I recently went to The Cake & Bake Show in association with Argos at Event City in Manchester. It’s the show’s second year at Event City, and also it’s second year of extending it’s run from 3 to 4 days. Last year after a change in event organisers, the show was much smaller and I was a bit disappointed with it. I was very glad to see they have upped their game this year! The place was packed with exhibitors, demo stages and gorgeous cake displays.
I attended the show with my friend Beth and we started our day watching Benjamina demo a Pistachio, Lemon and Cardamom cake on the super theatre stage. I was really excited to see her as she is one of my favourite contestants from this year’s Great British Bake Off. I loved how pretty she made all of her bakes look throughout the show and even working quickly on the demo stage she still pulled off a gorgeous bake!
Benjamina also talked about how she’d love to release a book one day – and I hope she does! She told the crowd how her and the other bakers from this year all have a Whatsapp group and they talk to each other almost every day.
And this was the gorgeous cake that she produced, the recipe for a loaf version of this cake is available on the BBC Food website. To jazz it up like she did, double the recipe, bake it in sandwich tins, and decorate with cream cheese frosting, edible flowers and edible glitter.
We went for a wander round the exhibitor stands. I was really impressed with Mr D’s Pie Machine, how awesome is their stand?! It really stood out and had such a unique look.
The Sunday Girl’s gorgeous retro aprons really caught my eye, plus they even do kids versions – so cute!
I couldn’t miss the gigantic potato rostis and potato cakes being sold by the Piece of Cake Bakery, I’m regretting not going back to buy some of these amazing treats!
These impeccable cupcakes were on offer from Candy’s Cupcakes and I thought they looked gorgeous.
The Gorgeous Ventures taught me what puff puffs are, and my waistline is not going to thank me! They are an African snack made by deep frying balls of cake dough flavoured with ginger or banana and damn are they good!
I adore Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and their stand was selling packs of 2 half pound cups for only £5! Such a bargain considering I saw them on another stall for £13. They are a limited edition for Christmas and would surely make any Reese’s fan very happy on Christmas day!
I bumped into the lovely Benjamina and had to grab a photo! I was so nervous, but she was lovely and so nice. She is a fellow blogger too, check out her blog Carrot & Crumb.
We wandered over into the Ideal Home Show, which is connected to The Cake & Bake Show and you can access it with the same ticket. We grabbed some lunch from La Raclette, above is Beth’s cheese smothered potatoes with gherkins.
Then we grabbed a warm apple strudel drink from this fab red bus bar. It was a mixture of Malibu, apple juice and cinnamon, and it was delicious. Christmas was in full swing at the Ideal Home Show with twinkling Christmas trees dotted all around.
Back at The Cake & Bake Show super theatre we checked out GBBO 2015 winner Nadia as she made za’tar and lemon palmiers, and coconut macarons. She was very chatty and friendly to the crowd and talked a lot about her children. She also admitted to using ready made puff pastry, which I thought was great as it really is such a time saver.
And the famous Nadia facial expressions were in full swing!
I did a bit of shopping and grabbed these cute gingerbread sprinkles, and some pump action glitter spray from The Cake Decorating Company. I discovered this glitter spray at John Whaite’s Kitchen Cookery School recently and I wanted some straight away. I got it in all three colours (gold, silver and red) as it was 3 for £12!
There was a stunning display of Beatrix Potter characters made from sugarcraft to look at. It was made by The Sugar Chronicles to celebrate 150 years since Beatrix Potter was born.
It really brought back memories from my childhood of reading the books. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny was one of my favourite stories.
The characters were all stunningly recreated in sugar craft and the detail was superb, from the eyelashes on the rabbits, to the tiny woodlice and rocks in the grass around them.
I introduced Beth to Sugar & Crumbs amazing flower nozzles that create the stunning designs above so easily. We watched a demonstration and her mind was blown!
I got some fudge from The Kilted Fudge Company last year and I was back for more this year as their fudge is fantastic! Honestly the best fudge I’ve ever tasted.
There was some amazing competition cakes on display that we gazed in awe at. The theme was fairytales and I also saw several mermaid themed cakes.
The detail on these cakes is so beautiful!
And the day ended with watching Rosemary Schrager and sitting behind these fab four – Val, Rav, Benjamina and Louise from The Great British Bake Off. They are holding my friend Beth’s baby in the above photo! I had such a fun day at the show and it was great to see it back on form after last year’s hiccup. I’m looking forward to next year already!
The Great British Bake Off series 7 came to an end last week, and it really was the end of an era as it was the last time the show will be aired on the BBC. Of course, none of the bakers or presenters knew that at the time of filming. Our three finalists were Candice, Andrew and Jane. Candice has been well known throughout this series for making elaborate bakes themed around her family, she’s won star baker three times and is this year’s lipstick queen! Jane won star baker on week one, and has had quite a few ups and downs since then. Andrew has been known for his technical approach to baking, and has won star baker twice.
The theme of the final was royal and the signature challenge was to make a three layered filled meringue crown, family sized and decorated. Paul said the bakers have struggled with meringue in the past so he wanted to see how they did again. Jane’s meringue crown was filled with blueberry compote, raspberry and strawberry compote and nectarines. It had quite a simple appearance, and Paul said it had to be perfect because of this. Apart from her blueberry compote being slightly runny, her bake went well. Mary gave it plenty of praise while Paul stayed quiet as he was happily eating it all! He gave her a double Hollywood handshake!
Andrew used muscavado sugar in his meringue, which meant there was a higher risk of his meringue cracking. He made it in the shape of the Queen’s jubilee crown and filled it with pecan praline, layered it with blackberry fool and made cassis jelly ‘jewels’. He struggled with his pecan praline as it stuck to his baking paper, but he had a good bake. The judges felt that his praline was too sweet and overpowered the meringue, and that the fool wasn’t tart enough. They enjoyed his meringue and cassis jelly.
Candice made two different types of meringue, one with caster sugar and one with golden caster sugar. Her crown was filled with prosecco soaked strawberries, mango curd, and glittered fruit and nuts. One top was a tiny tiara style crown. The judges thought it looked impressive and that it had great texture and flavour, she got a Hollywood handshake too!
This week’s technical gave the bakers nowhere to hide. It was to make a Victoria Sponge, but without a recipe. They also had to make the buttercream and jam for the filling, again without a recipe. This is pretty straightforward for people who bake a lot, but the bakers were really feeling the pressure so were bound to make mistakes. I did think it was a little simple, and they could have challenged them more.
Jane made the mistake of weighing her eggs in the shells, so she had far
too much mixture. Both Jane and Candice made their sponge with the all
in one method, while Andrew used the creaming method. Candice made the raspberry jame seedless, which Mary didn’t like. Jane came third due to using too much mixture, Candice was second as her buttercream was grainy, and Andrew won the technical!
The showstopper challenge was to make a picnic fit for a Queen, this had to include: 1 chocolate celebration cake, 12 puff pastry sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones and 12 fruit and custard tarts – 49 items in total! Mary said that even though the bakers had 5 hours to make everything, they still needed good time management. Paul wanted every item to be suitable to serve to the Queen herself.
Candice made a chocolate, orange & cardamom cake, bacon, mushroom & black pudding sausage rolls, manchego & olive scones, salmon & asparagus quiches and rhubarb & custard tarts. The pastry on her tarts did catch, but they still looked good and she avoided a soggy bottom! She also made cute pig faces on her sausage rolls which was a nice touch, and her puff pastry was well cooked. Her quiches were crispy and full of salmon. Her scones didn’t taste of cheese as the olives overtook the flavour. Paul loved her chocolate cake, and Mary thought it was a great cake for a picnic.
