Archives for category: British Baking

I am behind in blogging my bakes! This one comes from almost a month ago when my husband and I spontaneously had friends over for dinner and games. I chose sugar cookies because I had all the ingredients on hand, and I knew they would make enough to satisfy our sweet teeth!

Rich Iced Biscuits
13 September 2014, p. 14 in Be-Ro Home Baked Recipes, 41st Edition
Listening to ‘A Study in Pink,’ BBC’s Sherlock

Equipment
2 cookie sheets
Mixing bowls and spoons
Floured board
Rolling pin
Cookie cutter
Parchment paper
Sifter
Wire rack
Whisk for icing

Ingredients
2 c. + 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. + 1 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
8 Tbsp butter (1 stick)
1 egg at room temperature
1/8 tsp vanilla extract (few drops)
2 Tbsp milk

“Glacé Icing”, p. 84
1 Tbsp hot water
1 1/4 c. sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Rub together flour and butter. Stir in granulated sugar. Add milk, vanilla, and beaten egg. Roll out thin (about 3/8 inches) on floured board. Cut with cutters or into rounds. Place on parchment-lined baking trays. Bake about 16 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Whisk water into powdered sugar, then smooth onto cooled cookies immediately. Allow to dry completely before stacking in a tin.

Reviews
Baker: 7 of 10, “Plain, but addictive!”
Husband: 8 of 10, fought for the last one
Tester: “8 of 10 for texture, 9 of 10 as a sugar cookie”

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These were perfect with after dinner tea and coffee and really made the evening. Everyone kept saying, “This is my last one!” When there was one remaining, we determined that the winner of the current game would get it. Husband, gamer that he is, tends not to win. But this time he did! Never had victory been so sweet!

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Husband and I were invited to join a community group with other young couples. It’s perfect! I’ll have a consistent excuse to bake and lots of willing tasters. Rather than start fancy, I started simply with Madeira Cake, a British classic that only calls for a few pantry staples.

Madeira Cake
11 September 2014, p. 51 in Be-Ro Home Baked Recipes, 41st Edition
Listening to Project Runway Season 4, Episodes 3-4

Equipment
Kitchenaid mixer
Mixing bowl
Rubber spatula
Cake tester (or toothpick)
Loaf pan
Parchment paper, cut to line pan
Sifter
Wire rack

Ingredients
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 + 1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp + 3 pinches baking soda
1/2 c. + 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
10 Tbsp butter (1 1/4 stick)
3 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Sift together all dry ingredients except sugar. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add beaten eggs and vanilla a little at a time, adding a bit of the dry mix between additions. Add the rest. Smooth into the parchment-lined pan. Mixture will be thick. Bake for 25-40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean.

Notes on Baking
Once in the oven, I made the mistake of not checking the cake throughout the bake time. I baked it for 45 minutes, which was far too long, and it tasted over-baked. I’d recommend testing it at 25 minutes and then every 5 after until it’s done!

Reviews
Baker: 6 of 10, “Nice flavor, good with coffee.”
Husband: 6 of 10, “Dry.”
Tester (age 6): 5 of 10, “Next time bring something tastier!”

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My taster was my flower girl! She was not impressed, hoping for a sweeter cake, or at least something with icing! But she did crumble her piece into her applesauce, so she liked it a little!

Others suggested serving it with cream or berries. They also tried to re-name it! Top two ideas were “Madea’s Cake” and “Little House on the Prairie Bread”!

I wrote to Lois about my over-baking woes. She replied,

Most Madeira cakes are made in loaf shapes over here so you are fine. It’s quite a dense cake! It’s not usually light and spongy like a Victoria. It’s very buttery and can be rich in flavour.

Not bad for my first go! Next time, though – less oven time!

My friend Lois and I could not wait to get started on some British baking! She decided to make shortbread, called “Petticoat Tails” in the Be-Ro book, to take to her life group meeting. They were eaten so quickly she forgot photos! But she gave me feedback on mine. Following are my notes and recipe translation. I used my Taylor food scale, measured all ingredients as listed in metric, then carefully scooped into American measuring cups and spoons to come up with the quantities listed.

Petticoat Tails (Shortbread)
9 September 2014, p. 19 in Be-Ro Home Baked Recipes, 41st Edition
Listening to: The Fellowship of the Ring Extended DVD, design team commentary

Equipment

rolling pin
lightly floured board
cookie sheet
parchment paper
mixing bowl
cooling rack
wooden spoon
rubber spatula
table knife and fork

Ingredients
Generic / store brand

12 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened or cool
2 1/4 c. + 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325°F. Plop butter into flour and rub with fingers until well-combined. Stir in sugar until smooth. Divide in two, then roll on board. Transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheet, score with table knife and prick with fork. Bake for about 20-27 minutes.

Notes on baking
Initially I began transferring them to the cooling rack at 21 minutes, but they were too soft and split apart! So I separated the pieces where I’d scored them and baked them an additional 6 minutes. This seemed to work fine!

Reviews

Baker (me!): 8 out of 10 – “Simple, straightforward, tasty, and great with a hot drink.”
Husband: 7 out of 10 – “Do we have any jam?”
Taster: 10 out of 10 – “They’re cookies! All cookies are 10 out of 10!”

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I sent photos to Lois. She replied,

They look good to me. Good size, pale in colour, but mine came out that colour too as they were fine so nothing to worry about there. Hope they tasted good. Mine all went last night before I even realised. I forgot to take photos tho! But they look yummy! Well done!

Husband thought a dollop of jam would improve their flavor. His jam of choice? Habanero chili made by our fantastic wedding caterer, Lucy Rizzo. (We think she ought to make it regularly and sell it at the Farmers Market.)

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To which Lois replied,

Heheh they’re meant to be sweet biscuits, but they are quite neutral in taste so if [husband] puts on chilli jam we’ll call that a [husband] quirk!

Are you a fan of shortbread? How do you like yours? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy baking!

Friends, if my stint in England taught me anything, it is that baking is a national sport. Folks in the UK get as excited about their cakes and pastries as we Southerners do the SEC and tailgating. Last year, I was introduced to their Super Bowl of baking, the Great British Bake Off, or GBBO for short. As the granddaughter of a world-traveling gourmet, I was determined to pick up local recipes. Thankfully, I met my sweet friend and baking aficionado Lois who drove home this doctrinal truth: the bible of British baking is the Be-Ro Book. She also, kindly, sent me home with a copy of the current Be-Ro Book itself, which would be much harder to procure Stateside.

Lois and I have kept up quite a bit, swapping sewing and baking stories, sharing our thoughts on Doctor Who and the new round of Bake Off. As we went back and forth, it hit me, altogether at once: why not bake the Be-Ro?

Why not take these time-proved British recipes, measure them out precisely, convert them accurately, and test them here in the US? Why not use generic brands and basic equipment so even budget-conscious folks can manage? And why don’t I share the process? In fact, why don’t Lois and I do it together? Get our husbands involved? Have guest taste-testers? Guest bakers?

And she was thrilled! We are so excited to do this together, despite the ocean in-between.

So we begin. We will go through the Be-Ro in no particular order, featuring recipes adapted from British into American equivalents. I will share what worked and what didn’t. I’ll get opinions from Lois, and she will contribute her bakes, too! And we will have lots of delicious fun along the way!

Care to join us? “On your marks, get set… Bake!”

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