Yesterday was the last episode of The Great British Bake Off. Nadiya won in a very emotional final. Mary Berry had tears in her eyes when she talked about Nadiya and I must admit I was a little emotional too. Their show-stoppers were amazing, Ian made a carrot cake (like I did) but I don’t think it looked as stunning as Tamal’s sticky toffee cake with lots of sugar work and a huge spider web between the three cakes. Nadiya made a wedding cake as she didn’t have one on her wedding day and Paul and Mary loved it.
I planned to bake along GBBO from last year, at least one challenge from all the weeks. I did it and I loved every challenge! I can’t wait to bake along next year, I rediscovered my love to bake bread (and stop buying from the supermarket), I learned so many things and challenged myself with tricky bakes. I received star baker twice from a linky I’ve joined! I couldn’t be more happier.
All the recipes are on my cooking blog: CookStyle if you want to give them a go.
Week 1: Cake The signature challenge was a Madeira cake. The technical challenge was Mary’s frosted walnut cake. The first show-stopper was the black forest gateau.
The walnut cake is something I’ve made it before and I had black forest gateau many times before. I will probably bake a gateau. As I never baked a Madeira cake before, I wanted to try it. It was delicious and it had the crack. I was very happy with it.
Week 2: Biscuits The signature challenge was to make 24 biscotti. The technical challenge was arlettes. The first show-stopper was an edible biscuit box filled with 36 biscuits of a different flavour.
Arlettes looked hard to make and I wanted to try them, but so did the biscotti. I never intended to bake 36 biscuits as it would have been too much food. In the end I’ve decided to make the biscotti, a twice baked italian biscuit. They are so easy to make, even though they have to be baked, cut into biscuits, baked again on one side, then flipped and baked on the other side. I used almonds and hazelnut flavour for the biscotti and they were yummy.
Week 3: Bread The signature challenge was to make a quick bread, with no proving necessary. The technical challenge was baguettes. The first show-stopper was an edible 3-D bread sculptures.
I love baking bread, I really do. I slipped into buying bread as is more convenient, but wanting to bake 2 different types of bread that I never tried before made me ditch the convenience and bake! bake! bake! From the end of August, when I baked for that week’s challenge, almost all the bread we’ve had was baked at home.
The baguette took 8 hours to bake, what a task. I had to leave it to rise for a long time, but it was worth it, I received star baker and I tackled a bake that I would normally avoid because it’s so long.
I also baked soda bread, twice. The first one was wholemeal oaty and the second one was soda bread with olives. I liked it a lot.
Week 4: Desserts The signature challenge was creme brulee. The technical challenge was spanische windtorte. The first show-stopper was three baked cheesecakes.
For that week I’ve made two challenges again, creme brulee and cheesecake. The creme brulee with cardamon was stunning, perfect texture, lovely taste.
The 3 flowers cheesecake was called like that because the flavours are rose for the pink one, violet for the purple one and vanilla for the yellow one. The flavours worked out beautifully and I think it looks spectacular (I’m not terribly modest, I know :D). Although my cheesecakes weren’t baked, there were 3 different flavours and I think it’s a real show-stopper.
Week 5: Alternative Ingredients The signature challenge was a sugar-free cake. The technical challenge was gluten-free pittas. The first show-stopper was dairy-free ice cream rolls.
This wasn’t the best week I had. I’ve made sugar free scones as I was so pressed on time. I bake cakes or tray bakes without sugar, so it wasn’t that challenging for me. I don’t swap the sugar with honey, I put a lot of dried fruits that will give the sweet taste. I would never use artificial sweeteners as I don’t like the taste at all. I also tried to make gluten free pittas with rice flour that I grounded myself. I’m not keen on gluten free as a concept, I don’t think is healthier and luckily neither me or hubby are celiacs, but I wanted to try it. For my breads I usually use strong flour (with extra gluten) because the proteins are giving it the rise and the taste.
Week 6: Pastry The signature challenge was Frangipane tart. The technical challenge was flaouna. The first show-stopper was vol-au-vents.
It was an easy choice what to bake for that week: Frangipane tart. The flaounas is made with cheese and raisins, a combination that is not only specific to Cyprus, is found in the Romanian cuisine too. I don’t like it at all, hubby doesn’t like it at all, so it was a definite no from us. Vol-au-vents sounded fab, but that week we had to go with work in Birmingham, so time was limited.
I baked the nectarine Frangipane tart on Friday morning at 7.30-8, that is how committed I was to do the challenges. At 12 we were in the car, driving to the cottage with half of the tart in a casserole (well, we had to do something to pack light). It was a bake I never made before and it was delicious, I would love to bake it again.
Week 7: Victorian The signature challenge was game pie. The technical challenge was fruit cake. The first show-stopper was charlotte russe.
I love the Victorians but I’m vegetarian. Game pie was out of the question and the charlotte russe didn’t set properly and I had the first disaster. Pork/beef gelatin can’t be swapped with agar or other vegetarian ones because they have different melting and setting temperatures. I’ll have to look through Heston Blumenthal’s books on molecular gastronomy to see if I can find the answer of how I can set the cream with agar. Charlotte russe is a dessert I’m familiar with and it’s not my favourite, but I want to know if it can be made vegetarian.
I love fruit cake and I usually buy it for Christmas, but not this year, after baking it for Bake Off I’ll bake it for Christmas too. I made my own marzipan and I love it. I didn’t decorate it as a tennis court as I rather use the ivy cutters (you’ll see in the end why is better for me to use cutters).
Week 8: Patisserie The signature challenge was 24 creams horns. The technical challenge was mokatines. The first show-stopper was Religieuse a l’ancienne.
It had to be Religieuse a l’ancienne, but a small one. The long eclairs were filled with cherry creme pat and the round eclairs were filled with vanilla creme pat. As I made the cake before the show, I wasn’t sure how it should stand up, so I put more choux in the middle. Maybe I will try it again, to make it freestanding on shortbread, but I need an empty fridge to keep it in. I got star baker for the Religieuse, I was very happy.
Week 9: Chocolate The signature challenge was chocolate tart. The technical challenge was chocolate souffle. The first show-stopper was a cake with spectacular chocolate centrepieces.
I baked the chocolate tart and after that I realized that the pastry should have been chocolate too, so I baked another one. The first tart was dark chocolate with hazelnuts. The second one was with chocolate pastry and white chocolate filling. As it wasn’t enough, hubby made chocolate souffles. I have only a picture with the phone of the souffles, so hubby or I will have to make it again for the blog.
Week 10: The Final The signature challenge was filled iced buns. The technical challenge was chocolate souffle. The last show-stopper was a classic British cake.
I had to choose the show stopper as I love classic British cake and I made carrot cake. The flavour of the cake was so good, but the decorations aren’t my forte.
I wanted to make 2 carrots from homemade marzipan and ended up with a huge carrot that looked slightly odd. Anyway, the yellow food colouring I have is not the best and it ended up bleeding in the cream cheese. I should bin it and buy a good one. When I saw the orange is not looking as I wanted, I turned it into a green paste and made huge leaves. The paste I kept for the green part I coloured it in a yellow-ish orange and that was the carrot. I could say it wasn’t an attempt to recreate a carrot… but an artistic vision and leave it to that.