Bake Box 4 arrived last week and as usual I was very excited to find out what was inside! If you’ve not heard of Bake Box before it’s a bi-monthly subscription service for all the baking lovers out there. Once you sign up, every two months you receive a themed box filled with bakeware items, a specialist decorative item and 6 recipe cards to inspire you. You can read my other Bake Box posts here and here.
This month’s theme was Teddy Bear’s Picnic and inside the box was:
A teddy bear shaped cake mould
A lattice pastry roller
Toadstool and owl shaped and embossed cookie cutters
3 Cherry shaped icing cutters
Yellow food colouring
The item I liked the most was definitely the lattice roller. I’ve seen them on TV, but always thought it was a bit of a frivalous item to buy, so getting one as part of the box was perfect! The cookie cutters were also really cute and I loved their woodland design.
The recipe cards were a gorgeous looking selection of picnic treats and stunning bakes. I decided to make the cherry traybake as I love cherries! It also looked like an easy recipe to pack up for a picnic whilst still looking really pretty.
I started by making the sponge. I creamed together 225g butter and 225g golden caster sugar. Then I whisked in 3 eggs and 3 tbsp milk. Finally I folded in 275g self raising flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 65g ground almonds.
I tossed 200g glace cherries in flour then added them to the mixture. I added more than the recipe suggested as the pot of cherries I had was 200g so I thought I may as well use it all up.
I poured the batter into a lined traybake tin and smoothed it out.
I baked it on 160C Fan/ 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes.
To make the cherries I decided to use 250g marzipan as I had it in the cupboard already and I thought the almond flavour would go well with the cherry sponge. I split the marzipan in half and kneaded green and red food colouring into each half. I then dusted my work surface with icing sugar and rolled them out into strips and connected them by rolling the edges together.
I used the cherry plunger from Bake Box to cut out the cherry decorations. I lay them on some baking paper to set.
When the sponge was cool I brushed it all over with 2 tbsp jam. I used strawberry as I had some in the fridge, but of course cherry would be ideal.
I rolled out 1kg of white ready to roll icing.
I covered the sponge with the white icing, trimmed the edges, then cut the traybake into squares – 4 by 6.
I brushed water onto the back of the cherry decorations and stuck them down onto each square.
I thought the traybake looked so pretty! The cherry design from the plunger looked so fun and colourful. The sponge was delicious too, it was really light and perfectly punctuated by the sweet cherries throughout.
To make the sponge cream together the butter and golden caster sugar. Then whisk in the eggs and milk. Finally fold in the self raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds
Toss the glace cherries in some flour to coat them then add them to the mixture
Pour the batter into a lined 12" x 9" traybake tin and smooth it out
Bake it on 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes
Split the marzipan in half and knead green food colouring into one half and red food colouring into the other half. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll them out into strips, connect them by rolling the edges together
Use the cherry plunger from Bake Box to cut out the cherry decorations. Lay them on some baking paper to set
When the sponge is cool, brush it all over with the jam
Roll out the white icing, either onto cling film or onto a icing sugar dusted work surface
Cover the sponge with the white icing, trim the edges, then cut the traybake into squares - 4 by 6Brush water onto the back of the cherry decorations and stick them down onto each square
I’m pretty sure that everyone can relate to the feeling of never having enough time to do the things you want to do. For me this relates to baking a lot. I wish I had more time to bake all the things I’d like to try! So sometimes a recipe like this is just what I need. Instead of making stollen, which needs 2 hours time to prove, I thought I’d transform it into muffins for a quicker result with just as much flavour!
I started by creaming together 100g butter and 100g caster sugar.
In a separate bowl I whisked up 2 eggs, 100ml milk, 25ml brandy and 1 tsp almond extract.
I also measured out 60g dried cranberries, 60g mixed peel, 60g sultanas and 60g diced up marzipan. I sprinkled a little flour in and mixed it around to coat the fruit and marzipan. This stops it sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they are baking.
