Week 3 on The Great British Bake Off was dessert week, or ‘stressed’ week! The first challenge was to make a trifle, and in typical style, Mary and Paul had a lot more in mind than some instant jelly and custard with a bit of whipped cream whacked on top. They specified a need for defined layers in the trifle, flavours that were compatible and to add texture, such as biscuits, on top.
This challenge was not just about baking, it was also about time management and multi tasking. The bakers made sponges like ladyfingers, swiss rolls and ginger cake for the bases. Jams, jellys and curds all from scratch for the filling. Creme anglaise, aka custard, by the ton. And some exicting topping’s such as macarons (Ali), ginger biscuits (Beca) and Amaretti biscuits and honeycomb (Kimberley). It was a lot to deal with in just 3 hours!
Ruby, Kimberley and Christine all did well with praise for good flavours and layer definition. A few bakers trifles looked good, but a ‘slack’ custard or oversoaking of the sponge letting them down. The biggest disaster was Deborah’s accidental pilfering of Howard’s custard! It was such an awful situation, poor Deborah obviously felt terrible about it. The judges took the mistake in their stride and judged the trifles and custards seperately so all was fair.
The technical challenge this week was Île Flottante (Floating Islands). Which are light and fluffy poached meringues in a sea of creme anglaise, topped with spun sugar. Wow this was a tall order! I had never heard of them before watching this episode, and frankly they didn’t look that appetising to me. Even Mary admitted it was a difficult technical bake and expected the bakers to struggle with cooking the meringues – probably because pan size, temperature and cooking duration had all been omitted from the recipe!!
Only a couple of bakers did well on all counts here. Those that were good at custard from the trifle, did well again. Glenn won the challenge, he had made them before which is always a lucky advantage with technical bakes. Rob came in second, and Ruby third. Mark and Beca took the last two spots, with Deborah in at ninth.
For the showstopper the judges requested 24 petit fours, 12 to be sponge based and 12 to be biscuit based. I was really impressed with the baker’s creativity and flavour combination in this challenge. Petit Fours are small dainty french desserts, usually served at the end of a meal. I love these tiny cute creations! Hence lots of photos…!
Beca, Ruby, Rob, Christine and Frances all shone on this challenge. I loved the tiny macarons Beca made for the top of her Limoncello & Blueberry Bursts! Rob didn’t get much screen time in this episode, but Mary labelled his petit fours as ‘remarkabley professional’. Frances did it again with perfect theming, styling and baking for her Nutcracker petit fours. There were a few disasters, poor Deborah’s cakes stuck in her mould which affected the apperance, Mark didn’t rest his macarons for long enough resulting in an ugly finish, and Ali’s petit fours were bland and too simple according to Paul and Mary.
Leaving us this week was Deborah and Mark. I think it was Mark’s time to go without a doubt, and I was surprised he made it through this far as none of his bakes were of the expected GBBO high standard. I thought Deborah had a lot more potential, and she is definitely talented, but unfortunately a couple of mistakes and unfortunate mishaps could not be ignored. Next week is pie week!
I decided to make petit fours this week. It took me a while to come up with ideas, mostly for the practical reasons that I don’t have any miniature bakeware and didn’t want to buy any just for this one bake.
Luckily I remembered I had this adorable tiny cupcake cases tucked away in my baking box. I bought them from Ikea a couple of Christmases ago, but have never used them. Finally they got an outing! I wanted to stick to the GBBO remit of 12 sponge based petit fours and 12 biscuits based petit fours. Except for the part where I made about double that amount!
I started with the mini lime cupcakes. Lime is my ultimate favourite citrus fruit, I love it and it’s great in cakes. I creamed together 100g caster sugar and 100g butter.
I added the juice and zest of half a lime, as well as 1 egg and whisked in.
Finally I folded in 100g self raising flour and 1/2 tsp baking powder.
I use my big cupcake tin to make these in as I didn’t know what else to do! It was very diffcult to figure out how much mixture to put in the cases. I did varied amounts to see what would happen. The mixture made 24 mini cupcakes.
