Stair of Eclairs

GBBO 14 Episode 7 Review: Pastry Week

Mary and Paul had one of the toughest decisions in the history of Bake Off yet, having to choose between one to go in the best batch of bakers after facing Signature Savoury Parcels, a technical Kouign Amman (pronounced “Queen Amann”) and showstopping Eclairs.

Eliminated: Kate

Kate GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Martha (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Richard (for the third time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis, Nancy, Chetna

Bad: Martha

Best Bake: Richard’s Stair of Eclairs

Stair of Eclairs

This year, Bake Off has really been all about the things bakers bring in from home. We had Nancy’s cake guillotine and Norman’s cake de-tinner in week 1 and now in week 7, we have Richard’s Eclair Stairs. His eclairs used the infamously tricky flavours of rose and lavender, which saw Norman leave in week 5, but managed to balance them well to impress the judges. Not only that, Richard came first in a Technical Challenge which nobody had heard of before and impressed Paul and Mary with Lamb and Mint Pasties. Richard’s a clear favourite to win now thanks to being awarded Star Baker three times now.

Luis bowled the judges over with his combination of substance and style in his American inspired eclairs, mixing peanut butter and jam topped with a patriotically coloured fondant (whether it was shop-bought, we’ll never know). He had a slight dip at the start of the week with poorly fried empanadas and not following the recipe in the Technical. Luis had his first moment of danger this week and many at home will be hoping it doesn’t happen again as he is very very consistent.

Nancy is still flying through each week, not having a real disastrous week thus far. Her 2nd place finish in the Technical, Asian inspired duck pasties and savoury salmon and horseradish eclairs meant she came close to Star Baker. There’s a bit of a following for Nancy much in the same way Chetna has her fans, me included. Once again she wowed with flavour and finished her eclairs well, making Mary smile with her combination of chocolate and mango but she did come last in the Technical.

Martha had her first horror of a week, despite a 3rd place finish in the Technical and some amazingly made Mini Beef Wellingtons, but her eclairs weren’t good enough for the judges, with a poorly made pastry cream. Everyone really likes Martha because she is just so young and she managed to impress Mel with an 8,000 word coursework on some profiteroles. Martha still hasn’t been Star Baker yet and any finalist could struggle to win without the security of Star Baker behind their back.

Mel and Sue were at their best again and I assure that the show would not be the same without them.

Chetna

GBBO 14 Episode 6 Review: European Cakes Week

Thanks to a huge selection of European accents, a phenomenal amount of sugar work in the showstopper and Mel and Sue being on top form, this has to be my favourite week thus far. But who went in this tricky and tense week

Eliminated: Nobody

My Elimination Prediction: Kate (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Chetna (finally!)

Chetna GBBO

Good: Luis, Nancy

Bad: Richard, Kate

Best Bake: Chetna’s Almond Liqueur Dobos Torte with Chocolate Caramel Buttercream

Chetna

Chetna, the tent’s resident flavour queen, finally lifts the title of Star Baker. Her innovative use of Victoria Sponge for her Dobos Torte, caramel grapes (which reminded me of bubblewrap on the side) and phenomenal recovery in the Princess Cake Technical all secured Chetna’s place next week. She’s been slowly rising up the ranks and now it is just Martha, who wowed Paul in the Signature Challenge with her Chocolate and Almond Liqueur Savarin (she’s 17 and uses so much alcohol in her baking), who has not yet been crowned Star Baker. Will it be her turn next week or will Martha take the title of being one of the most consistent bakers in Bake Off?

Kate and Richard had a terrible week and both of them seemed to be equally bad throughout the week, leading to not only a tussle between Paul and Mary but for only the second time in Bake Off history, nobody being eliminated from the competition. This was only fair as all 6 bakers deserve to show off their skills for another week. Hopefully this is the last week of trouble for Richard as two bad weeks in a row is making him vulnerable, he is of course many people’s favourite.

Luis once again impressed this week with his great attention to detail in his sugar work for his Dobos Torte. He has been unflappable throughout the competition and is a sure favourite to make the final, however I do wonder when his bad week will come, much in the same way that Nancy has managed to be consistently good each week.

It’s becoming much harder to say goodbye to anyone but also to choose a clear outright winner. What else but another week of pastry will decide which of the 5 bakers deserve their spot in the quarter-finals?! Signature savoury pastry parcels, a Technical in which none of the bakers know what they are doing (rightfully) and 2 sets of showstopping eclairs are all on the menu next week. All I want is for Mel and Sue to continue to be as funny as ever.

Kate RPAP

GBBO 14 Episode 5 Review: Pies and Tarts Week

Pies and Tarts Week had some of the oddest challenges ever seen on Bake Off but 6 bakers managed to scrape through.

Eliminated: Diana (by default) and Norman

Diana GBBO Norman GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Norman and Kate (see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Kate (deservedly!)

Kate GBBO

Good: Nancy

Bad: Richard, Martha

Best Bake: Kate’s Rhubarb, Prune and Apple Pies

Kate RPAP

Well Norman has finally run his course in the tent and four bad weeks in a row just meant that Norman was not at the standard of the remaining six bakers. Norman, who has been a fan favourite, left the tent on a high as he finally tackled the problem of being too simple with his Pieful Tower showstopper. Unfortunately his fate was sealed thanks to a lavender meringue. Although who could forget Norman trying to take a swig of that wine?!

Norman Wine

Kate finally won the Star Baker accolade and what a struggle she went through to take it. An incredible Rhubarb and Custard Tart complete with a rhubarb swirl was slated for having a poor flavour but a third place Technical finish and a phenomenal hot water crust showstopper pinched the title from Nancy, who had a pretty good week, starting with a passionfruit chocolate custard tart, 4th in the technical and a great trio of apple pies.

Martha and Richard, who are two of the favourites to take the crown in October, struggled this week for the first time. Both had poor signature custard tarts and burnt their showstoppers and not even a 1st place finish in a devilish Technical challenge could keep Martha away from the bottom. The strength of the remaining six bakers means it is hard to choose an outright favourite. Kate, Nancy, Luis and Chetna have not yet had a terribly bad week so the standard is much higher than all the series before, meaning everyone will have to up their game.

I was disappointed that there was hardly any mention of a soggy bottom this week but more than overjoyed by Nancy wanting to borrow Richard’s signature trademark Blue Pencil, the amount of innuendo and even reference to Bingate last week. Richard made sure that everyone knew that his puff pastry was on the middle shelf in the fridge so as not to cause any more Bingates or Custardgates.

Richard Fridge

I was very unsure about the timing on that Technical Challenge. Poaching pears take at least 30 minutes and for them to cool enough without the puff pastry, which also had very tight timing, so 2 hours was never really going to be enough to include baking time. Martha was very cunning to place some of the pears in before the others to ensure they were baked and she stole 1st. Richard fell foul of timing issues, as seen below!

Richard Oven

Next week the final 6 bakers tackle European Cakes… I have no words! A showstopping Hungarian Dobos Torte is on the menu but beyond that I’m still lost for words, I thought this was the Great British Bake Off, what about doing Regional Bakes or Baked Meals Week?

Chinese Egg Tarts

GBBO 14 Challenge 5: Signature Custard Tarts

I love a custard tart and I thought I’d fuse the look of the British Egg Custard Tart with the traditional street side bakeries in Hong Kong with a Chinese style custard tart. In the fifth week of The Great British Bake Off, the bakers will be tackling pastry in a manner of all pies and tarts.

Supermarket Egg Tarts

For the British, the custard tart is something of a treat from the supermarket with its rich egg custard filling flavoured with nutmeg and sweet shortcrust pastry but for the Chinese, the custard tart is the complete opposite. You’ll see the custard tart being sold everywhere, including dim sum restuarants, which is literally the heart of many Chinese people (dim sum translates as “touching the heart”.

British Egg Custard Tart Chinese Egg Tarts

There is a huge spectrum of prices for the custard tart with some market bakeries selling them cheaper than chips (HK$2.5 – HK$5, or £0.19 – £0.39) and slightly more upmarket bakeries selling them for HK$7.5 (or £0.58). The most traditional Chinese egg tarts will have a puff pastry case but you’ll find that many of the tarts, which are best served warm, will have a shortcrust pastry.

