Tuesday, 28 August 2012

GBBO Week Two - 8 Strand Plaited Loaf

So week two was bread week - to me this seems a little early for bread, but maybe it is the same as previous series! I really enjoyed watching the Bagels and didn't know that they are poached before baking.  Some of the flat breads were inspired and I am going to have to try my hand at the Oat Cakes that are in the GBBO Third Book - as PB is from Staffordshire, he has a soft spot for oat cakes, I'll have to make sure they are good!  I shall report back once I am accomplished in oat cake baking.  Flat-breads and bagels aside, it was the technical challenge that I just had to have a go at - the 8 strand plaited loaf!

So on Sunday morning I gathered all the ingredients I needed and read through the recipe very carefully as I haven't really made bread before! I was rather amazed at the very few ingredients needed - although missed my digital scales when trying to measure out 10g of salt (I decided to go with a level teaspoon).  After mixing all the ingredients together, the first 'waiting' hour had to begin - thankfully we hadn't had breakfast yet, so I had something to keep me occupied.  When I went back to my bowl, the dough had magically doubled in size (I may have done a little happy dance!).
Then came the technical bit, splitting the dough into 8 equal bits and rolling into strands or tentacles.  My first try at the plaiting was a mess, only the middle strands seemed to be doing anything - so I quickly undid everything and started again! I would have taken a picture, but the dough was beginning to stick to each other and I didn't want to have to roll everything out again.  Reading each step out loud seemed to do the trick and after a few minutes I had a plaited loaf!  Then another hour of waiting - this time I did a spot of gardening to pass the time.

After an hour, I glazed the top of the loaf with an egg wash and popped in a warm oven to bake - the smell was scrumptious! It needed a little longer than the 20-25 minutes stated, but then I had reduced the temperature as it was a fan assisted oven, so maybe that was why.  I was rather pleased with my loaf and maybe another little happy bread dance was partaken in!

I think that bread will become a regular feature in my baking - the time needed is very much worth the results - never before I have looked forward to eating my sandwiches as much!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

GBBO Week One - Upside Down Cake

So at 8pm last Tuesday evening I was sat in front of my TV eagerly awaiting the new series of the Great British Bake Off.  I thought it was a tough first week and now it's in its third series, the bakes are getting a bit more complicated.  I really wanted to create a 'Surprise Cake' and had even drawn some sketches of a carrot cake I wanted to bake - the surprise being that when you cut into it, the carrot cake bit was in the shape of carrots, with plain sponge surrounding it! I had even drawn out templates to fit my loaf tin, but sadly I didn't have enough time to realise my idea - maybe sometime in the future.

The technical challenge didn't really appeal to me either - not very keen on alcohol in cakes and didn't think the Rum Ba Ba's would work with a fruit juice substitute.  So that left me with the 'Upside Down Cake' - I decided to make a summer berries one, as there is loads of yummy fruit in the supermarket.  Although I have the latest GBBO cookery book, I found this very simple recipe on the BBC good food website.  I used fresh berries instead of frozen ones and also decided to create a Victoria Sponge rather than just one cake - getting a bit creative with my pattern of blueberries and strawberries on to the top layer.

I had a bit of a disaster as just as I had finished dolloping the cake mixture on top of my carefully arranged berries I noticed the huge tin of Golden Syrup on the side - I'd forgotten to put the golden syrup on top of the berries.  There was a small part of me that thought maybe I could scrap the mixture off - but quickly realised this was not going to happen.  I decided to bake the cake until it was firm enough that it could be turned out and then add the syrup, before putting back in the tin and back in the oven to finish off cooking!

After they had finished cooling I layered up the cakes with a layer of buttercream - I was toying with using fresh cream, but felt the cake wouldn't last as long.  Next time I also wouldn't use strawberries, as although they make a pretty pattern they lost a lot of their colour - maybe raspberries would have been better!