I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes then left to cool. As you can see they were a little irregular size wise, and because of the tin they were in, the cakes went outwards instead of upwards if the case was over filled. Had I been competing on GBBO I probably would’ve measured them all exactly (and had a mini cupcake tin!), but the people that were going to eat these would not notice the imperfections I do!
To decorate I made some chocolate decorations by melting about 100g dark chocolate and piping these ‘zig zag squiggles’ as I like to call them, onto baking paper. Once the chocolate sets they can be easily peeled off the paper.
I also made a lime buttercream with 50g butter, the juice and zest of half a lime, 175g icing sugar, and a tiny amount of mint green Sugarflair food colouring.
Once the cakes were cool, I piped a little swirl of buttercream on top, added a fresh raspberry and placed the chocolate decoration on. I was really happy with the look of these Petit Fours, especially the chocolate decoration as it was a last minute addition! The sponge definitely wasn’t limey enough, so I’d recommend doubling the amount of lime. Luckily the buttercream made up for it!
Mini Lime Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream, Fresh Raspberry & Chocolate Decoration
- 150g Butter
- 100g Caster sugar
- 1 Egg
- 2 Limes
- 100g Self raising flour
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 100g Dark chocolate
- 24 Fresh raspberries
- 175g Icing sugar
- Green food colouring
Cream together the caster sugar and 100g of the butterAdd the juice of half a lime, and the zest of one lime, as well as the egg and whisk inFold in the self raising flour and baking powder, then fill cupcake casesBake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes then leave to coolTo make the chocolate decorations, melt the dark chocolate and pipe squiggles onto baking paper. Once the chocolate sets, peel it off the paperTo make the lime buttercream mix 50g of the butter, the juice and zest of half a lime, the icing sugar, and enough green food colouring to get a pastel green colourOnce the cakes are cool, pipe a swirl of buttercream on top, add a fresh raspberry and place a chocolate decoration on
For my biscuit based petit fours I decided on a Viennese whirl biscuit. I used a Hairy Biker’s recipe to make the biscuits and I changed the name very slightly, to Viennese Swirl Biscuits
In a large bowl I mixed together 250g butter, 250g plain flour, 50g icing sugar, 50g cornflour and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract until it combined. The texture was like very stiff buttercream.
I put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. You could use a flower nozzle if you like too for a different effect, as long as it is a large nozzle you will be able to pipe it without any problems.
I piped little swirls onto a baking tray, I filled three trays before the mixture ran out. This will make approximately 25 biscuits once sandwiched together.
I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes, let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.
I made an almond buttercream with 50g butter, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 150g icing sugar. I wanted it to be quite stiff and not seep out of the biscuits. I piped buttercream onto half of the biscuits, and smoothed cherry jam onto the other halves. Then I sandwiched them together. I tried to match flatter halves of biscuit, with less flatter halves, so that the biscuits would sit nicely upright.
These biscuits were absolute stars and described by one of my colleagues as the best Viennese biscuits he’d ever had! I’d have to agree as they were delicious, had just the right amount of crumble to them, and melted perfectly in your mouth. I was very pleased with them! Plus they were really easy to make – I highly recommend trying these. You can use any jam and buttercream you like to fill them, be creative! However, cherry and almond really is a tasty combo!
Cherry & Almond Viennese Swirl Biscuits
- 300g Butter
- 250g Plain flour
- 200g Icing sugar
- 50g Cornflour
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp Almond extract
- 1 jar of Cherry jam
In a large bowl mix together 250g of the butter, plain flour, 50g of the icing sugar, cornflour and vanilla extract until combined
Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle
Pipe little swirls onto lined baking trays until the mixture runs out
Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes, let them cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool fully
Make the almond buttercream by mixing 50g of the butter, almond extract, and 150g of the icing sugar. Pipe the buttercream onto half of the biscuits, and smooth cherry jam onto the other halves. Then sandwich them together