The Great British Bake Off Final

 

And so it ends for another year! The three finalists took their last walk over that little bridge into the Bake Off tent for their three final challenges. Kimberley, the ‘flavour magpie’ who is always confident and knowledgable about her bakes. Ruby, the youngest baker who often lets the pressure affect her and lacks self confidence despite delivering on flavour. And Frances, who makes everything she bakes looks stunning, but often lacks in the substance department.

The first challenge was to make a savoury picnic pie using shortcrust pastry that was elaborate looking, had a layered design on the inside, and was presented out of the tin – so no soggy bottoms allowed! Paul explained that himself and Mary wanted to see the bakers use pastry again to see if they had learnt anything. He wanted crispy and golden brown pastry that formed a crispy case for the fillings. Mary was after clear layers of fillings, good flavour, texture and apperance – basically she wanted it to be perfect!

We learnt about the back story of the bakers. Frances’ mother cannot taste due to an injury on her nose, which could explain some of the substance issues Frances has experienced! Both Frances and Ruby were making a pie with weaved pastry and lattice effects. Kimberley’s pie was decorated with pink pig shaped pastry pieces and green fencing around the sides.

Ruby and Frances did very well, I thought Ruby’s pie looked fab with the basket effet. Kimberley’s pie suffered from too much moisture and collapsed. She said in practice it hadn’t worked well once, so I was confused as why she chose this for the final. It was a very clever idea and I was disappointed it didn’t work

The technical challenge was to make twelve pretzels using a Paul Hollywood recipe. Six orange and poppyseed pretzels, and six savoury pretzels. A deep glossy coat, dense chewy interior, and for them to be tied in classic pretzel knot was requested. I’ve made Pretzels before (see post), and although mine weren’t ‘Paul Hollywood style’, I think they came out great and they were delicious. I didn’t find this to be a massively difficult challenge and I was expecting something as bit more complicated, but I think this could have been a case of the judges re-testing the bakers on bread.

All three contestants struggled with the challenge. Especially with remembering what a pretzel knot looked like! Even Mel and Sue couldn’t help. Frances ended up with bun shaped pretzels and came third, Ruby over boiled her pretzels and came second, and Kimberley nailed it with a good bake, break and colour and came in first.

 

The final and showstopper challenge was to make a three tiered wedding cake, of any size, and shape, with an immaculate design and an incredible finish. The three finalist bakers were given six hours to do this, and Frances commented that most wedding cakes are made in six days. Timing was tight as ever!

Frances made a Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding Cake with tiers of ginger and rhubarb, lemon victoria sponge filled with raspberries and cream, and carrot, apricot and orange, she decorated it with edible confetti made from dried mango, beetroot, sweet potato, and pineapple. I thought her cake looked the most attractive, although I did agree with Mary that the back of the cake was left bare.The judges thought the cakes were moist and well baked, they liked the flavours but could not taste the rhubarb. Out of the three, I’d want this one at my wedding!

 

Kimberley made a Languages Of Love Wedding Cake, with tiers of chocolate fudge, orange and pistachio checkerboard, and lemon and elderflower cake with poppyseed buttercream, covered in sugarpaste and fondant. The appearance of the cake was rather underwhelming, for both myself and judges. However the inside looked exciting and showed technique and originality, the judges also loved the taste. This was a really tough one and a case of substance over style!

Ruby made a Raspberry, Lemon & Passion Fruit Wedding Cake, the top was a victoria sponge with passion fruit curd, the middle a victoria sponge filled with fresh raspberry and marscapone cheese, and the bottom a lemon victoria sponge with lemon curd. Decorated in sunset colours. Paul and Mary thought it was too simple, and that she had not shown enough techniquies. They said it tasted good, but two of the tiers were overbaked and dry. I was very disappointed by the appearance of the cake, after such an amazing picnic pie at the start. It looked quite messy and no sign of the immaculate finish requested. They were just simple victoria sponges stacked up and there was no technique involved. It should have been a culmination of her talent and what she had learnt during the show, but it fell flat in my opinion.