Puff Pastry Egg Tarts

Because the custard filling is so liquid, the pastry can have a soggy bottom, however by blind baking the pastry beforehand, you can avoid this. Yet the filling for these Chinese style egg tarts, which is incredibly simple to make with only two tricky stages, does not make the base soggy, meaning that they do not need blind baking. I have no idea why this is the case, as almost all custard tart recipes need blind baking, but it makes these Chinese egg tarts much more pleasurable to make.

Normally I would make my own pastry however I do not like the method for the traditional Chinese style shortcrust pastry because I always find you have to handle the pastry too much especially when putting it into the individual tart cases, which are very deep to ensure that you get a lot of filling. This is why I prefer using in this case ready-rolled shortcrust pastry and a deep 12-hole tart tin.

Even though the pastry is already rolled out, I always give it a roll myself to prevent the pastry ballooning in the oven and make the pastry go further. I then use a fluted cutter which is one ring size larger than the top of the tart cases to cut out rings of pastry which fit in the case. Using a bit of the leftover pastry I manipulate the pastry into the base and flutes of the tart case and then chill it until I’m ready to bake them. When I first made them I used a whole block of pastry and rolled it out like that and I just couldn’t get it thin enough and it also ballooned in the oven. I will always remember to dock the pastry.

1 pack of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry

200ml hot water, not boiling as it could scramble the eggs

85g granulated sugar

4 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

85ml evaporated milk

1/8 tsp liquid yellow food colouring, if you have paste, use the tiniest dro

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Lightly flour the work surface and transfer the ready-rolled pastry onto the surface. Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the pastry until it is slightly larger. Flour a cutter, which is one size larger than the hole of your 12-hole tart tin, and cut out 12 rounds of the pastry.
  3. Gather up a small ball of the excess pastry and set aside. Place the pastry cutouts into the holes of the tin and using the ball of pastry, manipulate the pastry into the base and flutes of the tin. Prick the base of the pastry cases with a fork and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  4. In a mug, mix the hot water with the granulated sugar until the sugar has dissolved.
  5. In a heatproof jug, whisk the remaining ingredients together. Avoid adding too much air otherwise it could balloon in the oven. Pour in the sugar solution and mix well until it is combined.
  6. Take out the chilled pastry cases and place the tin on a baking tray in the oven. Pull out the tray and pour in enough of the custard filling to reach just below the top of the tart.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. The egg tarts are ready when the filling starts to expand in the centre and only has a slight wobble.
Cornflake Crumble Cake

Cornflake Crumble Cake

American coffee cakes, many of which do not actually contain coffee but are meant to be served with a cup of coffee, have always been my guilty pleasure. They have a rich buttery streusel topping and filling which is sandwiched between the raw cake mixture and gets baked in between. The cakes are always incredibly moist and decadent which is thanks to the addition of sour cream or crème fraîche, however I’m adding natural yoghurt which has the same effect.

Cornflake Crumble Cake

Streusel is essentially a crumble mixture including butter, flour and sugar. American cakes are always too sweet, even for a person like me, so I’ve reduced the amount of sugar in the actual cake batter to compensate for the sweet streusel topping.

Because the streusel is such a key part to the coffee cake style, it needs a bit of love and care. Bulking the streusel up with other ingredients also means you make it go further. You might expect the addition of nuts, especially pecans in America, or spices but I’m adding cornflakes and digestive biscuit crumbs. It sounds odd but crunchy cornflakes crushed up into small pieces and the soft melting quality of the digestive biscuit crumbs creates a vibrant streusel.

My Cornflake Crumble Cake is great served with coffee for an afternoon tea with friends or as a dessert served with custard or cream.

