Thursday, 21 August 2014

GBBO - Week Two - Florentines

So week two of the Great British Bake Off was Biscuit week - I decided to attempt the technical challenge of Florentines.  I found my recipe on page 98 of The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake The Perfect Victorian Sponge and other Baking Secrets.

As suggested I swapped in crystallised ginger instead of the mixed peel, but apart from that I followed the recipe exactly.  The first batch were a complete disaster, even after cooling until completely cold I couldn't prise them from the greaseproof paper.  I can't decide whether it was something wrong with the recipe or that I shouldn't buy baking paper from Home Bargains.  In the first batch I probably didn't chop my almonds finely enough, but I wanted I bit of a crunch to them and found it difficult to judge as the recipe asked for 'fairly finely'.

first batch
I decided that I'd have another go, so weighed out everything for a second batch (my this is an expensive recipe to go wrong!)  This time I just buttered baking trays and forwent the baking paper.  The second batch were marginally better: I chopped the almonds a bit finer and manage to spoon the mixture out more evenly.  They were still tough to get off the tray when they came out of the oven - most of them broke and I had one complete casualty.  I'm not sure they were baked for long enough, or maybe the oven wasn't hot enough as they certainly didn't crack but had a bend to them.  Perhaps I shouldn't of tried to bake two trays in the same oven?  I didn't even attempt to try and cover the backs with chocolate as they were just too fragile - they will be used a fancy ice cream topping.

second batch
Perhaps the recipe isn't quite right: alongside the fruit, the recipe calls for 25g plain flour, 75g butter, 75g golden syrup.  Looking up other recipes online the amount of flour seems low and there is no sugar, which can be found in other recipes.  I may have a go with another recipe, or I may just go back to baking cakes!

Monday, 18 August 2014

July's Garment - Summer Maxi Dress

Although slightly on the late side - July's garment was started and finished one Saturday in July.  My sewing machine and I trekked down to London for a sewing class with Chinello from the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee.

The class was a lesson in free hand cutting to make a Maxi Dress (I booked through Kazoova - there may be more classes in the future).  Chinello was a fab teacher and after making lots notes and taking various measurements we could start folding and cutting.  It was a new experience not to have a paper pattern and to seemingly just cut into the fabric - but it all worked and by the end of the workshop I did have a lovely maxi dress to take home.  Perfect for the hot sunny weather.

Whilst in Birmingham last week I picked up some fabric to make a second dress - so fingers crossed I can decipher all my notes and diagrams!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

GBBO - Week One - Swiss Roll

So Great British Bake Off was on our screens again last week - hurrah!  I am again going to try and bake something GBBO inspired every week, fingers crossed I can keep up.

Week One's signature bake was a Swiss Roll - as the number of series increase I find this concept of the signature bake more bizarre, does the name not mean that this is one of the contestants 'go to' recipes rather than the creation of something spectacular to impress the judges?  As I have never baked a Swiss Roll, first challenge was to find a recipe in one of my many cook books - after a bit of looking I found a recipe in James Martin's Desserts book.  A rather good collection of pudding recipes, that I have made quite a few from (roasted crab apples being rather delicious).

I didn't have a Swiss Roll tin, so just used an ordinary baking tray which fitted the measurements given. As i tend to get my ingredients out as I bake, I only realised half way through that although I had 3 bags of SR Flour, I had no plain flour.  A quick run to the shops didn't seem to harm my egg and sugar mixture.  With only 10 minutes needed in the oven, I almost didn't have time to drink my cuppa!
Swiss Roll Cooling
James Martin states that you should let your sponge cool on a caster sugar covered piece of greaseproof paper on top of a damp tea towel - all rolling is done when the sponge is cold.  As I was making this for the first time I thought I better follow instructions, although I really wanted to roll whilst it was warm.  Once cool I layered up seedless raspberry jam and cream, before rolling and leaving tucked up in a new piece of greaseproof paper over night in the fridge.

Layering up with Jam and Cream

Rather pleased with the outcome and the fact I got it to swirl nicely . . . next time I think I am going to experiment with a nutella filling or maybe home-made Arctic roll :)