 

It was so hard to guess who might win as the bakers fluctuated massively in this episode! I certainly don’t envy the judges for deciding this one! What they pointed out was that Frances had learnt the most, she had also shown that she had listened to their advice and grown throughout the show. I think this is what the judges are after, as well as natural talent of course! And of course, Frances was crowned the winner! I was surprised, but happy, and I think the best person won.

I haven’t baked anything this week. A wedding cake was quite obviously out of the question, the picnic pie didn’t inspire me much, and I’ve already made pretzels (although I may make them again!). Take a look at my series of Great British Bake Off baking by clicking here.

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Chocolate & Marmalade Cheesecake Brownies

Welcome to part three of my jam adventure! (Which has been somewhat delayed after my GBBO baking adventures!) After being sent a batch of jam from Scottish preserves manufacturer Mackays I have so far made a delicious Lemon, Blueberry & Blackberry Swirl Loaf with their Blueberry & Blackcurrant preserve, and Spiced Jammy Flapjacks with their Strawberry Preserve with Champagne. This time it was the turn of their Dundee Orange Marmalade.

I have never been a fan of marmalade, I find it too bitter. So I was determined to find a way to bake with it that was delicious and sweet!

Chocolate and orange are such a great combination of flavours, and using marmalade for the orange flavour of these brownies is a great twist. I started with the marmalade cheesecake element of the brownies by mixing together 15g butter, 85g cream cheese, one jar of Mackays Dundee Orange Marmalade, 115g caster sugar and 1 egg.

To make the chocolate part I used the same recipe from my Speculoos Topped Chocolate Brownies, because frankly, it is the most amazing chocolate brownie recipe ever! I started by melting 225g butter on a low heat. After transferring the melted butter to a mixing bowl, I added 400g caster sugar and mixed until fully combined.

I beat in 3 eggs, one at time and mixing in between, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Finally I folded in 125g plain flour, 85g cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. I then poured the mixture into a lined square baking tin.

I poured the marmalade cheesecake mixture over the chocolate mixture and using a knife I swirled the two mixtures together gently.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. It wasn’t done, so I turned the oven down to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and baked for a further 30 minutes.

I left it to cool for a while before slicing, these brownies are extremely gooey!! I had some fantastic feedback from my colleagues, I even received phone calls and emails from other departments to let me know how good they were. I was so chuffed! I think this is a really unusual recipe that involves marmalade, and on tasting you may not guess that is what is in the brownies.

Chocolate & Marmalade Cheesecake Brownies
Ingredients
  • 240g Butter
  • 85g Cream cheese
  • 1 jar of Mackays Dundee Orange Marmlade
  • 115g Caster sugar
  • 4 Egg
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 125g Plain flour
  • 85g Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • A pinch of Salt
Instructions
Mix together 15g of the butter, cream cheese, Mackays Dundee Orange Marmalade, 115g of the caster sugar and 1 of the eggs
Melt 225g of the butter on a low heat. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add 400g of the caster sugar and mix until fully combined
I beat in the 3 eggs, one at time and mixing in between, and then the vanilla extract. Fold in the plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Then pour the mixture into a lined square baking tin
Pour the marmalade cheesecake mixture over the chocolate mixture and use a knife to swirl the two mixtures together gently
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. Turned the oven down to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for a further 30 minutes
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“Zombie Brain” Charlotte Royale: GBBO Week #9

Can you believe it was the semi finals of The Great British Bake Off on Tuesday?! That means next week is the final! And then it’s all over for another year. The episode began with the first challenge – to make savoury canapes. Three types were requested, one to be made with choux, one with pastry, and the third was baker’s choice. Beca knew already what the judges wanted, for the canapes to taste good and look amazing!
 

Mary warned that so much can go wrong when making canapes and the baker’s must pace themselves to get everything done. She wanted the finish of the canapes to be absolute perfect. Paul was also after precision, uniform size, and flavours that pack a big punch in small space. I loved Frances’ theming of her canapes (pictured above), and they really did look great. Paul was blown away by the taste and even shook her hand!

