A Book Review Blog

Category: adventures in cooking

Adventures in Cooking: Australian Apple and Raisin Cake

It’s a Mary Berry recipe again. Her most delicious yet.

The actual making of this couldn’t have been much smoother. The only thing that I struggled with was coring the cooking apple, but that’s because I’d not done it before. As for stewing the apple, that was easy after making a syrup mixture for my last recipe.

As for how this turned out, it was a little lop-sided, but then that was my fault. In terms of taste, it’s lovely. The sponge itself tastes quite a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, which might not be to some people’s liking. The fruit softened up loads and is lovely and sweet.

I would definitely make this again. It’s pretty much all I could ask for in a cake. All I would mention is that the mixture tended towards the sticky side, but was otherwise fine to work with.

Signing off,

Adventures in Cooking: Apricot and Walnut Sandwich Bars

Ah, Mary Berry. We meet again. Why must your recipes look so yummy?

So, my experience with cakey things has been a much smoother road than my overall experience with bread. Give me a cake recipe and 99% of the time, it’ll go smoothly. So I wasn’t really worried about this one. The only thing that concerned me was the syrupy apricot mixture that I had to make for the sandwich filling, as I tend to be a bit wary about anything that involves burning on the stove.

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried so much. It turned out about as well as I thought it would; it was different than I anticipated, but still good. In terms of ingredients, I ended up changing a couple of them. First, I used crushed hazelnuts instead of chopped walnuts as part of the dough. Second, I used white self-raising flour as opposed to the recommended wholemeal self-raising flour, simply because the former was all that I could find. I think that these changes in ingredients might explain why the final product was more cakey than I would have assumed from the picture provided in the recipe book. Not that this was a negative point, it was just a bit unexpected.

What I would mention for those who are looking to make this, is that in spreading out the top layer of dough, I may well have displaced the apricot mixture from the centre of the sandwich bar mixture, so I ended up with a situation where I would have nothing but cake in the middle and all the apricot mixture would be pushed to the edge. As the dough is an odd kind of consistency, due to the oats that make up a portion of the mixture, it needs to be pushed out to make it fill the space correctly. So I’m not really sure how to remedy the problem.

Overall though, I would readily give the recipe another shot at some other time. I would probably change what I did a bit more, but otherwise I’m perfectly happy with this recipe. Now I just have to stop trying recipes with nuts so that I won’t kill my boyfriend accidentally.

Signing off,

Adventures in Cooking: Honey-glazed Walnut Bread

As you can probably tell from the title, this is not a post about books, shock as that may be. This is instead a post about the various recipes that I will be trying and either succeeding or failing at. Why this new feature? I like cooking and I want to keep a record of what recipes that I have tried to make and my various opinions of what they were like to cook and how they came out at the end. This feature will probably only show up occasionally, as my opportunities for cooking are a bit limited by university and by living with four other people with wildly different schedules.

In any case, I’m starting off this feature with Mary Berry’s recipe for Honey-glazed Walnut Bread. Going into this my history with bread has been less than stellar: my last attempt in particular had me misread the recipe and put in about four times the required amount of yeast, resulting in a gooey mess that tasted of yeast and nothing but yeast. Considering this lacklustre history, I don’t think this recipe came out badly. 
In terms of the actual process, it put me in mind of power-walks: you’re not necessarily working for all that long, but it’s a lot tougher than you would expect in that short period. This might just be the fact that I’m not all that in terms of upper body strength, but nonetheless I was surprised at the amount of pounding this dough needs. Speaking of the dough, there are a couple of things that I would do differently, were I to do this again. First, I would use more dry ingredients (in this case flour) because as it was, the dough was far too sticky to actually work with. The recipe does say that the dough should be slightly sticky, but this was just insane. The other thing I would do would be to flour the work-top liberally, instead of lightly as the recipe states. I must have added extra flour about four times because otherwise I’d have had more dough on the work-top than in the oven. 
As for outcome, I think I should have added more yeast. Ironic, considering my previous history with yeast. I skimped on the yeast a bit because I only had self-raising flour, as opposed to the white flour stated in the recipe, but this caused it not to rise that much. Although I don’t think that this was a huge mistake, as the bread still tastes good; it’s probably a bit heavier texture-wise, but edible nonetheless. At the very least no-one has died yet, so I think my bad bread days may finally be over. Oh, and I would have included a picture of my culinary effort, but I left my camera back in my home town, and I’d feel like a cheat if I stole someone else’s photo of it. 
Signing off, 

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