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Bakewell Cake and The Great British Bake Off

Tonight we see the start of #GBBO series 5. Oh my, how can it be possible? It honestly only feels like yesterday when I first walked into that tent with the 11 other fab bakers of the 2011 show. Yet in my journey since series 2 so much has happened. Bake Off came at such a good time for me as I was going through a bad time. The Great British Bake Off gave me a focus, something to make me feel good and it gave me a belief in myself that I genuinely could never have dreamt of. When I got the call to say I had been chosen to be in the twelve I kept thinking I must of been dreaming as the competition was really tough and there had been 4000 entries. Also I knew my demographic was going to be one of the hardest, as lets be honest, a 40 something housewife with 3 kids who likes baking is hardly unique!!! Anyway somehow I made it through. I was walking the dog when I got that most life-changing call and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so excited that I had a one sided conversation with the dog.

I'm not going to pretend it was all plain sailing. It's tough and it seems ridiculous that people cry over cake but you know it's not really about that bake, it's being in that tent and proving to yourself that that you are a worthy of being there.

I loved my time in the tent. Mary is the most wonderful human being, as beautiful inside as out. Paul is genuinely an amazing baker who taught us all loads. As for Mel & Sue well they are like Fish & Chips. You can't imagine one without the other, they are funny, kind and always hungry! The tent truly would be a much sadder place without them. And last but not least the crew, they were fabulous.
Bakewell Cake
225g Stork margarine or unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract or Amaretto syrup
200g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
20 glaze cherries 

7 tablespoons raspberry jam
150g Icing sugar
Amaretto syrup or almond extract and water
50g toasted flaked almonds
8 glaze cherries

You will also need 2 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and the bases lined with buttered baking parchment. 

Preheat the oven to 170c

In the bowl of a free-standing mixer cream the Stork and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and almond extract. Add the flour and ground almonds and mix until light and fluffy.

Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level, stud the surfaces with the 20 cherries and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes.

Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

Lay one cake layer on a serving plate and spread with the jam. Sandwich the two sponges together carefully,mix the icing sugar together with the syrup to make into a spreadable paste, spoon onto the cake so some drizzles down the side, sprinkle with the toasted almonds and finish with the cherries.