Get ready bakers, on your marks, get set, go – yes it’s that time of year again - the Great British bake off, hosted by Mel and Sue, with top bakers Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
We are nearly three weeks into this year’s series and what a wonderful couple of episodes it has been – served to the judges so far has been a melting show stopper, soggy bottom puddings, and bread and rock star would be proud of.
If like so many of us being able to bake like the contestants remains inconceivable. Here are a few top baking tips we have found from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood on the Woman’s Weekly website:
1. To make cakes rise use the exact amount of raising agent and don’t over beat the batter or you’ll knock all the air out. Don’t have the mixture too thick either.
2. Use caster sugar in cakes rather than granulated. Speckled tops on cakes are usually caused by granulated sugar that has not properly dissolved in the mixture.
3. To avoid cakes cracking don’t bake them too high in the oven. If you do, the crust will form too soon and cracks will worsen as the cake rises.
4. When using glacier cherries, wash,wipe and cut them in quarters before adding to the mixture to prevent them sinking to the bottom.
5. When icing a cake, seal the top with apricot jam first to prevent crumb contamination. Add liquid gradually to icing, too. You can always add more and a thicker icing works better than one that runs off the sponge!
And Paul Hollywood’s:
1. Buy a good cookery book (like Paul Hollywood’s How To Bake!) and follow your recipe to the letter.
2. Don’t over bake or under bake or open the oven door too soon. Sunken sponges are the result of under baking.
3. Know the quirks of your oven and be aware that you can get ‘hot spots’ which can throw a bake out. If you’ve had your oven for many years get it serviced and check the efficiency of the oven thermometer. 180 degrees can mean different things in different ovens.
4. Sometimes old fashioned ingredients like Stork margarine work better in cakes than butter. You often get a better rise on a cake when Stork is used. (And that’s something that Mary herself taught me!) It depends on what you’re making, of course, if its scones, for example, then it has to be butter, My nan used to make them with half lard, half butter, but that’s ridiculous, we’re not in the war now!
5. I like to use plain flour with the right amount of raising agent rather than self-raising flour. If you add it yourself you’ll know exactly how much you’ve put it. And I do like to be in control of what I’m baking.
Source: Woman’s Weekly - http://www.womansweekly.com/recipes/great-british-bake-off-mary-pauls-baking-tips/