Streusel Topping/Filling

125g self-raising flour

80g Stork/butter

45g caster sugar

½ tsp mixed spice

60g cornflakes; avoid the sweetened brands

60g digestive biscuits or Graham cracker crumbs

Cake Mixture

175g Stork/butter

130g caster sugar

3 eggs

200g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

75g natural yoghurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking parchment to leave overhangs over 2 sides so you can lift out the cake.
  2. For the streusel, rub the Stork into the flour, sugar and mixed spice until it resembles breadcrumbs. Do not overwork into a dough, however some larger chunks, no larger than the size of peas, are acceptable.
  3. Crush the cornflakes into the streusel by hand and add in the fine biscuit crumbs. Mix until they are incorporated and set aside.
  4. Place all of the ingredients for the cake into a bowl except the yoghurt and beat until it is smooth and has a dropping consistency. Fold through the yoghurt until the cake batter is not streaky.
  5. Pour half of the cake mixture into the cake tin. Sprinkle over a thin layer of the streusel and lightly push into the cake mix. Pour over the rest of the cake mix and top with the remaining streusel, but you do not need to push it in.
  6. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before lifting the cake out, cutting into 16 squares and serving on a cake stand.
Self-sauce

GBBO 14 Episode 4 Review: Desserts Week

Well wasn’t that a bit eventful? The tent heated up in more ways than one this week, after facing signature self-saucing puddings, a technical Tiramisu cake and showstopping Baked Alaskas in 25 degree heat! That was never really going to work was it, come on Bake Off producers!

Self-sauce

Eliminated: Iain

Iain GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Richard (how wrong but see the rest of them here)

Star Baker: Richard (for the 2nd time)

Richard GBBO

Good: Kate, Luis

Bad: Norman

Best Bake: No bake stood out this week unfortunately

Richard has been crowned Star Baker for the second time this series and is looking a very strong contender for the title. His weekend started off well with the Chocolate Cherry Fondants but he slightly slipped in the Technical. Luckily he managed to bring himself all the way back up to the top with a Tiramisu-inspired Baked Alaska. It’s hard to believe that Richard hasn’t really had a bad challenge, and I hope he doesn’t have a major slip up.

Tiramisu Cake

Martha went surprisingly under Paul and Mary’s radar this week. Despite a first place performance in the Technical and a nigh perfect Key Lime Baked Alaska, she wasn’t in contention for Star Baker. Martha is truly amazing, I still am in awe of her age, she’s 17!

Kate and Chetna are both still doing pretty well. Chetna, despite a massive ice cream meltdown in which she may have tried to rescue her ice cream by scooping it back up, still impresses Paul and Mary with her flavours and this can go a pretty long way, although she will need to show her potential sooner rather than later.

Norman is a fan favourite thanks to his incredible humour and approach to baking. But the problem with Norman for me is that he’s been consistently up for elimination 3 out of 4 weeks and that shows me that he may not be able to cope with the tent. If it continues, he will have to go, no matter how much we love him.

Norman

Iain is the hot topic right now because of his outrage with regards to his Baked Alaska. He wasn’t happy with his bake and in complete anger, threw his bake in the bin before storming out of the tent. Iain has shown over the past couple of weeks that he is a good baker, having impressed the judges with his biscuit and bread showstoppers. The judges’ problem with Iain’s situation is that he didn’t have anything to show them. To quote Mary, “it was unacceptable”.

For me it was neither Iain’s fault nor Diana’s fault, rather the problem of the producers. Why did they not think about the capacity of the freezers regarding this challenge? You could see how packed the freezers were with tins and no matter how long they were kept in the freezer, they were not going to set at all because everyone needed to keep opening the freezer to check their own Alaska. No matter how hot it was, the production team need to take some of the blame for the situation for not thinking about the practicality of this challenge. The tent, what with the lights and ovens, was never going to be the best place to make the ice cream and especially in that quantity. This idea is only emphasised by the fact that Iain was forced to put his ice cream onto the other side of the tent and the fact that Martha was queueing up behind Chetna for the freezer. Hmm, not the best challenge we’ve ever seen.

Nancy and Diana Iain Bin Diana

Unfortunately Twitter took to the situation like Sue to a little bit of leftover cake. They relished the opportunity to brand the situation #bingate and calls to #BringIainBack and find #justiceforiain. However the amount of vitriol aimed towards certain contestants lead to the formation of #dirtydiana. Outcries of Diana being the villain in the situation were met with criticism from the GBBO 14 bakers, slating that the editing made Diana appear the villain. Around 137,000 tweets were tweeted about the situation, unfortunately not all positive.

Next week could see the return of the soggy bottom with the somewhat odd challenge of three-tiered showstopper pies?

