03 Dec Baking with Mary Berry and the Chocolate Roulade
I confess, I’ve been binge watching The Great British Bake Off on YouTube ever since two friends recommended it earlier this autumn. I bite my fingernails dreading soggy bottoms, split custard, and under-proofed bread. I’m in awe of the homemade strudel dough, the Charlotte Royales, and English muffins. All baked in a tent, under pressure, with cameras rolling. Put me in those conditions and I’d collapse faster than a gingerbread house set in front of a rambunctious golden retriever.
Knowing I’ll never take part in The Great British Bake Off, I will play along using recipes from Mary Berry’s latest book Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Pastries from the British Queen of Cakes (DK ©2015). Of the 100+ recipes, I chose to tackle the Ultimate Chocolate Roulade for two reasons. One, it stumped everyone in the technical challenge during Season 2. And two, a roulade has been on my culinary bucket list for a long time. What better opportunity to cross it off?
Then I found out I’d been granted an interview with The Queen of Cakes herself, and I panicked. Would my results be good enough? According to Mary, cracks in the roulade are quite normal. But mine were slightly larger than the ones pictured in her cookbook, so I topped the roulade with chocolate curls using Mary’s cheese slicer technique. (See final step on this showstopper cake for details.)
I’ll be posting the interview soon. (Update: My interview with Mary Berry is now up.) In the meantime, let’s take a look at the latest of her more than 80 (yes, that’s eighty. No typo!) cookery books.
Baking With Mary Berry
At first glance I thought this book was a compilation of recipes showcased on The Great British Bake Off over the past six years. Since the series has crossed the pond to the US, it seemed a logical way to introduce a new audience to the wonders of Battenburg Cake, Treacle Tarts and Queen of Puddings. Had I read the introduction I’d have known it’s a compilation of her favourites.
As I flipped through the pages I was relieved to find the recipes have been converted for the North American home baker. Flour and butter is measured in cups, not grams. Treacle is replaced with golden syrup (I love Lyle’s) or a combination of corn syrup and honey. Recipes require heavy or whipping cream instead of the elusive double cream I would kill for. Yes, some recipes call for self-rising flour, but this has recently made its way onto our supermarket shelves, so all the recipes can be made without substitutions.
Canadians might be confused to see icing sugar (a term we share with the Brits) now called “confectioners’ sugar”, but with so many American cookbooks and magazines in our stores it shouldn’t be an issue.
The concise Techniques section covers most of the basics needed to make the recipes, complete with step-by-step photos. It’s a crash course on cakes, pastry, steamed puddings, creme patissiere, and egg whites. Then you dive right into breakfast foods and don’t come up for air until the Special Occasion Desserts. On the way, Mary shares everything listed in the subtitle as well as cobblers, brownies, and British Favorites (with the “u” ironically edited out).
My only disappointment is most of the recipes lack headnotes. How did Dundee Cake come about? What does one look for in the perfect Flapjack? Who is Eve and why is her pudding so special? I guess I’ll have to keep watching the show to find out.
So, soften some butter, set out the eggs, and tie a double knot in your apron. The holidays are barrelling down on us and the pressure is on. I might not have a Smeg refrigerator, but I do have Mary Berry’s recipes — with complete instructions. To quote Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, “On your mark. Get set. Bake!”
- Butter for greasing
- 6 oz (175g) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 6 extra large eggs, separated
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
- 1¼ cups heavy or whipping cream
- Confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) for sifting
- 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) Swiss roll pan
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease the pan, then line with parchment paper, pushing it into the corners.
- Put the chocolate into the heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of hot water, and heat gently until the chocolate has melted, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow the chocolate to cool slightly until warm.
- Put the egg whites into a large bowl and beat with a hand-held mixer on high speed until stiff but not dry. Put the sugar and egg yolks into another large bowl, and beat with the same mixer (no need to wash) on high speed until light, thick, and creamy. Add the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until blended.
- Fold 2 large spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites followed by the cocoa powder. Turn into the prepared pan, and gently level the surface.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan (it will dip and crack a little).
- When the cake is cold, whip the cream in a bowl until it just holds its shape. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the large sheet of parchment paper. Turn the cake onto the paper with one of the short edges facing you and peel off the lining paper. Spread the whipped cream over the cake, then make a shallow cut through the cream and cake along the short edge nearest you, about ¾ inch (2 cm) in from the edge. Roll up the roulade away from you, tightly to start with, and using the paper to help. Don’t worry if it cracks — this is quite normal, and how it should be. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the roulade before serving.