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
So, last week I went to New York and went into a beautiful bakery, Lady M Confections.
Lady M Confections
Gâteau aux marrons
I had this one, it was so rich and so sweet that I couldn’t finish it but it was absolutely beautiful. The almond flavoured sponges were layered with a chestnut cream and were topped with roasted walnuts, an elegant cake I’d definitely be tempted to try. I also thought the piping of the cream was really interesting.
Lady M are famous for their mille crêpe cake, made by sandwiching paper thin crêpes together with a rich cream. They also make a green tea and a strawberry variations of this crêpe cake.
Last week on Great British Bake Off they were making it puddings. The big challenge was strudel but that seemed a little ambitious to me, especially just after a holiday.
Instead, I decided to make pear and ginger steamed puddings. First of all I made a pear sauce by cooking pears in stem ginger syrup then blending it up until smooth.
The sponge was just a regular 6,6,6,3 recipe and I just chopped up stem ginger and mixed it into the batter.
I buttered six ramekins then spooned the pear sauce into the bottom of them, followed by the cake mix. The puddings were cooked in a bain marie in the oven at 180 degrees for 25 minutes and were delicious.
This week on the Great British Bake Off, the competitors had to each bake a signature wellington, they could choose meat, fish or vegetable for the first task.
I made dinner for my boyfriend and parents tonight and decided to make salmon en croute for them, and for a first try it wasn’t half bad!
Salmon en croute
I found this recipe but adapted it slightly by adding my own red chilli jam which I did by just boiling red peppers, chilli and sugar. I also bought a pre-made shortcrust pastry as I was in a rush, I’m going on holiday tomorrow!
Now, I don’t like to get too confident about my food but I’m pretty sure this is the best thing I’ve ever made! It was delicious and went down really well with everyone.
The Good Food recipe was really easy to follow
That’s all for a couple of weeks as I’m going to New York, but if I see anything amazing I’ll be tweeting when I get wifi.