I combined the egg mixture into the creamed butter, then added 200g self raising flour, 50g ground almonds, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
I separated the mixture into 12 tulip muffin cases and sprinkled some flaked almonds over each muffin. I baked them on 180C for approximately 15-20 minutes. It will depend on your oven as to how long they take but you want them to be golden brown on top and a skewer to come out clean.
I left them to cool completely then dusted them generously with icing sugar.
If you are a fan of stollen and also short of time like me, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s got everything your taste buds are craving; Christmas spices, sweet fruit and nutty marzipan. It embodies Christmas and will be a guaranteed hit for all your family, friends or colleagues!
I’m entering these into a few blogging challenges this month…
Starting with Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi, where the theme is Red and Green (aka Christmas).
I’m also entering it into Simply Eggcellent hosted by Belleau Kitchen where this month anything goes.
And into Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Fab Food 4 All as I used some leftover marzipan and dried fruit that was in the cupboard.
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, brandy and almond extract together
In a third bowl, measure out the dried cranberries, mixed peel, sultanas and marzipan. Sprinkle a little flour in and mix it around to coat the fruit and marzipan. This stops it sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they are baking
Combine the egg mixture into the creamed butter, then add the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg
Separate the mixture into 12 tulip muffin cases and sprinkle some flaked almonds over each muffin. Bake them on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for approximately 15-20 minutes. It will depend on your oven as to how long they take but you want them to be golden brown on top and a skewer to come out clean
The final is finally here! And what a tense one it was… We started by looking back over the past 10 weeks – which have gone so fast!! – and all the amazing bakes the three finalists have produced as well as their various ups and downs along the way. In total they have completed 27 baking challenges! The bakers started with a signature challenge of iced buns. Mary and Paul requested 16 iced and filled buns, and they wanted two different flavours. Paul was looking for everything to be the best the bakers could make. Mary had no idea who was going to win, but she knew she wanted to see perfect iced buns that tasted delicious!
Tamal made citrus marmalade & caramel creme pat and apple & whipped cream buns. He did royal icing for the tops and didn’t flavour his icing or his dough, which raised eyebrows from the judges. His caramel creme pat did not set, so it didn’t make it into his buns. Paul brought up Tamal’s issues with timing and Mary pointed out that his icing wasn’t great. They enjoyed the texture of his buns and absolutely loved his citrus marmalade. A real friendship has blossomed between Tamal and Nadiya which was nice to see as I’ve not noticed as many close bonds from the bakers this series.
Ian made two different doughs for two different flavoured buns, the first was elderflower & lemon, and the second were spiced buns with an apple and cranberry jam. He knew he’d done something wrong to his spiced buns, and Paul Hollywood confirmed that Ian had left sugar out of the dough. His icing was also quite messy. Luckily the judges both loved his elderflower and lemon buns
Nadiya made cardamom buns with almond creme pat and nutmeg buns with a sour cherry filling. There was some contention over whether the buns should touch or not and
be a ‘batch bake’. Tamal and Ian’s touched, but Nadiya’s didn’t. Nadiya also made round buns. Although she strayed from tradition, Mary loved her neat icing and original approach. Paul also ended up being a huge fan after tasting them!
The final technical challenge was to make Raspberry Mille Feuille. This is three layers of crispy ruff puff pastry filled with raspberries, jam and chantilly cream, and topped with fondant icing. Paul and Mary chose this challenge to test the bakers as they have all had issues with pastry challenges in the past – and Nadiya figured out that it was personally designed for them!
Of course a lot of instructions were left out of the recipe. The bakers had to make a sugar syrup, but had no idea what part of the recipe it was for. Tamal had problems with his pastry, and Nadiya couldn’t figure out how to arrange the mille feuille. Tamal came last as his pastry wasn’t quite right, Ian was second as his pastry wasn’t quite cooked. And Nadiya won! Her pastry was excellent and her presentation was very neat.