Kimberley also did very well, with great flavour and originality, and the judges were very happy to eat up all of her food! Ruby had mixed results, but it was overall quite pleasant. Beca did not fair so well and received the most negative comments.

The technical challenge was to make a Charlotte Royale, which I have never heard of, but Sue helpfully told the bakers that it looked like a brain! This dessert involves slices of swiss roll filled with jam, that form a dome around a set fruit custard, also called a bavarois. It involves several techniques that you must perfect to make it turn out right. The custard must not seep through the swiss rolls, which must be packed tightly in the bowl whilst retaining their shape.

In typical style, everyone except Kimberley looked a bit concerned about this challenge. I love how Kimberley approaches everything so positively! It worked for her too as her Charlotte Royale came out beautifully and she won the challenge, Frances came in second and Beca in third, both with decent looking Charlotte’s. Unfortunately Ruby’s was a bit of a disaster and she was last.

For the final challenge, an Opera Cake was requested. This is an elaborate French dessert made from seven even layers, which primarily involve a sponge called Joconde made from egg whites and ground almonds. The layers of sponge are sandwiched together with buttercream, syrup, ganache and finally covered in a chocolate glaze. It’s purpose is to represent the four acts of opera.

 

The judges wanted to layers to be clearly defined and of an even size. Although an Opera Cake is traditionally make with coffee, the baker’s could choose their own flavours. Mary wanted sheer perfection, and Paul said that this is one of hardest cakes to do properly.

Frances’ White Chocolate, Lavender and Lemon Opera Cake (pictures above) was the most good looking, although sadly it let down on flavour. Kimberley’s modern looking Passion Fruit & Lime Opera Cake (pictured top) looked great with tuilles and truffles as decorations, but was let down also on flavour. Ruby’s Opera Cake (pictured middle) suffered issues with a collapsed side, but Paul and Mary liked the flavours and textures. They didn’t like Beca’s Banoffee Opera Cake, as the banana flavour came from an artificial essence.

Sadly it was Beca that left us this week. Ruby was once again saved by flavours, but Frances and Kimberley both really shone this week, with Kimberley claiming star baker. Beca was very upset at leaving so close to the final, but said it had been an amazing experience. Next week it’s the final!! And I saw what looked like basket pies and three tired cakes in the preview.

Although a Charlotte Royale looked and sounded unappealing to me, I was discussing it with my colleague and mentioned how Sue had called it a ‘brain’. He suggested that I make a Zombie Brain Charlotte Royale for Halloween. I thought this would be brilliant! Suddenly a Charlotte Royale seemed very appealing! I changed a few elements, such as making a chocolate sponge, using bright green buttercream, and making the custard bloody red. I also omitted the fruit.

I started with the chocolate swiss roll. I followed the same recipe I used to make a Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) last year, which is a Mary Berry recipe. I started by whisking up 4 eggs and 100g caster sugar in my food mixer until it was frothy.

Then sifted in 65g self-raising flour and 40g cocoa powder and folded it into the egg mixture gently so as not to lose the frothiness.

 

I put it into a lined baking tray (I don’t have a swiss roll tin, but this works just as well) and baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 8-10 minutes. It sprang back up when I pressed it with a fingertip.

I prepared a sheet of baking paper dusted generously with icing sugar, I tipped the sponge out onto this while it was still hot, peeled off the baking paper it was baked in, and used a knife to make a grove along one end about 2cm from the end. Then I rolled the sponge up as tight as I could, taking the paper with it. I left it to cool fully still wrapped in the paper. This gives the sponge a ‘muscle memory’ so to speak, so it will not crack.

Once it was cool I prepared a buttercream filling using 100g butter, 200g icing sugar and Sugarflair Mint Green food colouring. If you have a neon green this would be even better. I gently unrolled the sponge, smoothed on the buttercream, then rolled back up again this time removing the baking paper.

I lined my bowl with cling film. I used a Pyrex 2L bowl from Tesco. I cut the swiss roll into slices and lined the bowl. There were a lot of gaps so I cheated by using some of the roll to fill in the gaps! I held the bowl up to the light to help me see where the gaps were. I didn’t want any filling seeping through!

For the bavarois, which is the custard mousse filling of a Charlotte Royale. I used an Anna Olsen recipe. First I made custard by simmering 225ml whole milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract in a pan. In a bowl I whisked up 4 egg yolks and 135g caster sugar until smooth. I slowly poured the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. I then returned it to the pan and turned up to a medium heat. I stirred it constantly for about 6 minutes until it had thickened. I then added a good blob of Sugarflair Extra Red food colouring, and 4 pre-soaked leave of gelatine (follow the instructions on the packet) and left it to cool to room temperature.

Once the custard was cool, I popped it into the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile I whipped up 345ml double cream (you can also use whipping cream) until soft peaks formed. You want it to hold it’s shape but still be quite soft.

I folded the cream into the custard using a whisk. At this point I had to add a lot more food colouring as the whiteness of the cream dulled the red down a lot. Eventually I got a fantastic blood red!

I poured the mixture into my swiss roll lined bowl. I did not have enough swiss roll to cover the bottom, I quickly made 4 chocolate cupcakes, cooled them quickly by an open window, sliced them into discs and placed them on the bottom. I put it into the fridge overnight to set.

 

Turning it out was very easy thanks to the cling film. I came out straight away and retained it’s shape very well.

I made the glaze as suggested in Mary Berry’s Charlotte Royale recipe by boiling 75g caster sugar in 125ml water, and then adding 1 tbsp arrowroot powder that had been dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water. I let it cool, then brushed over my “Zombie Brain” Charlotte Royale. It didn’t give as much of a sheen as I expected and I’m not sure if it’s a necessary addition for my Halloween version.

My only decorations around the Charlotte Royale was some Halloween confetti in the shape of skulls, spiders and pumpkins! It was difficult to cut into as too much force on the swiss rolls just pushes them into the filling. The best approach is to cut slowly and gently. The filling was a shocking bright red inside!

 

Despite it’s spooky looks, this “Zombie Brain” Charlotte Royale was delicious! The custard mousse filling is to die for, so tasty! It went down really well with everyone and the Halloween theme was a big hit. It was fun to make such an unusual recipe that I had never heard of before, and this is my second time of making custard from scratch – I love how GBBO encourages me to learn new techniques! Have you tried anything new thanks to GBBO?

“Zombie Brain” Charlotte Royale
 
 
Ingredients
  • 5 Eggs
  • 370g Caster sugar
  • 125g Self raising flour
  • 40g Cocoa powder
  • 200g Icing sugar
  • Green food colouring
  • 160g Butter
  • 225ml Whole milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 4 Egg yolks
  • 4 Gelatine leaves
  • Red food colouring
  • 345ml Double cream
  • 125ml Water
  • 1 tbsp Arrowroot powder
  • 2 tbsp Cold water
 
Instructions
Start with the chocolate swiss roll. Whisk up 4 of the eggs and 100g of the caster sugar in a food mixer until frothy
Then sift in 65g of the self-raising flour and cocoa powder and fold it into the egg mixture gently
Pour it into a lined baking tray or swiss roll tin, and bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 8-10 minutes
Make 4 chocolate cupcakes for the base. Cream together 60g of the butter and 60g of the caster sugar. Add 1 of the eggs and whisked in. Fold in 60g of the self raising flour. Fill 4 cupcake cases and bake on 18C/350F/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then slice into discs
Dust a sheet of baking paper generously with icing sugar, tip the swiss roll sponge out onto it while it is still hot. Peel off the baking paper it was baked on and used a knife to make a grove along one end about 2cm from the end. Roll the sponge up as tight as you can, taking the paper with it. Leave it to cool fully still wrapped in the paper
Prepare a buttercream filling by mixing 100g of the butter, the icing sugar and green food colouring. Gently unroll the sponge, smooth on the buttercream, then roll back up again, this time removing the baking paper
Line a 2 litre glass bowl with cling film. Cut the swiss roll into slices and line the bowl. Use more of the roll to fill in any gaps
For the filling start by simmering the whole milk and vanilla extract in a pan. In a bowl whisk up the egg yolks and 135g of the caster sugar until smooth. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Then return it to the pan and turn up to a medium heat. Stir it constantly for about 6 minutes until it thickens. Then add the pre-soaked leaves of gelatine (follow the instructions on the packet) and leave it to cool to room temperature
Once the custard is cool, pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes. Whip up the double cream until soft peaks form
Fold the cream into the custard using a whisk. Add enough red food colouring to get a bright red
Pour the mixture into the swiss roll lined bowl. Use the discs of chocolate cupcakes to lined the bottom. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set
Turn it out and make the glaze by boiling 75g of the caster sugar in the 125ml water, then dissolve the arrowroot powder in the 2 tbsp of cold water and add to the sugar mixture. Let it cool, then brush it over the Charlotte Royale
 
