First Blog: The How, What, Who & Why

This is my first blog, so how did I arrive at the momentous (or not) decision… I decided I needed a new baking challenge and it felt like a good opportunity to get better acquainted with the tinterweb thing.

So,  first to the baking. I have been baking since I was a small girl, mostly thanks to my Mum, who is a very good baker. (Don’t tell her, but her shortcrust pastry and even sponge cakes are still better than mine.) This means I have been baking for about 40 years, give or take, but there still seems plenty to learn.

Having decided that I need a new baking challenge, I thought I would go back to basics so I chose Mary Berry’s Baking Bible and intend to work my way through the book, baking everything in it from the first to the last recipe (I’m already slightly dreading seed cake). I may have to jump around a little, because it’s Easter next week so it seems sensible to make Hot Cross Buns and Easter biscuits then, rather than wait for me to reach their allocated spot in the book. Unfortunately, I’ve already made a Simnel Cake so I’m not quite sure what I’ll do about that: celebrate a second Easter this year?  I will also intersperse these recipes with other recipes that I come across or fancy.

What’s the first recipe? Madeira Cake. Strangely enough, I’d never actually made one before. The doyenne of baking, Mrs Berry goes for an all-in-one method, which sounds good to me if this is a first ever baking attempt. She advised to place a piece of citron peel on the top of the cake halfway through cooking. I did not have a citron fruit to hand and was not going to delay my baking adventure by traipsing from shop to shop or tinterweb to track one down. Ok, I admit I wasn’t sure what a citron was, but google solves most problems like that. I therefore carefully cut a piece of lemon peel, which you can see in the below picture… and promptly lost it. I’m not sure how one can lose a piece of lemon peel, but I managed it. I can only assume it went into the mixture, waiting like the threepenny bit in a traditional Christmas Pudding, for some lucky person to find.

07042017 Madeira cake 1

Other than that slight mishap, I followed the recipe exactly; this is very unusual for me. I have a tendency to mess about with recipes, regardless of whether they need it or not. I thought the cooking time was a little excessive. The recipe allowed for 60-75 minutes, I think 55 was ample, perhaps even a little more than was needed.

With regards to the ingredients, I used Aldi’s own brands for this cake. I’m a big fan of Stork for baking but I can’t discern any difference between that and Aldi’s own baking spread. It works a treat. There is nothing wrong with their own brand flour either.

It was a simple recipe and I thought the result was good, with a pleasant lemon flavour. It had a slight crunch to the top crust with a light sponge texture overall.


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