It’s back….GBBO!

So, the Great British Bake Off is back and some mixed reviews to go with it. For those who aren’t aware (where have you been?), GBBO has moved from BBC1 to channel 4. It’s taken everything with it except Mary, Mel and Sue. It’s the same tent in the same location with the same benches and even the same opening credits. There is now the addition of Sandie, Noel, Prue and some advert breaks (which is actually a welcome relief). Some reviews have been that it is obvious that the dialogue between Sandie and Noel is scripted and doesn’t seem as natural as Sue and Mel. What we need to remember is that the show is currently on it’s eighth series which means that there has been 7 years for the show to become what it was and for the dynamics to work (with Mary, Paul, Mel and Sue). I’m sure if we were to watch the first series again, we will have some comments to make about the presenters. Personally, I’m just glad it’s back on 🙂

So the first episode was cake week with the first bake needing to be a fruity cake. Now, this seemed to fit in well with my need to make a cake, in particular an apple cake….an Italian apple cake. Now I’ve made an Italian apple cake before but the flavours did not quite meet the bar set by the version Mr W had whilst we were on honeymoon. So I did a bit of research in preparation for my weekend bake and managed to find a recipe on pinterest which looked like the apple cake I wanted. It was simple and uncomplicated (just what I needed to ease me back into baking). The inspiration for mine came from Manus Manu , a website full of Italian recipes. This particular cake was light and moist with hints of vanilla, sweetness from the apple and a zing from the lemon zest. Would go perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or gelato if we’re being fancy). It definitely benefits from a dusting of icing sugar on top. I didn’t have any for the first time we ate it but bought some so we could have a dusting on our second slice (never assume you have an ingredient in).

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Torta Di Mele Della Nonna (Granny’s Apple Cake) (Serves 12)

Ingredients
  • 3 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 lemon zest
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Icing sugar (for dusting)

Method

  1. Grease and coat with flour a 22 cm – 9 inch springform pan and keep it aside.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Add the melted butter and keep beating.
  4. Add the milk and flour, little by little and keep beating.
  5. Add the baking powder, salt, lemon zest and vanilla extract.
  6. Fold in the apple slices and pour into the prepared springform pan.
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C  for 45 minutes.
  8. Let the cake cool down, then release from the tin, dust it with icing sugar and serve it.

As we don’t have 12 people in our house and didn’t particularly want to eat the cake for 6 days straight (as delicious as it is), I have put some slices in the freezer to test how well it freezes (fingers crossed).

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Portable Breakfasts

This month, Mr W and I spent a few days in Cambridge to celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (the time has flew by). Usually, we would book into a B&B but this time we were room only which meant finding somewhere to eat. Mr W did a little research and found some good reviews for a little cafe tucked away in the centre. Although the breakfast menu was a little limited (only about four options and the closest to a cooked breakfast was toast) Mr W was happy to try it. Boy we were glad. We enjoyed it that much that we went for breakfast again the next day. As Mr W put it, you don’t want to finish a holiday going somewhere new for breakfast and potentially be disappointed when we can go back to somewhere we really enjoyed.

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Mr W decided on the fruit compote, natural yogurt and granola whilst I tried the apple bircher muesli. Although I have made my own takes on bircher at home, I’ve never bought one and was intrigued as to what the consistency was going to be like. I’ve followed recipes where these has been way too much liquid (think an island of oats surrounded by a sea of milk) or quite dry. For me, this one had the moist texture I like when I make it. It was a combination of oats, grated apple, raisins, cinnamon and topped with some fresh fruit. Mr W’s was strawberry compote layered with banana, natural yogurt and topped with a soft, flapjack like granola. I think it was the flapjack granola that sealed the deal for Mr W. For those ever in Cambridge, head to Stickybeaks Cafe (for this breakfast), the Pint Shop (try the homemade scotch egg), the Free Press (quirky little pub), Jack’s Gelato (always room for ice cream) and Meat and Bread (amazing sandwiches and tasty sounding brownies).

When we got home, I made my version of the yogurt and fruit jam jar breakfast. First up I mashed some fresh strawberries with some honey, chia seeds and cinnamon. This was to get a soft compote like texture which still had some structure to it to prevent it seeping into the yogurt. So, I put a layer of the strawberry compote in the bottom of two jam jars , topped this with a layer of sliced banana and then a layer of natural yogurt. I then repeated the layering so that there were two layers of each. I then topped with some Graze strawberry yogurt protein topper. This has a mix of small toasted oats, freeze dried strawberries and crispy yogurt balls. I did the layering the night before and stored in the fridge overnight. In the morning I then added the protein topper so that it still retained it’s crunch. You could always top it with shop bought or homemade granola or use a different fruit for the compote. I can imagine stewed apples would be nice for autumn. My version got the thumbs up from Mr W.

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The serving of the bircher and yogurt pots in jam jars got me thinking that I could make similar things for breakfast to take to work. Recently I seem to be rushing in the morning and don’t get t enjoy my breakfast. My thoughts were that I could prepare the breakfast the night before and divide into two jam jars and that would be two day’s of breakfasts sorted. So, over the last two weeks I have had a portable jam jar breakfast for eight mornings and have tried three different recipes. My favourite (the one I repeated) was one that I found in a Madeline Shaw cookbook that I adapted slightly. When I initially saw it, it reminded me of the one I had in Cambridge. In the recipe, the amount of oats stated is a little too much for me. I also made some slight changes the second time by not adding any honey or maple syrup as I found it sweet enough and adding some raisins to the bottom of each jar. So, the night before I mixed 100g oats with a grated apple, 250ml almond milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and some vanilla (I use a vanilla grinder as it gives the flecks of vanilla that I love). Get two jam jars or containers and add a spoonful of raisins to the bottom of each and divide the oat mixture between the two jars and keep in the fridge. The following morning I topped the bircher with some natural yogurt, blueberries and some Graze vanilla sunflower seeds (beware, these are addictive). Although it didn’t look as pretty by the time I transported in to work, it still tasted yummy. I kept the other jar in the fridge for 2 days before eating and it was still fine.

I also made a carrot bircher (another Madeline Shaw recipe) and a layered chia pudding. For me, these recipes still need a bit of tweaking, Although the carrot bircher was okay, the texture seemed a bit sloppy and it needs the addition of some raisins or nuts to give it a carrot cake vibe. The chia pudding wasn’t firm enough and by the time I got to work, the yogurt had mixed together with it. By slicing the strawberries, I seemed to make it more difficult to eat. A compote idea might work better. I have managed to find some other chia pudding recipes which I’m going to try this week. Chocolate and peanut butter…. As we are approaching summer, these jam jar breakfasts are a great replacements for hot porridge. Here’s to more flavour combinations!