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Spooky “Bone” Meringues

Halloween approaches and these scary bones filled with cream and dripping with blood (ok, strawberry sauce) are a perfect spooky treat! Making meringues is easy too and they can be made in advance as they last for 5 days unfilled in an air tight container.

I started by whisking up 6 egg whites and 1 tsp cream of tartar in a mixer until soft peaks formed, then slowly added 164g caster sugar with the mixer still on. I also added 1 tsp vanilla extract. Once they were mixed and stiff peaks had formed, I folded in another 164g caster sugar. The way to get perfect meringues is to measure your egg whites, then mix in that same amount of sugar, and finally fold in that same amount of sugar again.

I put the meringue mixture in a piping bag with a large circular nozzle and piped ‘bone’ shapes onto a lined baking tray. I got 24 shapes out of my mixture. Some of the bones were neater than others!

I baked the meringues on 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 (half) for 1 hour. They are done when they come off the baking paper easily and sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Exactly an hour baked mine perfectly. I turned the oven off and left the meringues to cool in the oven. Then I left them to cool completely on a wire rack.

 

I whipped up a pot of cream and used a piping bag with a star nozzled to pipe the cream onto half of the bones. I then added a drizzle of strawberry dessert sauce and sandwiched another meringue on top.

I was so pleased with the meringues as they had that perfect combination of crunch and chew! They are delicious filled with the cream. These would be so easy for a Halloween party as you can make the meringues days in advance, then fill with cream and sauce before your guests arrive. I would advise they are served immediately or as soon as possible so the cream doesn’t make the meringues go soggy.

 

I developed this idea from a Martha Stewart recipe and I am entering into myself and Stuart at Cakeyboi‘s monthly challenge Treat Petite, this month’s theme is Halloween!

Spooky “Bone” Meringues
Ingredients
  • 6 Egg whites
  • Double the weight of the egg whites Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Cream of tartar
  • 300ml Double cream
  • Strawberry sauce
Instructions
Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a food mixer until soft peaks form, then slowly add half of the caster sugar with the mixer still running, also add the vanilla extract. Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in the other half of the caster sugar
Put the meringue mixture in a piping bag with a large circular nozzle and pipe ‘bone’ shapes onto a lined baking tray
Bake the meringues on 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 for 1 hour. They are done when they come off the baking paper easily. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the oven. Then remove to cool completely on a wire rack
Whip up the double cream and use a piping bag to pipe the cream onto half of the bones. Then add a drizzle of strawberry sauce and sandwich another meringue on top
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Potato, Rosemary & Halloumi Focaccia: GBBO Week #8

It was the quarter finals for The Great British Bake Off last week and only five baking ladies remain. The first challenge was to make a loaf made from unusual flour. For example chestnut, rye, rice or spelt. Any flavours were allowed and the loaf could be baked free form or in a tin. All these unusual flours have different gluten levels, which Paul explained can effect the bake, prove or both. Mary wanted the loaves to hold their shape, cut well, and have good texture, rise and most importantly – good flavour.

Spelt flour, which was being used by Frances, Kimberley, Beca and Ruby, has a weak gluten structure, which makes it more unpredictable then regular wheat flour. I loved the look of Beca’s Potato, Spelt & Rosemary Focaccia, it sounded delicious too and definitely something I would like to eat. The judges liked it too and called it ‘scrummy’. Christine and Frances also did well with good bakes and delicious flavours.

