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Bake Off 2020

Bake Off was at the 11th series. I baked along, again, but this time I made only vegan items. I will talk about in detail, but, before that I should say that this is, most likely, the last year I’m baking along. Furthermore, this might be the last year I’m watching Bake Off. It got to a point that I really can’t stand the jokes. It seems that half of them are toilet jokes while the other half must be about phallic shapes, “buns” as breasts, and, of course, the evergreen “I like your nuts” comment. I want to watch a baking show from where I might learn something or have fun watching people figuring out how to make a recipe they never heard of before… but having to listen to sleazy jokes is tiresome.

On top of that, the contestants are made to say stupid things [my opinion]. It’s Bake off… the 11th season and they still complain about the lack of details (in the technical), or how to make a dough or choux pastry?! Really?! Who even gets to be in the tent if they don’t know by heart how to make these. Also, they have to stretch the bread dough so they can be filmed. Who does that in real life? It’s just pointless. Bread baking is precise: the amount of strong flour, same amount of yeast, and water, baked at the same temperature will give you the same results each time. Also, kneading in the stand mixer should be also the norm too because we are not living in the middle ages, there is no point in kneading bread dough by hand.

I’m just tired of stupid jokes and complaining contestants, insufficient time in the technicals so they can laugh of how bad their bakes turn out, and unprepared finalists. When Laura was pouring yuzu juice into her custard mix my husband said that it will never set. Of course he was right. Now, because I mentioned Laura by name… she, amazingly, said she bought agar from Australia, why not just get it from Lakeland? It’s only £5 there. She also imported fresh yeast from France, again… why not buy it from Morrisons (available on amazon deliveries). In addition, using fresh yeast for a bake with a set time is bonkers, which is why Paul was so puzzled when she mentioned it. The difference between Easy bake yeast and fresh yeast is that latter needs proving, about 20 minutes if not a bit more, before you can make the dough with it. Nobody can see the difference between loaves made with fresh yeast or dry yeast.

Bake Off 2020

Now let’s get to my bakes. I was happy with all, only once I had to repeat a recipe and that was for vegan choux. Choux needs to be airy and the only thing that makes them rise are eggs, so not exactly a recipe easy to veganise. It worked though and I’m delighted with that. All the recipes are on my food blog, CookStyle.

Week 1 - Cake - Strawberries and Champagne Battenberg

Week 1: Cake
Signature – Battenberg Cake
Technical – Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Showstopper – Celebrity Hero Cake Bust

I decided to try a Battenberg, flavoured with strawberries and Champagne. It was really lovely. Batternberg is one of those recipes very easy to make vegan. Also, the marzipan should be homemade too, as the shop-bought one is full of sugar instead of being based on almonds. In the tent they made marzipan with egg whites, but it’s not necessary. It can be easily done by mixing almonds with icing sugar and a bit of rose water or something similar. Why make it harder than it needs to be?

Week 2 - Biscuits - Coconut Macaroons

Week 2: Biscuits
Signature – Chocolate Florentines
Technical – Coconut Macaroons
Showstopper – 3D Biscuit Table Setting

I liked the idea of macaroons and they turned out pretty good. They needed a bit longer in the oven, but the flavour was good. I will make these again, that’s for sure.

Week 3 - Bread - Bagel cut with vegan butter

Week 3: Bread
Signature – Soda Bread
Technical – Rainbow-coloured Bagels
Showstopper – Large Bread Plaque

For bread week it was a very easy choice – bagels. I made these before, but never shared the recipe. I did not make rainbow coloured ones as I don’t see the point in adding colour on something which looks amazing on its own.

Week 4 - Chocolate - Babka

Week 4: Chocolate
Signature- Chocolate Brownies
Technical – Chocolate Babka
Showstopper – White Chocolate Celebration Cake

It was not a question of which one to make, as my husband was very keen on the chocolate babka. It is delicious, I do have to agree with him.

Week 5 - Pastry - Pumpkin Eclairs

Week 5: Pastry
Signature – Pasties
Technical – Eclairs
Showstopper – Caged Tart

I liked the idea of vegan pasties, especially as in the show they made a mess of it. None of them actually made Cornish pasties using the traditional dough. These are special as they need two types of fat, traditionally is lard and butter, but it can be made vegetarian by using vegan shortening and butter, or, of course, vegan by using shortening and margarine. I made before vegetarian ones and I will make vegan ones as well.

But, the challenge was to make eclairs. It was hard to find some inspiration online, so I’ve decided to use my choux pastry recipe and replace the egg with egg replacer. It worked great!

Week 6 - Japanese - Matcha Cake

Week 6: Japanese
Signature – Steamed Buns
Technical – Matcha Crepe Cake
Showstopper – Kawaii Cake

I made a Japanese inspired cake with matcha. I’m not sure if it was according to the brief, but I was too busy to try something else.

Vegan Quiche

Week 7: The ’80s
Signature – Quiches
Technical – Custard & Jam Finger Doughnuts
Showstopper – Ice Cream Cake

Quiches are really good and I wanted to make one with vegan sausages. It turned out delicious, especially with the new kind of sausages that are available now on the market. The texture was good too.

Week 8 - Desserts - Vegan Cheesecake

Week 8: Desserts
Signature – Cheesecakes
Technical – Sussex Pond Puddings
Showstopper – Jelly Art Design Cake

I’m very found of vegan cheesecake. I made one with vegan mascarpone, no bake, and I plan to try another kind of vegan cheesecake, with tofu.

