I do love a bit of Bake Off, and Andrew even lets me watch it … although he only managed approximately 40 seconds of it before he stuck his earphones on. I genuinely don’t understand why he hates the show so much – it’s so relaxing to watch, and of course a great way to pick up cookery tips and recipe ideas.
As with the last two years, I am planning to bake along with the Bake Off and make my own version of one of the challenges set each week. I’ll be participating in a couple of GBBO blogger challenges (if I can hit the deadlines in time – this week I didn’t), and you can find out more about The Great Bloggers Bake Off and a Bloggers Bake Along by clicking on the links, or the badges at the bottom of this post.
The first episode was lovely, lovely cake, and the bakers had 3 challenges as usual: a signature madeira cake, the technical challenge of a frosted walnut cake, and a show-stopping black forest gateau. I wasn’t initially sure what to make: as always I have the personal challenge of Andrew not being particularly sweet-toothed (and not fond of chocolate, the weirdo), and therefore not always interested in helping me to eat my bakes.
However, the addition of booze in a recipe is always an incentive for Andrew to eat it, and one of the bakers made a G&T madeira cake. Paul and Mary didn’t like it, so I decided I could do better. After all, gin and cake are two of my most favourite things. Perfect.
One thing I already knew about madeira cake is that it doesn’t have madeira in it. The name comes from the fact that people used to have a slice of it with a glass of madeira (which seems like a perfectly good idea to me). What I didn’t know about madeira cake was that it has to have a crack in it (I thought that was just down to my bad cooking!), and that it could be round (I thought a madeira cake had to be a loaf cake), AND that you could have any flavour of madeira cake (I thought it could only be plain). Oh, and where did the crispy candied fruit topping come from? I have never seen that before either. See, Bake Off is a highly educational show.
I couldn’t quite tear myself away from the idea of not using a loaf tin for my madeira cake. and I stuck with my favourite recipe from the lovely Nigella. I didn’t want to add any gin to the cake because I was worried the extra liquid would change the texture of the cake, so the gin had to be part of the icing (oh yeah, I never knew madeira cakes could be iced either).
What I did was slice up a lemon and put it in a little saucepan with 5 tablespoons of sugar and covered with tonic water, then brought that to the boil. I cooked the lemon slices for around 20 minutes in the simmering sugary tonic water until it had thickened to a syrup and the lemons were soft (and weirdly had started to look like oranges), and then took the lemon slices out to cool on a sheet of greaseproof paper.
I mixed the remaining syrup (only about 2 tablespoons worth) with a slug of gin, and then mixed that with icing sugar to make a thick icing to top the madeira cake. The cooled lemon slices went on top of the icing as decoration.
I thought the cake looked impressive: however, the gin flavour wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped (as you all probably know, you only need a little bit of liquid in your icing sugar to create icing, so there wasn’t enough gin to generate a strong flavour), and the lemons were far from crispy … in fact when I dropped them onto a plate as Mary did to check them for crispiness, they landed with a decided thud. But they did taste nice! Note also I made lumpy icing. I am pretty sure that Mary and Paul would not approve.
The next episode is biscuit week. Mmmmm, I do love biscuits … I think I’ll be able to get away with eating them all by myself.
The challenges this week:
And here are some madeira cakes from fellow food bloggers: