I'm already missing the Great British Bake Off (for those outside the UK, it's a cookery programme with 12 amateur cooks being challenged to bake cakes, breads and pastries with one person being sent home at the end of each week). My English teacher at school always told us to never use 'nice' in a story. We always had to find another word, but 'nice' exactly sums up the ethos of the programme. There's no back-biting, no one saying anything unpleasant about the other contestants and the worst controversy was somone removing an icecream out of a freezer or using someone else's custard!
So because I am missing it, I've been baking myself. Let me share what I've been making - my version of Mary Berry's cherry cake. I can't use her recipe because her cake tin is way bigger than mine and if you do try it, you will end up with an overflowing tin and enough mixture to make a dozen cupcakes too. Mine involves a 21cm ring tin and it ends up looking like this:
Are you ready? Then rifle through your cupboards and get your ingredients out:
200g glace cherries
180g self raising flour
100g Stork margarine or similar (Mary will, of course be using butter!)
100g caster sugar
25g ground almonds
2 large eggs
120g icing sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and prepare your tin. You need to grease the inside of your tin. As I'm on Slimming World at the moment (yes you are still allowed cake!) I have cans of Fry Light for cooking and they are fab to grease cake tins as you can get a good light spray all over. Just be careful to use the sunflower one or the olive oil one. BBQ or garlic flavour will not enhance your cake!
Rinse your cherries under water and dry. Put about 4 aside for decoration and cut the others into quarters. Put them in a bowl with a tablespoon of flour and make sure they are all coated. Mary would tell you that this stops them sinking through the cake mixture and all ending up in one end of the cake.
Cream the margarine and sugar together until the mixture is soft, then add the eggs, almonds, flour and grated rind of the lemon. It will be quite a firm mixture but don't worry, that's how it should be. Stir in the chopped cherries. Spoon the mixture into the tin, spread it evenly and put in oven for about 30 mins. Check it at 25 mins just in case your oven cooks hotter than mine. At this point you can crouch on the floor, peering into the oven door, watching it gently brown, just like they do in the programme. If it's golden brown all over, firm to touch and a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean, it's done.
Don't be too keen to remove it from the tin. Ring cakes need to be treated with respect, or they will refuse to come out in one piece and you're left with a cake of two halves. (What makes you think this is the voice of experience talking?) So let it cool down for about 5 - 10 mins, gently run a knife around the outer and the inner edge, then cross your fingers, hold your breath and turn it out onto a cooling tray. And breathe. It's out and ready to cool down to decorate.
Have you waited until the cake is quite cool? OK, you're ready to go. Mix the juice of the lemon into the icing sugar and gently pour the icing over the cooled cake, letting it drip down the sides. Remember where you put those reserved cherries? Go and get them, cut them in half and add around the top.
Stand back and admire your finished work of art. Can you wait until the icing is properly set? No, me neither, let's put the kettle on and while the tea's brewing we'll have a slice. Thank goodness Paul Hollywood can't see the state of my kitchen, he'd be giving me the glare. You know the one.