Final Farewell- GBBO Bakealong

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The GBBO final.

Really not sure how to feel about this one.
I mean, obviously a final is exciting. But what in God’s name am I going to do with my Wednesday evenings now?
Bakeoff is a way of life. Not having to do the mad Wednesday night baking, going to bed covered in flour, or get up early on Thursday mornings to get just the perfect natural light?

WHAT am I going to do?

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Sigh. Yet Another Pie. Chocolate week-GBBO Bakealong

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Well it’s hard to be bad to that. Chocolate, possible some sugar, butter, eggs. Nobody is going to spit it out unless you burn it are they? Unless they’re very very rude. In which case, why were you sharing your lovely baking with that rude person.

So Chocolate Week was predictably amazing. I genuinely can’t stop thinking about Nadiya’s peanut butter caramel chocolate tart, it’s all I want out of life. One slice and I’d die happy.
Ian’s chocolate well was amazing. Shame on Paul for breaking it. He’s definitely extra hard on Ian.
And poor Flora had a nightmare week, she’s definitely been going downhill over the past few weeks and her penchant for making random items other that what they were asked for, and sticking them on top of the bakes was becoming more and more problematic.
Tamal was just his usual ridiculously talented self (Tamal to win!)

I’m actually heartbroken it’s all over next week even though I’m scarily excited for the final. What will I do with my Wednesdays???
But onto my Bakealong this week (before I have a wee Bakeoff induced cry).
The technical was out of the question. Bringing a soufflé into Uni wasn’t going to happen, and thankfully not, because the sight of their shrivelled up soufflés in their dishes was enough to put anyone off for life.
The Showstopper I didn’t even fully understand? The brief was a chocolate centrepiece, but what does that even mean?! The brief on the BBC website before the show was aired said sweet FA.

So chocolate tart it had to be then.
Despite the fact that I feel like every week I’m baking a new tart/pie.

I’m worried that you are beginning to think I’m actually one or the other.

Chocolate pastry it had to be, and I actually really enjoyed working with it (and eating raw chunks of the chocolate dough). The excess dough that I didn’t need to make the pie crust, I rolled out in sugar and cut out into little biscuits, which ended up disappearing quicker than the pie itself! Waste not want not (I know, I know, I’m a granny).

So the recipe! This tart has a crisp, chocolatey base, with a rich, dark chocolate filling spiked with cardamom and is topped with the snap of sweet, tempered white chocolate. Sure ye may as well?

If you’d like to sub in shop bought shortcrust pastry for the case then tear away! It’ll make this tart ridiculously quick and easy to make.

Triple chocolate cardamom tart

Ingredients

Chocolate pastry
-175g plain flour
-30g cocoa powder
-80g caster sugar
-140g cold butter, cut into cubes
-1 large egg

Filling
-200g plain chocolate (or 100g dark, 100g white)
-85g butter
-60g caster sugar
-2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
-7 cardamom pods

Approx 100g white chocolate to top

Method

1.Pastry- Use your fingertips to work the cubed cold butter into the flour, sugar and cocoa mix. Keep doing this until it looks like fine breadcrumbs, or basically until all the big lumpy bits have been worked into the dough. 2. Crack the egg into your flour and butter mix and bring together until it starts to form a dough. Tip it out onto your work surface and bring the whole thing together until you have a ball of dough. Make sure you stop at this point. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
3. After it’s chilled, take it back out and roll the dough out onto a floured work surface until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin. Try to use as little flour as you can, while still stopping it from sticking.
4. Use this to line your (greased) tart tin, and chop away most of the excess while still leaving some overhang to prevent the pastry shrinking away in the oven. Put the pastry case in the fridge to chill for another 30 mins and preheat your oven to 200C.
5. Prick your pastry case with a fork all over to stop it bubbling up, and line with foil. Toss some baking beans/dried peas/rice on top to weigh it down and pop your pastry case in the oven for 15 minutes. Once cooked, remove the foil and allow to cool. Drop the oven temperature to 180C.
6. While this is going on, tip your 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks into a bowl with the caster sugar for the filling and whisk until they are light and fluffy, and the beater leaves a trail when you take it out. This takes 4-5 minutes.
7. Melt your chocolate over a bowl of simmering water, and once it’s melted stir in the butter (until it melts in the heat of the chocolate) and remove from the heat.
8. Remove the husks from your cardamom, and grind up the seeds in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one (like me), just chop them up really really really fine.
9. Once your eggs and sugar mix is all whipped up and light, fold in your cooled chocolate butter mix, and your crushed cardamom.
10. Pour into your cooled and blind baked pastry case, and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes. It should feel firm to touch in the centre, and a skewer inserted into the filling should come out clean.
11. Allow the tart to cool, and melted some white chocolate and drizzle artistically over the top. More artistically than me I hope.

This is best when it’s been in the fridge for a few hours, and cuts beautifully when it’s chilled. Enjoy with a cup of tea while your friends shout abuse at the Bakeoff contestants and/or Paul.

Choux, and what not to do

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Just for anyone that doesn’t know, you say choux like SHOE. Any puns I may make from now on will probably be based on this, so I thought I should warn you early on.

So this is a day late.

I had a nightmare of a bake on Wednesday. I was in a rush, I took shortcuts, I ran out of time.

And to reward my efforts I got about 30 flat eclairs that would be better employed as slippers. It’s not easy to try to open up and fill an eclair 1 inch thick.

So back to the drawing board.

Bakealong- Fair game

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Ok so I cheated.  

Well strictly, I bent the rules.

But I made up the rules, soo…

Chess is a game. The Signature challenge was game pie. So a chess pie is legit. (And taking in a pheasant and guinea fowl to uni to share would have been both impractical and unpopular).

I thought Victorian week of Bakeoff was bloody difficult to bake along to. Unlike Flora, I’m not well versed in cooking pheasant (oh Flora, you are literally the most posh person that ever existed). The technical challenge, a fruit cake, with a tennis court design on the top, was bizarre and I know from Christmas cake experience- marzipan and fondant iced cakes aren’t that well thought of. Particularly marzipan (almond extract- yuck).
So surely, the Showstopper would be more achievable?
A complex cake with a perfectly wobbly bavarois (creamy jelly), which is just set. Carrying that to Uni and then trying to share it out- not going to happen.

So thinking out of the box brought me to chess pie- a recipe from Southern America. It is a rich and comforting custard pie, which is made up from ingredients you probably already have in the cupboard.

It’s definitely not my own recipe, because I’ve little to no experience with Deep South cooking beyond slow cooked barbeque pulled pork (cooked in coke, the absolute dream).

It produces a smooth and creamy pie, which to be honest, is a bit sweet for my tastes, and if I was making it again I would add a few tbsp of cocoa powder to cut the sweetness. The texture is amazing though, and it’s so quick to throw together.

As for the episode- it is literally so difficult to predict how everyone is going to get on! People who are top one minute can end up getting chucked out the next week, I’ve nearly completely given up trying to choose a favourite because when I do, they get thrown out the next week. (Am I some sort of bad omen?)

Delighted for Tamal this week though, he’s such a darling and he’s amazing. I’m still trying to figure out how he did those apple roses in week 1.

Anyway, onto the chess pie. It appears to have no relation to chess, and contains vinegar. How odd.

For the pastry, follow the pastry recipe for the frangipane tart. I blindbaked for a couple of minutes before pouring the filling in.

The recipe I used for the filling can be found here, but I added a tsp of cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg, to add another flavour dimension. Comes together in a couple of minutes, and you probably won’t even have to go to the shop to get the ingredients.

  

Here’s hoping next week I don’t have to bastardise the concept so much. It’s getting to me. Damn Catholic guilt.

Living in permanent fear of a soggy bottom- GBBO Bakealong, Pastry Week

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 So it’s pastry week.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of pastry. I used to scoop the filling out of the apple pie, squeeze the custard out of the eclair and pick the chocolate off the profiteroles.

But to be honest, that’s because I never really ate perfect pastry. I thought the apple tart was supposed to have a soggy bit at the bottom, that soaked up the apply juices. My dad is a fabulous cook but he never sweetened his pastry and especially when I was younger, the steaming pies coming out of the oven seemed like a bit of a let down.

I supposed I was predisposed to dislike pastry.

But done properly, with the pastry crumbly, sweet and buttery- like a good shortbread) a pie can become perfection.

So this week I decided to make frangipane tart- mostly because I wasn’t sure id actually ever eaten one. Usually pungent with almond essence, shop bought frangipane never appealed to the eternal marzipan hater in me (yuck).

Adding Nutella to the tart happened because what in gods name isn’t improved by Nutella? (Ok a fair few things but whatever). Nutella makes everything better. Fact.


To be honest, watching bake off this week left me a bit confused. I had researched frangipane tarts and Queen Mary Berry’s recipe definitely does NOT say to blindbake. Yet there Paul Hollywood was, explaining to Ian that the reason his tart hadn’t really hit the mark was that he hadn’t blind baked?

Such a struggle.

I panicked and blind baked. This ended up giving me a crispy base, but I felt like the pastry caught a bit too much colour from being baked twice. Next time I’ll blind bake for a maximum of 5 minutes, if at all.

It was lovely seeing Mat get a bit of recognition. Even as Paul discussed him being a contender for star baker, he sounded quite surprised that Mar had actually managed to do well.

Nobody else seemed to have an easy run of it this week. Pastry is such a tricky one.

It was sad to see Alvin go (I love how he always calls Paul sit as though he’s his headmaster) but he had a disaster of a week.

I felt sorry for nadiya remaking her puff pastry when it was lumpy, while Mat just ploughed on with it regardless when his was the same. And his turned out perfect. To be honest I’m pretty certain my puff pastry was mottled looking when I made the arlettes and I just went on ahead (too lazy to do them again) and they worked out fine!

Anyway down to business. This tart has a crispy pastry base, with rich Nutella and a slightly nutty and sweet frangipane,studded with tangy berries. It is loosely based around the Apricot and Ginger frangipane tart on BBC Good Food 😊

Nutella and berry frangipane tart

  

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g cold butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg

Filling

  • 6-7 tbsp nutella
  • 100g room temp butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 eggs 
  • Frozen/fresh fruit of choice to top

Method

  1. To make pastry= rub butter, sugar and flour together with your fingertips until there are no lumps of butter remaining and the mix looks like a crumble.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the mix and crack in an egg, beating with a fork and incorporating the dry mix into the egg until it forms a dough. Work the dough until it just comes together, then wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes. If the mix isn’t coming together, add a couple of tbsp of cold water.
  3. While the dough is chilling and relaxing, you can too. Once it’s done, roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and use to line a tart case, preferably with a loose bottom. Patch it up with more dough if bits fall off or holes appear, I won’t tell anyone, promise. Leave a bit of overhang at the edges, and trim after you’ve baked, to prevent too much shrinkage. Chill for another 30 minutes. There will be some leftover pastry.
  4. If choosing not to blind bake, you can make the frangipane now, but creaming the room temp butter with the caster sugar until it’s smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition. Then add the ground almonds and plain flour and mix to form a smooth batter.
  5. If you wish to blind bake, the line the chilled pastry case with baking paper and something to weigh it down (in my case, old rice). Then bake for a couple of minutes with the baking paper in, and for a few minutes with the baking parchment out. If not blindbaking, place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up, while you spread the raw pastry case with an even layer of nutella (if blind baking, allow the case to cool slightly before you do this). Regardless, preheat your oven to 180C. 
  6. Then fill the rest with frangipane. I piped it in to get an even layer, but dolloping it in and smoothing the top off should work too!
  7. Stud with fruit of your choice, and pop in the oven for 40-60 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a skewer inserted into the frangipane comes out clean. It’s a good idea to put a bit of foil over the top of the tart after about 20 minutes, to prevent it browning too much before the frangipane is cooked.