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant

GBBO 14 Challenge 4: Signature Self-Saucing Pudding

The Great British Bake Off moves into Dessert Week and the Signature Challenge requires the 9 remaining bakers to tackle a batch of self-saucing puddings. The simplest, if you can call a self-saucing pudding simple, for me is a chocolate fondant.

Chocolate Espresso Fondant Chocolate Fondant

The chocolate fondant has been the downfall of many MasterChef contestants but when they are done correctly, they are absolutely phenomenal. The idea of a chocolate fondant is that when you cut into the upturned pudding on the plate, the centre completely pours out which is decadently rich and molten; Americans will often call them lava cakes for this reason.

Usually the cake batter is a flourless cake batter and follows the whisking and melting methods, 2 of the main cake making methods. In the whisking method, the eggs and sugar are whisked until they reach the ribboning stage, which is when the batter leaves a figure of eight in the mixture before sinking in again after a couple of seconds. The melting method involves melting the butter and chocolate beforehand and then, in a continuation of the whisking method, the slightly cooled chocolate and fat is folded through the egg and sugar batter. Egg whites may also be whisked into a meringue to lighten the batter and increase the amount of batter. Even so, you’ll find many recipes have a minute amount of flour which adds structure to the mix.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the chocolate fondant has been around for a long time because of its classic nature, but despite its popularity, it supposedly originated in the late 1980s. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, an American-based chef has claimed to have invented the dish after he pulled out a chocolate cake and found that the centre was completely uncooked but it was decadently warm and still tasted good. The dish became popular and is pretty much on every top restaurant menu today.

Even still, more modern recipes call for a ball of chocolate ganache or salted caramel to be placed into the cake batter which just extra ensures that the centre will flow out. As the cake heats up and bakes, the ganache or caramel melts in the heat and becomes liquid. If you’ve got a jar of salted caramel to spare, by all means take a ball of it and place it into the centre of the fondant mixture before baking.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fondant

One of the advantages of the chocolate fondant as a dessert is that the batter can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 48 hours. When you need to bake the fondants, simply place them into the preheated oven. By refrigerating them, the ramekins or dariole moulds which the fondants are baked in will become slightly colder, cooling down the mixture. This in turn will mean that the tin will take longer to heat up and the cake longer to cook thus in the same time period, the cake cooks less, leaving the centre still liquid.

Note that this is enough batter for 4 dariole moulds, although ramekins would also work. I chose to be inventive today and used many different sized containers, testing different thicknesses of batter; after 8 minutes they were both liquid!

Furthermore when you’ve combined the melted milk chocolate with the sugar and egg yolks, it will become very very thick but this is expected.

15g butter, for greasing

15g cocoa powder, for greasing

2 eggs, separated

100g milk chocolate, melted either in the microwave or in a bain-marie

2 tbsp caster sugar

4 tbsp plain flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Grease and dust the dariole moulds with the butter and cocoa powder.IMG_0038
  3. Place the egg yolks into a medium bowl with the sugar and melted chocolate. Whisk the mixture until it is thick and well combined; by hand is just fine, there doesn’t need to be tons of air incorporated, this is the purpose of the egg whites.
  4. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer until they hold a stiff peak. Sift in the plain flour and fold it through. It will completely deflate, however it should still be relatively voluminous. Do not overwork it at this stage.
  5. Take about one-third of the egg white mixture and beat into the thick chocolate egg yolk mixture. The batter should now feel much more liquid and workable.
  6. Gently fold through the remaining two-thirds of the egg white using a spatula until the mixture is smooth, fluid and well mixed.
  7. Transfer the batter between the four dariole moulds evenly. If you wanted to make the fondants ahead of time, you’d refrigerate them here and preheat the oven 10 minutes before baking.
  8. Bake the fondants for 9 minutes. There is no need to check the cakes, just pull them out after 9 minutes.
  9. Run a palette knife around the edge just to check that the fondants haven’t stuck. Stick your serving plate or bowl on top of the dariole moulds or ramekins and flip. You can give the mould a little shake to help the pudding out.
  10. Serve the pudding with a raspberry coulis or chocolate sauce, but must have the obligatory dusting of icing sugar.

