Great Bri­tish Bake Off con­tes­tant Kate Barmby, who lives at Brooke, in south Nor­folk, be­gins a new se­ries in Let’s Talk this month, shar­ing her favourite recipes, in­clud­ing some nos­tal­gic cakes and bakes with a mod­ern twist. Kate, who won praise from TV j

Let's Talk - - CONTENTS -

‘ Bake Off’ mum just loves her kitchen and cook­ing

I’ve al­ways loved and re­spected my mum but I don’t think I knew the truth of be­ing a mother un­til I be­came one my­self, and then I un­der­stood not only how much it al­ters your life but how it al­ters you as a per­son. I hear peo­ple talk­ing about the sac­ri­fices they’ve made for their chil­dren in terms of all the things they’ve given up and what it’s cost them but surely we shouldn’t think of par­ent­ing in terms of what we for­feit but see it for what it is – the great­est op­por­tu­nity to love and be loved un­con­di­tion­ally. Yes, life un­de­ni­ably changes but I wouldn’t swap my best day with­out my chil­dren for my worst day with them, they com­plete me and give pur­pose to all that I do.

No­body is fault­less, there will al­ways be days where I feel I strug­gle to meet all my chil­dren’s needs but if I can do as well as my mum did and make my own daugh­ters as happy as I have been, I will be sat­is­fied that I have done a good job. I am grate­ful to my mum for the ex­am­ple she sets me and en­deav­our to do the same for my own girls.

Mother­ing Sun­day is an op­por­tu­nity to cel­e­brate moth­er­hood and should be a day of sen­ti­ment not com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion. My mum is a fan­tas­tic baker and taught me to bake while I was still in my high­chair. The skills and con­fi­dence I learned from her, com­bined with the prac­ti­cal sup­port she gave me dur­ing the busy film­ing pe­riod, are what made it pos­si­ble for me to be a com­peti­tor on the Great Bri­tish Bake Off. Our shared love of bak­ing means that it is en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate to em­brace the tra­di­tion of mak­ing a Sim­nel cake as a gift for her on Mother­ing Sun­day as well as be­ing a way of say­ing thank you.

Although thought of these days as an Easter cake, his­tor­i­cally Sim­nel cakes were made by ser­vant girls who were per­mit­ted to use in­gre­di­ents from their em­ploy­ers’ larder to take home for Mother­ing Sun­day.

As much as I adore the dark spici­ness of Christ­mas cake, in the spring I want some­thing al­to­gether lighter and fresher which is why I have cho­sen to make a pale fra­grant cake us­ing apri­cots, golden sul­tanas and or­ange zest gen­tly spiced with car­damom and cin­na­mon.

sugar while con­tin­u­ing to beat. Grad­u­ally add beaten egg, if nec­es­sary add some flour mix with fi­nal ad­di­tions of egg to pre­vent cur­dling. Toss dried fruit and diced almond paste in ex­tra ta­ble­spoon of flour, then gen­tly fold into bat­ter along with or­ange zest. Scrape mix into lined tin and smooth out sur­face. Cover sur­face of cake with dou­ble cir­cle of bak­ing pa­per with a 2.5cm hole in cen­tre. Bake in cen­tre of oven for be­tween one hour and one hour 15 min­utes un­til evenly brown, firm to touch and a skewer comes out clean when in­serted into cake. ( You may need to ad­just cook­ing times to suit your own equip­ment.) Al­low cake to cool for 15 min­utes be­fore turn­ing on to wire rack, peel off lin­ing pa­per and leave up­side down to cool com­pletely. The bot­tom of the cake will give you a flat sur­face to dec­o­rate. Roll out marzipan un­til about 0.5cm thick and a lit­tle larger than cake. Use cake tin as a tem­plate to cut out cir­cle. Keep ex­cess marzipan to shape the balls. Heat apri­cot jam with or­ange juice in a saucepan (or in a small bowl for a few sec­onds in mi­crowave). Brush top of cake with warmed jam and firmly cover with marzipan cir­cle. Mark a criss-cross pat­tern us­ing knife and a clean ruler over marzipan and crimp edges by pinch­ing with your fin­gers. Make 11 balls with re­main­der of marzipan, damp bot­toms with wa­ter and se­cure around edge of cake. Brush marzipan with beaten egg, and care­fully brown un­der a hot grill. Dec­o­rate the cen­tre with posy of ed­i­ble prim­roses and wrap with a wide rib­bon. If you want to make this an ex­tra spe­cial gift, you could make my sim­ple sugarpaste prim­roses: Trex for greas­ing work sur­face 50g pale yel­low sugarpaste 50g green sugarpaste Green, or­ange and white ed­i­ble tint­ing pow­ders 1 tbsp ic­ing sugar Lightly coat work sur­face with Trex. Roll out yel­low sugarpaste to about 0.2cm thick. Cut out at least six flow­ers with the pe­tal cut­ter. Us­ing a sharp pointed knife cut Vs in top of each pe­tal. Trans­fer flow­ers on to a foam mat us­ing a small pal­let knife. Press a shell em­boss­ing tool on to each pe­tal to mark the veins or use the side of cock­tail stick. Fix a small, slightly flat­tened ball of sugarpaste in cen­tre of each flower with dab of wa­ter or sugar glue, then use a Dres­den tool or a cock­tail stick to poke a hole in cen­tre of ball. Brush cen­tre with a tiny bit of green pow­der and then gen­tly brush petals from the cen­tre out with or­ange pow­der. Gen­tly ar­range the petals to make them look a bit more nat­u­ral and leave to dry. To make the leaves, roll out green sugarpaste as be­fore. Cut out three ovals ap­prox­i­mately 8cm by 5cm or cut around a prim­rose leaf. Ar­range the leaves on scrunched up bak­ing pa­per to dry. Mix a ta­ble­spoon of ic­ing sugar with a lit­tle wa­ter to make a paste to leaves and flow­ers in cen­tre of cake.

Kate with her fin­ished Sim­nel cake - just right for Mother­ing Sun­day.

East Anglia’s Great Bri­tish Bake Off con­tes­tant Kate Barmby is writ­ing a se­ries on bak­ing for Let’s Talk read­ers. Kate is pic­tured with her daugh­ters Lucy and Re­becca and her dear mum.

En­joy a slice of this lovely cake for Mother­ing Sun­day, which is later this month, fall­ing on March 26.

Kate's Sim­nel cake is a per­fect treat for Mother­ing Sun­day.

Care­fully paint the petals.

Kate gen­tly paints one side of the leaves to add depth to the pat­tern.

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