The Great Belles Bake Off

Women’s Institutes are renowned for their wonderful baking and Great Bookham Belles WI proved they were definitely not the exception at our July Monthly Meeting, for which members had been asked to enter their Summer Themed Bakes in ‘The Great Belles Bake Off’.  Members definitely rose to the challenge and judges Terri Gamble (housekeeper of Manor House School and former chef) and guest Fiamma Pather, (CEO of Your Sanctuary) had the enviable task of sampling every single entry to determine our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners! Congratulations to winners Tina, Lynne and Ann and to all all our contestants for entering; the standard was outstanding.  Feedback has been extremely positive and thoughts look to whether this may have to become an annual event and to be hell with diets!

Being the last meeting of the season we were able to present our cheque of £1824.91 to this past year’s selected charity, Your Sanctuary and subsequently we voted for this year’s cause, the selected charity being: The Bookham Youth Project – Girls Group

Whilst judging was in progress members exited into the beautiful grounds of Manor House for a glass of prosecco on the lawn and once winners announced and our fundraising raffle took place, the moment we had all been waiting for… the partaking of cake, cake and more cake!!

Pimms Cake – The winning recipe

225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g (8oz) golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 orange, finely zested
225g (8oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
For the Pimm’s syrup
300ml (10fl oz) Pimm’s
100g caster sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
For the mascarpone cream
200g (7oz) light mascarpone
100ml whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 orange, zested, plus 1 tbsp juice
For the filling and decoration
300g (10oz) strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthways
handful fresh mint, leaves picked
1/2 cucumber, cut into ribbons
½ orange, zested
  • Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Lightly grease 2 x 20cm (8in) loose-bottom sandwich tins. Line the bases with nonstick baking paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and caster sugar with an electric whisk until smooth. Gradually add 
  • the beaten egg, mixing continuously until pale and fluffy. Beat in the almond extract and orange zest.
  • Sift over the dry ingredients and fold in using a large metal spoon. Stir in the milk. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and smooth the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and just starting to come away from the sides. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, make the Pimm’s syrup. Put the Pimm’s, sugar and orange juice in a small pan. Warm over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil briskly for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and reduced by half. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  • To make the mascarpone cream, put the the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar, most of the orange zest and all of the juice in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric whisk, until combined and smooth.
  • To assemble the cake, put one sponge on a serving plate and drizzle over 2 tbsp of the cooled Pimm’s syrup. Using a large piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle, pipe the mascarpone cream over the cake. Alternatively use a palette knife, spreading thickly
  • Layer up three quarters of the strawberries over the cream, working from the outside edge in. Top with the second sponge and pipe or spread with the remaining cream.
  • Decorate the cake with the remaining strawberries, mint and cucumber ribbons. Drizzle over 2-3 tbsp more of the Pimm’s syrup, then scatter over the orange zest. To serve, cut into small slices.
Tip: To avoid a soggy show- stopper, decorate your cake with the remaining strawberries, mint, cucumber and Pimm’s syrup just before serving.
Enjoy with a nice glass of chilled of Pimms!!!
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