For the final showstopper the bakerswere asked to make a single flavoured, but multi tiered, classic British cake. The judges wanted perfect flavours, consistency throughout the tiers and a stunning appearance to make them say ‘wow!’ Tamal made a sticky toffe pudding fruit cake, which was topped with a date and toffee sauce and he decorated it beautifully with spun sugar. He was concerned about the humidty affecting his caramel as it was raining at the start of the challenge, thankfully the rain stopped. Mary thought it looked spectacular and breathtaking. They were impressed with his spun sugar technique, thought his cake was totally different and very delicious.
Nadiya chose to make a lemon drizzle cake. She explained that she did not have a cake at her wedding, so this was going to be her wedding cake. She filled them with lemon curd and lemon buttercream, and she made her own fondant out of marshmallow. The judges thought it looked elegant and beautiful, that it was evenly baked and had a consistent texture throughout. Overall they called it ‘stunning’.
Ian decided to make five tiers of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. He also made his own stand to display his cakes on. The judges thought it had a very contemporary apperance, and the texture of all five cakes was very consistent. Paul called it one of the best carrot cakes he’d ever had! What a close showstopper this was, every baker got excellent feedback from the judges. I don’t think this has ever happened before!
And the winner is… Nadiya! She certainly deserved it as she did the best in the first two challenges, and the showstopper was such a close one. Suffice to say, she was in complete shock! Paul talked about her passion for baking and her flair for flavours. Mary was so proud of Nadiya and her journey, and even got a bit emotional in front of camera – I don’t think that has ever happened before either! I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to see what Nadiya, Tamal, Ian and all the other bakers this year do next.
So The Great British Bake Off is over for another year, it always flies by so fast. I did decided to make the technical challenge from the final episode for a couple of reasons. One of them being my boyfriend requested it, and the second being that I thought it looked really delicious and pretty. I followed the same Paul Hollywood recipe that the bakers used.
I started by kneading 500g white fondant until it was soft and pliable. I used icing sugar to dust the work surface.
I rolled out the fondant using icing sugar to make sure it didn’t stick to the surface or the rolling pin. I needed to cut out a square measuring 12″ x 9″ so I made sure it was bigger than that.
I decided to use Renshaw Decor-pan, which is coloured marzipan, as it was the perfect pink shade for the recipe.
I rolled out the marzipan, again using icing sugar to stop it from sticking to the surface and rolling pin, I used a knife to cut 1cm wide stripes.
I laid the stripes of marzipan out onto the white fondant. The recipe photo had the stripes straight, but I liked Ian’s diagonal ones on the show so I did the same.
I then rolled over the stripes to infuse them with the fondant.
I cut out 6 squares, measuring 6″ x 3″. It doesn’t matter if they are a little larger as you can trim them.
For the pastry I used 3 sheets of Jus Roll Puff Pastry. I rolled it out onto a baking tray.
I covered the pastry with another piece of baking paper, then a cooling rack over the top. This keeps the pastry from rising too much and keeps it even.
I baked the pastry on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. I flipped it upside down and baked it again, this time without the cooling rack on top, for 10 minutes.
I let the pastry cool enough to handle, then cut it into 6 pieces measuring 6″ x 3″. I did this again twice more with the other two sheets of pastry until I had 18 pieces of pastry in total.
I coated 12 pieces of the pastry with lemon curd. The recipe said to use raspberry jam, but I didn’t have any and I preferred using lemon curd instead.
I made a sugar syrup using 25g caster sugar and 50ml water. I brought it to the boil in a pan and let it bubble for 1 minute. I then took it off the heat and let it cool down.
I brushed the syrup onto the other six pieces of pastry and stuck the squares of stripy icing over them.
I then made the chantilly cream by whipping up 600ml double cream, 50g icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
I piped the cream onto the lemon curd covered pastry and alternated it with fresh raspberries. These things used so many more raspberries than the recipe stated – I used 5 punnets!
I put the next layer on, did the same again with the cream and raspberries, and finally topped them with the stripy pastry.
