The second week of Great British Bake Off saw the contestants battle it out baking bread.
They were asked to produce crispy bread sticks, light and fluffy English Muffins and an extravagant decorative loaf.
I decided to recreate Ali’s Italian Grissini using Parmesan and Italian seasoning bought bake from Luca by my boyfriend’s parents.
Although they were delicious I was a little impatient and didn’t cut them very well.
They were all different thicknesses and although many of them had an impressive snap others were a little soft and bendy.
The Great British Bake Off started with cakes.
The 13 contestants were asked to bake a signature sandwich cake, their skills were tested in the blind test with an Angel Food Cake and they had to wow Paul and Mary with a show stopper chocolate cake.
I took a chocolate and cherry cake into my office to wow my colleagues, and win over my bosses.
I used this recipe for a rich chocolate wedding cake but halved the recipe – I thought 50 portions was probably too much!
I thought half the cooking time would probably be about right but when I checked it after an hour it was still very wobbly so baked for about another five minutes.
I filled it with sweetened whipped cream and topped with cherries for a fuss free but impressive looking cake.
The recipe was simple to follow and the finished product was delicious – I heard yummy noises coming from around the office!
As it’s Christmas I wanted to make a special savoury snack for the family.
Cranberries are an ingredient I’ve never used before and I was slightly unsure of what to do with them.
I was looking online for some flavour combinations and saw that Waitrose is making a cranberry topped pork pie so I thought I’d give it a go.
I’ve wanted to try making hand-raised pies since seeing them on Great British Bake Off and this seemed like the perfect time, here’s the recipe:
750g plain flour
2 tsp salt
First mix the flour and salt together in a food processor and then leave.
Next you need to boil the water and lard together.
Then slowly pour in the water and lard liquid into the flour, mixing as you do.
Once it’s all bound together in a nice dough you can shape it, I used ramekins for the big ones and a greased cake tin for the little ones.
You need to chill the dough once it’s shaped for about 30 minutes.
For the filling you need:
800g pork mince
1 diced onion
A few sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
Mix all of the filling ingredients up and season well.
Then you can start filling the pie cases.
Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, wash pastry with a whisked egg and then bake for a further 20 or 30 minutes.
Finish them off by topping with cranberries which have been cooked on a low heat for just a few minutes with 1 tbsp of sugar. You don’t want the cranberries to be too mushy, they still need a bit of a bite.
I crumbled Stilton cheese on this one and baked for another couple of minutes
Pork and cranberry pies
Last week was the final of The Great British Bake Off and, spoiler alert, John won.
The last ever technical challenge was fondant fancies, one of my all time favourite treats! I love the big ones you can get in Waitrose and of course the classic Mr Kipling but I’d never tried to make my own before.
The contestants used Mary Berry’s recipe and so, I did too. I understand why Paul and Mary left it until the last week because the recipe was really tricky to follow. I assumed, being a basic sponge base, that it would be easy peasy, but there was just so much to do!
After the cake was cooled it needed to be covered in jam, then marzipan. Next I had to measure it out into square and cut. Spread buttercream over four sides of the sponge and pipe a blob of it on the top, then cover with icing and then decorate. They took me two evenings!
After all the effort though, they were worth it. They were light and sweet and lemony and beautiful and went perfectly with a cup of tea. Although they were difficult, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go!
Tonight is the final of the Great British Bake Off on BBC2 and will be my last bake for a while as I’m getting a bit of a belly on me. However, this weekend I attempted last week’s technical challenge, the French classic, Fraisier Cake, which is made up of two tricky components, a Génoise sponge and crème pâtissière.
The recipe was tricky, there were a lot of things to do all at once and I made a big mess. There was also a lot of waiting around, especially after the cake was all put together, I couldn’t wait to see if I’d managed it. At first it looked great and then about three seconds later it looked rubbish!
A bit of a mess
The taste was a bit dodge as well, I could really taste the cornflour in the crème pâtissière and the lemon syrup in the sponge wasn’t great along with the strawberries. On the upside, the actual sponge rose and was really light and fluffy! I was pleased that I made a Génoise sponge but I didn’t enjoy the cake and won’t be something I’d attempt again.
On last week’s Great British Bake Off the bakers had to make biscuits. They started with savoury crackers, the technical challenge was chocolate tea-cakes and then finished with show stopping gingerbread constructions.
I thought an entire house would be a little over ambitious for me but, as I was helping out backstage at a local amateur production of Pirates of Penzance I wanted to bake some treats for the cast and crew. So, I decided to bake everyone a gingerbread pirate.
I used the gingerbread man recipe on the BBC Food
website, which was really good. I had to triple the quantities so I had enough for everyone in the theatre so that was a bit of a challenge but they all worked out well in the end. Admittedly Paul and Mary would have most likely marked me down for inconsistent baking and size, some of them were super thin and others were morbidly obese, but they all tasted great so and I’m not competing in a baking show!
I decorated them with coloured writing icing, as well as colouring royal icing, rolling it out and cutting it into trouser shapes (I’ve never seen a naked pirate.)
I made 65 of these sword wielding biscuits!
I know I’ve left this post super duper late and there’s another episode of Great British Bake Off on tonight so this morning, I hastily attempted Paul Hollywood’s doughnuts that the contestants made last Tuesday.
Like the contestants, I was put off slightly by the really wet consistency of the dough but I stuck with it and I have to say, I was really proud of what I achieved! I made actual doughnuts, like the ones that come in bags from the shop!
I don’t own a deep-fat fryer, but that didn’t stop me, I just heated a litre of sunflower oil very, very slowly in a big pan. I was a bit scared of the hot oil but I just took my time and it was fine. Also, for those of you, like me that don;t have a special proving draw, I discovered a fantastic trick, pop the dough on top of the boiler, nice and warm.
Strawberry jam doughnuts
Home made doughnuts are impressive and simple