The Great British Bake Off got all European this week. Mel and Sue put on some dodgy accents and requested that the bakers make a yeast leavened cake inspired by Europe. Paul explained that baking powder wasn’t invented until the 1850s, so yeast was used to raise cakes. Yeast is much harder to work with as any flavours you add to the mixture can affect the yeast from performing it’s rising job. The cake has to prove like bread before being baked.
There was a wide variety of cakes from the bakers. Luis made an Austrian Kugelhopf flavoured with apple and cinnamon, Richard made a German Guglhupf filled with fruit, and Chetna made an French Savarin flavoured with orange. Martha, Luis and Chetna all did very well in the judging. Nancy’s cake was overproved, Richard’s underproved and Paul thought Kate’s fillings were too dry. All the bakers reacted well to the feedback. Nice to see everyone returning to being calm and collected!
Mary Berry’s recipe for a Swedish Princess cake (or Prinsesstårta) was this week’s technical challenge. The cake comprises layers of genoise sponge sandwiched with jam and creme patisserie, then an dome of whipped cream on top and the whole thing is covered in green marzipan with a pink marzipan rose decoration and chocolate swirls to finish. This is a pretty epic creation and is the Bake Off’s most complicated technical challenge yet as it compromises 26 ingredients and 14 stages. Mary advised that the bakers read the recipe at least twice to make sure they know what they’re doing!
This challenge really proved that the bakers have great technical knowledge. They weren’t told how to make a creme patisserie, but they all knew what to do. Martha knew a lot about genoise sponges, and Nancy is a jam making pro. The recipe is certainly tough as they had to make both the jam and marzipan from scratch! Kate and Chetna both made the sponges twice as they didn’t rise, which left them with little time to decorate. Nancy won the challenge, with Chetna and Luis in second and third. Kate came last, with Richard fifth and Martha fourth. I loved the clip of Kate at the end just going ‘Hmmm…’!
For the showstopper the judges requested a contemporary version of the Hungarian dobos torte. This is a multi layered cake topped with caramel slices, and the judges wanted at least two tiers, with lots of caramel sugar work in any shape of design the bakers desired. This is a very elegant cake and is mostly found in patisseries and fancy hotels. The bakers had to make lots of very thin layers of sponge to build up the height of the cake. The idea is that the buttercream and cake layers are the same so that when it’s cut you get a great effect.
Luis made a cage shape out of his caramel that was very precise and impressive, although his cake lacked in flavour. Richard spun some sugar to make a nest for a sugar bird, but his sponges drooped. Chetna had a very clever trick using grapes to make caramel bowls, which the judges loved. Nancy also did well. Paul and Mary felt that Kate did not do enough sugar work, and Martha’s cake tasted good, but again the sugar work was minimal.
So, quite obviously, no one left this week. After Diana’s unexpected exit, the programme are now down one person leaving the number uneven. Luckily this week Paul and Mary had a bit of a disagreement on who should go (it was between Kate and Richard). So they took the opportunity for no one to leave this week. Richard and Kate have both received the star baker award in the past, so they will hopefully pick up their game after this week as I really like them both! Next week is all about pastry.
I decided to make the Swedish Princess Cake this week as it contained a couple of techniques I’m not familiar with. Creme patisserie and genoise sponge are things I’ve never made before. Lucky for me I had all the time in the world to make it so I did the creme patisserie the night before and left it to cool in the fridge overnight. I also used shop bought jam and marzipan (sorry Mary). If you do want to make your own jam my Raspberry Jam post will show you how. As for marzipan – go and buy some is my advice!
To make the creme patisserie I started by heating whole milk with the seeds from a vanilla pod until it reached boiling point. Then I took it off the heat.
In my food mixer I whisked up egg yolks with caster sugar until pale and thick. I added cornflour, then turned the mixer back on and poured the milk in.
I poured the mixture back into the pan and heated it up whilst stirring. There is a moment when it suddenly thickens, I started whisking it at this point to keep it smooth and stop any lumps.
I was so chuffed with the creme patisserie! I put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film. Making sure the cling film was touching the creme pat so that a skin doesn’t form on it. I left it in the fridge overnight to cool.
The next evening I lined and greased my 23cm spring form cake tin.
