Let’s Get Baking
Over the last few months many people have taken to the kitchen to get their creative juices flowing and either started to cook from scratch or bake, bake, bake writes Tracy Hargreaves
Britain’s fascination with baking and cooking has been growing year on year and especially with TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off proving immensely popular, photos of everyone’s attempt at banana bread appeared all over Instagram and Facebook during lockdown.
This year National Baking Week falls between 14th and 20th October. Pyrex originally founded National Baking Week back in 2007 with other like-minded baking brands, with the aim of encouraging people of all abilities to bake at home.
But baking can also be good for us. According to nationalbakingweek.co.uk, there are lots of benefits other than just eating the yummy creations.
Baking stimulates the senses. We all love the smell of freshly baked bread or cakes coming out of the oven and this can have a positive effect on our mood.
Baking is creative. If you are baking for yourself, there is no right or wrong way of doing something. It’s a chance to experiment with flavours, ingredients, colourings and textures.
Baking makes other people happy. We’ve all seen the smile on people’s faces when someone brings homemade cakes into the office.
In Lancashire we are lucky to have a plethora of established independent bakers and cake makers. All You Knead, Lathoms, Artisan Foodworks and Filbert’s Bakery to name a few. In addition, many people have swapped careers and followed their passion to set up their own cake making business.
So, what’s the secret to making a great cake? If you haven’t baked before your best bet is to follow a simple recipe and make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment in before you start. Use measuring spoons rather than tableware and stick to one form of measuring ie ounces or grams.
Every oven is different so it may take a while to get used to cooking times. Always keep an eye out and check it’s not burning. Cakes are usually best on the middle shelf to ensure even cooking. Keep the oven door closed and to check your cake is cooked put a skewer in, it should come out clean.
Once you’ve mastered the basic sponge, the world’s your oyster. Start building up your confidence and experimenting, but most of all enjoy!
As it’s Halloween coming up, here’s a recipe for you all to try, courtesy of BBC Good Food. Perfect for your little ones or wrap up individually and give as gifts.
Spider Web Chocolate Fudge Muffins
50g dark chocolate (55% cocoa solids is fine)
1 tbsp milk, water or coffee
200g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85g light muscovado sugar
50g golden caster sugar
142ml carton soured cream
For the topping
100g dark chocolate (as above)
100g white chocolate
Preheat the oven to fan 170C/conventional 190C/gas 5 and line a muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cases. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the butter and liquid. Melt in the microwave on Medium for 30-45 seconds (or set the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water). Stir and leave the mixture to cool.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and both sugars in a bowl. Beat the egg in another bowl and stir in the soured cream, then pour this on the flour mixture and add the cooled chocolate. Stir just to combine – don’t over mix or it will get tough.
Spoon the mixture into the cases to about three quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes until well risen. Loosen the edges with a round-bladed knife, let them sit in the tins for a few minutes, then lift out and cool on a wire rack.
For the topping, make two piping bags out of greaseproof paper (or cut the ends off two clean plastic bags). Break the dark and white chocolate into separate bowls and melt in the microwave on Medium for 2 minutes (or over a pan as in step 1). Put 2 spoonful’s of dark chocolate in one bag and the same of white chocolate in the other.
Working with one muffin at a time, spread with dark chocolate from the bowl, letting it run down a bit, then pipe four concentric circles of white chocolate on top. Using a small skewer, drag through the circles at regular intervals, from the centre to the edge, to create a cobweb effect. Repeat with four more muffins. On the remaining five, spread over the white chocolate and decorate with the dark. Best eaten the day they’re made – even better while the chocolate’s soft.