It is THAT time of year again and I couldn't be happier! The Great British Bake Off has returned and my hands have been itching towards the baking box for weeks now. I'm typing this up mere minutes before this week's episode airs, but I've been in Paris for a while and alas, was more than happy to eat the patisserie selection there rather than bake anything myself.
I'm intrigued by this year's selection of contestants and am expecting lots of interesting bakes. We saw Paul Hollywood looking like a Silver Fox supreme. We saw a near #bingate2015. We saw classic Mel and Sue banter. What a treat.
Last year I joined in with all the bakes and blogged by results, triumph or disaster. I had high expectations for myself this time around. I walked into my kitchen, apron in hand, with a confident smile. I chose a traditional Madeira cake recipe from my Mum's ancient, 1960's Dairy Book of Home Cookery. I near enough mocked the simplicity of the task ahead. Results were not as expected, repeat, not as expected.
I tweeted Amanda over on Rhyme and Ribbons in a desperate attempt to reclaim by first bake. IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE. In true bake off style I ditched cake number one and started cake number two, with far better results. So, here's my Citrus Madeira recipe with added Candied Orange Peel, my tips included so you can avoid my horrible blobfish-cake mistake.
Don't fill your tin up too much! I could have made two loaves with the mixture I squeezed into one tin. I saw it gloop over the edge in horror and sat resolutely in front of the oven in the hope it would somehow magic itself better. SPOILER ALERT: it didn't.
Add a little more baking powder than the recipe states. That's what causes it to rise quickly and form that distinctive crack.
Don't bother boiling your orange peel for ages and ages. I've included a shortcut recipe below that produces a good, jelly like sweet with that all important 'clink' drop test result.
Citrus Madeira Cake
175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
2. Cream butter with sugar thoroughly for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of flour with each egg.
4. Sieve remaining flour together with baking powder. Gently fold in with a metal spoon.
5. Transfer to prepared tin and smooth top with a knife.
6. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin and then remove onto a cooling rack.
8. Once cooled, drizzle a lemon icing mix over the top and arrange candied peel (recipe below).
Candied Orange Peel
85g sugar (for syrup)
Enough sugar to coat peel after cooking.
1. Cut orange into quarters. Remove all the flesh from the inside, ensuring some pith remains.
2. Cut into thin strips, about 3-4mm wide.
3. Place peel in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once this has happened turn it down to a simmer and boil for 20 minutes.
4. Drain water and put peel on some kitchen towel. Heat up 2 parts hot water (from the kettle) with one part sugar until the mixture begins to boil. For example, 85g sugar and 175g of water was perfect for one orange worth of peel. Stir constantly.
5. Add the peel to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 30 minutes, until the peel is floppy and slightly see-through.
6. Remove from the heat and add the peel, about 5 bits at a time, to a bowl of sugar. Coat and lay out on a drying rack to harden.
7. Ideally, leave for 3-4 hours until hardened completely. However, 1 hour would also be suitable before adding to a cake for decoration.
So there we have it! One disaster and one success! The sponge is really light and fluffy and it doesn't feel like a hugely indulgent cake, so it's perfect with a 4 o'clock cup of tea. I was really surprised about how well the candied peel turned out too - I think I might make some as christmas presents this year as they last 4-6 weeks and taste exactly like orange fruit pastilles. Mmmm!
I'm so pleased Amanda and Ala have formalised the Bake Off Bake Along this year, it was such a lot of fun to see how everyone did last time and I think that this will help us track each other's efforts much better! Don't forget to use the #BakeOffBakeAlong hashtag if you decide to join in!
If you want to see how I got on last year, take a look here. I'm still in the process of sorting out my labels after my blog re-design, but it should be smooth as honey in the next few days.
See you next time for biscuit week!