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GBBO 5 Technical Bake #4: Mary Berry’s Tiramisu (GBFBO

August 31, 2014

This week on the Great British Fake Bake Off (GBFBO) I will be making no-coffee, no-cream, no-brandy tiramisu. The reason for the fake this week is not laziness for once, it’s that Mr B doesn’t like coffee, neither of us are big fans of whipped cream and I didn’t have any brandy.

mary berry tiramisu gbbo

Instead of the coffee I dissolved cocoa powder into the soaking liquid. Instead of whipped cream I used half fat creme fraiche, a little vanilla essence and less sugar than the recipe states – since the cocoa would add as much of a contrast to the sweetness as coffee would have done. Instead of brandy I used a bit more hot water and the last of some butterscotch liqueur I’d been sent by Fay from Food Fables in a foodie penpal parcel.

It keeled over!

I didn’t do the tempered chocolate decorations (oh really, what did you expect?) and I found that I didn’t need nearly as much mascarpone and had a lot of the grated chocolate left. I think I over soaked the sponge, as it oozed rather. However, I was rather proud at how well the sponge came out. I definitely would have got point for even layer, if nothing else! Not my prettiest bake..

Tiramisu Towers


Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake
Recipe lifted straight from here – go to link for extra instructions

You will need a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin, a 18cm/7in square tin (and a cook’s thermometer if you’re doing the tempered chocolate)
For the sponge
a little softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy / extra water / other liqueur
3 x 250g/9oz tubs full-fat mascarpone cheese (I only used 1 tub)
300ml/10½fl oz double cream (I used 1 250g tub half fat creme fraiche + 1 tsp vanilla essence)
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (I used 1 tbsp)
75g/2½oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated
For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4.
Grease a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.

For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick.
The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch.
Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.

When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.
Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge. Discard the sponge trimmings (or keep for cake pops or a sneaky single-serving trifle).
Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later. I just stacked it and wrapped it in foil to chill overnight as I didn’t have the right sized tin. 

Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth.
Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin.
Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture.
Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge.
Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.

Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge.
Scatter over another one third of the grated chocolate.
Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture.
Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge.
Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake.
Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.

If you want to do the tempered chocolate decoration, go to the BBC link

Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder before turning out onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.

This is being entered into  My GBBO Bakealong and the Great Bloggers Bake Off


Foodie Penpals August: Home and Away

August 31, 2014

My penpal (Ruth) came from London again this month – so close to home infact that the parcel was hand delivered – though sadly I was out. The sender was local, but the contents had a very global feel.

Yet again, I got a fantastic package of goodies which had been carefully put together after chatting over emails. It included even a recipe, which I think is a great idea when you’re receiving spices that you might not have used before.

Vanilla tea  I have drunk several cups of this and liked the subtle vanilla undertone. When I googled it, it looks like it’s a premium tea from Mauritius though there’s not that much info about the tea itsself – only the plantation and restaurant.

Clearspring Miso soup paste I loved the Clearspring snacks in my parcel last month so I was glad to see more. i really like udon noodles in soup so I’ll save one pack for that and take the rest to work I think. Yum!

Thai Hot Chili Pretzel sticks a savoury version of Pocky sticks. Yes! These are definitely going to be work snacks.

Anchovies Ruth caveated these by saying that she knows they are a strong taste, but they add depth to the flavour of so many dishes. I’ve heard this said loads of times but have never got around to buying any achovies due to people having such strong opinions. I imagine that I will like them, being a big fish fan, but this is an example of Foodie Penpals giving me the chance to try something that I probably would never get around to otherwise.

Sumac Thoughtfully accompanied by a recipe, Sumac is a middle eastern fruit which is ground into a spice that seems to crop up increasingly often these days in recipes and restaurants. Apparently it has a lemony flavour and in North America the fruits of certain ypes of the fruit are soaked to make a type of lemonade. 

Peanut butter granola Ruth is also a runner, so put in this granola as a good post run re-fuel. I’m officially in pre-marathon training now (Running at the start of October) so this couldn’t have come at a better time.

Smoked paprika Ruth mentioned having put in cinnamon stick so I think she might be missing a certain spice from her cupboard, but I was no less pleased to receive this as it’s a great flavour for lots of stews, soups, roasting veg etc and is often used in this kitchen (though not too much so I don’t blow Mr B’s tastebuds!)