  8. Leave to cool in the tart case for 10 minutes before popping it out from the loose bottom. 
  9. Enjoy! If you make it then please let me know.☺️

If you’d like to follow me Baking along then add me on snapchat at mkm27! Or follow my Instagram at Caityskitchen.😘

Free-From Flop; GBBO Bakealong

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So this week was the FreeFrom Week of Great British Bakeoff.

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, given the disaster that was my bake this week- but I’ve had a fair bit of experience with FreeFrom baking.
I spent a summer working in America and lived with my Aunt, Uncle and their children. Their youngest had LOTS of allergies. Eggs, dairy, gluten. At one point even soy.
And he was only two so making everyone else cookies and telling him he couldn’t have one was not an option.

Neither was not baking. Obviously.

I really like the idea behind FreeFrom week because baking for people with intolerance is on the rise. But I kind of thought the first challenge was a bit silly- why make a sugar free cake but replace sugar with syrup/honey? Who are you catering for then? Not diabetics surely, honey would cause the same insulin spike as sugar? So I decided if I was going to make a cake sugarfree, it would also have to be something-else free.

Dairy free I decided, because there is a lovely girl in my year who always has to say no to my offers of bakes every week because of her lactose intolerance (and me being the sensitive soul I am, I forget every week and offer again).

But anyway, the cake was an absolute disaster. I’ll write a separate blogpost about it this week so you all get a good laugh over exactly how crap it was. Don’t let the picture deceive you, I just photographed the one corner of the cake that even vaguely held together.

(still tastes good though)

Enough of that.
GBBO this week was brilliant (am I ever going to say otherwise?). Alvin did amazingly sticking to his guns in the first challenge even though his looked so unimpressive in comparison to the others.
I was delighted for Nadiya- she really doesn’t have much faith in herself and she did absolutely brilliantly this week!
Prison Paul’s vaguely obscene lady on the beach was equal parts fabulous and disturbing.
And Ugne was a surprise- I honestly thought she would be amazing at FreeFrom baking because of her healthy lifestyle etc. But god help her, it wasn’t really her week.


So this isn’t the sugarfree Courgette and Honey cake that was intended.

But these brownies genuinely come together in 5 mins (made them at 7am half asleep this morning). They contain FIVE ingredients, that you probably already have in the cupboard.
They are gluten-free, dairy-free and white sugar free (used molasses sugar).

And they aren’t half bad.

(Brownies are alright for breakfast right?)

FreeFrom Brownies

Ingredients
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup molasses sugar (swap this out with a cup of xylitol for sugar free option)
-2 large eggs
-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 cup cornflour (the stuff for thickening sauces, it works an absolute dream I promise)

Method
1. Mix sugar, oil and eggs together until you make a smooth (gloopy) batter.
2. Add cocoa powder and cornflour and mix to form a smooth batter.
3. Pour into a greased brownie tin and bake at 170C for 20 minutes, when the edges of the brownies begin to pull away from the tin.
4. Cool (or eat still warm and gooey with a cold glass of milk), slice and eat. Best not to offer your lactose intolerant friend milk though, they mightn’t thank you for it 😑i

GBBO Bakealong- Say Cheese(cake)

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I’m sorry. The puns get worse every week. I feel like that’s authentic GBBO though, because Mel and Sue definitely whip out progressively more terrible puns as the weeks go on too.

So it was dessert week. I am a dessert fiend. I’ve definitely been known to skip dinner and go for two desserts instead. I can’t physically understand the people that go for a starter and a main when they’re given the option of two courses.

When it comes to desserts, the one I physically can’t say no to is Sticky Toffee Pud. My boyfriend and I once spent 2 hours walking around the city trying to decide where to go for dinner, based solely on whether they sold sticky toffee pudding or not.

There were some amazing creations and flavour combination on this week’s GBBO- I am dying to try apple and tarragon together, or a cream soda cheesecake.

We learnt that Mary is a coconut-phobe, or at least Mat did after both his Signature bake and Showstopper included coconut. Her face at the prospect was amazing.


