The Great British Bake-Off became a highlight of the week’s tv for me, when it was on a few months ago. Sadly, I missed the bit when the boy dropped the cake (much to the delight, I’m sure, of the cameraman who caught it on tape, and the director who dreams of this kind of drama in a baking programme) but there was something quite engrossing about watching people baking, pacing up and down in front of ovens, measuring dough and so on.
So I was very pleased to receive the book of the series for my birthday.
Pleased, but not surprised, as I’d bought it myself three weeks previous and handed it to my husband saying “the girls might like to give me this for my birthday”. It’s got all the recipes for the technical challenges, with step by step photos. And I thought I should really work through all the challenges from the show. So here we go, with challenge no 1.
Now, I’m not normally a fan of brandy snaps. They’re usually too thick, the shards unpleasantly sharp and jaggy in your mouth, and requiring quite a lot of noisy crunching while eating. But today we were going to visit a friend who’s not so bothered about chocolate but can’t resist anything with cream.
Step one involved melting butter, syrup and demerara sugar over a low heat. This took ages, and I’m still not totally convinced it was completely smooth – the demerara granules are quite robust. Then you stir in the flour and ginger and mix well. It’s a curious dough, oozing and spreading out on the tray, but still with the stickiness of cake batter. Anyway, it firms as it cools and then you can roll it into little balls, all neat and ready for the tray.
It’s a bit of a labour- and time-intensive exercise when you get to the baking – you only want four ready at a time, so I had two trays and staggered their timing. After 12 minutes, they were perfectly lacy and brown, a couple more minutes cooling and they needed to be shaped round the handles of wooden spoons.
The end result was pretty fab actually. Light and super-crisp, they melt in the mouth, and there’s a good ginger kick to them too. I used dairy cream in a can – partly laziness and partly because I’ve lost the adapter bit for the piping bag nozzle attacher – but this deflated quite a bit by the time we came to eat them. Nevertheless, they got a very positive reaction from the ladies who lunch and, indeed, their children.
What would Mary and Paul say? Well, Paul would probably note that I didn’t quite manage to get them all exactly the same size, and that they weren’t perfectly cylindrical as they sort of drooped a little on their spoons as they cooled. But I think Mary would like their crunch and the peppery ginger bite.
So in summary. They’re yummy, easy, use store-cupboard ingredients and look misleadingly impressive… brandy snaps, I think I love you.