Andrew made smoked cheddar & paprika scones, sausage & chorizo rolls, sweet potato, goats cheese & caramelised onion quiches, strawberry & pistachio tarts and a chocolate cake featuring chocolate shards. He had an extremely detailed Excel spreadsheet which had every 5 minutes of the challenge planned to keep him on track. He also used family recipes to ensure success. Andrew added a sugar glaze to his fruit tarts which unfortunately soaked through and made the pastry soggy. His sausage rolls tasted good but he had raw pastry. Mary loved the apperance of his scones, but couldn’t taste any cheese. His quiches were crispy and tasted delicious according to Paul. His chocolate cake looked great and Paul felt the same about the taste of it.
Jane made red fruit and elderflower tarts, butternut squash & parmesan scones, apple & thyme rolls, salmon & prawn quiches and a chocolate cake decorated with a chocolate collar. Jane was flapping quite a lot as she seemed unorganised. Her chocolate collar did not set so she had to cover her cake in buttercream and glitter instead. Her sausage roll had raw pastry, but tasted good. Mary really enjoyed her quiches and fruit tarts. Neither Mary or Paul could taste the butternutsquash in her scones. The judges did enjoy her chocolate cake and said it was light and soft, and loved the cherry and cream surprise in the middle.
And the winner was… Candice! She certainly deserved it as her bakes were the best in this episode. She was who I wanted to win as I felt she deserved it overall from the quality of her bakes throughout the series, even though the judges don’t take that into account on the final day. It was quite emotional as she talked about what winning meant to her. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next!
I started by greasing and lining three 9 inch sandwich tins.
I creamed together 520g caster sugar and 520g butter.
I added 9 eggs, mixing them in two at a time.
I then mixed in 400g self raising flour, 120g cocoa powder and 2 tbsp milk.
I divided the mixture into the tins, I always make a hole in the middle of the batter to try and stop it from doming too much in the middle.
I baked it on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes, then left to cool fully.
I made the nutella buttercream by mixing together 150g butter and 300g icing sugar, then I added 200g Nutella, 3 tbsp double cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. I mixed it until it was smooth.
I made the cream filling by whipping up 250ml double cream, then mixing in 250g mascarpone cheese
I started stacking up the cakes. I spread half of the cream mixture onto the first layer.
Then I spread half a jar of cherry jam on top.
I stacked up the next layer of cake, then spread the rest of the cream layer on, followed by the rest of the cherry jam.
I then added the last sponge and spread a layer of the Nutella buttercream over the top using a palette knife.
I put the rest of the Nutella buttercream in a piping bag and piped two rows of rosettes around the edge of the cake. I used a Wilton Number 6B Open Star tip for this effect. I filled the middle with some Dr Oetker chocolate strand sprinkles.
I took 10 cherries out of a jar of kirsch soaked cherries and put them on some kitchen towel to soak away as much moisture from them as I could. I then rolled half of each cherry in edible gold glitter and arrange them around the cake.
The cake was ready for a celebration! I took it along to my friend’s 30th birthday party for the guests to enjoy.
The cake was so yummy and if I do say so myself it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made! The sponge was lovely and moist, and the fresh cream and cheese filling was the perfect balance against the sweet chocolate and Nutella buttercream. I adore kirsch soaked cherries so they were a tasty bonus for me.
Cream together the caster sugar and 520g of the butter
Add the eggs, mixing them in two at a time
Mix in the self raising flour, cocoa powder and milk
Divide the mixture into the tins and bake it on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes, then leave to cool fully
Make the nutella buttercream by mixing together 150g of the butter and the icing sugar, then add the Nutella, the 3 tbsp double cream and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth
Make the cream filling by whipping up the 250ml of double cream, then mixing in the mascarpone cheese
Start stacking up the cakes. Spread half of the cream filling onto the first layer, followed by half a jar of the cherry jam on top. Do the same with the second layer of cake
Add the last sponge and spread a layer of the Nutella buttercream over the top using a palette knife
Put the rest of the Nutella buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a Wilton Number 6B Open Star Tip and pipe two rows of rosettes around the edge of the cake. Fill the middle with the chocolate strand sprinkles
Take 10 cherries out of a jar of kirsch soaked cherries and put them on some kitchen towel to soak away as much moisture as possible. Then roll half of each cherry in edible gold glitter and arrange them evenly around the cake
I didn’t post a bake along last week as I’ve been on holiday, I feel like I lucked out as Tudor Week looked tough! I’m still not over Benjamina’s shock exit either… This week was patisserie week and also the semi finals! As usual Bake Off is coming to an end far too fast. All of the bakers were very nervous this week, even Selasi!
The signature challenge was to make two styles of 24 savoury palmiers, using only puff pastry (no rough puff allowed!) Paul and Mary were looking for layers in the pastry, and a small amount of filling but with a lot of flavour. There were some debate amongst the bakers over whether they were using strong bread flour or plain flour for the puff pastry dough, with most of them using a mixture of the two. Andrew was the only one who used only plain flour and he had to re-start his puff pastry as it was too crumbly.
There were lots of different palmier shapes from the bakers. Jane made flowers, Andrew did musical notes, Selasi made butterflies and Candice made hearts. The judges thought Jane’s pesto and sundried tomato palmiers were not fully baked, they loved the flavour of her tapanade palmiers but again they were not quite baked. Candice’s pastry was well baked and the judges enjoyed the flavours, however they felt the palmiers were too big and thick. Selasi’s palmiers were also underbaked. Despite Andrew having to redo his pastry, his palmiers were crispy and Paul loved them.
This week’s technical challenge was to make a Savarin, this is basically a large rum baba. It’s a yeasted cake which is soaked in an orange liquor syrup and decorated with whipped cream and fresh fruit. Paul warned the bakers may not prove the cake correctly, and he also wanted to see the cake evenly soaked with the liquor. Jane knew what it was, but the others were unsure.
Jane struggled with the caramel shards, I lost count of how many times she attempted to make them! All of the bakers had very neat piping skills when they made the chocolate label for the cake. It was a hot day in the tent so they all struggled with getting the cake to cool so they could add the whipped cream decoration. Paul actually gave the bakers some grace for this! Selasi came last as his savarin was over baked and his orange segments still had membrane on, Candice’s was also over baked and under proved which meant she got third place. Andrew’s was also slightly over baked so he came second, and Jane won despite not being successful with the caramel decoration.
The showstopper was to make 36 fondant fancies, two different types, all made with genoise sponge, and all made from scratch. They had 4 and a half hours to complete the challenge, Mary admitted that you’d make the sponge the day before usually which would make it more difficult for the bakers, but of course she still wanted them to be perfect. Paul wanted to see shop standard fancies with flat sides.
I liked Jane’s tip to use a potato masher to dip the fancies into the fondant. Mary made a comment about Selasi not sifting his flour, so he immediately re-made his sponge again! All of the fancies had to be covered in buttercream to ensure smooth sides, but Jane was the only baker who decided against doing this as it is a time consuming element to the bake. It was a very tense time in the tent as they all struggled to complete the challenge on time.
Mary and Paul both loved Candice’s praline fancies and cherry bakewell fancies, they thought the overall apperance was a bit messy but the flavours and fillings were what won them over. As Jane did not use buttercream to cover her fancies, the side were very messy and the judges noticed this immediately. Andrew’s fancies looked fantastic, I loved the way he presented them, it was such a clever idea.The judges agreed and called the presentation ‘stunning’.
Selasi left this week, he came last in the technical and the judges thought his white chocolate fancies were overly sweet. It was very close between him and Jane I thought, and I was surprised they chose him. Next week is the final and we get to find out who the winner is!
This week I decided to make the fondant fancies. I find making puff pastry from scratch quite boring (too much turning and folding) and I don’t have the right tin to make a Savarin in. Making these gave me so much sympathy towards the GBBO bakers! They are very time consuming due to all the different stages, but ultimately worth giving a go at least once as they taste so good and look really impressive!
I started with the cake. I made a genoise sponge and whisked up 5 eggs with 150g golden caster sugar for about 7 minutes until it was thick.