Ian got star baker again, and while he definitely deserves it and is obviously amazing- it’d be a bit more interesting if there was a bit more competition at the top.
One problem I have with this series is that everyone is around the same level, so you aren’t waiting for the slightly crap ones to get chucked out. It means nobody is safe. One minute you’ve decided on your favourite, the next they’re away home. RIP Sandy. 😥
Although Flora definitely won a few people over when she had her crisis over her cheesecakes being too simple. It’s terrible isn’t it, how we enjoy seeing people do badly? Or at least I do…

Trying to decide what to make for dessert week was a bit of a challenge. Every week, I bring my bakes into Uni the next day (dental students LOVE sugar, the secret is out).

So the prospect of trying to bring a dessert into Uni was a bit daunting. How do you share around creme brulee? As for a Spanische Windetorte, I once brought a cake to Uni and ended up serving everyone handfuls of crumbs (carrot bundt cake crumbs to be precise). There was no way a meringue confection was ever going to survive.

Baked cheesecake though, that could work? So long as I didn’t just turn up with a whole cheesecake.

So these little brownie base cheesecakes, with brulee topping came into existence. The darkly chocolately, fudgy brownies pair deliciously with the smooth and tangy cheesecake, and the crispy crackly top just makes it. Seriously, I had eaten the brulee topping off two of them before I could stop myself.

Not that it was all smooth sailing- using paper cupcake liners meant that when I put my cheesecakes under the grill to brulee, they bloody well decided to catch fire (paper is apparently highly flammable, especially when it’s covered in sugar, who’d have thought?).

Obviously this set off the fire alarm, which was a pleasant surprise for my neighbours at 11pm I’m sure, especially when they have young children.

Even better! The fire alarm broke and wouldn’t stop going off. And taking out the batteries didn’t stop it (I think it was possessed). Several panicked phonecalls to my Daddy, and I decided I should maybe brulee in the morning…

But I got there in the end. This is a fairly lengthy recipe, but it isn’t difficult. Rainy day baking.

My only final word of advice would be to avoid using paper cupcake liners if at all possible, and just cook these desserts in ramekins.

Unless you enjoy the sweet dulcet tones of your fire alarm.

Brûléed brownie cheesecake cups

Ingredients

Brownie base
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 cup flour

Method
1. These 5 ingredient brownies are a cinch, you don’t need to get the mixer out, just mix the oil, sugar and eggs together until they form an even mix.
2. Add the cocoa powder and sugar and mix until the batter is completely combined.
3. Spoon your mix into your desired containers (hint, don’t use paper cupcake liners) until half filled. If using ramekins then ensure they are greased.
4. Pop into the oven at 170C until a shiny top has formed. This will take from 5-10 minutes, depending on the size of your containers. It shouldn’t be cooked through at this point, as it’ll be going back into the oven to cook the cheesecakes.

Cheesecake (adapted from http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/11/18/salted-caramel-chocolate-chip-mini-cheesecakes/)

Ingredients
-2 X 200g full fat cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup plain yoghurt
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2 eggs

Method
1. Beat together cream cheese, yoghurt, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth with no lumps.
2. Add eggs, 1 at a time and ensure they are evenly mixed into the batter. Try not to mix too much air into the batter or it will cause the cheesecakes to rise like a souffle, then drop back down, giving you a sunken middle.
3. Spoon the cheesecake batter onto the partly cooked brownie mix, filling the container nearly to the top.
4. Pop back in the oven (still at 170C) and cook the cheesecakes for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your container). They will be ready when they begin to brown at the edges, and when you poke the cheesecake and it doesn’t leave any sticky mix on your finger (Mrs Precision I know, but it works for me!)

Brulee topping
-Sprinkle a thin, even layer of granulated sugar on the sugar of each mini cheesecake, and place under a preheated grill. Watch extremely closely- everyone’s grill is different so test one cheesecake to begin with to give yourself an idea about how long it will take. It should only be around a minute or so. The topping will be done when brown spots appear on your topping, and you can no longer see the sugar granules.
-It literally takes seconds to burn. So don’t walk away from your brulee to e.g. fix your screeching fire alarm.

Allow your little cheesecake cups to cool completely and enjoy!