I really liked the look and sound of Kimberley’s Wild Garlic & Parma Ham Spelt Loaf, but I was disappointed to hear the judges thought it was dry and had too much filling. Such a shame as you can see above it looked amazing from all angles! Ruby slipped up with an underbaked and underproved loaf, although her flavours were good.

 

This week’s technical challenge was Mary Berry’s Hazelnut Dacquoise. A French classic, this dessert is made from 3 layers of nut meringue, layered with a coffee cream and finished with swirls of chocolate ganache. Mary warned that if the hazelnuts are over roasted they will be bitter, and if they are chopped too finely they will release oil and make the meringue runny. Paul was concerned that the bakers could trip up on the construction of the layers.

No baking time was provided and the bakers did have trouble in getting all three meringues to bake evenly. There were many steps to this bake, it seemed to be the most complex technical bake yet. All the Dacquoise looked good but overall Ruby was crowned the winner, Kimberley came second, Frances third, Beca fourth and Christine last.

For the showstopper the judges requested a 3D Novelty Cake of any shape, which must be dairy free and a vegetable cake. Paul explained that the vegetable and oil (in replace of butter) will restrict and retard the flour used so could affect the bake. Mary wanted more than just a carrot or courgette cake, as well as a good base and an ‘all out’ decoration. Vegetable cakes also need longer to bake because of their high moisture content.

Eggs were not mentioned, but surely these are dairy too? I saw them in Kimberley’s mixing bowl so they must have been allowed. Almost all of the bakers used fondant to decorate their cakes, with Christine making her own marshmallow fondant. I tend to avoid fondant or sugarpaste where I can as I am not experienced with it, but it can create some beautiful effects.

The judging was quite harsh this week! Frances’ cake was dense and dry, Beca’s was bland with no flavour and Christine’s was also bland and underwhelming. The bakers were left quite upset, with Beca describing the judging as brutal and even Mel and Sue commenting on the harshness. Kimberley and Ruby were the only ones with positive results.

Christine left this week. Which I understood, but was still disappointed by. The biggest confusion for me was Ruby getting star baker. Her loaf was underbaked and underproved, and despite coming first in the technical challenge, her showstopper was wonky and in my opinion the least pretty of all the cakes. I hate to say it, but I do feel like there is some favouritism involved when it comes to Ruby. What do you think?

Next week – savoury canapes, a swiss roll bowl cake, and an opera cake!

 

I fell in lust with Beca’s focaccia this week so I decided to make it. I will make a vegetable cake at some point, but you can check out my Carrot & Orange Cake I made earlier this year. Unfortunately due to the lack of supplies at the local shops I couldn’t get hold of any spelt flour, or, mostly annoyingly of all, fresh rosemary. I also changed the cheese from gorgonzola to halloumi. You can find Beca’s recipe here.

I started by boiling 300g maris piper potatoes. Whilst they boiled, I put 300g strong white bread flour, 1 sachet dried yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp caster sugar and 1 tbsp rosemary (fresh preferably but I used dried) into a bowl and mixed together.

When the potatoes were boiled, I drained the water into a bowl and measured out 130ml/4 fl oz of the potato water.

I put the potatoes back in the hot pan to dry out for a few minutes. Then mashed them with 3 tbsp olive oil and added to the flour mixture. I gradually poured in the potato water until a dough formed.

I used olive oil to help knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. Then put it an oiled bowl for 1 hour to prove in a warm place.

While I was waiting for the dough to prove, I parboiled a few new potatoes. The recipe said 15-20 potatoes, but I thought this was hugely excessive so I only did three. Then when they were cool, I sliced them evenly using a grater. I also sliced up my halloumi cheese.

My dough rose really well, I was pleased!

I spread it out onto a well greased baking tray and put dimples in it with my fingers.

I spread the potato slices and halloumi on top then sprinkled over some rosemary and salt. I had exactly enough potato so I’m pretty sure 15-20 on the original recipe is incorrect!

