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My great bake challenge? Don’t make people choke

The Great British Bake Off is back, and it’s time to feel an overwhelming desire to whip up a cake.

And for me, a frustrating feeling of inadequacy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the show. I haven’t missed an episode and like many others ooh and ahh at the creations dreamt up (did you see Lenny the Lion loaf?) and feel inspired to have a go at something less challenging myself.

Rhubarb upside-down cake
Rhubarb upside-down cake

The trouble is, I struggle to master the basics. I once baked a lemon drizzle cake for our village flower festival (there’s a bistro too, I wasn’t going to put it on display with the roses) but it turned out like a brick.

I’ve had some success –Victoria sponge, coffee and walnut cake and, what’s proving to be a family favourite, a sticky orange and ginger cake. But it never goes quite right.

Apart from the lemon drizzle fiasco, I’ve had scones turn out the consistency of stale buns, a coffee and walnut that was simply too dry and a plain sponge that wasn’t anywhere near as good as my brother’s (I’m not bitter, really).

The orange and ginger cake has had varied success. They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. That’s true, but it’s not for the want of trying.

The Bake Off team. Photographer: Mark Bourdillon
The Bake Off team. Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

The first time I made it, I left it in the oven as long as the recipe said. I’ve learned our oven doesn’t quite stick to recipe recommendations.

The second time, I needed to make one twice the size, which was fine but I had no idea how long it would take to bake and I ended up late for an appointment because the darn thing wouldn’t set.

The third time, I knew I had flour but it was meant to be plain and when I opened the cupboard, having weighed out all the other ingredients, I only had self-raising. That one I got away with.

On Thursday, I baked another. I got all the way into mixing the recipe until I remembered – having checked I had oranges, the right flour, enough butter and even remembering to buy black treacle – that there was one vital ingredient missing. Ginger.

Thankfully hubby was out and near a supermarket, so that was quickly solved.

My Bake Off dream isn’t to win the show or even try out for it, but to one day ‘whip up’ a cake in a matter of half an hour, and for people not to choke on it.

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