 

Kate

GBBO 14 Episode 3 Review: Bread Week

I know I’ve already said it but Bread Week could be crucial in predicting who wins the competition. Historically, the person who finishes first in the Technical Challenge, which this week was Paul’s ciabatta, has gone on to win the series. However the bakers also had to face 2 other challenges this week, including their Signature Rye Rolls and a showstopping filled centrepiece loaf.

Eliminated: Jordan

Jordan GBBO

My Prediction: Enwezor (see the rest of my predictions here)

Star Baker: Luis

Luis GBBO

Good: Kate

Bad: Norman

Best Bakes: Richard’s Pesto Pinwheel

Richard's Pesto Pinwheel

Before I start my review, I want to find out which baker you think will win the show.

Jordan fell foul of moisture this week; the raspberry and strawberry brioche which sounded amazing was not completely cooked on the inside and his use of oil instead of flour on the ciabatta technical meant that he came last. Jordan was a true fan favourite for his eccentricity and he will surely be missed in the tent, mainly because there will be no more amazing clothes to marvel at.

Kate really impressed me this week. She hadn’t had much airtime up until now and I wondered whether the amount of airtime she was receiving was down to her elimination this week, but as we now know, she excelled this week. In addition, her first place finish in the technical could mean that she may steal the competition from her competitors.

Kate

Luis received the Star Baker accolade and that’s no mean feat in Bread Week. He’s been performing very well in the show already but I wonder whether he can keep this up in the weeks ahead as the challenges get harder; has he peaked too early? I’m not a fan of his flavour combination in the Signature bake however; carrot, coffee, chocolate, fennel and parsnip? Hmm I’m not too sure but Paul seemed to like it.

Diana is consistently middling, which is okay now but she will need to step up soon otherwise she will be outed. Where her presentation lets her down, she more than makes up for it with her flavours. She did, however, receive the first soggy bottom this year. Iain has been saved multiple times now with the strength of his showstopper, which could be his downfall in the coming weeks. I don’t doubt Iain’s baking ability at all but he will have to do significantly better across the coming weeks if he is to do well.

During the show “Full English Stromboli”, “Oh Norman”, “If Norman”, “Bye Jordan”, “Ciabatta” and “Martha” all trended. Nancy’s showstopping loaf sounded amazing and is something I wanted to try. Norman and Martha are still the fan favourites, mainly because Norman was caught staring at some teacups and measuring Mel’s temperature.

Unfortunately, and it didn’t go unnoticed by many people on social media, Paul was a bit “weird” this week. He noted that Kate’s showstopper, which was a true centrepiece, was raw on the inside but the dough bounced back almost to its original shape, which is the sign of a baked bread. He also used the phrase “it has falsely accused the dough of being ready” and compared the ciabattas in the technical to pittas. Hmm.

I do have to mention next week which is Dessert Week. With some signature saucy puddings, Mary’s technical Tiramisu Cake and a showstopping Baked Alaska, it seems that the pressure is intensifying with the intense heat causing a bit of a meltdown. All we know is that Martha and Chetna will be queuing for the fridge and Chetna will try to scoop up ice cream with her hands. Lovely.

Innuendo of the Week: “Stand away from your hot baps” by Sue

Seeded Wholemeal Rye Bread

GBBO 14 Challenge 3: Signature Rye Bread

The Great British Bake Off now moves into arguably its most telling week. Bread Week has notably helped Mary and Paul know who to look out for later on in the competition as the winner of the Technical Challenge has historically gone on to win the series or reach the final.

This week I’m tackling the signature challenge of rye bread.

Cider Rye Bread German Rye Bread

Rye is a grain that is profoundly known for its health benefits. It has a low glycaemic index, meaning that it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels, which many white breads will do. Its high fibre level is useful for those who wish to lose weight as there are many noncellulose polysaccharides in the fibre, meaning essentially it makes you feel fuller for longer.

DF Rye Rye Flour

However technically this grain can be a rye-ght pain (double pun worthy itself of being repeated by Mel and Sue in the tent) to work with because the enzymes present in rye are different from conventional wheat.

Amylase, which is responsible for the breakdown of starch into sugar, in wheat is not heat-stable leaving strong wheat gluten strands to give the bread structure but rye amylase is stable. Rye gluten is not strong so the dough depends on polysaccharides to provide structure, which the amylase breaks down, preventing any rise from happening.

