What does the acronymn GBBO mean to you? If it doesn’t conjure pictures of cake, bread, pastry and Mary Berry goodness, then Iet me try to educate you! Bake Off signals a happy time of year for me, it’s TV where people are genuinely nice to each other (even with last year’s bin gate) and it’s really hard to watch without feeling a little happy by the end. Also, it’s a time of year that I get baking again.
I find it very hard to watch the GBBO without wanting to get in the kitchen and try recipes out for myself. A few years ago my Mum and I decided that we would challenge each other to make one thing from each episode. It could be our own take on whatever it was but would have to generally follow the rules of the episode. We had to be honest about how everything went, take photos and occasionally have family members chip in but then we would come to a mutual decision about who won that week. Our friend Craig soon joined in and this year, despite the arrival of baby Thomas five days before the first episode – we baked along with Bake Off.
I really enjoy watching the technical round and whilst the show stoppers can be amazing, on a practical level, we usually opt for the Signature Bake. These are generally my favourite because they allow you to put your own spin on things and opt for flavours you really like. I adore spaghetti carbonara and love trying different varieties of it, so this year when making soda bread I incorporated bacon, parmesan and parsley before serving it with scrambled eggs for brunch. It was absolutely lush by the way!
What flavour would you opt for?
This past weekend was seriously grim weather wise, and as Mum was thankfully on hand to help, we decided to entertain Katie by making cake. I’m not a massive fan of overly sweet things so we went for my ‘signature bake’ of coffee and walnut cake – with coffee in both the cake and the icing!
To begin we lined the cake tins completely, simply so it would be easier to get them out. I don’t usually both with this but as Mum was there to do it – I wasn’t about to protest!
Then all we did was weigh four eggs and then measured the same weight in flour, butter and caster sugar.
I always get Katie involved in measuring the ingredients and she is pretty good at cracking eggs herself (although today one did go on the table!). However what she really likes is controlling the mixer. She can sometimes be a little overenthusiastic with turning it up very high but this can’t really do any damage to a simple sponge recipe.
Using the whisk to ensure the mixture was kept nice and light, we creamed the butter and sugar together before adding each egg in turn. We then removed the bowl from the mixer and folded the flour in a little at a time. I know in theory, it’s better to sift the flour in but with Katie constantly trying to ‘test’ the flour i.e. eat it, sometimes it’s better to go quicker! At this point we also mixed in a coffee mixture of two teaspoons to one tablespoon of water before measuring into our two preprepared tins.
It was then into the oven at 180 fan for 20 to 25 minutes. I always kind of hope for the best at this point but on reflection I realise we could’ve done a couple of things better – firstly, we should’ve weighed the mixture to ensure we had an equal amount between the tins. Secondly, I think we must’ve lifted the edge of one tin a little trying to put them on the same shelf in the over because it went a little wonky and almost caught on one edge. However – hindsight is a fine thing!
After bringing them out of the oven and checking that they felt nice a springy, it was just a case of leaving them to cool. I had been planning to cut both in half to make four layers, but due to the uneven distribution, it was only possible on one. No one was about to complain about a triple layer coffee cake though!
Once the cake was completely cool, we set about making the icing. This was simply a case of mixing butter and icing sugar as per the instructions on the box and mixing in more coffee mixture and 100g of chopped walnuts. We then spread this on each layer before spreading an ample amount on top. There was of course, much bowl licking at this point!
The cake was not as even as I would have liked and it was tricky to make the finished item even vaguely photogenic. But today, as the rain is bucketing down, I am enjoying a nice fat slice with a cup of tea and don’t give a fig what it looks like!