I then sieved in a mixture of 150g plain flour and 2 tsp cinnamon in three stages, and gently folded them in each time. I then added 75g melted butter which I poured around the edge of the bowl and folded in. I poured it into a lined baking tin.
I baked it on 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 for 25 minutes. I let it cool then wrapped it up and put it in the freezer for an hour.
While the cake was baking I made the apple filling. I heated up 1 chopped cooking apple, 1 tsp cinnamon and 25g light brown sugar on a low heat for 15 minutes until the apples were soft. I let the mixture cool, then whizzed it up using a hand blender.
I took the cake out of the freezer and brushed a thin layer of apricot jam over the top.
I then rolled out a 250g pack of orange fondant and covered the cake with it.
I trimmed the edges of the cake then using a ruler I cut it into 1.5″ squares.
Then I cut each square into half.
I spread the apple filling onto the bottom half and sandwiched them all back together.
I made a caramel butter cream by mixing 150g butter, 300g golden icing sugar and 1 tsp caramel extract.
I used a palette knife to coat the sides of each cake. This was quite fiddly to get 100% neat. I put them in the fridge for an hour for the buttercream to set.
I made a pourable fondant by mixing up 1kg ready to roll fondant with 115ml water and some orange food colouring. I set up a cooling rack with a baking tray underneath and using it to place the cakes on before the pouring the fondant over the top.
I melted 100g white chocolate, put it into a piping bag and piped a zig zag pattern on top. I then added some bronze sprinkles.
I didn’t expect the fancies to be as neat as professional ones, but I thought they came out alright in the end. The sides could have been neater, but the top were lovely and smooth. My fondant didn’t fully set, even after being in the fridge overnight, so they were quite messy when eating them!
And the best bit, they tasted just like apple pie! The cinnamon, apple and caramel all came together in a way I wasn’t expecting, and produced a delicious apple pie flavour. This wasn’t my original intention, but it really made the whole experience of making these worthwhile.
To make the genoise sponge whisk the eggs with the golden caster sugar in a stand mixer for about 7 minutes until thick and trebled in size
Sieve in the plain flour and 2 tsp of the cinnamon in three stages, and gently fold them in each time. Add the melted butter by pouring it around the edge of the bowl and folding it in. Pour the batter into a lined 12" x 9" traybake tin
Bake it on 180C/160C fan/Gas 4 for 25 minutes. Let it cool then wrap it up and put it in the freezer for an hour
To make the apple filling heat up the chopped cooking apple with 1 tsp of the cinnamon and the light brown sugar on a low heat for 15 minutes until the apples are soft. Let the mixture cool, then whizz it up using a hand blender
Take the cake out of the freezer and brush a thin layer of apricot jam over the top
If you are using white fondant, knead some orange food colouring into it first until you get the desired shade. Rolled out 250g of the fondant and cover the cake with it
Trim the edges of the cake then using a ruler cut it into 1.5" squares. Then cut each square into half horizontally
Spread the apple filling onto the bottom half of the cake and sandwich them all back together
Make a caramel buttercream by mixing the butter, golden icing sugar and caramel extract together. Use a palette knife to coat the sides of each cake with the buttercream, then put them in the fridge for an hour for the buttercream to set
Make a pourable fondant by mixing up 1kg of the ready to roll fondant with 115ml water. Set up a cooling rack with a baking tray underneath and using it to place the cakes on before the pouring the fondant over the top
Melt 100g white chocolate, put it into a piping bag and piped a zig zag pattern on top. Add some bronze sprinkles
It was dessert week on The Great British Bake Off this week. Can you believe it’s the quarter finals next week?! It’s coming around so fast as usual. I’m going to be missing out on next week’s bake along as I’m away on holiday, but I’ll be back in time for the week after. The signature challenge was so make a sweet sponge roulade which could be filled any way the bakers liked. Mary was looking out for a spiral when the roulades were rolled up, and Paul advised against filling the roulades too much.
The bakers were trying to avoid cracking when rolling their roulades. My view has always been that a roulade should crack. Perhaps it is because they were making sponge roulades rather than meringue ones. A sponge roulade is just a swiss roll really isn’t it?! Selasi made a lemon and strawberry roulade filled with cream and lemon curd that the judges loved. Tom made a millionaire’s roulade with a nutmeg sponge, and the judges didn’t like that he’d covered up the spiral at the ends. Benjamina made a pina colada roulade which sounded really fun and her sponge was lovely and soft according to Mary, but Paul thought the coconut extract she used tasted too artificial.
Jane rolled her chocolate & hazelnut roulade from the long end, which is clearly the wrong way… maybe at home if that’s how you like it, but not on Bake Off! The judges commented on this technique, but loved her flavours. Candice made a white chocolate and passion fruit roulade with a cheesecake filling which sounded heavenly. Andrew used a clever technique to create a stripy pattern on the outside of his roulade which impressed Paul and Mary.
This week’s technical certainly veered from the theme so far of going back to basics, as the baker’s were asked to make a Marjolaine which is a French rectangular gateau featuring four layers of praline meringue, praline and chocolate buttercream and a nut coating. Thankfully for the bakers, the recipe provided seemed to have a bit more information than usual. None of the bakers had made one before, and most of them hadn’t made all of the different elements of the Marjolaine either.
They all seemed to get on with it without any major problems. One of Andrew’s meringue layers cracked but it wasn’t noticable once the gateau was constructed. I chuckled when he described it as looking like a Vienetta! There were some issues with Selasi’s meringue which meant he came last, Tom was 5th because of his piping, Jane was 4th as her meringue was too chewy, and Benjamina came 3rd due to piping issues too. Candice was 2nd as her bake was very neat, which left Andrew as 1st with a picture perfect Marjolaine!
The showstopper this week was to make two flavours of mini mousse cakes. Mary was looking forward to soft sponge textures and set mousses. Paul wanted the mousses to be full of flavour and melt in the mouth. It was hot in the tent so the bakers were concerned about their mousses setting, freezers and gelatine were used to avoid any disasters. Jane made a very impressive patterened sponge collar for her vanilla and coffee mousse. She also made a berry mousse cake with 3 different mousse flavours, she did so well to get it all done in the time and the judges were impressed.
Benjamina made apple crumble mousse, and a chocolate and coffee mousse. The appearance of her mousses wasn’t great, but the judges loved the flavours. Usually she is very good at presenting her bakes. Selasi made a rapsberry mousse with a passion fruit jelly and chocolate mint mousses, he had problems with getting his mousse to set and Paul said his chocolate mint mousses were too big. Andrew made a mint chocolate mousse and a forest fruit mousse, he presented them on a ferris wheel and got a glowing result from Mary and Paul!
Candice went a bit overboard on her gelatine in her blackberry raspberry mousse and had to make it again. Her fruity mousses were presented on top of a processo and raspberry liquer jelly. She also joined in with a bit of a theme in the tent and made a mint chocolate mousse. Tom made a Hipsters picnic where his mousse was piped between two cakes to look like finger sandwiches.The judges did not approve of this technique and said he had not delivered what they asked for.
Tom left us this week, which is the first time ever in Bake Off history that the star baker of bread week hasn’t made it to the final. Andrew won star baker which was really well deserved as he did very well in every challenge. Next week is another new theme – Tudor week!
I made this roulade before the episode aired as I’ll be on holiday when you read this. Roulade was the only thing I could guess they were making from the next week’s preview so it was an easy choice! The bakers roulades seemed more like swiss rolls to me, whereas I made a traditional meringue roulade.
I started by whisking up 140g egg whites (about 4 eggs) until stiff peaks formed. I then added 200g caster sugar with the mixer still going. Finally I added 1 tsp cornflour and 1 tsp cider vinegar and mixed it in.
I poured the mixture out onto a lined baking tray and smoothed it out.
I baked it on 160C/140C Fan/320F/Gas Mark 3 for 25 minutes.
When the roulade came out of the oven, I let it cool for 5 minutes in the tin while I prepared a sheet of baking paper dusted with icing sugar.