Bakers have two main solutions and the first one is to lower the pH of the dough. This should in turn lower the activity of the amylase enzyme however the acidity can also affect the activity of the yeast. Therefore the use of natural yeasts, or a sourdough starter, will lower the acidity of the dough whilst allowing a yeast strain to survive and gelatinise starch in the dough. This in turn makes a lighter dough. The second is to use a small amount of rye flour in the dough. This makes a lighter floaf whilst still retaining the darker colour of the rye, its hearty flavour and health benefits.

So what implications does this all have on the final bread? It means that the bread has to prove for longer, however a longer prove means a better flavoured bread, so for me this isn’t such a problem. Rye itself has a stronger earthy flavour and is slightly chewier than a standard white loaf. The rye bread recipe I will be using here (but not unfortunately making mainly because I’m not really a fan of rye bread, however be assured that the recipe is very reliable as it comes from the master himself, Paul Hollywood) uses a mix of white, wholemeal and rye flour.

Seeded Wholemeal Rye Bread

The bread is rich with seeds and is incredibly healthy and packed with nutrients. A mix of any seeds that you can find will do here and I particularly love using sunflower seeds but a total of 300g of seeds is needed here.

Bread Dough

300g strong wholemeal bread flour

100g rye flour

100g strong white bread flour

10g salt

10g fast-action dried yeast

340ml warm water

Seed Mix

300g of seeds – a mix of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame is what I prefer but whatever you want

40g seeds, to decorate (again whichever seeds you like)

  1. Into the bowl of your electric mixer, place all three flours (no need to sift). Place the salt towards one side of the bowl and the instant yeast to the other. Make a slight well in the centre and add the treacle and three-quarters of the water.
  2. On a slow speed, mix the dough using the dough hook attachment. As the dough starts to combine, gradually add the remaining water and turn the mixer onto a medium speed and knead for 7 minutes.
  3. Whilst it is being kneaded, make the seed mix and after the 7 minutes have passed, tip in the seeds and knead for a further 2 minutes. Once complete, knead for a further minute to allow the seeds to be well dispersed within the dough.
  4. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and allow the dough to prove in a warm place for about 90 minutes, or enough for the dough to have doubled, however leaving it for longer is also fine.
  5. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  6. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it back on itself to knock back the air and the dough will look smooth again.
  7. Flatten the dough into a rectangle with the longer side facing you. Tuck each end into the middle of the dough so that they meet in the middle. Roll it up like a Swiss roll. The dough should now be smooth with a join line running along its length.
  8. Turn the dough so the line is pointing towards you and roll up again, but not as tight. Flatten out again and then roll up into a sausage. Roll, applying a little weight on either end to create slightly dropped sides.
  9. Transfer the shaped dough onto the baking tray and brush with a little warm water. Sprinkle with the 40g of seeds. Slash down the centre of the loaf using a knife.
  10. Place the tray inside a clean plastic bag and allow to prove for a further hour or until the dough has doubled in size and springs back quickly when lightly pressed with your finger.
  11. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
  12. When the dough has fully proved, bake the loaf for 30 minutes or until the loaf has a hollow sound when tapped on the base. Allow the baked loaf to cool on a wire rack; do not cut the loaf until it is cold to the touch.

 

Apple Pie Cake

Reflections on the Past 2000 Views and an Apple Pie Cake

Wow I cannot believe that I’ve reached 2000 views on the blog. Considering that the blog was only ever meant to be something that I did on the side just as a little fun and now that I’ve devoted so much time to writing each post, it would be a shame to leave it alone now. It is unfortunate therefore that I have to dedicate more time towards my education but I’m still going to post as much as possible.

I’d love to be able to take the blog to a point where I can use it to boost a possible career in food. However my dream job is to be a teacher because I have such a passion for food, I’d love to inspire someone out there, whoever they are, whether they are alive yet or not, to pick up their granny’s old recipe book even if it is held together by a dried up egg white, and get into the kitchen and start baking. Even if it something as simple as a Victoria Sponge or Flapjacks, I’d love to be responsible for starting someone’s love affair with food.