In my food mixer I whisked up eggs with caster sugar until pale and super thick. When you lift the whisk out the mixture that falls off should stay on the surface for 3 seconds before sinking in.
I folded plain flour and sugar into the egg mixture very gently so as little air is lost as possible. I then put it in the tin.
I baked the sponge on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 25 minutes.
Whilst it was cooling I kneaded pink food colouring into marzipan. I rolled it out and cut out a strip about 2cm wide and 10cm long.
I rolled it up, nipping the bottom and spreading out the petals at the top with my fingertips.
I cut the sponge into three and put the first piece on my cake stand. I spread a thin layer of the creme patisserie onto it, then piped a border of it around the edge.
I added raspberry jam in the middle and spread evenly. At this point I got a bit confused and put the second sponge on top without adding cream over the jam first. To be honest at this point I was pretty tired and it didn’t affect the end result.
I put the second sponge on and spread over the rest of the creme patisserie.
I placed the final sponge layer on, then whipped up double cream with icing sugar and vanilla sugar and spread it over the whole cake, making a dome shape on top.
I kneaded some green food colouring into natural marzipan and rolled it out. Now I am not the decorator type. Baking I can do, but when it comes to decorating I lack finesse! The marzipan went on fine but I couldn’t get it smooth all the way round.
So I end up with what I shall call and ‘ugly bum’ at the back of the Swedish Princess Cake! Ah well. I cut the edges off and piped cream around the bottom. I melted some dark chocolate and piped a design on top, and finally added my pink rose.
When the Swedish Princess Cake was cut the layers were clearly defined which I was really thrilled with! It’s a very indulgent cake as there is obviously a ton of cream. The creme patisserie was really delicious and I’ll definitely make it again. I’m not a huge fan of marzipan but it’s not overpowering. I think a version of this cake covered in chocolate icing and maybe with some extra jam would be really good. Overall, although time consuming, the different elements weren’t as difficult to make as I expected. It went to plan, although I had the luxury of time, which the Bake Off contestants do not! I think with as much time as I had they would have produced similar if not better results.
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Swedish Princess Cake
For the creme patisserie
- 500 ml Whole milk
- 1 Vanilla pod
- 45 g Cornflour
- 6 Egg yolks
- 140 g Caster sugar
For the genoise sponge
- 150 g Caster sugar
- 5 Eggs large
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 130 g Plain flour
For the filling
- 1/2 a jar Raspberry jam
For covering and decorating
- 440 g Natural Marzipan
- Pink food colouring
- Green food colouring
- 700 ml Double cream
- 2 tbsp Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- Dark chocolate
To make the creme patisserie heat the whole milk with the seeds from the vanilla pod until it reaches boiling point. Then take it off the heat
In a food mixer whisk up the egg yolks with the caster sugar until pale and thick. Add the cornflour, then turned the mixer back on and pour the milk in
Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat it up whilst stirring. When it starts to thicken, whisk it to keep it smooth and stop any lumps forming
Put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film. Make sure the cling film is touching the creme patisserie so that a skin doesn't form on it. Leave it in the fridge to cool completely
Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line and grease a 23cm spring form cake tin
In a food mixer whisked up the eggs with the caster sugar until pale and super thick. When you lift the whisk out the mixture that falls off should stay on the surface for 3 seconds before sinking in
Fold the plain flour and vanilla extract into the egg mixture very gently so as little air is lost as possible. Then put it in the tin
Bake the sponge for 25 minutes. Leave to cool completely
Knead some pink food colouring into 40g of the marzipan. Roll it out and cut out a strip about 2cm wide and 10cm long
Roll the strip up, nipping the bottom and spreading out the petals at the top with your fingertips. Set aside
Cut the sponge into three layers and put the first piece onto a cake stand. Spread a thin layer of the creme patisserie onto it, then pipe a border of the creme patisserie around the edge
Add raspberry jam in the middle and spread evenly
Put the second sponge on and spread over the rest of the creme patisserie
Place the final sponge layer on, then whip up the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Spread it over the whole cake, making a dome shape on top. Leave some cream aside for decorating
Knead green food colouring into 400g of the marzipan and roll it out. Cover the entire cake with it
Pipe the leftover cream around the bottom. Melt the dark chocolate and pipe a design on top, and finally add the pink rose in the middle
Store leftovers in the fridge and eat within 2 days
Recipe from The Telegraph.