I’ve been thinking recently about what it is that attracts me to baking so much. Some questions that I have been asking myself include why do I go to great lengths to squeeze it into my already hectic day? Why do I stay up way past my bedtime to finish off something I made earlier, and what is it that drives me to look for any excuse to bake something for someone? Seems a bit excessive when I put it like that, but I think I have worked out the answers. Baking makes me feel like myself again. Not mummy, but Fleur. Having that sense of identity when most if my day is consumed with school runs, changing nappies, washing (arghhh how I hate the washing) playing taxi driver and feeding three little mouths is so important to me. I’d go as far as to say that baking helps me to be a better mummy. I know that is quite a bold statement, but to me it makes perfect sense. When I bake I feel a real sense of achievement from turning a pile of separate ingredients into something yummy that I can eat and share. I love my children’s faces when they see what I have made and baking with them is really special too. I am able to give them my undivided attention for a while at the same time as teaching them a new skill. By doing this I hope to create happy memories for them so that they will want to do the same with their children. Baking also takes me on a journey to somewhere I call ‘cakeland’. What I mean by this is completely focusing on the baking task so that all the other things going on in my head (like list building…I like to make lists) take a back seat for a while. This I know is good for me because I always feel calmer and more relaxed after baking. Or maybe it’s the fact that baking is an expression of my creativity? I love to see an idea that started in my head becoming real.
So I guess baking is a very important part of my life at the moment for many reasons. Ultimately, it makes me happy, and when it’s written like that, maybe my baking antics don’t seem so excessive after all. I’d love to hear from any of my readers if you also indulge in a bit of cake therapy.
This week, I’m going to share some top tips for one of my all time favorite bakes. It is Mary Berry’s infamous chocolate roulade. In my experience this is a total crowd pleaser and they are great fun to make. The sponge is made without flour and butter which creates a beautifully light, melt in the mouth cake, leaving you hankering after a second slice. Don’t let the rolling part put you off though as it is really is not that bad, and I’m being totally honest. The sponge will crack as you roll but that is part of the look and character.
It won’t come as a surprise when I say that I have been experimenting a bit with this recipe, so if you fancied added a little extra flavour you could try making my Chocolate and Chestnut Roulade filled with Almond Cream variation. I will tell you how to do this in the tips section below. Having used chestnut in my chilli a few weeks ago, I though it would be fun to show how it can be used it in a sweet dish as well.
- Tin of chestnut spread (I found mine is my local Waitrose and brought it thinking it looked so lovely I just had to find something to use it in)
- 1 tsp of almond extract
- It’s worth following the recipe carefully and taking time to measure out your ingredients as the way you mix the batter will have a big impact on how much it rises.
- To test stiffness of egg whites turn the mixing bowl upside down and it should stay put with none falling out
- Make sure you have the right sized tin for this recipe. If the batter is spread too thick or thin you will end up with underdone or over cooked sponge
- Having two mixing bowls makes this recipe so much easier. You will need one for the egg yolks, sugar and chocolate and another for the egg whites
- Give the bowl for the egg whites an extra wipe with a clean tea towel to get rid of any grease as even a speak of it can effect the way your egg whites whisk up
- To make the Chestnut and Almond Roulade variation simply add 1 tsp of almond extract to your whipping cream as it is being mixed. Then you need to apply a layer of the chestnut spread onto the sponge once it has cooled and you have placed it on your icing sugar covered greaseproof paper. Finish by topping with a layer of the almond flavoured cream. Then continue with the remaining steps of Mary’s the recipe
- When you come to roll the sponge, score across the short width with a knife into the sponge about an inch in from the edge, then fold this bit in. Then use the end of the greaseproof paper to start the roll by pulling it back over the sponge towards the opposite end. This will avoid finger prints and finger marks in the sponge as you roll it
- Don’t worry if the ends look messy once you have rolled it up, these can be sliced off with a knife to reveal (fingers crossed) a beautiful swirl of chestnut and cream. Then you can do a taste test and scoff the enders 🙂
- This roulade can be frozen once made and defrosts perfectly with only a little extra dusting of icing sugar needed before presentation