Week 9 - Pâtisserie - Savarins

Week 9: Pâtisserie
Signature – Savarins
Technical – Danish Kransekake Cornucopia Cake
Showstopper – Cube-shaped Cakes

My husband is found of savarins and it was one of those really easy to veganise desserts. The dough is made with yeast. These turned out great from the first batch. I’ve added a bit of turmeric for colour and a bit of baking power to replace the eggs, while the milk was an easy switch to vegan milk. The whipped cream is from a spray, which is so very handy. I should bake these more often.

Week 10 - Final - Hot Chocolate Custard Slice

Week 10: Final
Signature – Custard Slices
Technical – Walnut Whirls
Showstopper – Colossal Dessert Tower

With Christmas approaching, I thought that a hot chocolate custard slice, served with whipped cream and marshmallows is a must. It was so good, I loved it. The custard was set with agar and the puff pastry was shop-bought.

Have you watched Bake off this year? What are your thoughts?

17 Comment

  1. I haven’t watched Bake Off except for a few episodes ever since Mel, Sue and Mary Berry left. I honestly can’t stand it. The original bake-off however, I watch on nearly constant repeat, it’s one of my favorite shows.

    I’ve heard a lot of complaints about this year’s bake off, a chief one as you say that the expertise wasn’t there, and about the new host.

    Your bakes look absolutely amazing! I enjoyed reading your commentary on the show from the viewpoint of an experienced baker.

  2. Matt Lucas was SO annoying-such a babyish sense of humour. To be honest, I tended to watch it whilst writing blog posts at the same time and I ignored the inane chat and just focused on the instructions and the outcomes.
    Your makes are utterly incredible- did you ever consider entering at all?

    1. Thank you Kezzie. I would not enter because I think it’s very wasteful, they try the same bake over and over again from one week to another, and I imagine that most of it is thrown away. Also, the jokes are terrible and I would be annoyed.

  3. I have to admit I don’t really watch Bake Off, I’m not a big baker or cook so have no real interest in the technical elements. I think the humour on the show it part of the appeal for a lot of Brits, we’ve traditionally embraced innuendo and toilet humour and it’s quite a big part of our ‘off duty’ culture (in stark contrast the the stiffer public personas we can put forward),.

    1. I have to disagree on the appeal of the toilet humour and innuendoes. The show lost 4-5 million viewers since its move to Channel 4 and embrace of this kind of jokes.

  4. Love your bakes especially the vegan cheesecakes. My mum is vegan so always looking for treats to make for her. I used to watch the show every year but have dwindled in interest for the same reasons as you, haven’t even watched the final yet.

  5. Pretty much the only TV I watch anymore is cooking competition shows. They really are scripted in many ways. I hate all the drama, so for most of them, I record them then fast-forward through everything except the judging and end results.

    I think you’ve done an excellent job… with tons of extra credit for making it all vegan!!

    1. Thank you. 🙂 I really don’t understand why there is a need for so much drama and exaggerations in a cooking/baking show. Seeing some gorgeous cakes is more than enough for me.

  6. I have been watching The Food Channel (in Canada, it’s on Crave) and they’ve been showing non-stop baking, cookie and cake challenges. I enjoy seeing how they turn out, even though I don’t bake at all myself. I agree – less drama, more baking!

    Your recipes look amazing! I’ll take one of each. 🙂

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Anca!

    1. That’s so nice, thank you. I fully agree that watching the bakes is so rewarding. I also love to learn a thing or two about the bakes or the baking process.

  7. I think I only watched one or two episodes of Bake Off so I haven’t payed much attention to the jokes but I can totally understand why you were put off by it. I dislike anything that has a reality TV feeling to it or when they do drama for views- and that’s the case with most competition shows unfortunately. I do remember watching one British sewing TV show (I wish I remember the name), it was brilliant, without the whole reality drama feel to it even if it was competitive, it was done in such a nice way, you know just a nice group of people doing sewing and hosts weren’t terrible to them or anything like that.

    You are quite an accomplished chef. These desserts and cakes look incredible. I need to bookmark this post for future reference.

    1. Thank you Ivana xx
      You are right, it has the reality TV feel that I dislike. The sewing show is The Great British Sewing Bee. I watch that one too and it’s really nice, no inappropriate jokes or anything similar. The judges are very nice too, I agree.

  8. Mmmm so much yumminess! I love that there are three options for easy, middle and difficult levels of skill. I’d have to go for the easiest on each. I’m curious about the Savarins too as I’d never heard of those before. My tummy’s rumbling now… xx

    1. Thank you. 🙂 The three challenges are not based on difficulty, the technical can be easier than the signature. The showstopper can be easy, its difficulty being the size of the bake, but the components can be quite easy too.

  9. OMG, just look at those gorgeous custard slices! I love all your bakes, so inspiring.
    The GBBO’s format is very dated, and yes, I’m also annoyed with all the innuendoes and jokes. The soggy bottom and nuts jokes were not funny in the first place, but when they are repeated from year to year, then it’s becoming tedious. Plus I really don’t like Matt Lucas, and don’t even start me on Noel with his stupid unhygienic spoon. I don’t know if I’m going to watch the show next year, I might have a peek at the 1st episode to see who the contestants are. 🙂
    And congratulations on baking along and creating imaginative beautiful bakes!

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