Eight-strand plaited loaf

Along with baking, another thing I love to do is read!  Although right now I am reading less than I once was, reading is still a big part of my life. And one of the first genres of books I read obsessively was historical fiction.  I loved reading about history so much I ended up studying it in University (although the word study should be used loosely when said in relation to me and school).  Why am I telling you all this?  Because thanks to my years of reading things like Pillers of the Earth, Catherine Called Birdy and The Other Boleyn Girl  I actually knew what Paul was talking about when he said “plaited loaf”. Now someone from the UK would probably tell you that plait is still used today and is in fact just the word for braid.  But to me, plait is inextricably linked with castles and everything historic. Enough reminiscing, time to bake….but first let me wistfully scroll through Goodreads!

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Rum Baba – Masterclass don’t fail me now!

TGI Masterclass!  I knew series three would be a challenge, what with recipes that tip the scales at 30 plus steps, but we have really started with a bang!  Rum Baba, excuse me, what?  Now I know I wasn’t alive in the seventies during this recipe’s hay day but even the owner of the speciality baking store where I got my tin didn’t know what I was talking about.  I did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this bake. Thankfully I had the coaching of Paul to help me get through.

I’m not sure what’s available on the American Netflix or Youtube etc.  But I have found all of series 3 including the Masterclass episodes on DailyMotion.  Masterclass is a handful of episodes where Paul and Mary walk you through choice recipes of the series.  Usually, they cover the Technical Challenges so I feel a bit like I am cheating from here on out with my bakes.  From now own when I screw up it’s going to be especially impressive.  Armed with tips from Paul and a clearly labelled bag of sugar (not salt, sorry John) it was time to baba.

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Sachertorte

It’s the finals!  Series two has gone by so fast.  It seems like yesterday I was moaning about all the lemons and now, not a lemon in sight. What better way to cap off the second season than with this perfectly historic European bake.  Oh, and A LOT OF CHOCOLATE!

Before launching into this recipe I did some reading on the Sachertorte, mostly because I couldn’t figure out if there was supposed to be a space between Sacher and torte or not (which I still don’t know). But what I found was a lot more than how to properly spell the thing.  First of all “torte” is technically a cake made without flour.  Secondly, this torte is old!  I mean there are hundreds of years of tradition behind this recipe. I guess there won’t be any slapdash substitutions this time.  I must do this Austrian beauty justice!

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Iced Fingers

As Joey would say, buns – good, jam – good, cream – good, iced buns – pretty good. Ok, it may not be a direct quote but the Friends fans out there will know what I’m talking about.  As someone that loves all things bread and sugar, I was pretty pumped about this bake.  Seriously, I think the best meal you can have is bread and butter.  Add into that mix some sugary goodness and things can only get better right? Well if you like a whipped cream sandwich you’re right.  If you think whipped cream on a very soft hot dog bun is a little different then you and I are in the same boat.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  First I have to tell you how I made these unique little guys.

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Mary’s Chocolate Roulade – cracking good

Roulade, swiss roll, jelly roll, and cake roll.  Before this challenge, I was under the impression these terms were interchangeable.  Boy, was I wrong?  It turns out, as with everything I have made on here, there is a lot to learn. Let the googling begin…

I quickly fell down a rabbit hole of definitions and explanations that didn’t do much to clarify the situation until I found this nugget of information on Asian Recipe Blog . 

Swiss rolls are made from a light sponge mixture that contains flour. Roulades are based on a whisked egg mixture and contain very little or no flour, and are moister and softer than Swiss rolls. To prevent a Swiss roll cracking when rolled, trim off its crusty edges then, while it is still warm, put it on greaseproof paper dusted with caster sugar. Roll it up loosely, rolling the paper with it, and leave it to cool in its wrapping. Then gently open up the roll slightly, remove the paper and spread the interior with jam, lemon or lime curd or cream.

Roulades are easier to roll, so can be filled before rolling up. They do usually crack when being rolled, but look attractive when dredged with icing sugar and decorated.

I also found a video of Mary Berry making her chocolate roulade, jackpot!  During the video, Mary repeatedly points out the cracks on a roulade are A-ok.  This was music to my ears.  So armed with my new found knowledge and a confidence boost from Mary Berry herself I got to baking.

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Brandy flops

I have a theory that baking can be influenced by attitude.  It may sound like nonsense and it probably is, but anytime I have started baking or cooking in a bad mood things seem to go from bad to worse.  Exhibit A – the Cornish pasty, I was grumpy and you saw those soggy bottoms.  Exhibit B – a now infamous dinner my husband and I refer to as the hate nachos.  While making nachos we got into a big fight and we had to sullenly choke down some burnt chips for dinner.  Exhibit C – Brandy Snaps.

I don’t limit the phenomenon to mood alone.  I also credit multi-tasking and dish disrespect for my baking failures.  These Brandy Snaps were a perfect storm.  Let me set the scene, after work last Tuesday I was in peak hangry mode and thought a whole bbq chicken would be the perfect thing to make for dinner.  Why on earth would a meal that takes 90 minutes be a good idea?  It wasn’t.  So hungry and grumpy with 90 minutes to kill I started my Brandy Snaps.  Continue reading “Brandy flops”