I baked on 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7 for 25 minutes, it was lovely and golden brown, then left to cool on a rack.

Once cooled I sliced it into pieces and enjoyed eating it all up! It had great flavour and was really delicious. Perfect as a starter or accompaniment to a main meal. It’s also good dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar – I love doing this with fresh bread! It was a shame I could not use spelt flour, have you ever used it and how did it affect your bake?

I am entering this bake into October’s Cooking With Herbs Challenge hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage.

 

Potato, Rosemary & Halloumi Focaccia
Ingredients
  • 300g + 3 Maris piper potatoes
  • 300g Strong white bread flour
  • 1 sachet of Dried yeast
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dried rosemary
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 150g Halloumi cheese
Instructions
Boil the 300g potatoes. Whilst they boil, put the strong white bread flour, dried yeast, salt, caster sugar and rosemary into a bowl and mix together
When the potatoes are boiled, drain the water into a bowl and measure out 130ml/4 fl oz of the potato water
Put the potatoes back in the hot pan to dry out for a few minutes. Then mash them with the olive oil and add to the flour mixture. Gradually pour in the potato water until a dough forms
Use olive oil to help knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. Put it an oiled bowl for 1 hour to prove in a warm place
While you are waiting for the dough to prove, parboil the 3 new potatoes. Then when cool, slice them evenly using a grater. Also slice up the halloumi cheese
Spread out the dough onto a well greased baking tray and put dimples in it with your fingers
Spread the potato slices and halloumi on top then sprinkle over some extra rosemary and salt
Bake on 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7 for 25 minutes, then leave to cool on a rack before slicing
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Rose & Raspberry Eclairs: GBBO Week #7

With only 3 episodes left the stakes are rising on The Great British Bake Off. Despite that, it seemed somewhat calmer in the baking tent in this week’s episode all about pastry. The first challenge was to make a family sized, sweet or savoury, suet pudding. In case you didn’t know (and you may not want to!) suet is the hard white fat that surrounds the kidneys and loins of sheep and cattle…erm…yum?

You may be relieved to know you can buy vegetarian suet these days which is made from palm oil and rice flour. The bakers could steam, boil or bake their puddings and we saw a variety of methods from Christine’s Spotted Dick which she steamed, Glenn’s Prune and Armagnac Pudding baked in a milk loaf tin, and Beca’s Spring Lamb and Vegetable Pudding which she boiled.

Suet pastry is quite an old fashioned pastry and I was surprised to see it on GBBO, however the show is know for ‘bringing back’ certain recipes. All of the bakers made an ice cream or sauce to accompany their puddings. Everyone did well on this challenge!

The technical challenge was a Mary Berry recipe – Holy Choux’s. Also known as little nuns, they are one large and one small creme patissiere filled profiterole stacked on top of each other, smothered with chocolate and piped with whipped cream. You can find Mary’s recipe, where the dessert is called a Religieuse by clicking here.

The bakers didn’t seem hugely phased by this as most had made choux pastry before. However this didn’t mean they were immune to baking troubles! They had trouble stacking the choux buns, getting thick creme patissiere and choux pastry not rising. Beca won the challenge, with Ruby second and Glenn third. Christine came last with Frances and Kimberley not far behind. Now that their numbers are decreasing the bakers have less ‘middle’ to hide in during technical challenges!

Finally the showstopper required the bakers to make one of the most technically challenging and time consuming pastries – puff. The judges requested three different types of puff pastry, one must be filled, one must be iced, and the other was up to the bakers. Puff pastry is all about building up layers of dough and butter to create flaky layers when baked.

I was impressed with the variety of puff pastry desserts that the bakers produced. So many flavours and fillings that I would have been happy to sample! Frances did well with her musical themed puff pastry treats, which included French Framboise Cream Horns. She had good flake and flavour, and the judges thought they looked impressive. Christine also saved herself with a fantastic selection of puff pastry goodies including Eccles Cakes and Fresh Fruit Baskets which Paul and Mary thought were well baked, delicious and unique with great flavour.