I then tipped the roulade out onto the icing sugar and left it there to cool fully.
When it was cool I whipped up 300ml double cream with 1 tsp vanilla extract and spread it all over the roulade. I reserved a small amount of cream for decorating the top.
I sprinkled over some chopped roasted hazelnuts, about 30g.
Then I covered it with blackberries, for any large ones I cut them in half.
I made a coulis for drizzling over the roulade by using a hand blender to mix 3 heaped tbsp icing sugar with 75g blackberries.
I gently and slowly rolled up the roulade. I used the reserved whipped cream to decorate the top and added some blackberries and a sprinkle of hazelnuts.
For serving, I drizzled the coulis over the roulade, and drizzled more of it over the sliced pieces. I’ve never had this type of roulade before and it is gooooood! The meringue is really light, soft in the middle with a crunchy outside. I definitely plan on making this again, and it’s so customisable as you can fill it with different fruits and flavours.
Well The Great British Drama of the past couple of weeks seems to be settling down for now, and it’s all been outside of the tent so far! This week’s theme was a new one – Botanicals Week. It based all around things that grow, so fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables. I really liked this theme and the challenges that were themed around it. I also loved how Selasi, Jane, Mel and Mary all got into the spirit of it by wearing floral clothes!
The signature challenge was to make a citrus meringue pie. Mary was very excited and she wanted crisp meringue that was baked in the oven. Paul wanted balance between the sharp citrus and sweet meringue. Rav made a mandarin tart served with tequila. Both Jane and Candice used lime and coconut, Andrew also went for lime but added ginger to it, and both Benjamina and Selasi chose grapefruit to flavour their tarts. Benjamina added ginger to hers, while Selasi chose mint. Tom of course, went for something different and made a pumpkin, blood orange and pecan tart.
Everytime a baker mentioned using a blowtorch on their meringue the look on Mary’s face was very disapproving! Personally I prefer blowtorched meringue, it’s lovely and marshmallowy. A few of the bakers had problems with their meringue being too ‘wet’. Benjamina got a glowing result, as did Jane. Selasi’s curd was his only let down. Rav’s meringue was not stable enough, but they enjoyed his flavours. Andrew’s pie also lacked volume from his meringue, but his curd was ‘beautiful’ according to Paul. Tom’s pastry was not baked through and the judges couldn’t taste any citrus. Candice failed to impress with the apperance of her tart.
This week’s technical challenge was to make two herb fougasse. A leaf shaped bread flavoured with three different herbs – thyme, sage and rosemary. The main part of the instructions the bakers struggled with was how to cut the bread. Some made the middle cuts on top of one another, and some made them next to each other. There was also variety in the choice of proving time chosen.
Tom was relieved to be doing bread as this is his comfort zone, also he got quite stressed towards the end of the challenge. Selasi was his usual over relaxed self, and he didn’t get his bread in the oven quickly enough so it wasn’t baked through. A few of the bakers added water to the bottom of the oven to create steam as the bread baked. Selasi came last, Andrew 6th, Candice 5th and Jane 4th. Leading up the top three were Rav in 3rd, Benjamina 2nd and the winner was Tom.
This week’s showstopper was to make a spectacular three tiered floral cake. The floral element could be the decoration or flavours. Mary warned against over powering them with floral flavours, and Paul wanted exceptional decoration. Andrew’s three cakes were cherry & almond, strawberry & vanilla and lemon & elderflower. He decorated them simply with buttercream and fresh flowers, the judges thought it was too simple and his cake was dry. Rav spent the whole challenge in quite a nervous state as he doesn’t do “pretty” when it comes to baking. His cakes were all only one flavour, which was orange blossom & almond. The judges found it uncreative.
Tom used floral teas as her flavour inspiration and his three cakes were flavoured with camomile, jasmine, green and elderflower teas. He also made genoise sponges and decorated with a pretty floral effect, Mary called it simple but it clearly took a long time to do. She said his cakes were brilliant. Candice made a four tier changing of the seasons cake which looked really impressive and the judges agreed. Her flavours were chocoalte & orange, lemon & raspberry, spiced carrot and her Nan’s boiled fruit cake. I love how she uses inspiration from her her family for her bakes and it is always a success when she does this, like with her gingerbread pub.
Jane didn’t use any flower flavours in her cake and went for all orange sponges. She suffered from lack of timing throughout the whole challenge and even had to throw one cake away. She made floral chocolate collars and buttercream flowers but due to her timing problems they were very messy. Selasi made a stunning cake that really showcased his piping skills, it was flavoured with carrot, strawberry & vanilla, and lemon & poppyseed. The judges loved all of his cakes too! Benjamina produced a gorgeous naked cake which Paul said looked ‘unfinished’ – has he never seen a naked cake before?! They are everywhere! Get yourself on Pinterest Paul. Her spongers were camomile, honey & poppyseed, and orange blossom & almond. Unfortunately they were slightly underbaked.
Rav left us this week and Tom won star baker. It was a tricky one as Andrew and Jane equally could have left, and Selasi and Candice equally could have won star baker. If any of those three names for either decision had been announced I would not have been surprised. Next week is desserts week.
I wanted to go all out this week and make the showstopper. I couldn’t do three tiers as I don’t have the right size pans and I didn’t have time to buy any. I did however realise that this is the first time I’ve ever made a tiered cake! So I’m starting small, but who knows how many tiers I’ll make next time round!
I started with the lemon and elderflower sponge. I creamed together 350g butter and 350g sugar, then added the zest of 3 lemons.
I added 6 eggs, 2 at a time, and mixed between each one. And 3 tsp elderflower cordial. Then I added 350g self raising flour.
I divided the mixture between two 9 inch lined and greased tins. I always make a hole in the middle to avoid the cake from doming on the top too much.
I baked them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 35 minutes until they were golden brown and a skewer came out clean.
While the cakes were baking I made a syrup from 10 tbsp caster sugar, 50ml elderflower cordial and the juice of 3 lemons.
Then I moved onto the orange and honey sponge. I creamed together 180g butter and 180g caster sugar. I added the zest of 1 orange, then 3 eggs, 1 tbsp honey and finally 180g self raising flour.
I divided the mixture into two 6 inch lined and greased tins.
I baked them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 25 minutes. They took a lot longer to bake through so they were a bit darker than I wanted. I brushed a syrup made from the zest of 1 orange and 85g honey all over the cakes and left them to cool.
After trimming the cakes around the side and top to make sure they were neat and level, I started stacking them. I used apricot jam between each layer as I had some to use up in the fridge and I wanted something fairly neutral so the flavour of the cake would come across. Lemon curd would work really well too though.
I used four wooden skewers as dowels in the bottom sponge to support the top cake and avoid any sinking/collapsing.
Then I stacked up the two smaller cakes.
I had to make a lot of buttercream to cover and decorate this cake. I total I used 750g butter and 1.5kg icing sugar. I made the icing in two batches, and I also added 1 1/2 tsp orange extract and 1 1/2 tsp lemon extract to each batch.
I covered the cake in a base layer, or crumb coat, of icing. Then I put it in the fridge for an hour to set.
I turned my piping bag inside out and painted stripes of baby pink food colouring inside. I turned it back the right way, then filled it with buttercream.
I covered the whole cake in buttercream rosettes.
I made a last minute decision to make some flowers, and I rolled out some baby pink renshaw fondant. I used a fab flower tool to make the flowers, for full details on the tool and how to use it have a read of my Elderflower Cupcakes post.
I used a madeline tin to put the flowers in while they dried.
I used a dab of water to stick a pink sugar pearl in the middle. Then I stuck them all over the cake.
I was really pleased with the appearance of the cake. I’m not a very girly person, so I don’t often make things that are this pink and flowery! But I did think it looked lovely and the rosettes are simple but very effective.