The mille feuille looked so pretty! I absolutely loved the appearance of them with the stripy icing on top. They were absolutely massive though, one can easily be shared between two. Or they could also be made half the size. They were fairly tricky to eat too, but so delicious and worth all the pastry on your jumper and cream on your face!
I am entering the mille feuille into Baking Queen’s challenge Perfecting Patisserie, there is no specific theme this month.
Knead the white fondant until it is soft and pliable. Use icing sugar to dust the work surface
Roll out the fondant to a 12" x 9" rectangle
Roll out the pink fondant or marzipan to the same size and use a knife to cut 1cm wide strips
Lay the strips of pink fondant or marzipan over the white fondant. Then roll over the strips to infuse them with the white fondant
Cut out 6 squares of the stripy fondant, measuring 6" x 3". It doesn't matter if they are a little larger as you can trim them
Roll the puff pastry out onto baking trays. Cover the pastry with another piece of baking paper, then a cooling rack over the top. This keeps the pastry from rising too much and keeps it even
Bake the pastry on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes. Then flip it upside down and bake it again, this time without the cooling rack on top, for 10 minutes
Let the pastry cool enough to handle, then cut it into 6 pieces measuring 6" x 3". You will end up with 18 pieces of pastry in total
Coat 12 pieces of the pastry with the lemon curd
Make a sugar syrup by boiling the caster sugar and water in a pan for 1 minute. Then take it off the heat and let it cool down Brush the syrup onto the other 6 pieces of pastry and stick the squares of stripy icing over them. Trim them if needed
Make the Chantilly cream by whipping up the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract
Pipe the cream onto the lemon curd covered pastry and alternate blobs of cream with fresh raspberries
Put the next layer of pastry on, do the same again with the cream and raspberries, and finally topped them with the stripy pastry
I’ve mentioned before that I attend my local Women’s Institute (WI) on a monthly basis. Well last month’s meeting was a bit different in that we had an outing to visit some nearby bees. I had no idea that there are beehives on the roofs of many of the city’s buildings. After a talk from a local beekeeper we headed up to the roof of The Printworks where they have chickens, a vegetable garden and two beehives. It was dark when we visited, but I found the below photo online which gives a much clearer view!
The bees are looked after by someone from the Hard Rock Cafe, vegetables from the garden are used to make soup for the homeless, and the wild flower section of the garden was dontaed by Bez from the Happy Mondays. Who knew all this was going on right above our heads! Bees are such fascinating creatures and so essential to our environment. Friends of the Earth are currently campaigning against the governments decision to use bee harming pesticides in the UK, you can read more about it by clicking here.
So in honour of our bee themed meeting I decided to make some honey flavoured cupcakes with cute little bees on top! To make the bees I started by rolling chunks of golden marzipan to make the bees bodies. I laid them onto baking paper.
I melted a few blocks of dark chocolate in the microwave and painted the bees stripes and eyes onto the marzipan bodies using a brand new paint brush. You could probably also do this with a cocktail stick.
I pushed flaked almonds into the bees to make the wings.
Soon I had a swarm of marzipan bees! I made 30+ cupcakes for my WI meeting, but I’ll give you the recipe for 12 cupcakes, then you can double and triple it as you need.
To make the cupcakes I started by creaming 150g butter, 50g honey and 100g caster sugar.
I added 2 eggs, the zest of one orange, 3 tbsp orange juice and 1 tsp orange extract.
Finally I mixed in 150g self raising flour.
I baked the cupcakes on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes until golden brown. I got a new oven recently and it bakes things super fast so you may need to leave them in for 20 minutes depending on your oven.
I made some buttercream by mixing 150g butter, 50g honey, 400g icing sugar and 1 tsp orange extract. I piped it onto the cupcakes when they were fully cool.
Finally I added the super cute marzipan bees! I loved the final effect, the little ‘bees’ looked so adorable. I got some really lovely comments when I presented them at the meeting and was pleased to see them all fly off the table!
I’m entering these into Belleau Kitchen’s challenge Simply Eggcellent, this month the theme is cake.
