Mary Berry. Love her. She is the star (one of them) of the Great British Bake Off, on PBS. And also she was on the US version (not as good in my opinion) of it, called the Great Holiday Baking Show. She is an accomplished baker and food writer, and on these shows, she is resident expert of all things baking…So of course, I wanted to review her latest book and give you a recipe to try!
Now, this book is full of ideas for breakfast goods, cakes and pastries, cookies and bars, and pies and tarts. She also includes British favorites (so fun!) and special occasion desserts. There is a great variety of easy to make recipes as well as some more involved recipes to challenge the intermediate baker. Her ingredients are very easy to find, and she is not fussy with what flavors she chooses. My only exception to this, is the self-rising flour. If any of you are Southern, you may have self-rising flour available, or if you are from the UK , like Mary Berry, you will definitely have it…But I didn’t have self-rising flour, being in the Northeast (maybe this is why) or rather my local stores didn’t have it…isn’t that aggravating? Anywhooo, it is relatively easy to substitute regular flour if you add in the leavener: According to this blog, I need:
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt for every one cup of all purpose= 1 cup self rising
So for this recipe where you need 1 3/4 cups of flour… and so if you are like me, and hate math, just whisk it all together measuring for 2 cups and then subtract out 1/4 of the flour mixture. Or you can just find self rising flour, which seems infinitely smarter! I save the little bit of flour mixed up for pancakes or some recipe where it won’t matter much about the extra leavening.
Now that I have the flour all set, I can actually make these. I note in the recipe how the way the book is written she covers the techniques of baking in the start of the book, but in the recipes she keeps it simple. In this recipe, she just says “mix all the cake ingredients together.” In the techniques section, she has a nice pictorial showing how to cream the fat and sugar, then add the beaten eggs, and finally the sifted dry ingredients. If you don’t read that part first, your mixing technique will be off- so if you are a new baker, read the whole book, and if you are an experienced baker, you will get it anyway.
I brought these little tea-cakes (ummm, bars) into work for our “Downton Abbey” Tea Party (Have I told you how much I love my job?!), and they were a hit. I think it is a relatively dry cake with a very subtle citrus flavor- If you love lime, you will like these for sure. Great with tea.
As far as the book, the pictures are beautiful and the content is very accessible to a beginner baker. If you have an affinity for anything British, it’s also fun, with the entire section devoted to “British Favorites.”
I have the iPad version, but my local bookstore had the paper version, which is a nice lightweight paperback sized book, that sits open, great pictures for almost every recipe, and a superb contents and index too- so recipes are really easy to find! If you would like to know more about Mary Berry, her website has lots of info and more great free recipes to check out!