One Old Friend & Two New Ones

I am more than halfway through Chapter One of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, which is not much of an achievement, but one has to take what crumbs one can find. I seem to have fallen into the habit of blogging about three baking escapades at a time, which is more to do with finding the time than anything else (and being able to use the computer – the desk is covered in flash cards and other such evidence of a GCSE-revising daughter). I forgot that not only did I need the time to bake, but also the time to blog too.

Anyway, another blog of three bakes is how it turned out and I have a confession to make: I forgot to take photos of one. The three cakes were: Maple Syrup Cake, American Apple & Apricot Cake and Coffee & Walnut Cake. The old friend is the Coffee & Walnut Cake, which I have made before, although not that often, given my coffee-flavoured-food-hating family. As before, I steered clear of instant coffee or coffee essence and made the real deal. I doubled the recipe, because a 2-egg sponge was going to be a small cake and as I took it to work, it was going to have to provide at least a dozen slices. It looked quite nice, tasted okay too and disappeared fast enough, which is all one can ask for I reckon. Sadly, it was only then that I realised that I had not taken a photograph of it.

My first new friend was the Maple Syrup Cake. If you have not made it before, I recommend it heartily. It is a generous sponge flavoured with orange zest, maple syrup and ground ginger. The filling and topping is whipped cream flavoured with maple syrup, with grated orange peel sprinkled over. The result was quite fetching I think.

The sponge had a lovely depth of flavour and I would think it would be nice with an ordinary buttercream as a filling if you didn’t want to bother with cream. I used more ginger than the recipe said, but it would have stood more if you wanted it. It may have been the first time I’ve made it, but it definitely won’t be the last. It met the family’s rigorous standards and works equally well as a celebration type cake or a family weekend type cake.

Finally, the other new friend was the American Apple and Apricot Cake. I have made a similar cake which has a middle layer of apple slices and is flavoured with almond essence. This used chopped cooking apple and dried apricots as well as almond essence. It was not a classic sponge, being made with melted butter rather than the traditional creaming method.

My husband and daughter have what they think is a secret addiction to snacking on dried apricots, so I bought extra and hid the packet until I had used what I needed. It reminds me of being a teenager and having to hide the marzipan from my Mum in the lead up to icing Christmas cakes. My children don’t believe this, because she does not eat any cake, pudding, sweets or chocolate, but it’s true. She was a fiend for marzipan.

We have been buying Aldi’s dried apricots; they are excellent, at the right point of juicy meeting chewy. (They don’t need pre-soaking.) It was a nice cake and went inside two days, so obviously also met the seal of approval. I dusted some icing sugar over to finish it off but that was not strictly necessary.

I shall probably make that cake again too. Next up will be another couple of old friends as well as new one. That’s all folks for now. Please let me know any observations you have on these blogs.

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