I was most pleased by how neat the slices looked when the cake was cut! The lemon and elderflower cake was stunning, I adored the strong citrus flavour. The orange and honey was more delicate in flavour, but certainly no less delicious.
To make the lemon and elderflower sponge cream together 350g of the butter and 350g of the caster sugar, then add the zest of the lemons
Add 6 of the eggs, two at a time, and mix between each addition. Then add the 3 tsp of elderflower cordial, followed by 350g of the self raising flour, and mix in
Divide the mixture between two 9 inch lined and greased tins. Bake them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 35 minutes until they are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean
While the cakes are baking make a syrup from the 10 tbsp caster sugar, 50ml of the elderflower cordial and the juice of the lemons. Brush it all over the hot cakes as soon as they come out of the oven
For the orange and honey sponge cream together 180g of the butter and 180g of the caster sugar. Add the zest of the orange and mix in
Add 3 of the eggs mixing between each addition, then mix in the 1 tbsp of honey and finally fold in 180g of the self raising flour
Divide the mixture between two 6 inch lined and greased tins. Bake them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for around 25 minutes until they are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean
While the cakes are baking make a syrup from the zest of the orange and 85g of the honey. Brush it all over the hot cakes as soon as they come out of the oven
If required, trim the cakes around the side and top to make sure they are neat and level, then start stacking them using apricot jam between each layer
Use four wooden skewers or dowels in the bottom sponge to support the top cake and avoid any sinking/collapsing
Make a large batch of buttercream by mixing together 750g of the butter and the icing sugar. When it's mixed add the orange and lemon extracts
Cover the cake in a base layer, or crumb coat, of icing. Then put it in the fridge for an hour to set
Turn the piping bag inside out and paint stripes of baby pink food colouring inside. Turn it back the right way, then fill it with buttercream. Cover the whole cake in buttercream rosettes
Roll out the fondant and make flowers with a cutter and pressing tool. Allow to dry, then use a dab of water to stick a pink sugar pearl in the centre of each flower. Stick them all over the cake as desired
After all of the shock news last week, we’ve had a further blow this week in the news that Mary Berry will not be following the show when it moves to Channel 4. Paul Hollywood confirmed that he would be staying with the show, making him the only one to remain. There was a foreshadowing of the future moment this week when Sue made a joke at Tom’s bench and then walked off saying “I’m leaving the tent”… oh Sue, if only you’d known!
The signature challenge this week was to make two different types of Danish breakfast pastries. Mary wanted the bakers to produce a crisp buttery pastry and Paul said this challenge was all about time management. They all used enriched doughs and all of the bakers except Jane made one dough that they split in two. Jane made Pain Au Raisin with a orange and cardamom dough and Raspberry, Chocolate & Almond Danish with a cinnamon dough. Candice was the only baker to brave a savoury pastry with her Croque Monsieur Kites featuring mushrooms, gruyere and pancetta.
Selasi’s pastries were very tropical themed and featured pineapple, orange and mango. Val was being her usual unqiue self and had brought dental floss with her to cut her pastry with. I hope it wasn’t mint flavoured! Benjamina went all American with her flavours and made peanut butter and banana pinwheels, and pecan swirl with maple syrup and candied bacon. Everyone struggled towards the end with timing, and Rav even forgot to bake one of his pastries.
Tom didn’t fare so well during judging as one of his pastries was dry and the other was so raw the judges wouldn’t even taste it. Val, Selasi and Benjamina all had problems with their pastry being undercooked too. The judges like the flavour of both Rav and Andrew’s fillings. Jane got a great result with her pain au raisins, and Candice’s savoury pastries went down very well.
This week’s technical was to make a Bakewell Tart, I love how they are bringing all the technical’s back to basics this year. There was a bit of internet uproar over the tart in question due to the icing covering the top, however this was Mary’s version of a Bakewell Tart. The judges expected all of the bakers to know what a Bakewell Tart looked like and to know all of the techniques involved in making one.
The recipe instructions were very minimal, and Selasi suggested that the more ‘aged’ bakers would know what they were doing. Val got stuck in straight away, as did Jane. However, Val was only using the second sheet of the instructions and she only saw the first sheet after 20 minutes of time had gone by. She’d guessed all of the recipe quantities. To be honest I’m not sure how she did this as the instructions started from number 5 on the second sheet which would surely have been the biggest clue. Even when she did find out, she still continued to ignore the instructions and made a series of bad decisions, despite the fact she makes a Bakewell Tart every week at home. Rav came last as his pastry collapsed, Val came 7th, Andrew was 6th as his oven wasn’t turned on for the first 15 minutes, Benjamina 5th, Tom 4th, Selasi 3rd, Candice 2nd and Jane was 1st.
The showstopper this week was to make 48 filo pastry amuse bouches (aka canapes), one savoury and one sweet. Filo pastry is quite a nightmare to make from scratch, I’ve done it myself once before when I made a Fruit Strudel. Mary advised that the pastry should be wafer thin and Paul wanted the canapes to be bite size.
Val went with a Christmas theme and used mincemeat in her filo parcels. Jane was quite brave I thought by using cone shaped moulds to wrap her filo around, they looked like such a faff and kept falling over. Tom was very ambitious by mixing chocolate with chilli and steak – yes you read that right! He is taking things too far in my opinion, there’s experimental and then there’s just plain risky. Selasi was using coffee to flavour his sweet filo, and he said that simplicity was a good thing. Benjamina was influced by her Nigerian roots to add plantain to her showstopper.
Then the stretching began! The bakers used broom handles, rolling pins and even pasta makers to roll out their filo until it was as thin as possible. Rav and Selasi both finished before the time was up, whereas Jane and Val were rushing to complete the challenge. Benjamin, Andrew, Selasi all did well. Paul didn’t like the flavour of Tom’s filo fillings and said he was ‘disappointed’. Even though the judges thought Jane’s amuse bouches were too big, they loved her flavours. Val was only able to present 12 of her savoury filos, and the 12 were underdone. The pastry for her sweet filo was far too thick. Candice and Rav both also got great results.
Val left this week, and although I’d found her quite irritating (I think she has a bit of a Marmite personality where you either love or hate her), I did feel sorry for her as she seemed very upset. The winner of star baker was Candice, however Jane came very close. Next week is a new theme – Botanicals week!
I decided to make a Bakewell Tart this week as I’ve never actually made one. I wanted to make the more traditional looking tart with flaked almonds on top and a drizzle of icing. As pretty as Mary’s version looked, it’s a bit too much icing than I prefer on my Bakewell.
I started by making the pastry. I rubbed 100g butter into 230g plain flour until it resembled breadcrumbs.
I added 3 tbsp cold water and formed a dough.
I rolled out my pastry on my Joseph Joseph Roll Up Non-Slip Silicone Pastry Mat which I am loving using, it’s definitely my favourite product from their new baking range which they kindly sent me a few weeks ago. I’ve already used it three times!
I lined a 9 inch tart tin with the pastry, leaving an overhang. I used a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry. Then I chilled it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
I scrunched up some baking paper and lined the pastry, then added baking beans. I baked it on 200C/180C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.
To make the frangipane I creamed together 160g butter and 160g caster sugar. Then I added 1 large free range egg, 1 tsp almond extract and 160g ground almonds.
I took the pastry out of the oven and removed the baking beans and paper. I trimmed the edges for a neater finish.
I baked the pastry again for 10 minutes on the same temperature.
I spread a layer of seedless rapsberry jam on the bottom of the pastry case. I used approximately a third of a jar.
I piped the frangipane over the top to avoid it mixing with the jam, then I smoothed it out on top. I sprinkled over some flaked almonds.
I baked the tart on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes
I can understand why Mary and Paul chose this as a technical challenge as it really fits with their theme of going back to basics. Any baker who bakes regularly will be able to knock one of these together easily and without too much fuss. It really is all about basic skills. When it was fully cool, I finished the tart with a drizzle of 60g icing sugar mixed with enough water to get a thick, but pipable paste.
