Tartes and tortes

So GBBO is over for another year, returning who knows when, having fled to the sweaty arms of Channel 4 in the process. I’ve typically been struggling to maintain my zeal for baking since this series ended. Not to mention the difficulties of indulgence when you are watching the number on the scales as carefully as I am. But here are some more things I did make in the past couple of months:

In September I woke up possessed with the desire to make cinnamon rolls. I do get quite faddish with baking. The rolls I made, using a recipe from Minimalist Baker, turned out fat and unevenly baked (I put them in the oven the wrong way round), and potentially could have done with more cinnamon.  They tasted pretty amazing when fresh out of the oven, but the giddiness they inspired faded after a few hours with the heat. And microwaving just ain’t the same.



Next was a tarte au citron. I wanted to make some kind of nod to my French heritage but this BBC recipe sacrifices tradition for a ‘healthy’ version – so I’m sure someone will come round to rip up my French passport sometime soon. But to me it tasted just as good as the classic would.


I turned to James Morton again when my parents and sister came to visit in London. I need something that would satisfy all three of their palates: sweet but not too sweet, not rich, sharp, interesting, without chocolate or marzipan. I went for an almond torte with a lemon drizzle.



Half an hour before the family were due to arrive, I suddenly panicked that my sister didn’t like almonds, so I hurriedly put together some misshapen scones. This BBC recipe insists they are the perfect ‘last-minute’ treat, using that much-loathed (by me) phrase ‘storecupboard recipe.’ Urgh. 

Well, it’s true they are simple to make, and this wasn’t the first time I’d used this recipe; but to bake you still need care and attention, and to me that means you also need time. The resulting scones tasted ok but were so misshapen that I couldn’t be bothered to Instagram them – and that’s saying something. When my family arrived I collapsed on the sofa, exhausted from the day’s travails (it was only 2pm). Further proof I am probably not destined for GBBO glory.


GBBO is back… and so am I

It’s probably inevitable that my urge to bake waxes and wanes with the broadcast of the Great British Bake Off. I’m pretty sure that 2016 has been the worst year ever, in terms of world events at least, and that the nation has been hanging on for dear life, waiting for Mel and Sue and Mary and Paul to pop back into our screens, all joviality and jazzy blazers. 

My interest in baking and blogging has been dampened mostly by lack of time and a confusing desire to eat healthily, but it’s definitely been revived with GBBO. I watched the first episode last week, thinking, how do these contestants know how to make jelly without any instructions? This is the level of expertise I aspire to.

Lately I’ve been interested in trying out ‘classic’ recipes, the ones that I always think everyone else can make perfectly. My plan is to apply for GBBO by the time I’m 30, so I really need to nail these ones down. Oh and memorise them as well, probably – otherwise I’ll flub the technicals.

First was a coffee or ‘cappuccino’ cake. The recipe can be found here at BBC Goodfoods: I did not deviate from it at all. The cake was moist, fluffy and delicious – an instant hit. These photos below demonstrate this, and also demonstrate a range of Instagram filters:




This cake, made for Maman’s birthday, made me think how much i missed baking. I cast about for ideas and occasions to make more. 

I next set sight on the carrot cake, another classic I had yet to make, perfect for a family visit with a cup of tea. I followed this recipe on BBC Food with a few tweaks:

  • I substituted the walnuts for a handful of raisins.
  • I didn’t much fancy a cream cheese topping (my perspective of it poisoned, no doubt, by the Hummingbird Bakery) and went for mascarpone. In my mind, which I admit is not the mind of a soft cheese expert, mascarpone is more mellow and substantial than cream cheese, meaning you add relatively little sugar/whatever to it. I used Mary Berry’s recipe.
  • The quantities of this cake seemed huge, so I tipped about a third of the mixture into a square tin because I was worried that the cake would rise out of the tin like yummy lava and drip all over the oven. Perhaps the first cake was a bit thin as a result – I’m not sure, but it certainly went down well with our guests. Case in point:



I liked this cake, but I will try a different variation of carrot cake in the future, purely because of its size and the amount of time I spent grating carrots.


With these two bakes I declare myself official capable of making cakes, though I’m sure more adventurous bakes await me. 

Genoise sponge with fresh cream and strawberries

I love autumn, especially in London. I generally dislike warm weather so I welcome the opportunity to cocoon myself in thick duvets, drink gallons of tea and buy tartan scarfs. But the past couple of bakes I’ve produced made me wonder if I’m subconsciously yearning for summer. First up is a genoise sponge adorned with strawberries and fresh cream.  Continue reading “Genoise sponge with fresh cream and strawberries”