Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bakewell bars

Last night I felt the need to bake so I made some bakewell bars. These can be a bit tricky, but the results are bloody lovely. You basically make a sort-of shortbread base, cover it in jam, then make some frangipane and bake it until it's properly cooked. But if you undercook it, or even open the oven door before the frangipane is cooked it will never set properly and you're effectively stuffed. Recipe for those who want it:

Base: 3oz butter, 1oz caster, creamed. Add an egg yolk, a teaspoon of vanilla, and mix well. Then squeeze in 6oz plain flour. Beat it until it forms a dough - it will all go, I can assure you. Do not be tempted to add any liquid. Roll this out to fit a deep 8" square tin that's been lined with baking parchment, then squeeze it in so it goes right up to the edges of the tin (and if you leave dimples in the dough there's more room for pockets of jam). Cover this in jam and put in the fridge. Turn the oven on to GM4.
Frangipane: 3oz butter, melted and left to cool (but not cool solid). Beat in two eggs. Then add 3oz caster, 3oz semolina and 4oz ground almonds, and mix until very well combined. Leave for a couple of minutes and it should start to set a little. Blob this onto the jam layer and join it all up with the back of a spoon if it's not runny enough to join up together by itself. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown*. Leave to cool in the tin and slice into 3x4 bars. You can drizzle almond icing over the top if you like.

* DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR TO CHECK IF YOU CAN AVOID IT. Really, in my oven it's 45 minutes at a minimum (fan assists might be able to get away with 35) but if you open the door too early and the middle isn't cooked it will collapse and nothing you can do will save it.

Results: delicious, and look like this:
Bakewell Bar

Bloody nom.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cake Inventing

Sometimes I need to keep track of my thought processes when making cake. Or inventing it. You see, I can't always work out how I get from A to C and on more than one occasion I start off thinking that I want to make one thing and end up making something totally different. This happened on Sunday when I started off wanting to make marmalade and ended up making a tea loaf.

What happened was this:

  • I was sat thinking "I want to make some marmalade, but have no seville oranges. Where will have some oranges? Twitter will tell me."
  • So I went on twitter and asked. While I was waiting for a response I looked up "marmalade recipes" on Google. This took me half an hour.
  • Ah, I got a response on twitter. Leeds Markets have some! Great, I thought. Then I realised it was Sunday. Markets closed on Sunday.
  • That's ok, though, because what I really want is a cup of tea.
  • Oh! Tea bread, that's an idea. Is it tea bread or tea loaf? Hm. Best google that.
  • This took me half an hour.
  • All the recipes said "soak your fruit overnight in tea." Bugger, thought I, because it was Sunday and I can't make cake on Monday because of that pesky work thing.
  • Then I saw a thing for "boiled fruit cake" which said that this would be the easiest christmas cake ever. I don't like christmas cake but thought the principles would still apply.
  • So I came up with this:

    • 225g dried fruit, whatever you have in the cupboard. Apricots, mixed dried, currants, sultanas, what the hell there's some glace cherries that I'll never use that can make up the weight.
    • 300ml black tea, strong as you like, earl grey, tetleys, twinings, whatever you've got.
    • 200g soft brown sugar. Or white sugar. Or probably honey. I know I've got 200g of "sweet" in the cupboard.

  • put all these in a pan, bring to the boil, leave to boil for about 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and go & have a shower, or a nap, or read a book. Watch some Simpsons, maybe.

    • Then crack an egg into the cold mixture and stir it in.
    • Then throw in, say, 250g self-raising flour.
    • Some mixed spice would be nice. There we are. About 2 teaspoons.
    • That lemon looks a bit sad. Tell you what, let's zest that into it.

  • Stir it so it's all well mixed, then pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin.
  • Bake at GM3, or whatever the metric equivalent may be, for about an hour and a quarter. Don't open the oven door until at least 1hr is up.
  • If the top looks a bit singed, stick some baking parchment on it.
  • Stick a cocktail stick in it and if it comes out clean, it's done.
  • Tip it out, remove the lining, and leave it to cool completely before breaking into it.


It's bloody lovely.

eta: I should perhaps point out that the little postcard that I wrote out my recipe on reads:

225g fruit, 200g SBS, 300g tea. Boil 3m. Cool.
1e, 2tsp GMS, 250g SRF.
GM3 75m.

Yeah, I know.