Thanks Ruth for a brilliant parcel


You can see what everyone else got here

The Lean Green Bean

More about Foodie Penpals

Started by The Lean Green Bean, Foodie penpals is a way for food bloggers and blog readers to get to know each other, via a lovely parcel in the mail every month. This is Rock Salt has brought it to the UK and Europe. Here’s the rough outline of how it works:

  • All interested parties in the UK and Europe – bloggers and blog readers alike – sign up by the form available at the bottom of the Terms and Conditions post
  • Participants are matched on the 5th of the month
  • Penpals send thoughtful, food related parcels, on or before the 20th of the month. The parcels can include home baked treats, shop bought treats (especially local or unusual things), cake cases or decorations – use your imagination. The parcel must include something hand written – a note explaining the box’s contents, a recipe card, whatever you like. The price limit for the boxes is £10 – this is a limit, the point is not the cost, but the thought (no, really!)
  • Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
  • At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more. Posts are made available on Lindsay’s blog so we can all find each other easily

Find out more here: How it Works // Terms and Conditions.

Summer flavours before they fly away

August 29, 2014

I have a confession to make. I’ve known about the Pizza express summer menu all summer and have been too forgetful / lazy to mention it to you. A 25% off voucher dropped into my inbox this morning and reminded me that there won’t be long left to catch it. People more organised than me are already looking ahead to their Christmas menu (eg. Heidi )

So, very quickly, here’s some of the things I tried yonks ago…

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One item not pictured (I was too busy discussing its merits with those around me) is the Leggera Summer Salad which has Chicken, goat’s cheese, strawberries, mint and blueberries on seasonal mixed leaves with our light house dressing and fresh basil. You wouldn’t think blueberries, strawberries and mint would work in a savoury salad, but it really does. That said, the gents from a running magazine who were also there to sample the menu were much more interested in the pizza!

I have to say that the highlight of my evening was the lovely guys behind the pizza counter who showed me how to throw pizza dough to stretch it. I had a whale of a time and even got the confidence to go home and make my own - as you saw here. I’m not sure the restaurant manager at your local Pizza express would take kindly to you asking for a demo at peak dining time, but maybe if you wait until closing?

So, since apparently we’re getting a last bash at summer this coming week, lets hold onto those summer flavours a little longer!


Thanks to FabPR for inviting me to sample the summer menu. As usual I wasn’t required to write a review or be nice (good thin, since I’m so late to the party on this one!) I genuinely enjoyed all the food and almost always chose the Leggera menu so this just my normal P.E experience!

Sunday roast

August 24, 2014

Welsh style … The boars head nr pontyclun.


Stuffed Armenian Lavash

August 24, 2014

I’ve told you about my favourite lady of Armenian heritage before when making the Armenian Orange Cake. She is the most excellent host and can whip up a feast for the masses with no prior warning. She’s also just moved house, so BK-S this is a happy housewarming post for you. May you and your Mr have many happy years there.

I’d originally agreed with Rangemaster that my monthly blog would be a pitta bread but I thought about the amount of times I’ve made pitta bread since the first time … I’ve never made it again. Why? It’s nicer home made, that’s for sure, but it’s so cheap and so readily available that it’s just too easy to buy it instead. So, I needed something that could be filled with whatever is in the fridge and was easy to make fresh on the griddle.

So I turned to aforementioned BK-S to find out what the Armenian version of flat bread was. It’s called lavash (or lavosh) and is usually cooked in a tandoor oven where it is stuck to the side and falls off when it’s cooked.  I’m not sure how authentic my version is – it’s a combination of a variety of recipes I researched, but it’s easy, tasty, and versatile, and you can’t buy it in our local supermarket! I’ve discovered that there are two types of this bread – the thinner one (like this) and a thicker doughier one. If there’s any Georgian / Armenian / Perisian chefs out there who want to show me how it’s done properly, I’d be forever grateful. In the meantime, I shall definitely be making my rough-approximations again.

flat bread recipe

wrap and roll


I filled ours with minced beef, goats cheese, umami-salt roasted runner beans, mushrooms and salad. If you don’t want to roll them they can be treated like quesadillas with one covered in a filling and another pressed down on top.

You could also finely chop some cucumber, mix with yoghurt and dip the lavash in it.

Baking on the griddle

Stuffed Armenian Lavash


100g strong white flour
50g wholemeal plain flour
1 sachet of fast action dried yeast (7g)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp caster sugar
180g luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil (I used rosemary infused)
Filling of your choice.

Head over to my blog at Rangemaster for the details of how to make it and in particular, how an upturned wok has an intriguing use in the recipe.

Wok and roll

I’m linking this up with other bread based goodness at Yeast Spotting and Bake Your Own Bread

GBBO 5 Technical Bake #3: Paul Hollywood’s Ciabatta

August 22, 2014

I’m officially going to change this series of posts to be called The Great British Fake Bake Of (#GBFBO). It’s my mission to make each technical bake but do it using any cheat, shortcut or slightly slapdash method available. Basically, it’s GBBO for people short of time (because they’ve been watching GBBO instead of using the hour to bake).