In Sweden, the one baked good they are crazy about (besides cinnamon buns) is Swedish Princess Cake, also known as Prinsesstårta. I recently spent a week in Stockholm, Sweden and saw these gorgeous green cakes everywhere. I’ve made a full size Swedish Princess Cake after the Great British Bake Off featured them as a technical challenge, but I thought turning them into cupcakes would be really cute and fun! Plus it’s a simpler way to get the delightful taste of the Prinsesstårta without making a full sized one.
I started by making the creme patisserie the night before so I could cool it in the fridge overnight. I’ve only made creme patisserie once before and the recipe worked beautifully so I decided to use it again. This did make far too much for the 7 cupcakes I needed, so I made another 12 the next day! So you may wish to half the creme patisserie recipe if you’re making a smaller number of cakes. I heated 500ml whole milk with
the seeds from a vanilla pod until it reached boiling point. I then took it off the heat and poured into a jug.
In my food mixer I whisked up 6 egg yolks with 140g caster sugar until pale and thick. I added 45g cornflour and mixed that in. I then put the mixer on a medium speed and poured the milk in slowly as it mixed.
I poured the mixture back into the pan and heated it up whilst stirring continuously. There is a moment when it suddenly thickens, I started whisking it at this point to keep it smooth and stop any lumps.
I put it in a bowl, and covered it with cling film. I made sure the cling film was touching the creme pattiserie so that a skin doesn’t form on it. I left it in the fridge overnight to cool.
The next day I made the cupcakes. I was taking them to a dinner party where one of the guests had a gluten intolerance so I made regular cupcakes with gluten free flour. Ideally I would have made genoise sponge cupcakes as this is the traditionally sponge. So it’s up to you which to use if you try this recipe. I creamed together 120g butter and 120g caster sugar. I then whisked in 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
I added 120g gluten free self raising flour and 3 tbsp whole milk, and mixed in. If you don’t need these to be gluten free, just use regular self raising flour.
I divided the cupcake mixture into 7 cases as that’s how many I needed, but I reckon you could stretch the mixture to 8 cupcakes. As I mentioned before, as the creme patisserie recipe makes quite a lot so you can make a lot more cupcakes to use it up if you wish.
I baked on 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes until golden. I left them to cool completely.
While they were cooling I kneaded some green food colouring into 100g natural marzipan and cut out 2.5 inch circles. I got exactly 19 circles from this much marzipan. I left the marzipan out to harden up.
I used a tiny dab of water to stick a pink heart sprinkle into the middle of each marzipan circle. Traditionally a pink flower is put on top of a Prinsesstårta, but I had these pink heart sprinkles in the cupboard from Valentine’s Day baking and I thought they looked really cute!
Once fully cool I used a knife to scoop out the middle of the cupcakes. A cupcake corer won’t make enough room for the filling so you do need to do this manually.
I half filled the holes with seedless raspberry jam, about 1 tsp per cupcakes.
Then I topped them up with the creme patisserie and smoothed the top.
I whipped up a 250ml tub of double cream and piped swirls onto each cupcake. I kept the swirls flat so I could place a circle of marzipan on top.
I was so pleased with the final result! I found making a full sized Prinsesstårta really tough in terms or decorating as I’m not skilled with covering cakes in fondant/marzipan, but these cupcakes are so much simpler. Everyone at the dinner party loved the cupcakes. The Swedes really have it down, I mean, cream, custard and jam in a cake – how can you go wrong?!
I’m entering this Swedish treat into myself and Cakeyboi’s baking challenge Treat Petite. Cakeyboi is hosting this month and the theme is Eurovision.
