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Tag Archives: Great British Bake off

Hot Cross Buns – Great British Bake Off

It wouldn’t be Easter unless I make – and blog – hot cross buns. Well there’s a story in this. A week or two ago I made my first day batch. And then I made my second batch. Different recipes, both very tasty, but both a little too dark on top. I won’t use the burnt word, but they were heading in that direction…

So yesterday, the Thursday before Good Friday, I started all over again. I was watching a GBBO Easter special, where Paul Hollywood made hot cross buns. I’ve made Paul’s HC buns before, and posted the results, see here.

Paul used a slightly different recipe on the show, so I thought I would give it a go. I was pleased with the results, particularly as the buns were a respectable shade of brown, not too dark!

Here is Paul’s recipe. I include Paul’s oven temperature, but I took his 220 degrees C down to 190 degrees C as I think my oven runs hot. It’s up to you what you think works best.

Also, I added an additional 50g of sour cherries to the sultanas, as I love sour cherries and I like extra fruit in my buns.

Ingredients

For the buns
300ml full cream milk
500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g fast-action yeast
50g butter
1 free-range egg, beaten
150g sultanas
80g mixed peel
1 apple, cored and chopped
2 oranges, zest only
2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross
75g plain flour

For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam

Method

Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
Add the sultanas, mixed peel, chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon, then tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film (I use a plastic shower cap – works really well!)and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Set aside to prove for another hour.
Heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
For the cross, mix the flour with about five tablespoons of water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

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Battenberg Cake

 

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If you’re a fan of the Great British Bakeoff, then you might have seen a Masterclass from the 2011 series when Mary Berry made a coffee and walnut battenberg cake.

You can see Mary’s excellent recipe here. I have been really keen to have a go, and it’s taken me until now to do just that, spurred on by an excellent purchase on my recent U.K. food trip.

I was very taken with London’s Borough Market  – more of that anon – and when John Whaite GBBO winner 2012 told me about the Borough Kitchen shop, I had a great time investigating their goodies!

So, I found a Silverwood Multisize Cake Pan with Dividers. This is the perfect tin to make Battenberg cake in, to create the lovely chequerboard effect. If you don’t have a fancy tin like this one, you can create the dividers using baking paper folded to divide the tin in two.

My battenberg was coffee and ginger, and I changed the quantities slightly to make more mixture. I also noticed that Mary’s oven temperature and cooking times were different on the TV masterclass from the BBC Food recipe. The masterclass turned out to be right (lower oven shorter cooking) so my recipe reflects that. I’ve tweaked a few other things too, as you do, to suit my cooking style.

Here is my battenberg – a little “rustic”  – but I’m happy with my first attempt!

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Coffee and Ginger Battenberg Cake

Ingredients

For the cake
150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
150g self-raising flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
75g ground almonds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp milk
2 tsp instant coffee powder
50g stem ginger, chopped

For the coffee butter icing
100g  icing sugar
50g butter, softened
½ tsp instant coffee powder
1½ tsp milk

To decorate the cake
225g/8oz white marzipan
Pecan praline pieces

Method
For the cake, preheat the oven to 160C or 140C fan forced oven.

If you have a multi divider tin, assemble the dividers to make an 8″ or 20cm square tin, and then using another divider, create another division dawn the middle. Grease the square with the divider well.

If you are using a regular cake tin, Mary gives these instructions.

Grease the bottom and sides of a 20cm/8in square, shallow cake tin.
Cut out a piece of baking paper that is 7.5cm/3in longer than the length of the tin. Fold the paper in half widthways. Open out the paper and push up the centre fold to make a 4cm/1½in pleat. Line the base of the tin with this, making any adjustments to ensure the pleat runs down the centre of the tin making in effect two rectangular ‘tins’ within the tin.

Mix the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and ground almonds in a stand mixer  until smooth and slightly lighter in colour.
Spoon slightly more than half the mixture into a separate bowl and stir in the vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons of the milk. Set aside.
Mix the coffee in the remaining 2 teaspoons of milk, stirring until it has dissolved and then stir this into the other bowl of mixture with the chopped stem ginger. Spoon the vanilla mixture into one half of the tin and the coffee and ginger mixture into the other half. Level the surface of each half with a knife.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and has shrunk slightly from the sides of the tin.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then loosen the cake from the sides with a round bladed knife, turn it out, removing the baking paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.
For the butter icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the butter. Mix the coffee and milk together until the coffee has dissolved, and pour into the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and you have an “icing” consistency.

Trim the crispy outer edges off the cooled cake with a serrated knife, then cut and trim if necessary into 4 equal strips. Lay one vanilla and one coffee and ginger strip next to each other, then use a little of the butter icing to stick them together. Spread a little  more icing on the top. Stick the remaining two strips together with icing and place them on top to create a chequerboard effect.
Spread more icing over the top of the assembled cake.

Take the marzipan and roll on a work surface lightly dusted with sifted icing sugar, into an oblong, the length of the cake and sufficiently wide to wrap around the cake. Be careful you don’t roll any cake crumbs onto the marzipan. You may have to roll the marzipan a couple of times to get the right size.