You really can’t beat a Bakewell Tart and this was devoured within an hour by my colleagues! It was full of almond and jammy goodness, and the pastry was lovely and crisp.
The Great British Bake Off has hit the headlines as the news broke that it was leaving the BBC for Channel 4, and then a further blow came when Mel & Sue announced that they would not be following the show when it moves. I’ve also heard rumours that there might not be a series next year, and we’ll have to wait until 2018. Now we’re all waiting with baited breath to find out what Mary & Paul are going to do… I am sad to see it move channels and I really hope it doesn’t spell the end for the show. I read that more people watch GBBO than voted in the last election – so it’s a pretty important part of our culture!
Meanwhile on week 4 of the current series, it was batter week! This is a new category for the show, and I was looking forward to seeing what they would make. The signature challenge was filled savoury Yorkshire puddings, and the judges wanted 24 identical ones. I was quite surprised they wanted identical Yorkshires, I don’t think they ever can look the same unless they come out of a bag. Mary wanted well risen Yorkshires with a dip in the middle, but she admitted it was hard to get Yorkshires identical. Paul explained the egg in the batter gives the Yorkshire its rise, and said he wanted them to taste amazing.
There was a lot of variance in the amount of eggs used for the Yorkshire batters. Tom used 8 eggs, Val used 5 eggs and Andrew used 4 eggs. There was a lot of variety in the fillings too, from Candice’s Beef Wellington to Rav’s Tofu Curry and Andrew’s Spanish Chicken. Jane said that she has always had problems making Yorkshire puddings and her mother could never understand why she couldn’t make them. Tom was very brave and made his Yorkshires using chickpea flour, but sadly it didn’t work out for him as they did not rise.
Candice’s and Jane’s Yorkshires also didn’t rise enough, whereas Selasi’s rose beyond expectation! Paul loved his roast pork filled Yorkshires and gave him a handshake with a mouth still full of pork crackling. Benjamina and Andrew did very well too, and Jane surprised with a filling that Paul loved. Paul also praised Rav’s Tofu Curry filling despite being hesitant at first.
The technical challenge this week was to make 12 heart shaped lace pancakes, which must be intricate and beautiful. The bakers were allowed to make one test pancake, but the other 12 had to be served. The recipe instructions were typically detailed, and Candice kindly read them out to the viewers – “make pancake batter, that’s it”. Paul said they were taking pancake making to the next level. As pretty as they are, I personally think lace pancakes are quite pointless. I like a nice thick pancake with no gaps in it!
The bakers all debated over how to make a pancake batter and they were all unsure how much sugar to add. They all designed their own lace hearts so pencils and notepads came out for them to doodle their chosen designs. Both Rav and Andrew didn’t seem sure what lace was and their designs were a heart with a criss cross pattern filling it. Selasi was obviously the only bake brave enough to flip his pancake for Sue, he’s such a rebel. Rav came last, Selais 8th, Kate 7th, Val 6th, Tom 5th and Andrew 4th. Jane came third, Candice second and Benjamina was first.
The showstopper was to make 36 sweet churros, they could be filled, flavoured and served with a dipping sauce as desired. And shockingly they had to be all identical! Paul wanted a beautiful crispy exterior and a soft inside. He warned against adding too many to the fryer as the temperature would drop and they could become too oily. Mary said turning this simple street food into a showstopper would be tricky and she wanted to see the bakers do something different.
Andrew made the batter in the traditional way, which is without eggs. Other bakers added flavours to their batter; Benjamina added coconut extract and Val added orange. Tom was being experimental as usual and he added fennel to his batter, and served his churros with a saffron custard. Rav chose matcha green tea powder for his churros, served with a fruit dip, a creamy dip and chocolate dip. Candice added beer and coconut flour to her batter and dipped them in peanut butter. Selasi made churro bowls which he froze before frying – I’ve tried this before and it was rather disastrous so I was worried for him!
Some of the bakers cleverly piped their shaped onto baking paper and put them in the fryer still on the paper, while others piped the batter straight into the fryer. Only Val and Jane filled their churros, the judge loved the flavour of Val’s filling but said it affected the dough inside. They weren’t huge fans of Tom or Selasi’s churros either, and they said Rav’s were too fatty and had a bad flavour. Jane did very well, and Benjamina got a perfect result.
Kate left this week, her Yorkshires were irregular and didn’t rise, and her churro dough was too wet so soaked up too much fat. Benjamina won star baker after producing perfect churros and winning the technical – ever since biscuit week I have thought that she will be a finalist and potentially even win it…time will tell! Next week is pastry week.
I decided to make churros this week because they are delicious. I’ve had them many times in Spanish and Mexican restaurants and they never disappoint. Fried dough dipped in chocolate is always going to be pretty good really isn’t it?!
I started by making the dough. I sieved 250g plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl.
I added a mixture of 350ml boiling water, 50g melted butter and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and beat it into a dough. I left it to rest for 15 minutes.
I prepared a bowl of 100g caster sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon for rolling the churros in after frying.
I piped the churros out in long stick shapes using a star shaped nozzle. You can make them in any shape you like of course. I used a tip from Bake Off and kept them on pieces of baking paper as I put them in the fryer.
I used a deep fat fryer at 180C to fry the churros until they were golden brown, I turned them over during frying. I bought this deep fat fryer from Asda for the bargain price of £14! I used 3 litres sunflower oil for frying.
I did them in batches of three so the temperature in the oil would remain the same. When they were cooked I rolled them in the cinnamon sugar.
To make the chocolate sauce I melted 100g dark chocolate with 35g butter. Use the sauce immediately once made and getting dipping!
The churros were so moreish! As predicted, the combination of fried dough, a cinnamon and sugar coating, plus chocolate dip is absolutely delectable and keeps you reaching for more, and more, and more!
Sieve the 250g plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl
Mix the boiling water, melted butter and vanilla extract together, add it to the flour and beat it into a dough. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes
Prepare a bowl of the caster sugar and cinnamon mixed together for rolling the churros in after frying
Pipe the churros out onto baking paper into long stick shapes using a star shaped nozzle
Fill your pan or deep fat fryer with the sunflower oil and heat to 180C. Check your fryer for it’s maximum oil capacity and don’t fill a pan more than one third full of oil
Cut the baking paper around the piped batter and add the churros to the oil still on the paper, it will loosen off as they fry. Fry in batches of three untill golden brown, turn them during frying to ensure an even cook
Tip the churros out onto kitchen paper, then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture
To make the chocolate sauce melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a glass bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, followed by 10 second bursts until fully melted together, stirring in between. Serve immediately
It was bread week on The Great British Bake Off and there were bread puns aplenty as Mel and Sue opened the show on a (bread) roll and wearing loafers – you can’t help but giggle! Paul’s bread prodding finger was primed and ready to go.
The signature challenge was to make a chocolate bread, which could be cocoa powder, chocolate chips or molten chocolate. Mary was excited as it was a new challenge. Paul said the time was very tight but he didn’t want to see any raw dough. Everyone chose to make an enriched dough which was quite brave as they only had 2 and a half hours to make them. I don’t know how they did it to be honest as enriched doughs take me at least a day!
There were some great flavour combinations from the bakers – Rav made a chocolate, cardamom and hazlenut bread. Tom made a chocolate, orange and chilli swirl bread. And Benjamina made a chocolate, tahini and almond bread. Andrew was the only baker to prove his dough once, Paul was judgemental of this at first but when he tasted the bread he loved it and said Andrew had done the right thing by only proving it once.
Benjamina’s chocolate bread was not cooked all the way through and neither was Val’s, Kate’s or Michael’s. Candice’s bread was practically raw and she got quite upset as the judges couldn’t even taste it. Tom and Rav both did very well on both flavour and their breads were full baked.
