We're loving 2018 Great British Bake Off, and We love a challenge!
Week One: BISCUIT WEEK
Traditionally the first week is Cake Week, but this year it went biscuity. The signature bake challenge was to bake a batch of a 'regional biscuits', so Louise baked Bristol Biscuits.
These raisin and cinnamon biscuits need cassia oil, which was ordered from Health4All if you need your own supply. Make sure you get the edible version and not the massage oil!!
Cassia oil has a lot of health benefits, apparently, including being an aid to circulation, an anti-depressant, and something which supposedly helps with diarrhoea and sickness. Essentially, it's a Chinese cinnamon oil, distilled from the steaming of the leaves and bark.
The biscuits were easy to make (recipe available here), but it was quite a wet mix, not great for shaped cookies. The biscuit fingers came out best. They are soft, not a crunchy biscuit, quite like a light shortbread. Bristol Biscuits are also called 'Easter Biscuits' so Louise made them extra Easter-like by drizzling some green icing on top.
As for the taste, they're just like a cinnamon biscuit, but without the colouration the powdered spice can bring. Louise says "I'm glad I've finally be able to bake them - living in Bristol, if felt like I really had to sometime!"
Week Three: BREAD WEEK
Always a good week, this series saw a signature bake of Chelsea Buns. Criticism from the judges on the show were things like 'over baked', 'under proved' and 'not enough filling'... Louise says she sympathises with all of these!
Her first ever attempt at Chelsea Buns wasn't bad at all, but she rolled the dough too thick so they took longer to bake, the dough didn't rise when proving, and Louise ran out of currants - but saved it with some cherries, yay!
What do you think?
Next week is DESSERT WEEK - stay tuned for an update on Louise's challenge!
The Team @ 280 Bakes
We get asked fairly often if cakes can be frozen, so we're here today to clarify!
Petals, leaves and buds are our favourite to ice, they look really effective. Real flowers are so lovely to work with and they look so pretty - we plan to incorporate more of these into our bakes. Chocolate is fun to work with (like with the waterlily petals above), but more unpredictable. We do love a challenge though!
What's your favourite flower? Have you ever seen it on a cake?
The Team @ 280 Bakes
Some Rules are Good. Always Drive on the left. No heavy petting at the pool. However, these baking rules were meant to be broken!
1. WHEN USING BUTTER AND SUGAR IN THE CAKE MIX, CREAM IT TOGETHER FIRST BEFORE YOU ADD THE OTHER INGREDIENTS
This works with a lot of recipes, and is beneficial, but I saw Mary Berry has said that there's two ways to make a Victoria Sponge: The traditional way of creaming the butter and sugar together, then add the other ingredients, or there's the way she prefers, which is to put everything into the bowl together and then mix. I would say that not creaming the butter and sugar is totally ok, then, if Mrs B says so! Do follow the recipe though - some recipes it might be especially pertinent for.
Not sure what 'creaming' means, in baking terms? It's simply mixing the sugar and butter together until they are well combined, and you can't really see the sugar anymore.
2. ONLY USE HIGH QUALITY BUTTER FOR THE FAT NEEDED IN CAKES
Well, you can throw that one right out the window! Over 60% of the orders we have are for vegan cakes, so there's no butter at all there. We use other things like bananas, avocados, oil and dairy-free margarine.
Yes, the cakes will taste different, and if you'd prefer to use high quality butter when 'real' butter is required, that's a good thing, but cakes can easily be made with no butter at all. Check out our recipe for Chocolate Guinness Cake, for example.
3. ALWAYS PRE-HEAT YOUR OVEN
If we were just talking cake baking, I'd agree. Pre-heating the oven is essential for cakes to ensure a consistent bake - and also for bread, actually, as the dough needs to be baked hot and fast. However, when baking pies or crumbles, it's totally fine to whack the dish in the over before it's up to temperature, and it makes the process more heat efficient too.
Can you think of any more rules you can break while baking, cakes, bread or otherwise?
The Team @ 280 Bakes
It's holiday season, and our Bakers are having a great time... poking around in the foreign supermarket Shelves!
This is what we've found already, and summer holiday season is still young!
Finally, eurgh, the Pillsbury man. I'll be making my own buttercream, I think!
What interesting baking ingredients have you found while on holiday? Share in the comments below, we'd love to know!
Louise & Team
If you have no scales or your set has broken, don't despair! you can still bake a delicious cake!
1. Bake a cake using a yoghurt pot
1 pot of yogurt
2 yogurt pots of sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 yogurt pots of flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 yogurt pot of neutral-tasting oil or melted butter
Heat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC.
Beat the yogurt and the sugar together in a bowl.
Beat in the eggs and lemon zest. Sift the flour with the baking powder and beat in.
Finally, add the melted butter (or oil, although it doesn't taste quite as nice) and beat the whole mixture well.
Pour into non-stick muffin tins or a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, approx. 25 minutes for a loaf, 15 mins for buns.
2. Use cups to measure
This is the 'American way'. There are so many recipes online which use cups to measure, you'll never run out. Just nip down the shop and buy a cheap set of measuring cups - they can be as cheap as £1.00.
3. Use a liquid measuring jug
My mother-in-law uses this method. I don't like it myself, as it can be incredibly inaccurate, but, you know, horses for courses!
4. Try cookies instead
And if you'd like to start a little more simply, try a cookie recipe like this. I call these 'Emergency Biscuits' when there's nothing interesting in the baking cupboard and I can't find the scales!
Great optional additions include a couple of tables spoons of oats, chocolate chips or dried fruit.
2 level tablespoons sugar
4 level tablespoons butter
9 level tablespoons flour
Cream together the butter & sugar, stir in flour.
Roll out the dough, shape/cut out, and cook for 10 mins at 180 degrees.
Look away now, we don't approve of this final idea!!
5. Buy a packet mix
Everything's already weighed out in these mixes, you just need to add eggs normally, sometimes oil or milk. I warn you now, it won't taste as good as 'proper' cake, but it kind of had to be included on the list as an option...
Next time your battery goes in your digital scales or you old ones break, don't give up. Why not try one of these baking hacks? Let us know how you get on!
Owner, 280 Bakes
A recent question we've been asked is 'does caffeine cook out when baked into a cake?' We answer that question here!
When you bake a boozy bake (and I know you do!) the alcohol in your G&T cake or the brandy in your Christmas cake bakes out and won't get you drunk, no matter how much of that liquored-up cake you eat.
However, the same is NOT true with coffee. When you bake a coffee cake, the caffeine stays in the cake. Cooking coffee generally makes the taste stronger in removing the water, but it won't increase the caffeine content - no extra kick, so don't start justifying coffee cake for breakfast!
Caffeine has a crystalline structure, a bit like sugar. When you cook or bake something with coffee as an ingredient, the water will cook out but the caffeine stays in the food, it doesn't denature.
If you're looking for a great coffee cake recipe, why not try ours? This one is vegan too - try something new today!
Remember, different coffee beans or powder have different strengths. I know for a fact I get more of a kick out of the ground coffee we have at home than the Douwe Egberts instant jar we have for when we're feeling a bit lazier. A lighter roasted bean will have a higher caffeine content than a dark roast, as some of the caffeine sometimes breaks down in the process of roasting.
Soaking the coffee and evaporating the water can decaffeinate it, but it's not 100% effective, and you lose a lot of the delicious coffee taste. If you're really worried about the caffeine levels in a coffee cake, I'd just go for something other than coffee cake!
Now go have a coffee, enjoy your Monday!
Owner, 280 Bakes
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