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Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake, the food of the gods or at least, the angels! A couple of years ago I had never made this beautiful cake, so I decided I needed to give it ago. I’ve made it a few times since, as a special occasion cake.

I’m re-visiting a previous post, just to show you that it’s quite possible to make this cake without too much experience, provided you follow a few simple guidelines, which I’ve listed below.

The result is of course, sublime!

Angel food cake is notable because it contains no fat and no egg yolks. In fact, it’s basically egg whites, sugar and flour, with cream of tartar. It also needs to be cooked in a special angel food cake tin.

I did a heap of research online to find out how to bake this cake. There are several things you need to do for cake success:

*Acquire an angel food cake tin for a start, and learn how to use the tin.

The tin should be 25cm/10in in diameter.

*Don’t grease the tin!

*Cool the cake upside down, the tin being supported on its own legs.

*Treat your egg whites in the mixture with care. Whisk the egg whites until aerated and foamy but not dry. After adding the sugar, whisk into soft but not stiff peaks. The egg white mixture will continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks may deflate in the oven.

My recipe is developed from very helpful instructions from the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, link here and Sally’s Baking Addiction, link here. Both food writers explain the science of the angel food cake clearly with understandable instructions.

Angel food cake is best served with cream and fruit or a sauce. It would be tricky to ice the cake as it’s so delicate, so it’s usually served plain.

I served this particular cake with lots of strawberries and raspberries, and berry whipped cream – whipped cream mixed with some berry jam and then piped onto the cake in swirls.

An angelic dusting of icing sugar makes this a truly heavenly cake to eat!

Ingredients 

Cake

125g plain flour

300g caster sugar

10 large free-range egg whites

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon salt

To serve

250mls whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons of any berry jam – strawberry, raspberry or blueberry, or a mixture

250g strawberries

250g raspberries

Icing sugar, to dust 

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced.  Make sure you have an oven shelf positioned in the lower third of the oven. 

Sift the flour and salt and add to a food processor. Pulse them with 100g of the caster sugar. This will aerate the dry ingredients to help create a light cake texture.

Whisk the 10 egg whites in an electric stand mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until foamy peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed, and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks. You will end up with a big volume of meringue mixture.

Sprinkle over one third of the flour/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the next third of the mixture and then the last third. Be very careful to fold the flour/sugar mixture gently to keep as much air in the angel food mixture as possible.

Carefully spoon the mixture into an angel food cake tin. Do not grease the tin! There is a lot of mixture to get into the tin. Once in the tin, gently run a knife through the centre of the mixture to remove any pockets of air. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be pale brown and should have risen slightly. If the egg whites have been over beaten, or the mixture stirred too aggressively, the baked cake can sink.

Take out of the oven and turn the tin upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs on the bench top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least an hour, two is ideal.

Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake tin, and also the inner edge around the centre insert, to remove it from the tin. 

Turn the tin over and invert onto a plate. Remove the centre insert, and very carefully run a palette knife between the cake and the base of the tin to separate the cake from the base.  Being very careful, turn the cake right side up and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, very delicately turn the cake right side up and place on a serving plate.

To serve:

Whip the cream until fairly stiff, but don’t overwhip or you’ll end up with butter! Put into a piping bag, and swirl your berry jam of choice into the cream. Pipe swirls or rosettes, if you’re being fancy, around the diameter of the cake.

Pile lots of strawberries and raspberries into the centre of the angel food cake.

Dust liberally with icing sugar over the whole cake.

Raspberry and Rosewater Cake

If you follow this blog at all, you may realise I’m pretty keen on rosewater as an ingredient. I love its floral, heady flavour, with mysterious overtones of the exotic Middle East.

A great pairing with rosewater is raspberries. This recipe is something quite simple that anyone can make.

I got the idea for the recipe by adapting a great recipe from the “Queen of Baking” Mary Berry. Mary has a recipe for a Victoria Sponge that is ultra simple. Mary uses baking spread, not butter in her sponge. As a butter aficionado, I would have said “Oh no!” But I trust Mary, and I made the cake with baking spread. And it works! As Mary says it makes a really light sponge.

So I have been adapting and tweaking the recipe for different cakes in different sizes. This version uses three quarters of the original quantity.

But if you don’t like baking spread, by all means use butter. Just make sure it’s soft, or it won’t cream properly.

Ingredients

170g baking spread (I use Nuttelex, an Australian brand)

170g caster sugar

3 free-range eggs

170g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon rosewater

125g frozen raspberries

2 teaspoons plain flour, for the raspberries

Icing

Juice of half a lemon, or enough to make a soft icing

150g icing sugar

A few drops of pink food colouring, enough to make a rose pink icing

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Butter a 22cm spring form tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cream the baking spread and caster sugar in an electric mixer. Add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the flour, and mix well. (This is to stop the egg, sugar and butter curdling).