Quickly flip the rolled marzipan over, so the top side you have been rolling will end up as the top side on the cake.

Lay the butter iced side of the cake  (ie the top) on the marzipan, positioning it so that when you lift up one long side, it perfectly covers one side of the cake (this way the join will be neatly in the corner).
Spread the rest of the icing over the remaining three sides of the cake (not the ends). Brush off any crumbs from the marzipan and work surface.

Roll the cake over in the marzipan, pressing to neatly cover it, then brush the corner join lightly with water, pressing it to seal.

Turn the cake over so that the join is underneath. Trim a slim slice from each end of the cake to neaten and show off the chequerboard effect. Smooth the marzipan over with your hands to give it a smooth finish. It’s simply a case of trying to make the marzipan look neat!

I decorated my  battenberg with some pecan praline pieces that I had made – but crystallised ginger or plain pecans, walnuts or almonds would do just as well!

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John Whaite’s Kitchen School – a Fabulous Cooking Course

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Thursday 15 December – and I ventured north into deepest Lancashire to Wrightington, to the John Whaite Kitchen for a one day cooking course making delicate afternoon tea delights. See here for the link.

And this was a really big adventure for this quirky writer – I had travelled all the way from Sydney, Australia to do this course! And of course I’ve also been doing heaps of foodie stuff in the UK along the way, to be featured in later posts.

John was the winner of the Great British Bakeoff 2012, and I am a huge fan of Bakeoff.

“Festive Afternoon Tea with John Whaite” was held in a converted barn on John’s family property, and the vibe from the get go was warm, welcoming and very pre-Christmas festive.

Wonderful smells wafted my way as I entered and sat down with 9 other jolly and eager cooks! Coffee and cinnamon rolls began the day at the big communal table.

John introduced the day in the way he continued throughout our course – friendly, knowledgeable and with a boyish grin. And his naughty sense of humour made the day very entertaining…

Under John’s guidance we made three recipes with a Christmas twist, as well as having John demonstrate an additional recipe.

So Gingerbread Latte Cakes, little Mont Blancs and Fig Prune Port and Stilton Tartlets, plus John’s Cranberry and Orange Scones were created by the class and John during the day. And to add to the Christmas cheer there was mulled cider, its heady scent permeating the cooking space.

What was so impressive about the course was the balance between learning through demonstration and actually using the techniques, as well as John being on hand to troubleshoot our queries.

We made the recipes together, utilising the blast chiller, fridge and ovens to prepare the different stages of each recipe concurrently.

We learnt how to make genoise sponge, short crust pastry and sablé, frangipane, mousse, chocolate ganache and buttercream, all basic techniques of patisserie making.

I have a pretty good understanding of cooking – but this course showed me so many additional techniques, tricks and really good tips!

As readers of this blog know, refinement is not my thing – but John showed me how finessing patisserie is not as difficult as it looks.

One of my culinary aims is to pipe accurately and well. While this is a work in progress, I  think that John’s instruction and demonstrations have given me a lot of confidence to get this skill under control.

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After all the rolling, mixing and piping, and flour, sugar, eggs, cream, chocolate and spices were all fragrantly combined into our afternoon tea delicacies, we sat down at the communal table for our own afternoon tea washed down with glass or two of prosecco. This was a lovely way to finish the day – plus we got to take our beautiful bounty home!

I had a ball! My partner for the day, Kathryn, was delightful and very patient with my piping efforts. The rest of the group were fun and  very supportive too.

I loved the whole thing. Hats off to John for being a great cook, teacher and host!

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Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes

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I found these cupcakes in one of my current favourite cook books –  The Great British Bake off: How to Bake. I have, as usual, tweaked the recipe a little.

           Ingredients

175 mls semi-skimmed or full cream milk

100 gms of dark chocolate

60 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature

125 gms caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg, beaten, at room temperature

150 gms sifted self raising flour

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Put paper cupcake cases onto a baking tray.

Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan.

Chop the chocolate and add it to the pan with 1/3 of the caster sugar. Leave it until the chocolate is melted on a low heat. Stir frequently. Once the chocolate is melted remove from the heat.

In a bowl beat the butter, sugar and food vanilla in a food processor until light and and creamy (at least 3 minutes).

Gradually add the beaten egg to the mixture, beating well after addition. 



Add the flour and the chocolate/milk liquid alternately in 3 batches to the mixture in the food processor, pulsing briefly after each addition.

When the mixture is amalgamated spoon into cupcake cases.

Bake for around 15-20 minutes until cupcakes are risen and a skewer in inserted in centre of cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the baking tray for 2 minutes. 
Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool.

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Vanilla Icing

 

Ingredients

75 gms butter

Enough icing sugar to make a stiff butter cream

1 tbl milk

1/2 tsp vanilla paste

 

Method

Cream the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla paste in the food processor until light and fluffy. Add more icing sugar to ensure the icing is firm enough to ice cakes. Add a drop or two more milk if icing is too stiff.

Ice the cupcakes in a decorative or rustic way, according to taste or skill!

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