Best of the Great British Bake Off 2015 – Week 1


The Great British Bake Off is back! After months of waiting we’re finally ready to see Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood teaching regular folks a few lessons about cooking. With three weekly challenges – the Signature Bake, Technical Bake and Showstopper Baker – we’ll also get to see some amazing creations, and amazing disasters!

12 new bakers have entered that iconic tent and only one will leave to be crowned Best Baker! The first week was all about Cake, and some delicious challenges in the form of Madeira, walnut and Black Forest concoctions.

You’ll be hearing from the likes of Ugne, Nadiya and Tamal again but it was all too much for Stuart who was the first person out when his glaze got a little too overcooked.  And that left the field clear for 66 year old patisserie-loving Marie to take the first Star Baker prize of 2015.

One of her winning bakes was a delightful zingy citrus Madeira cake which you can find the recipe for below, alongside Mary Berry’s rightly wonderful frosted walnut layer cake.


Madeira cake is more robust than a normal sponge cake – perfect for soaking with a citrusy syrup and a drizzle of thin icing.

150g/5½oz caster sugar
150g/5½oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
3 free-range eggs
200g/7oz self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch salt
2 oranges, finely grated zest only
1 large unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest only

To decorate
1 large orange, rind and juice only
1 large unwaxed lemon, rind and juice only
75g/2½oz caster sugar
150g/5½oz icing sugar

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 180C/165C Fan/Gas 4. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin with butter and line with baking parchment.

In a bowl, cream the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Fold in the flour, a pinch of salt and the citrus zests.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and bake for 1 hour. Check the cake after 40 minutes, if it is starting to brown too much cover with aluminium foil for the remaining cooking time. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin while you make the sugar syrup.

To decorate, cut the lemon and orange rind into very thin strips. Add 100ml/3½fl oz water and the caster sugar to a saucepan over a low heat, stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil then add the rind to the pan, reserve a few strips of rind for decoration. Cook for about 5 minutes until a syrup forms and the rind is translucent.

Brush the syrup over the still-warm cake and set aside to cool completely. When the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin.

To make the icing, mix the citrus juices. Mix the icing sugar with enough juice to make a thin icing. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake and finish with a few thin strips of citrus rind.


Mary Berry’s spectacular walnut cake is perfect for special occasions – with three layers there’s sure to be a slice for everyone!

225g/8oz self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
100g/3½oz walnuts, finely chopped
225g/8oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
For the caramelised walnuts
100g/3½oz caster sugar
10 walnut halves

For the buttercream
125g/4½oz butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
250g/9oz icing sugar
For the boiled icing
2 large egg whites
350g/12oz caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Grease 3 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins and line the base of each tin with baking parchment.

Mix the flour, baking powder and walnuts together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time.

Fold in the flour mixture using a large metal spoon. Divide the mixture equally between the 3 tins and level the surfaces.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the cakes are golden-brown and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

For the caramelised walnuts, tip the sugar and 2 tablespoons water into a pan and heat over a low heat until the sugar begins to melt. Increase the heat and cook the caramel to a dark golden colour (CAUTION: boiling sugar is extremely hot. Handle very carefully). Remove from the heat, add the walnut halves and swirl to coat in the caramel. Transfer the walnut halves to a silicon sheet and leave to set.

For the buttercream, put the butter, vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of the milk and half the icing sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining icing sugar. Pour in the rest of the milk, if needed to make the buttercream the right consistency.

Spread half of the buttercream over one of the cooled sponges and place the second sponge on top. Spread the remaining buttercream over the second sponge and top with the third sponge.

For the boiled icing, measure the egg whites, sugar, 4 tablespoons water and cream of tartar into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water and whisk for 8-10 minutes until thick.

Working quickly (the icing sets rapidly), cover the top and sides of the cake with the icing, swirling the icing to form softened peaks. Leave to set in a cool place, but not in the fridge. Decorate with the caramelised walnuts.

The Great British Bake Off airs at 8pm on BBC One every Wednesday.

Get all the baking supplies you need at Harvey Norman. 


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