Add the rest of the flour and baking powder, and mix until incorporated. Don’t overmix, or the cake will be tough.

Stir in the rosewater. Sprinkle the raspberries with the flour and gently fold through.

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top.

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before carefully turning out onto a cake rack.

For the icing, add the lemon juice to the icing sugar in a small bowl and mix well. You may need less or more lemon juice. You want a soft icing that will stay on the cake and not drip off. Add the food colouring carefully, you don’t want a lurid cake!

Serve in its own, or decorate with whatever you have to hand, in my case some dried rosebuds and rose pink glitter powder. Probably fresh raspberries would be just as nice!

Chocolate Meringue Roulade

I have a confession – I had never made a roulade, meringue or sponge, until last week! I guess it was just one of those things I thought might be too tricky to do.

So I decided to give it a go, doing a meringue roulade as I have a heap of egg whites currently frozen, left over from using many egg yolks used in panettone making. Well that’s another story…

I had the idea of what to do, having watched the Queen of Cakes Mary Berry make meringue roulade on a Great British Bakeoff special. So I felt well equipped to give it a go!

And while the result was a little informal – Mary’s favourite epithet to describe messy bakes in the GBBO – I quite liked the rustic finished product! 

Ingredients 

4 egg whites 

250g caster sugar

100g dark chocolate

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Icing sugar, for dusting

Filling 

150ml cream (any whipping cream, however I used thickened cream as it whips better) see note*

150ml good quality Greek yoghurt

125g fresh raspberries 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Line the base of a Swiss roll tin (23 x 33 cm / 9 x 13 in) with a sheet of baking paper.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy. The mixture should pass the “thumb and finger” test: roll a little meringue between thumb and first finger, and if it’s smooth and not grainy, all the sugar has been well incorporated! 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or very carefully in the microwave. I use this latter method, but you must do it slowly, in intervals, on a low setting, to make sure the chocolate doesn’t seize. Gently fold into the meringue. Fold the cocoa powder into the meringue equally gently.

Carefully spoon the meringue into the tin, flattening with a palette knife to level the surface. Place the tin into the preheated oven, and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the meringue is firm to the touch. The meringue may take a little longer to cook, you want it to be firm enough to roll, but not so hard that it won’t roll but just breaks up. 

Remove the meringue from the oven and, very carefully, turn out onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel the baking paper from the bottom of the meringue. Let the meringue cool for 10 minutes, but don’t let it get completely cool as it won’t roll.

Make a cut a couple of centimetres along the long side of the meringue. Make sure you don’t cut through the meringue completely.  This cut will help you to start the roll.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold the Greek yoghurt into the whipped cream. Spread the cream/yoghurt mixture over the surface of the meringue. Place the raspberries evenly over the cream. 

Now roll up the meringue from the long side, using the baking paper to help you. It will be difficult to get it to roll, and it will crack, but the cracks are inevitable and quite acceptable! You may only get  a loose roll, as I did. I think this is fine, as a more rustic roulade will still look good and taste great!

Place the rolled meringue, now a roulade, into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. The roulade can be left overnight, too. Unlike a pavlova, a roulade will benefit from getting a bit soft, as it will cut better.

To serve, dust liberally with icing sugar, and serve in thick slices.

*Thickened cream is available in Australia. It has a milk fat content of 35% and it contains additives – gelatine and vegetable gums, and this helps hold its shape when it’s whipped. 

Raspberry Meringue Twists

 

Meringues are a lovely gift to make for friends and are so simple to create. I’m fond of all kinds of egg white and sugar concoctions – meringues, pavlova, vacherin and dacquoise. I sometimes make Italian and Swiss meringue, but unless there’s a real need for a more stable structure, French meringue is the easiest option.

I  have always used a recipe from the Australian culinary legend Margaret Fulton, but this time I thought I would try a recipe from another culinary legend from another hemisphere, Mary Berry.

It’s always interesting to try a slightly different approach to our usual recipes, and this recipe I found very successful! The link to Mary’ s original recipe is here.

I wanted my meringues colourful and pretty to look at, so I used rose pink food colouring to create swirls of colour.  I scattered some freeze dried raspberry powder over the meringue before baking. With hindsight (which is a wonderful thing), cooking the raspberry powder made it too dark. I think next time I would scatter the powder over the cooked meringues to maintain the vivid raspberry colour.

I’ve called the meringues raspberry twists because of the raspberry pink twists of colour.