This week’s technical challenge was rather unusual and very much unheard of (unless you’re German!) It was a steamed dumpling called a Dampfnudel served with custard and a plum sauce. The dumplings are steamed instead of baked and Paul explained that the bakers should be careful not to lift the lid of the pan during the steaming process.
None of the bakers had heard of dampfnudel before, and they had not been given any timings for proving or steaming. So it was all guess work and they had to use their baking experience to figure out what to do. The main problem most of them had was the dough being burnt on the bottom, or being undercooked. Rav came last, followed by Jane and then Kate, Michael, Benjamina, Selasi and Tom. Candice came third, Andrew second and Val first.
A savoury plaited centerpiece, any shape or size, 3 flours within it. Mary said it had to be spectacular. Paul said the strands of the plaits have to be the shape width. He also mentioned that the star baker of bread week always goes onto be in the final, who knew! Michael made a Cypriot inspired bread with olives, coriander and sundried tomatoes.
Andrew made a braided basket flavoured with pesto and a giant handle for it flavoured with orange and cardamom. Tom went all norse on us with his Jormungandr and Mjolnir bread (or a serpent and Thor’s hammer to you and me), and he flavoured it with seaweed. Selasi basically made up a story to go with his centerpiece which was absolutely hilarious! And the judges knew he was fibbing too!
The bakers chose a variety of plait levels with Michael sticking to 3 strands and Tom going for 6. When it was judging time, Jane did very well, as did Tom, Kate and Benjamina. Val’s Noah’s Ark centerpice was undercooked, and the judges didn’t like the texture of some of Selasi’s bread. Paul also didn’t like anything about Candice’s top loaf of plaited bread.
Michael left us this week. Paul and Mary didn’t like the presentation or plaits of his bread centrepiece. He didn’t do as badly as others on the first challenge and he was mid-range in the technical so I was very surprised by the decision. Tom won star baker this week. I think it was quite a tough choice this week for both the star baker and leaver as there were so many ups and downs for all of the bakers. Next week is a new category on Bake Off – batter week!
I decided to try a plaited loaf this week. I’ve never made one before so I wanted to start with the basics. I used a Paul Hollywood recipe to give me the best chance possible! I have made bread and different doughs in the past, but I rarely have time to make it so it’s not something I do very often.
I started by putting 500g strong white bread flour in a bowl. I added 10g salt and a 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast. I made sure to keep them on separate sides of the bowl.
I added 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 340ml water and mixed it in.
I used some of the new products from the Joseph Joseph baking range that were sent to me recently to try out.
I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, then placed it into an oiled bowl and left it to rise for 1 hour.
The dough didn’t rise as much as I was expecting, but I persevered. I knocked it back then divided it out into eight pieces.
I rolled each piece into a long strand approximately 40cm/16″ long.
I laid all of the strands out and attached them at the top. Then I followed the plaiting sequence:
Step 1: place 8 under 7 and over 1
Step 2: place 8 over 5
Step 3: place 2 under 3 and over 8
Step 4: place 1 over 4
Step 5: place 7 under 6 and over 1
Repeats step 2-5, until all the dough is plaited
It wasn’t tricky to follow the plaiting sequence, the thing I found the most difficult was making the plait look neat. I chopped off any strands that were too long once the plaiting was done and tucked the end under to neaten it up as much as I could. Once I was finished I put it onto a lined baking tray, covered it loosely with cling film and left it to prove again for 1 hour.
This week on The Great British Bake Off was biscuit week. Sue Perkins was missing from the episode this week due to a family bereavement at the time of filming, so Mel held down the (gingerbread) fort. The previews of the episodes showed several disasters and collapses so I was expecting a lot of gasps and tense moments!
For the first challenge the judges requested 24 crisp and identical iced biscuits. Mary warned against being over ambitious, she wanted absolutely perfect biscuits with the same thickness and texture. Paul seemed quite happy just to be getting a whole load of biscuits to eat. I loved Michael’s beer biscuits, and the judges loved them too. They said they were uniform, crispy and had good flavour. Tom made some coffee and chai spiced biscuits and he got a Paul Hollywood handshake!
Louise made sheep shaped bara brith biscuits and she had some disasters along the way as she dropped a whole tray of biscuits. Paul said her biscuits were more like scones as they were so soft. Val made ice cream biscuits and she knew she needed to improve on her presentation, although throwing a batch of biscuits on the floor and springing a leak from her piping bag didn’t help. Mary was quite critical of them saying they were not finished well – harsh words from Bezza!
Kate chose lavender and bergamont for her biscuits flavours, which Paul said he didn’t like, but upon tasting them he seemed to change his mind! Benjamina made chocolate orange flower bouqet biscuits, they looked fantastic and I really think she is one to watch. Candice ended up making 48 biscuits as she made sandwiched biscuits with a salted caramel filling. Her fondness for lipstick was also noticed by Mel and Candice said she would wear a different colour each week. I think this is a clever way of standing out and could become a signature look for her, much like Richard Burr’s pencil behind the ear in season
This week’s technical challenge was 12 Viennese Whirls filled with buttercream and jam. They were following a Mary Berry recipe. Mary said the biscuit had simple ingredients but the bakers needed to make sure the butter was soft enough otherwise the mixture would be too stiff for piping. She also wanted to see the swirl after the biscuits were baked, and she expected the bicuits to be very short in texture and crumbly with good proportions of buttercream and jam.
Selasi had made them before and when he noticed his mixture was too stiff for piping he decided to beat it more to soften it. Michael also had his own technique for solving this problem – he put it in the microwave. A few of the bakers decided to chill the biscuits before baking, but Tom noticed this wasn’t mentioned in the recipe so he decided to just bake his biscuits. Despite his previous experience, Selasi came last in the challenge. Louse was 10th, Michael 9th, Candice 8th, Tom 7th, Rav 6th, Val 5th and Andrew 4th. Benjamina won 3rd place, Jane came 2nd and Kate was the winner!
This week’s showstopper was quite the request… a 3D gingerbread story, which must say something about them, be at least 30cm high and feature 8 characters or objects. Gingerbread usually contains black treacle and/or golden syrup as they both flavour and colour it, all of the bakers used these ingredients except for Selasi who was using honey instead. Kate went all out with her flavours by making three different kinds of gingerbread including a lemon and cardamom flavoured one.
Candice made a gingerbread pub to represent the pub she grew up in as a child. She put so much thought into each element. The ‘floor’ was a sticky gingerbread cake to represent a sticky pub carpet, and the pool table was made using jelly. It was very impressive! Michael and Rav both made Christmas scenes, and Selasi and Louise both went for churches. Meanwhile Benjamina was constructing the Chrysler building in New York and Val was building the Empire State in gingerbread.
Both Louise and Val had disasters, collapses and breakages. Andrew did very well with his punting in Oxford scene. Michael’s Christmas scene was messy and simplistic, but Paul said his gingerbread was the best. The judges loved Candice’s pub, Paul called it superb and Mary called it smashing. Rav’s gingerbread was burnt, and the judges couldn’t taste any ginger in Selasi’s church.
Louise was the one to leave this week as she had a lot of disasters this week. Candice won star baker this week, mostly due to her smashing showstopper. Mary said it would be remembered forever. Next week is bread week!
I decided to make the technical challenge of Viennese Whirls this week. I have made them before, but I’ve made iced biscuits and gingerbread houses before too and these were the most delicious option in my opinion. I wanted to mix it up a bit and change the flavours so they were a bit different from the traditional kind. I used a Hairy Bikers recipe for the biscuit base, as when I made Cherry & Almond Viennese Swirl Biscuits in the past it worked really well for me.
To make the biscuit dough I creamed together 250g butter, 250g plain flour, 50g icing sugar, 50g cornflour and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
I used a 2 inch (5cm) cutter and a pencil to draw guidelines on my baking paper. I flipped the paper over so the pencil was on the bottom.
I put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. I tried a couple of ways of piping them, and I thought starting the swirl in the middle and working out looked the best. I kept piping until all the mixture was gone. I baked them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes, let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.