Start by making the creme patisserie the night before. Heat the whole milk with the seeds from the vanilla pod in a pan until it reaches boiling point. Then take it off the heat and pour it into a jug
In a food mixer whisk up the egg yolks with 140g of the caster sugar until pale and thick. Add the cornflour and mix in. Then put the mixer on a medium speed and pour the milk in slowly as it mixes
Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat it up whilst stirring continuously. It will suddenly thicken after approximately 5 minutes, start whisk it at this point to keep it smooth and stop any lumps from forming
Put the creme patisserie in a bowl, and cover it with cling film so that the cling film is pressed into the bowl and is touching the top of the creme patisserie. Leave it in the fridge overnight to cool
To make the cupcakes, cream together butter and 240g of the caster sugar. Then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract
Add the flour and if using gluten free flour add the 3 tbsp whole milk, and mix in
Divide the mixture into cases and bake on 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes until golden. Leave them to cool completely
Knead the green food colouring into the natural marzipan and cut out 2.5 inch circles. Leave the marzipan circles to harden up
Use a tiny dab of water to stick a pink heart sprinkle into the middle of each marzipan circle. You can also use a pink flower, pink heart made from fondant or leave plain
Use a knife and spoon to scoop out the middle of the cupcakes
Half fill the scooped out holes with seedless raspberry jam, about 1 tsp per cupcake
Then fill the other half of the scooped out holes with the creme patisserie and smooth the top
Whip up the double cream and pipe swirls onto each cupcake. Keep the swirls flat, then place a circle of marzipan on top of each cupcake
Simnel Cakes go way back, all the way to medival times in fact. I’ve never actually eaten a traditional one before, which just have one layer of fruit cake, but I see them in the shops every Easter. The marzipan balls on top represent the twele apostles, minus Judas. Although I’m not religious myself, I love Easter and baking around this time of year. I wanted to make the Simnel cake a bit more modern and also more to my own tastes, so this Golden Layered Simnel Cake is filled with delicious almond buttercream and the sponge is much lighter with less fruit.
I started by creaming together 350g butter and 350g golden caster sugar.
I whisked in 6 eggs, adding two at a time and mixing well.
I folded in 2 tsp mixed spice, a pinch of salt and 350g self raising flour. Then I gently mixed in the zest of 1 lemon and 250g dried fruit mixture.
I divided the mixture between 3 lined cake tins.
I baked on 160C for 25 minutes until golden brown. I tipped the sponges out of the tins and left to cool.
When the sponges were fully cool I made some buttercream by mixing 400g icing sugar, 200g butter and 1 tsp almond extract together. I piped it around the edge of the first layer and smeared it in the middle.
I placed the second layer on top and did the same with the remaining buttercream.
I added the final sponge layer and brushed some apricot jam over the top to help the marzipan stick.
I used 320g natural marzipan for the decoration. Each ball was 15g each and the rest I rolled out into a disc.
I placed it on top of the cake and trimmed the edges. I then brushed it all over with egg white, placed the balls around the cake and brushed them with egg white too.
I then used my handy cook’s blowtorch to scorch the marzipan in the centre and on top of each ball. If you don’t have a blowtorch you can put the cake under the grill to achieve this effect, however I would recommend decorating the top sponge on it’s own and grilling it before placing it over the buttercream, which would probably melt under a grill!
I loved the final effect of the cake, a gorgeous golden delight! My boyfriend’s eyes lit up with excitement when he saw it as he loves marzipan. He quickly ate up the first slice and was full of compliments for the flavour.
The sponge was lovely and light with just enough fruit for me and the sweet almond buttercream was the perfect accompaniment. It was a large cake and was cut into about 18 slices – plenty for a hungry group of family and friends at Easter!
Cream together 350g of the butter and the golden caster sugar
Whisk in the eggs, add two at a time and mix well
Fold in the mixed spice, salt and self raising flour. Then gently mix in the zest of the lemon and the dried fruit
Divide the mixture between 3 lined cake tins
Bake on 160C for 25 minutes until golden brown. Tip the sponges out of the tins and leave to cool
To make the buttercream by mix the icing sugar with 200g of the butter and the almond extract. Pipe it around the edge of the first layer and smear it in the middle Place the second layer of cake on top and do the same with the remaining buttercream
Add the final sponge layer and brush the apricot jam over the top to help the marzipan stick
Roll up 11 marzipan balls weighing 15g each and roll the rest out into a disc
Place it on top of the cake and trim the edges. Then brush it all over with egg white, place the balls around the cake and brush them with egg white too
Use a cook's blowtorch to scorch the marzipan in the centre and on top of each ball
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 500ml whole milk with the seeds from a vanilla pod until it reached boiling point. I then took it off the heat.