Paul Hollywood GBBO ciabatta

Fake Ciabatta

So, this week’s bake was Ciabatta. No shortcuts to be had there, surely? No, true but I didn’t have enough strong flour and I wasn’t about to trek to the shops so I made the rest up with gluten free bread flour and added some xanthan gum. The resulting bread tasted great but was obviously not the holey, loose textured typical ciabatta.

Mr B gets all the props for making this one. I put the dough together on night and left it to rise in the fridge. He shaped and baked the next day. I came home to the smell of fresh bread. Nice.

Here’s the recipe as it should be with notations of my changes next to it, though why you’d want to repeat a gluten-light as opposed to gluten-free bread I’m not sure.

Mr B’s Baking Handiwork

Paul Hollywood’s Ciabatta
lifted straight from here 

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting [I used 300g strong white & 200g gluten free bread flour]
10g salt
10g instant yeast [I used one 7g packet of fast action instant]
40ml olive oil [I used basil infused olive oil]
400 ml tepid water
Fine semolina for dusting (optional) [I used extra flour]

1.Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).

2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer. [I put it in the fridge overnight to prove]

4. Heat your oven to 220°C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.

5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half lengthways and divide each half lengthways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough lengthways a little and place on prepared baking trays.

6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

This is being entered into  My GBBO Bakealong and the Great Bloggers Bake Off



Bacon and Cherry Cornbread Muffins (and Competition)

August 20, 2014

These muffins are inspired by three things:

1. The idea of the all-american, deep south breakfast with cornbread, maple syrup and bacon. I’ve never been to the deep south but I have witnessed people having icecream for breakfast in new York state.

2. Nigella’s cherry-coke baked ham recipe that rears its sugary head every Christmas.

3. All the sweet bacon products doing the round at the moment like bacon jam, bacon brittle, bacon fudge etc.

glace cherry cornbread brunch

Muffin beats these warm out of the oven

Cornbread is a revelation. It’s so easy to make and tastes so good. It can be a willing recipient for cheese, chillies and all manner of other options. Plain it goes with chili con carne really well, or a spicy stew. These beauties though, with their pig and fruit combo make for an amazing brunch product.

Also, the French Glacé Cherry cheerleaders have given me a branded timer, kitchen scale, apron and samples of French Glacé Cherries to give away. I’ll tell you how at the end.

brunch cornbread bacon muffin

Hot Buttered Bliss

Bacon and Cherry Cornbread Muffins

Note: most large supermarkets now have world food sections. I would suggest getting your cornmeal from the Caribbean bit there rather than buying polenta. It’s much cheaper.

Makes 6 + 1 for testing

105g fine cornmeal (polenta)
50g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
small pinch bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
175g natural yoghurt (I used 0% but low fat or full is fine)
50ml milk (I used skimmed but again, any is fine)
1 egg

50g natural French glacé cherries, chopped into at least quarters
7 whole glace cherries for decorating
8 rashers of smokey streaked bacon

Preheat oven to 230c

Grease your muffin tin. Take a rasher of bacon and wrap it around the edge of each muffin hole to create a “case” with no bottom.

Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and sugar in a bowl.
In a jug mix the yoghurt and milk, then add the egg, oil and cherries and beat gently to combine.
Add the liquid to the dry mix and stir well until thoroughly mixed.
Pour or spoon the mixture into each muffin hole. It won’t rise quite as much as cake, but it will still grow.

Take the final bacon rasher and divide along the length to create strips (using the grain of the meat). Cut thumb length pieces and wrap one around each cherry. Place them on top of the muffins.

Bake for 15mins.

I took the photos at this point. The bacon was cooked BUT a bit soft for my preference.  I reheated some the next day out of the muffin tin and the bacon crisped up nicely around the edges, so I suggest the following:

Wait for the muffins to cool a little, place a baking tray over the top and flip them onto it so that they are bottom up. Pop them back into the oven for 10mins at 180c.

Serve either on their own with strong coffee, or buttered, or we had them with poached eggs.

To win the Glacé Cherry branded items do one or both of the following:

1. Tweet “I want to win some french glace cherries so I can make these cornbread muffins from @gillbla #glacecherrycomp”

2. Leave a comment below telling me what your favourite cherry based memory is, be it cherry coloured or cherry flavoured. 


I was sent the cherries and given the prize by Sopexa so that I could play around and come up with a new and tasty dish. They are championing French Glace Cherries. If you would like to see another idea, head over to The More Than Occasional Baker to see her cherry and coconut bundt cake.

The prize is only available to UK entrants. Your name will be given to spoexa who will be responsible for sending the prize. Entries close at midnight on 31st August. Please makes sure you fill out your details when commenting so that I can contact you. If I am unable to contact you within 48hrs I will try the next person. I will use a random number generator to choose the winner. 


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