements just seemed a bit out.

Apricot Tart