Ingredients

3 egg whites

175g  caster sugar

A few drops of pink food colouring

A teaspoon or two of freeze dried raspberry powder

Method

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C  fan-forced. Line a large baking sheet or two smaller ones with baking paper.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. I always use my KitchenAid for meringues.

Whisk on high speed until white and fluffy, like a cloud. Still whisking on maximum speed, gradually add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until incorporated and the meringue is stiff and shiny and stands upright on the whisk.

Take a piping bag and attach a large plain nozzle or star tipped nozzle, and using a paint brush or pastry brush,  paint stripes of pink food colour inside the bag.

Using the piping bag, pipe the meringue mixture into different sized meringues – some quite large, others smaller, onto the baking sheet. It’s up to you what size you want!

Scatter some freeze dried raspberry powder randomly and artfully over the meringues before baking.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for one hour.  Turn off the oven, and leave the meringues in the oven for at least a further 1/2 hour or until dry – longer is better.

Once cool, remove from the baking paper and put on a wire rack until completely cold.

Sugar Shortbread Cookies

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I love cookies and make a load of them every other week. There are always small – and big children – in my world who need feeding with…cookies of course!

I have been experimenting with a Mary Berry recipe for biscuits that I found online.  See here for Mary’s recipe. It’s actually a basic shortbread recipe, ie butter, flour, sugar (no egg) with some add ons. I’ve made my own version, as outlined below.

Ingredients
175g butter, softened
100g raw sugar
75g sweetened condensed milk
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g semolina
2 tablespoons raw sugar, for rolling
50g milk chocolate chips

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced.

Line 1 large baking tray or 2 smaller trays  with baking paper.
I make the dough in a food processor, but you could make it in an electric mixer – but the food processor method is super easy.

Put the butter, sugar, condensed milk, flour and semolina into a food processor and  process until the ingredients come together into a soft dough. It’s better to process in a few bursts so that you can make sure you don’t over process.

Place the dough on a floured work surface. Bring the dough together into a ball, and then shape into long sausages about 5cm/2″ diameter for smaller cookies or 8cm/3″ diameter for larger cookies. You need to make two sausages as it’s easier to shape them if they are not too long.

Wrap the sausages in cling film. They will still be quite soft, so you can continue to shape in the cling film, tightening the sausage shape. At this point put in the fridge and rest for at least a couple of hours to make the dough easier to cut into discs. You can leave overnight and the dough freezes really  well too!

Remove from the fridge, umwrap, and with a sharp knife, cut into slices – the thickness is up to you. Roll each cookie on both sides in raw sugar, gently pressing the sugar into the dough. Place the cookies onto the baking sheet/sheets, with space in between. They do spread a little, but largely keep their shape.

Once on the trays, you can leave as is, or press  chocolate chips individually onto the top of each cookie. It sounds labour intensive but actually doesn’t take that long!

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. If you cut your cookies quite thick they may take a couple of minutes  longer.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Salted Peanut Streusel Slice

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I like a good slice, or traybake as they are known in the U.K. In Oz they’re known as a slice, but years of devoted watching of The Great British Bakeoff have taught me that a slice by any other name is a traybake in the UK!

Do you love salted peanuts? I’m mad on nuts, preferably salted, so I have created a slice or traybake to incorporate shortbread, peanuts and a streusel topping.

For the shortbread base, I have used a Mary Berry biscuit recipe which is my latest go-to cookie recipe as it’s quick, rolls out easily and freezes well for future cookie adventures.

And the streusel is just butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon roughly combined.

Ingredients

For the shortbread base:

175g butter, softened

75g caster sugar

175g  plain flour

75g semolina

For the streusel:

50g butter

50g caster sugar

50g plain flour

1tsp cinnamon

Plus

100g salted peanuts in their skins

Extra butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Line a rectangular baking tray – the kind with the low sides that you can make a Swiss roll in – with baking paper. My tray is 27cm x 17cm.

To make the shortbread base, put the butter, sugar, flour and semolina into the bowl of a food processor and mix until a soft dough is formed.

Remove the dough from the processor, and with your hsnds, gently bring the dough together. You could roll it out into a rectangular shape to fit your tray, but it’s just as easy to take pieces of dough and squash into the tray, smoothing and joining as you go. Just make sure the base is a uniform depth.

Make the streusel by pulsing everything in the food processor, being careful not to overmux – you want clumps of rubble streusel mixture for the topping. Put the streusel mixture over the shortbread base, covering all the shortbread.

Scatter over the salted peanuts. Dot the mixture with a little extra butter. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the shortbread underneath is cooked.

Remove from the oven, cool in the tray, and cut into slices when completely 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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