Ruby’s Custard Tarts were burnt and Paul and Mary said her bakes looked untidy, but tasted nice. Glenn took a risk by using a different technique to make his pastry, Paul was unsure about the inverted method Glenn chose to use and sadly it did not work out for him. The judges were not happy with his showstopper and Paul called them ‘hideous’. Poor Glenn!

And unfortunately it was Glenn we said goodbye to this week. Although I understand the judges’ decision, Glenn was without a doubt the best personality on the show. He’s incredibly funny and witty, he’s surely delivered some of the best quips on GBBO! I hope we see him on our screens again soon. Not much was revealed about next week’s episode!

I struggled to pick something to make this week. I’ve made a Clootie Dumpling before, which is a type of suet pudding. And I made Profiteroles for last years GBBO. And of course I have a busy life and am not competing on a national television show so there was no way I was making puff pastry! I’ve had this eclair idea in my head for a few months now and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make them!

I started by melting 75g butter in 200ml cold water in a pan on a low heat.

Once it was melted, I brought the mixture to the boil.

As soon as it was boiling, I took it off the heat and tipped in 125g sifted plain flour and mixed it in quickly until a smooth dough formed.

I left it to cool for 10 minutes, then mixed in 3 beaten eggs, bit by bit, until it became a glossy smooth paste.

I spooned the mixture into a piping bag with a large circular nozzle in, and piped out 10cm/4″ sausage shapes onto a lined baking tray. I used a knife dipped in water to cut the paste off at the end of the sausage shape.

I baked on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for around 20-25 minutes. I took them out and cut a slit down the side, then put them back in for 5 minutes. I had trouble removing them from the greaseproof paper, so used a palette knife to get them off and put them on a cooling rack. For some reason my greaseproof paper was not playing ball the night I made these as it was my second batch – the first batch stuck so badly to the paper! You’ll get about 12 eclairs out of the mixture.

I decided to use rose and white chocolate to flavour the eclairs because they are light flavours to match the light pastry, and the raspberry was for a zingy twist. Of course, feel free to fill with whipped cream and cover with chocolate if you wish!

I made the icing with 125g sifted icing sugar, 1/2 tsp rose water, about 1 tbsp water (add it a little at a time as it can get too runny easily!) and I used the juice out of 4 crushed raspberries to make it pink. You could also use food colouring of course. I crushed the raspberries through a sieve, but still double check it for seeds as they are small and pesky. Then gently use a spoon to top the eclairs with it, and I also sprinkled over some grated white chocolate. I didn’t have time to leave it set long enough, so it did run a bit for me, but if I had have had time, I would’ve popped it in the fridge to set.

Finally I whipped up a pot of cream (500ml), and piped it into the eclairs. Then I added 3 raspberries, feel free to add more! These eclairs were so fresh and yummy, and gobbled up in a flash! They are a great twist on the traditional eclair and show how versatile choux pastry can be.

 

Rose & Raspberry Eclairs
Ingredients
  • 75g Butter
  • 200ml Cold water
  • 125g Plain flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 125g Icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Rose water
  • 40 Fresh raspberries
  • 6 blocks of White chocolate
  • 500ml Double cream
Instructions
Melt the butter in the cold water in a pan on a low heat
Once it was melted, bring the mixture to the boil
As soon as it is boiling, take it off the heat and tipped in the sifted plain flour. Mix it in quickly until a smooth dough forms
Leave it to cool for 10 minutes, then mix in the eggs, bit by bit, until it becomes a glossy smooth paste
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large circular nozzle, and pipe out 10cm/4″ sausage shapes onto a lined baking tray. Use a knife dipped in water to cut the paste off at the end of the sausage shape
Bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for around 20-25 minutes. Take them out and cut a slit down the side, then put them back in for 5 minutes
Make the by mixing the icing sugar, rose water, 1 tbsp water and the juice out of 4 crushed raspberries. Use a spoon to top the eclairs with it, and sprinkle over some grated white chocolate
Whip up the double cream, and pipe it into the eclairs. Then add 3 raspberries
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