And they’re off!
The Great British Bake Off Season 6 has begun with ‘Cake Week’ What a great start – 12 eager amateur bakers shoved into the spotlight and told to make the perfect Madeira Cake and a show stopping Black Forest Gateau, with a technical Walnut Sponge in between.
Poor little Dorret – didn’t she had a terrible time with her black forest gateau – the pressure in that Bake Off tent must be brutal! As a little aside, though, doesn’t she look great for 53?
So Madeira Cake was first up on the menu, and how appropriate!
It’s a great sponge, and the base of most of my stacked cakes.It has a high proportion of eggs and makes an excellent solid base for stacking tiered celebration cakes.
Madeira cake is a closed textured cake that was designed in the 1800s to accompany a glass of Madeira and other sweet wines.
It was a cake for the rich, upper classes – those who could afford to bake, what used to be, a dry crumbly cake that didn’t keep well and had to be enjoyed with a drink and best within two days before it would dry out! Not that I’m suggesting for one minute that Lady Grantham would do her own baking – perish the thought!
Things have improved and a moist Madeira made with good quality ingredients makes an ideal afternoon treat with a cup of tea. My cakes which are usually covered in buttercream will keep for a good week on a covered cake stand.
In the early days it used to need a precise eye and plenty of elbow grease, so Mrs Patmore would have been none too pleased, and very flustered. Today my trusty Kenwood Chef does all the hard work!
I searched all over for some more history facts behind this iconic cake, but there was little more to be found. The cake only starts to appear in cookery books from the 1950s onwards.
For years, before I starting baking seriously, I thought Madeira Cake was the brick shaped yellow slab that you buy in supermarkets wrapped in plastic.
You know ….
I’m sure Madeira’s low esteem is directly attributable to these unattractive packets of dry, flavourless and claggy ‘cake’ that have pervaded our supermarket shelves and look as if they’ve all been dispatched from the same factory. Well baked Madeira Cake is poles apart from these awful products. Sorry Supermaket people – but you know I’m right
Now you’ve seen them do it on the Bake Off there’s no excuse to not have a go! And I’ll even share my recipe with you so you can try it at home.
It’s just butter, sugar, eggs, flour and milk – what could be easier? And we won’t have any talk about cracks as I know Lady Grantham would thoroughly disapprove!
For an 8″ round cake, you will need :
250g soft unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
5 medium free range eggs
185g sifted plain flour
60g sifted self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk
If you use good quality ingredients and follow the recipe you will have a delicious, good looking cake.
Fresh free range eggs are essential – most ethical supermarkets have a good choice of free range eggs or you can call to your local Farm Shop or Farmers Market.
And let’s not forget our Dairy Farmers, having a really rough time at the moment, with the supermarkets over the pricing of milk.
Now we must talk about fillings. My most popular filling is vanilla buttercream and raspberry jam, followed by lemon curd buttercream. Everyone seems to love these flavours. On the Bake-Off you have to make your own jam, but I’ll let you pop a jar in your trolley and we won’t say any more about it.
Except that there’s a fab business called Celtalan of Conwy making delicious hedgerow preserves which would taste delicious with my madeira cake. You can check out their flavour list at www.celtalan.co.uk and I hear they’ll be at the Eglwysbach Show this weekend www.eglwysbachshow.co.uk. If you’re passing Llandudno Junction you can call into Providero Fine Teas & Coffees and try some Celtalan jam on your morning toast. Oh, and did I mention that John serves the best coffee for a long way and he has a really cool old Citroen van too so wave if you see him passing!
I hope my little recipe has inspired you to have a go – it really is very easy – and I’d love to know how you get on.
Hopefully you can bake in your own kitchen, at your own pace, with no pressure from cameras, or giggles from the naughty Mel & Sue.
I’m looking forward to the next 12 weeks. Farewell Stu – anyone who brings beetroot into the kitchen is a non-starter for me – but all the best to him.
Here’s some final advice for the contestants from Richard Burr, finalist 2014, to help them on their way. Richard was controversially pipped at the post by Frances, after winning Star Baker no less than 5 times.
“I really can’t wait,” he laughs. “It’ll be brilliant to settle down with a cuppa and see what happens, without knowing what happens or worrying about how my bakes look, I can sit back and enjoy.”
He’s just about to release his first book, Bake It Yourself, or BIY for short, which showcases Richard’s creativity and technical tips and reads like a DIY manual. He’s put together his favourite 80 recipes covering both sweet and savoury: from Key Lime Pie, Cherry and Almond Swiss Roll, and Blackcurrant Macarons, to Chilli Con Carne Pasties, Builder’s Quiche and a beautiful Beef Wellington. You remember he always had a pencil behind his ear – well this book combines Richard’s two loves – building and baking.
That’s all for now folks
Ready Steady Bake
All photographs sourced from www.thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk, Pinterest or Google
I’m Judith. I’ve been caking since 2012. I also love to write, photograph, travel, drink coffee and read books. This is my cake blog where you’ll find recipes, and baking tips and all my latest cake projects.
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