In my food mixer I whisked up 6 egg yolks with 140g caster sugar until pale and thick. I added 45g 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. I made 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 5 eggs with 150g 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 130g plain flour and 1 tsp vanilla 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 40g 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 700ml whipping cream with 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla sugar and spread it over the whole cake, making a dome shape on top.
I kneaded some green food colouring into 400g 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.
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 140g of 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
Line and grease a 23cm spring form cake tin
In a food mixer whisked up the eggs with 150g of 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 1 tsp of sugar into the egg mixture very gently so as little air is lost as possible. Then put it in the tin
Bake the sponge on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 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 1 tsp of the sugar. 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
After my recent Six Things To Do With… Marzipan post, I decided I really wanted to try and make a Battenberg cake. It has been used as a technical challenge on The Great British Bake Off so I thought it would be a good challenge for me as a baker. I haven’t done anything overly challenging or technical in a while, plus I had plenty of marzipan lying around. I am not sure whether the correct spelling is ‘Battenberg’ or ‘Battenburg’ as I have seen both, but the recipe I chose to follow is by the Hairy Bikers so I went with their spelling!
First, you need a square baking pan. I picked one up in Tesco. The recipe says to use a 20cm tin, mine was 21cm and this didn’t cause any problems. I measured out a piece of baking paper that was 30cm x 20cm. I folded it in half, and folded it back leaving a 4cm tall fold. It’s hard to describe so hopefully the above photo makes it clear. The fold should stick up in the middle so the two parts of the sponge don’t mix when cooking.
To make the sponge I mixed together 175g butter, 175g Whitworths Fine Demerara Sugar (I didn’t have any golden caster sugar and had some of this in the cupboard), 3 eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 175g self raising flour.
Using scales I split the mixture into seperate bowls until the weights matched exactly. I added Sugarflair Christmas Red food colouring to one bowl until it went pink, you only need a little bit.
I poured the batter into the seperate sections of the tin.
I actually ended up making this twice. The first time I baked on 180C for about 30-35 minutes. It hadn’t cooked properly and it was too late to put it back in the oven as it sunk quite badly. So in the bin it went and I started again. This time I cooked on 160C for the first 30 minutes, then turned it up to 180C for the final 25 minutes. It cooked much better the second time. I would say keep an eye on it and test it with a skewer or cake tester to make sure the part where the cakes meet in the middle is cooked as that’s the area where I had problems.
Once the cakes had fully cooled I trimmed the edges and then cut the cakes in half. It’s best to hold the cakes together whilst trimming so they stay an equal size.
I rolled out some marzipan, and warmed and sieved 6 tbsp apricot jam. I also made an almond buttercream using 100g icing sugar, 50g butter and 3/4 tsp almond extract. The recipe says to use the jam for both sticking the marzipan to the sponge, and to stick the sponge together. But I decided to do a buttercream to stick the sponge together instead because of the yummyness.
So the construction begins! I brushed the jam on the bottom of the sponge and buttercream down the side and stuck onto the marzipan. Then covered in buttercream
The other two pieces of sponge went on with buttercream in the middle. I brushed the jam on the top and on the marzipan at the sides. Wrapping it around was the hardest part. There were some cracks in the marzipan and it was hard to get it wrapped tightly.
I also decided to add some marzipan leaves to the top. I cut these out of the leftover marzipan using a knife and stuck them on using the leftover jam. This was partly because the top looked a bit boring and partly to hide some imperfections in the marzipan!
It looked better when I cut the end off. This also gave me an opportunity to taste it, delicious! The buttercream was definitely a good idea.
