Bake Off | 4 Cake Recipes to whet your appetite

The newest group of bakers are set to land on our screens in the infamous tent for this year’s series of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4. I’m anticipating the urge to don an apron and get baking, which happens only once a year and not surprisingly in conjunction with this show. My culinary skills leave little to be desired so, rather than sitting in awe drooling at the TV screen, I’m getting in the kitchen this year for a little practise. Sharing with you four recipes I can’t wait to try my hand at baking.

Lemon & Lime Poppyseed Cake
I’m not going to lie; the icing is 100% what sold me on this one! Plus, I know that for my husband who loves all things sour, this citrus combination is going to be a hit! With poppyseed in the title, it basically sounds healthy too (kind of). Here’s the recipe I will be following by Lorraine Pascal.

Banana *and Chocolate* Bread
This is an attempt to ‘freestyle’ a little with my mother’s infamous, well-thumbed recipe. I have forever known there to be a Banana Teabread in the cupboard at all times. Perfectly sliced on the side of a cup of tea as a mid-afternoon snack or for guests who popped around. Oh! the quaint ol’ days.When I think about the fact my mother used to bake a cake almost weekly, I really do wonder what I do with all my free time?! This recipe can make use of those browning bananas in the fruit bowl along with a bucketload of dried fruit that is (let’s face it) collecting dust in the cupboard. My favourite bit has always been the banana sponge (and least favourite bits the dried fruit) so I’m deviating off-recipe to create what I’d like to find mixed in the batter: chocolate.

Ingredients:
450g/1lb ripe bananas
100g/4oz butter or margarine
150g/6oz castor sugar
2 eggs
225g/8oz self-raising flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
50g/2oz glace cherries, chopped
100g/4oz raisins

Method: 
Whack it all in a bowl, mix it with an electric whisk (or prepare for some arm ache if you’re mixing by hand) and pour it into a lined baking tin and bake until brown on the top. Do the kebab skewer test to check it’s cooked all the way through! There seems to be an etiquette of ‘allow it to cool’ but, frankly, I think the warmer the better. Serve with a cup of tea. 

Nigella’s Merookies
When I was living in New York, I basically craved all the home-cooking. American food is incredible don’t get me wrong, but nothing beats home comforts. My particularly sadistic habit of watching British cooking shows did nothing for the home sickness pangs but it did make me fall in love with Nigella. Literally every recipe had my mouth-watering and looked incredibly easy to achieve (whether this is true or not, I’ll find out!). A mixture of meringue and cookie (hence the name) with chocolate chips and pistachios require very little cooking (more warming). Visit BBC Food for the full method.

Ingredients:
2 large free-range egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch fine sea salt
100g / 3.5 oz caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
¼ tsp ground cardamom
75g/2.5ox mini dark chocolate chips
75g/2.5ox pistachios, finely chopped

Christmas Pudding
After last year’s success of a Christmas Cake which fed both sides of our family and poisoned exactly zero of them, I want to up the stakes with a Christmas Pudding this year which I believe requires some prepping in advance (although only 6 weeks according to this recipe). I’ll spare the risk of a dentist trip with the traditional silver coin that used to be added as a token of good luck to the recipient (or to go towards the dental bill!) There’s some commitment with this recipe which requires ‘feeding’ in the countdown to Christmas Day. Let’s hope this fairs better than my feeding the house plants! I own the Nigella Christmas recipe book but found the exact recipe to follow online.

I still have the biggest wish to learn to make croissants from scratch (thanks Nora Ephron & Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated for that one!) and also attempt to recreate these amazing pork guac nachos we used to get from the sports bar down the road in New York. At least I’ve still got a few months left of 2019 to give the kitchen a good run-out, assuming I don’t burn it down before then!

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