Well, it´s that time of year again...finally even though it seemed like it would never arrive, that time when all teachers breathe a deep sign of relief as now the start of the holidays has begun. However, with the holidays comes the hot weather and baking loses a little of it´s appeal due to the sweltering heat. I, on the other hand, decided to brave the heat and attempt these Catherine Cakes, another Bedfordshire staple, I´ve never heard of or tried before. I didn´t know much about them and even after Googling them, wasn´t much the wiser as I´m not sure if they are meant to be a sweet bread or bread or even if they should be baked as a whole cake or as little buns...I opted for the little buns as I think they are easier to share round and keep as a big slab of cake would probably go stale more quickly. The only other thing I found about these cakes is they are named after Catherine of Aragon and were made for her and they are normally made and eaten on the 25th November, St.Catherine´s Day.
I used the following recipe from Recipewise but as I was unsure what quantity it would make, I only made a quarter of the recipe and also decided to divide them into small buns. If you follow the recipe sticking to it fairly strictly, they are fairly simple to make, even for inexperienced bread makers such as me. I added slightly too much egg,making the dough a very sticky mess but this was soon corrected by adding a little more flour. The smell of these baking was divine and was soon wafting through the house...it´s worth making these for the smell alone. I have to say that they were pretty tasty too although I was a little disappointed as I expected them to be sweeter and more cakey, a little bit like a scone but they were actually more bready than a scone. They were quite a big hit with my husband and friends though, although I think I´d have prefered them with a bit of jam and butter! Go on, give them a go and let me know what you think! So that´s all for Bedfordshire although I am sure there are more recipes from this county...the next county we´re heading off to is Berkshire. I wonder what kind of regional recipes we will find there!
I´ve only had Banoffee Pie once before which my mother made and I´ve been wanting to make it myself ever since as my mother´s was simply to die for...the only problem is I don´t like bananas. As strawberries were in season at the time I made this, I decided to replace the banana with strawberries, turning the banoffee pie into a strawboffee pie!!
I usually like to try and stick fairly rigidly to the technical challenge recipes but as I already had some frozen homemade shortcrust pastry I decided to use it. This is a great dessert to make if you need something quick or that doesn´t take too long to prepare, you could always make the pastry ahead of time and freeze it or even cheat and use ready-made pastry if you´re short of time. This recipe is Mary Berry´s and is fairly straightforward to follow. The most difficult or challenging part of the recipe is making the shortcrust pastry and making the toffee sauce.
I only made half the amount of the original recipe and up to making the toffee sauce, didn´t come across any problems.However, I found that the toffee sauce didn´t appear to be setting and eventually put it in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour. It seemed to have firmed up after this time so I put the strawberries on top of the toffee sauce(they didn´t appear to sink,which was definitely a good sign), then whipped up the cream and placed that on top . All appeared to be well however when I cut into the pie, it became clear that the toffee had nowhere near set and it was one, huge runny mess. I liked the taste of the pie although after a couple of mouthfuls, I found it quite sickly so I don´t quite know where I went wrong.I definitely had some issue with the toffee sauce not setting properly but I also wonder if I put too much condensed milk or something, as it was far too sweet. It certainly wasn´t as good as my mum´s version and I will definitely have to play around or practice this dessert as so far I don´t think I´ve managed to fulfil this challenge. Definitely a disappointing result!Let me know if you are also taking part in the Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge and if you´ve had any disasters with the recipes.What would you like the following challenge to be?