Friday, 2 November 2012


Friday night is Pizza Night in our house. It started when we got the breadmaker - initially we made bread, then we discovered the pizza dough recipe, then we realised that while we were using the breadmaker regularly, we were only using it for making pizza dough.  And then the breadmaker blew up ceased to function and we've discovered that actually pizza dough is incredibly easy to make without it, so we've kept going minus the breadmaker.  The kids love it - they sometimes help with the dough (that's Miss M doing her best Paul Hollywood impression there) and they like to add their own toppings. The only downside is that it's rather spoiled them and they're inclined to turn their noses up at non-homemade pizza. Ah well, there's worse ways to be spoiled.

I don't really do anything doughy apart from the pizza dough. My Beloved makes incredibly wonderful oaty rolls occasionally, and sometimes bread. And I've been known to make soda bread in the past. But having watched the Great British Bake Off now I'm tempted to try a plaited loaf - I've done all sorts of braiding, how hard can it be...?

The Great British Bake Off was a surprise hit in our house - I hadn't seen the previous two series, and only started watching this year's about halfway through because people kept telling me about it and Funky Knitwear James is from the part of Shetland where I grew up so I felt obliged to watch. No, I don't know him - I'd headed off to university before he was even born (How To Feel Very Very Old) and we'd moved out of that area by then though I still had relatives there, but in the way of people originally from small places I can 'place' him in the community. Do you get that in other small places? In Shetland people like to know who they're talking about and if you don't you can place them by who they're related to or who they were at school with. I was just 'Peter's daughter' for years, probably still am to some.

The Great British Bake Off entertained me greatly but I'm not entirely sure why, given that almost none of the baked things made me drool. Oh, I admired the skill involved in making them, but I'm not into pastries or puddings and not even particularly keen on cake. I have one friend who said the doughnuts episode made her really hungry but there was nothing I saw that I'd have wanted to eat until John's chocolate cake in the final. So it was a bit of an odd thing to watch really.  I think it's just the satisfaction of watching people who are competent, because even when they had disasters they were all much more technical in their baking than I'd ever be (or choose to be, if I'm honest).

But anyway, talking of cake and the Bake Off, may I recommend Mary Berry's Chocolate Sandwich cake? I love Nigella's Chocolate Fudge Cake but this one is almost as good, much quicker and less fiddly so it's what I use for the kids' birthday cakes. It's brilliantly easy, even with kids helping, and always gives great results.  I originally found it on the BBC website with their 'Recipe Finder' and normally I'd include a link but I can't find it there now so here it is, with the disclaimer 'This is Mary Berry's recipe, it deserves to be known and baked, often!'

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Victoria Sandwich sponge cake
Makes 20cm/8in cake
Preparation time less than 30 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes to 1 hour

2 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp boiling water
225g/8oz soft margarine
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 eggs
225g/8oz self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and base line 20cm/2x8in sandwich tins.
2. Blend the cocoa and water in a mixing bowl then leave to cool slightly. Measure all the remaining ingredients into the bowl and beat well until thoroughly blended. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins and level out.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until well risen and the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tins for a few moments then turn out, peel off the paper and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Chocolate buttons optional.  Were there any chocolate buttons on Great British Bake Off? All a signature wotsit needs is chocolate buttons and gold star sprinkles! In our house anyway.


People often say that baking has to be really accurate and you should follow the recipe to the letter. Actually I take liberties with baking - my Christmas cake always has loads of extra fruit and I leave out things like glace cherries which I don't like. I've made mistakes with weighing ingredients and *whispers* it's not as critical as the books would have you believe (think about it, how long have really reliable and accurate scales been in existence? How long did people mostly measure 'by eye'?). And when I made Miss M's birthday cake last month I realised far too late that the margarine I had was 'light' and 'not suitable for baking', so I used mostly that with a bit of leftover butter from something else I'd been making and it was delicious.  There are occasional disasters of course, but not many.


Mrs. Micawber said...

I think I've heard that cake recipes in particular must be followed to the letter, while quick breads and pancakes are more forgiving. But I think you're right - I'm always tweaking recipes (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) and usually they just come out fine.

Braided bread IS easy. Go for it!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Now how bad do I feel, you fell off my blog reader and I have missed masses of your posts. Enjoying catching up though.

Re. the cake recipe, I have the self same thing scribbled in a notebook that belonged to my Gran, which begs the question is it really Mary Berry's? And it's a 44421/88842 cake according to my old school cookery book, which gives various options for flavouring. The science is all in the proportions - you're being more technical than you think baking this - and that's why there is limited room for variation to get good results.

Do tell where on Shetland you're from ... we have friends who've moved near to Vidlin who are trying to persuade us to follow them!

Peeriemoot said...

Think I shall, Mrs M :-).

Annie, Im glad you're enjoying catching up :-). I go through patches when I don't have the time to read blogs and then when I get the chance I have a great catch-up binge, which is fun!
I'm from Sullom, and went to school in Brae which is where the Vidlin kids go to secondary school, so it's the same general neck of the non-woods :-D.