I don’t think my Battenberg is technically perfect, but I am thrilled with how it turned out! Especially how neat my squares look. It tasted really good too, I was glad I used the almond buttercream. It does feel really good to conquer a baking challenge like this. I can understand to an exent what The Great British Bake Off contestants went through now! I took this into work and once it was sliced, it didn’t last long! Have you made anything technical from The Great British Bake Off?
Made by mixing sugar and ground almonds together, marzipan only tends to come out for holidays and celebrations. It’s most well known for being the layer between cake and icing on wedding and Christmas cakes. It is very widely used throughout Europe and Asia, it doesn’t appear as often in modern British baking. I first used it when I made some Easter Simnel Cupcakes. I suspect a lot of you have leftover marzipan after making Simnel cakes at Easter! Wrapped it cling film it will stay fresh and leftovers can be used in one of the selection of recipes I have found below…
Happy Easter everyone! I love Easter so much, I’m a bit of an Easter nut in fact. Last year I ate hot cross buns all day long, made my own Easter eggs and did some art with an Easter craft set. Then I put my art work on the fridge – a great day! This year I am being slightly more grown up and spending the weekend at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. I decided to make Simnel cupcakes because they are a traditional Easter recipe. Then I went for it with Mini Eggs and fluffy chicks to decorate! Here’s how I did it…
First I mixed together 150g butter and 150g light soft brown sugar until creamy.
Then I added 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract and the zest of one lemon, and mixed well.
I added in 150g dried mixed fruit. The mix I used was called luxury dried fruit and was from Aldi. It’s great because it has everything in it. Raisins, sultanas, cherries, and mixed peel. So you don’t have to buy everything separately!
Finally I folded in 100g plain flour, 150g plain wholemeal flour (both sifted and the bran from the wholemeal flour tipped in), 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp mixed spice.
I used golden marzipan and made 12 balls each weighing 12g (no particular reason for this weight, they just looked like the size I wanted). Traditionally, on a large sized Simnel cake, 12 marzipan balls are used to represent the twelve apostles, without Judas, or 11 marzipan balls are used to represent Jesus and the twelve apostles, minus Judas again. No cake for Judas.
Once I had filled the cupcake cases with mixture, I pushed the balls of marzipan in.
Then I put a small amount of mixture over the top.
I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 20 minutes, until they were golden brown.
Once the cakes were cooled I whipped up some almond buttercream using 340g icing sugar, 170g butter, 2 tsp cream cheese and 1 tsp almond extract.
The first decoration I did was this fluffy chick. First I coated the cupcake with buttercream using a palette knife. You can also use the back of a spoon. Then I sprinkled on the ‘fur’, made from dessicated coconut dyed yellow with some food colouring, finally I stuck on chocolate chips for eyes and some orange sugarpaste for the beak.
My second design was a simple swirl of almond buttercream using a star nozzle, and three Mini Eggs arranged in the middle.
For this design I spread the almond buttercream across the top of the cupcake using a palette knife, then using my star nozzle I piped a small swirl into the middle. I sprinkled on some Dr. Oetker Citrus Strands, then added a (non-edible!) fluffy chick. So frickin’ cute!!
Finally I went a bit glamorous. I spread the almond buttercream on the cupcake using my trusty palette knife again, then piped a small swirl in the middle, then little rosettes around the edge, and topped each one with a silver ball. Upright Mini Eggs in the centre finished it off.
The cupcake sponge was really delicious, and had just the right amount of fruit. The marzipan ball hidden in the middle is a nice surprise! I had planned the first two decorations, but made the other two up as I went. So be creative and see what you can come up with! Grab some little eggs, sprinkles, whatever you fancy and celebrate Easter with sweet delicious treats!
If you fancy showing off your Easter baking and be in with a chance of winning tickets for The Cake & Bake Show (5th – 7th April and Manchester Central), Renshaw Baking are running a competition which you can enter by clicking here. I will be heading to the show myself and can’t wait to check out the bread baking, sugar crafting and celebrity appearances! They are big fans of marzipan too over at Renshaw Baking and have a selection of Easter recipes which you can peruse by clicking here.