While they were cooling I made the mascarpone filling. I creamed together 50g butter and 175g icing sugar, then I added 125g mascarpone and 1 tsp vanilla extract. I used an electric hand mixer to do this as it made sure the mixture was not lumpy, and it made it nice and thick. I put it in the fridge to chill for an hour so it was stable enough to pipe.
To sandwich the biscuits together I piped some of the mascarpone filling on one half, and spread some blackcurrant jam on the other half (about 1 tsp). I sandwiched them together and the biscuits were ready.
The texture of the biscuits are soft and buttery, and the mascarpone filling is fresh and sweet against the tangy fruit of the blackcurrant jam. They are heavenly!
To make the biscuit dough cream together 250g of the butter, the plain flour, 50g of the icing sugar, the cornflour and 1/2 tsp of the vanilla extract
Use a 2 inch (5cm) cutter and a pencil to draw guidelines on baking paper. Flip the paper over so the pencil is on the bottom and line two baking trays with it
Put the biscuit mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe them out onto the baking paper, start the swirl in the middle and work your way out. Keep piping until all the mixture is gone
Bake them on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes, let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack
To make the mascarpone filling cream together 50g of the butter and 175g of the icing sugar, then add the mascarpone and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract. Use an electric hand mixer to do this if possible. Put it in the fridge to chill for an hour so it is stable enough to pipe
To sandwich the biscuits together, pipe or spread some of the mascarpone filling on one half, and spread some blackcurrant jam on the other half (about 1 tsp). Sandwich them together and the biscuits are ready!
The Great British Bake Off is back for it’s seventh year on our TV screens and this means that my yearly ‘bake along’ commences too. If you’re new to my blog – hello! And also, you won’t know that I’ve been baking along to The Great British Bake Off for 4 years now, with this year being my fifth year! I started doing this in order to increase my skills and expand my baking repertoire. I’ve learnt so much and baked such a wide variety of things that I may never have tried otherwise. I’m excited to get started on another year of baking adventures. If you’d like to check out all of my past GBBO bakes click here.
As usual the bakers this year are a mix of ages, professions and ethnic backgrounds. There’s Val who’s 66 and loves exercise, Ed Sheeran and “listens” to her bakes. Andrew who’s 25 and designs jet engines for a living. Candice who’s 31 and a PE teacher. And Rav who’s 28 and is into vegan baking and far eastern cuisine. It’s so hard to tell at the start who will go the distance!
The first challenge for the bakers was to make a drizzle cake, and it must be moist. Paul said they are taking the challenges back to basics, so making it easier, but the judging would only get harder! Mary wanted the twelve new bakers to be inventive.
Any bakers doing a two layer cake were asked by Paul and Mary if they were putting the drizzle on both layers – which is a massive flashing warning light to the bakers that this is what they should be doing! First week nerves hit everyone, Lee immediately hit issues as his mixture kept separating. Selasi was the most laidback baker in the tent, when he forgot to put cinnamon in his cake batter he just put in the drizzle instead. Jane forgot to add ground almonds so had to make her cake again.
This week’s technical challenge was jaffa cakes. This entailed making a fatless genoise sponge, and orange jelly, and neatly covering them in chocolate. Mary said they are a great British classic and she wanted them to be absolutely perfect. No pressure bakers!
Some of the bakers made the sponge by whisking the eggs and sugar over simmering water, none of them knew how long to bake the sponge for, and a couple of them got confused on which way round the sponges should be. Andrew did all of his upside down, then almost presented them with the chocolate on the bottom, not sure if he’s eaten jaffa cake before?! Unfortunately that meant he came last, Lee was eleventh, Val tenth, Louise ninth, Rav eighth, Jane seventh and Benjamina sixth. Candice made it into the top five with fifth place and Kate came fourth. Michael was third, Tom second and Selasi was first.
The showstopper challenge was to make a mirror glaze cake, which should be as shiny as a mirror, and cover the entire cake. The sponge must also be a genoise. Mary was looking for sheer perfection and Paul wanted something that would stick in their minds. There was a great variety of flavours from salted praline with white chocolate from Benjamina, matcha tea from Michael and
Candice had a lot of trouble making her genoise sponge, she made them multiple times and even chucked one across the tent like a frisbee! Tom, Benjamina and Val also made their sponges more than once. The cakes, once baked and cooled had to be covered with a base layer, or crumb coat, of either ganache or buttercream. There were the first tears of the series from Benjamina as her swiss meringue buttercream was too runny, Sue was there to offer comfort and kind words.
Jane got great results from the judges, with both her flavours and appearance getting praised. Rav’s mirror glaze also looked good, the Paul didn’t like the texture of his cake. Despite having too much gin in his drizzle cake, Tom didn’t have enough alcohol in his mirror glaze cake this time! Unfortunately for Michael the judges didn’t like matcha tea, although I thought his presentation looked stunning. Kate’s cake was very messy, but Mary liked the gooseberry flavour.
Selasi was praised for his cake as he was the only one to do a fruit glaze and fill his cake with a set mousse, Mary said it was a joy to eat and Paul said it was simple, elegant and beautifully flavoured. Val’s cake looked good, but she’d used caster sugar in her buttercream. Lee’s cake had a messy appearance on the outside and the sponge was dry. Louise had no mirror glaze at all, but her cake was delicious. Benjamina had a simple but good looking cake, with lovely flavours. Candice had a good mirror glaze, but her vanilla genoise was not cooked well. Andrew’s cake looked stunning and Paul called it fantastic all over.
Lee was the first baker to leave the tent, as he did badly in all three challenges he was the obvious choice. Jane got star baker which surprised me to be honest as I really thought Selasi deserved the title. Next week is biscuit week!
I decided to make this week’s technical challenge – Homemade Jaffa Cakes. Partly at my boyfriend’s request, and partly because they looked really yummy! I followed Mary Berry’s recipe for them and changed a couple of bits here and there to suit.
I started by making the orange jelly the night before as it takes a couple of hours to set. I used a sachet of Robinson’s orange jelly as it was the only one in the supermarket suitable for vegetarians, I found it in Asda. I followed the instructions on the packet and I also added the zest of 1 orange. I added a small amount of orange food colouring too as I wanted it to be brightly coloured when the jaffa cakes were cut into. I lined a baking tray with cling film for the jelly to set in one even layer.
To make the sponge I started by greasing a muffin tin with butter.
I used an electric whisk to whisk up 1 large egg and 25g caster sugar for 4-5 minutes until it was thick and pale. I then gently folded in 25g self raising flour.
I only got enough for 10 sponges, so I made another lot of mixture and greased up another muffin tin.
I baked each lot of sponges on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 9 minutes, turning the tray around in the oven after 7 minutes.
I tipped the jelly out onto some baking paper and cut out circles using a 1 1/2 inch cutter.
Then I melted 250g dark chocolate and gently covered the top of each cake using a spoon. I then used a fork to give the top some texture. I put them in the fridge to set the chocolate.
Then I tucked in! These are so satisfying to eat, breaking through the crisp dark chocolate to find tangy orange jelly and light as air soft sponge is a great feeling. One that can too easily be enjoyed over and over and over again…!
Line a baking tray with cling film and follow the instructions on the packet to make the jelly, also add the zest of 1 orange. Add a small amount of orange food colouring too at this point if desired. Pour the jelly into the lined tray and leave in the fridge to set for approx 2 hours or overnight
Grease two muffin tins with butter or margarine
Use an electric whisk to whisk up the egg and caster sugar for 4-5 minutes until it is thick and pale
Gently fold in the self raising flour
Bake on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 9 minutes, turning the tray around in the oven after 7 minutes
Gently tip the jelly out onto some baking paper and cut out circles using a 1 1/2 inch cutter
Melt the dark chocolate and gently cover the top of each cake using a spoon. Then used a fork to give the top some texture. Put them in the fridge to set the chocolate