The secret is finally out, I am indeed one of the Baker’s Dozen in this year’s Great British Bake Off and it feels good to be able to talk about it at last!
On Tuesday 20th August 2013 the nation saw the return of #gbbo on BBC 2 and the series kicked off in style with cakes, lots and lots of cakes of all shapes, sizes and flavours. The Signature Challenge this week was to make a Sandwich Cake; easy I hear you cry? Maybe so, but this was the first challenge and it needed to set the tone for the first show and prove that I deserved to be in that tent.
Beautiful Harptree Court very early on the first morning of filming.
When I was recipe testing for the signature cake I came up with two ideas, the first was a Tiramisu inspired cake and the other was a Grapefruit cake. My Tiramisu idea was to make a coffee sponge with a marsala wine syrup, a sweetened mascarpone filling and topping finished off with chocolate curls. In my head, this tasted amazing, but when it came to the actual cake it just wasn’t quite hitting the mark. The one element I did like from the Tiramisu cake was the sweetened mascarpone filling, so I kept this idea in mind when I was developing the Grapefruit cake.
The Grapefruit cake idea came from my love of the fruit and the thought process that it would work well in cake form, much like a lemon drizzle cake. The bitterness would be ‘dulled’ by the sweetness of the cake and all the elements that I wanted to use in the recipe. It is essentially a very simple sponge, but with a few additional elements that elevate the cake from a bog-standard drizzle cake to a West-End-stage-standard Razzle-Dazzle cake, that goes VERY well with a mid-morning black coffee. AND, you get one of your 5-a-day.
The recipe can be found on the BBC Food website via this link:
The next challenge was the dreaded Technical Challenge and as we waited to be herded into the tent like a flock of lost and scared sheep, we were all trying to guess what the technical could be. None of us guessed it and as soon as it was announced the search engine in my head went into overdrive, desperately trying to remember anything to do with Angel Food Cake. I’d eaten it whilst visiting with my family in the States, and had an idea what the judges were looking for but had never made it before. Before I started to panic and over-think the recipe I cracked on with the task as best as I could. I didn’t encounter any major issues, the only thing that I shouldn’t have done was grease the tin! I think the majority of us did that, so I didn’t feel too bad.
Going into the third and final challenge, I felt happy with how I’d performed so far. My cake had annoyingly impressed Paul and Mary was happy with my cake to filling ratio…bring on the showstopper challenge!
We had 4 hours to complete a Chocolate Celebration Cake which needed to show some form of chocolate work skills in the decorations for the cake. I decided to make a two-tiered chocolate sponge cake, with a white chocolate ganache and cherry jam filling, covered in a chocoform/sugarpaste icing and topped off with a shiny dark chocolate ganache. My decorations were made from 3 different types of chocolate work; white and dark chocolate truffles, white and dark tempered chocolate lattices and a white and dark chocolate nest which I made by drizzling tempered chocolate onto a frozen slab of granite and manipulating it into a nest shape.
My practice chocolate cake the week before the first weekend.
The feedback I had from Paul and Mary was very positive and I happily made it past the first Bake Off weekend having achieved what I’d set out to do…stay in for the first programme!
Next week’s challenges all revolve around Bread, something that I love to eat and bake…so fingers crossed that I’ll do ok!