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’ve made a Lemon & Elderflower and Orange & Honey Floral Cake which you can find the recipe for at the bottom of this post. 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. However 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!
Step by step…
I started with the Lemon & Elderflower sponge, I creamed together butter and sugar, then added lemon zest.
I added eggs and elderflower cordial. Then I added 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 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 caster sugar, elderflower cordial and the juice of 3 lemons.
I used my Joseph Joseph Glaze Refillable Silicone Pastry Brush to brush the syrup all over the hot cakes, then I left them to cool. It was sent to me recently as part of their new baking range and it made this task so much easier!
Next, I divided the mixture into two 6 inch lined and greased tins.
I baked themfor 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 orange juice and 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.
To make the buttercream I mixed together the butter and icing sugar, then added the orange extract and lemon extract and mixed until smooth.
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. Then 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. To make the flowers, I used a fab flower tool, 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.
Then I used a dab of water to stick a pink sugar pearl in the middle. 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 & Elderflower cake was stunning, I adored the strong citrus flavour. The orange and honey was more delicate in flavour, but certainly no less delicious.
NB. I was sent the Joseph Joseph products for free, all opinions are my own.
Citrus Floral Cake
Lemon and elderflower cake, orange and honey cake, covered in citrus buttercream
For the Lemon & Elderflower sponge
- 350 g Butter or baking spread
- 350 g Caster sugar
- 3 Lemons zest only
- 6 Eggs large
- 3 tsp Elderflower cordial
- 350 g Self raising flour
For the Lemon & Elderflower syrup
- 10 tbsp Caster sugar
- 50 ml Elderflower cordial
- 3 Lemons juice only
For the orange & honey sponge
- 180 g Butter or baking spread
- 180 g Caster sugar
- 1 Orange zest only
- 180 g Self raising flour
- 3 Eggs large
- 1 tbsp Honey
For the orange & Honey syrup
- 85 g Honey
- 1 Orange juice only
- 8 tbsp Apricot Jam
For the buttercream
- 1.5 kg Icing sugar
- 750 g Butter or baking spread
- 3 tsp Orange extract
- 3 tsp Lemon extract
- Pink food colouring
For the fondant flowers
- Baby pink ready to roll fondant
- Pink sugar pearls
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4, and grease and line two 9" cake tins
To make the lemon and elderflower sponge cream together the butter and caster sugar, then add the zest of the lemons
Add the eggs, two at a time, and whisk between each addition. Then add the elderflower cordial, followed by the self raising flour, and whisk in
Divide the mixture between the tins. Bake them for 35 minutes or until they are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean
While the cakes are baking make the lemon & elderflower syrup. Mix the caster sugar, elderflower cordial and the juice of the lemons together until the sugar dissolves. Brush it all over the hot cakes as soon as they come out of the oven
For the orange and honey sponge cream, grease and line two 6" cake tins
Mix together the butter and caster sugar. Add the zest of the orange and mix in
Add the eggs and whisk in, then mix in the honey and finally fold in the self raising flour
Divide the mixture between the tins. Bake them for around 25 minutes or until they are golden brown and a skewer comes out clean
While the cakes are baking make a syrup from the juice of the orange and 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 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 buttercream. 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 the remaining 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