The Ultimate Victoria Sponge

I think food is one of the best ways to show your love for somebody because presenting someone with a homemade treat, such as a Chocolate Truffle (recipes for which you can find here to suit whoever’s taste) or a showstopping cake, such as my Individual Fraisier (recipe for which you can find here), shows that you care about them. It might sound cheesy but food is the heart of the home.


I remember a time on the blog when I used to purely copy the recipe from the book without giving much help to the beginner baker. It struck me that this wasn’t the way I wanted the blog to go, which did include scanning the picture from the recipe book because I couldn’t even be bothered, and so I just stopped posting on the blog.

However with my GCSE Food Technology coursework (which I proudly got 100% on, thank you Mrs Robinson!) beginning after I stopped posting on the blog for 3 months, I don’t know why but I felt like this was the time to really restart the blog. Having worked on the site for 5 months beforehand, I pensively returned to the blog, feeling like I was starting again. I didn’t know my audience because I lost all connection with the blog so I just wrote about what felt right to me.

My first post, on the brand new The School Cook, was a Blueberry Cheesecake, which you can find here, and it felt amazing to be able to right freely about my experience with the recipe. For the first time on the blog, I was truly connected to the post that I was writing. My experiences were genuine and I wrote with passion. I read it back, having written it almost 15 months ago, and I feel that the author connects with the audience more because it doesn’t sound as robotic and mechanized as my earlier posts were. I add my own opinion and tips throughout the recipe and this makes the post seem more personal and this engages the reader. I could see The School Cook being a successful blog.

Now despite the fact that it took me a further month to get my next post out after my Blueberry Cheesecake, I still didn’t know what I was doing. I’d only technically been blogging for 6 months at that point and I had so much still to learn. I didn’t know that I could tag my posts to draw in audiences. I felt accomplished getting that second post out but it took 2 more weeks to get another post out. I incorporated a lot of food science and theory into my Fruit Tartlets post which came out next, and you can see here, and this purely cemented my coursework, which demanded a knowledge for the science behind the food.

Blueberry Cheesecake

Then for some unknown reason I decided to review The Great British Bake Off. This was the turning point. I posted 3 episode reviews in a day and I realised how easy it was to get posts out quickly. I soon linked all of my posts to a theme which was recipes from The Great British Bake Off books. I sourced the books from my local library and by this time I was coming to halfway through my coursework and I’d accumulated many new skills and photos to use on the blog. To keep the posts flowing I looked at (uncopyrighted) photos on the Internet to use on the blog because by this time I felt like I found my identity on the blog after 3 months.

I fell into a further hiatus because of exams and then tried the mammoth task of posting every day. I showed my amateurish nature by not fulfilling my promise (and not realising that this was possible for me until later in 2014) and then posting multiple posts on the same day. I then tried doing themed months and for January 2014, I wanted to go back to basics with a Food Basics / Staples series and this worked because I found myself writing posts with passion about the topic.

As February drew near, I began posting chocolate recipes in lieu of Valentine’s Day but again I felt it wrong just to be constantly posting recipes that I hadn’t really tested out that much, hence I posted 2 recipes which I made up myself. For me, I felt happy to finally be posting content that I could be passionate about again. They were my Rustic Blueberry and Peach Tart and my Instant Rustic Tartes aux Pommes.

Instant Tartes Aux Pommes 2

However throughout that entire period, I’d embarked on an uphill struggle to review some of my huge collection of recipe books which included testing out recipes from them. Whilst I’ve done many already, and you can check out my opinion on one of my favourite books John Whaite bakes here, it’s been hard to continue doing them as each review takes a lot of time to complete, but I aim to continue doing them later on.

May came around and for me it was exam season. I didn’t wish to once again create a hiatus and so I looked up how to publish posts on a set day and I discovered, and I am eternally grateful, that I could schedule posts ahead of time. I decided to create a list of key essential tips for cooking which have gone down very well. It was actually quite fun thinking about all of the things I knew about cooking and I think is a great foundation to anyone’s repertoire. My favourite one to do was Pasta and Rice.

Pasta Bake

YouTube was soon my next inspiration. I’d recently discovered multiple new food channels on YouTube and I thought about sharing the videos on the blog. It was also an easy way to keep regular posts during the exam season whilst enjoying the videos. It soon became a very popular part of the blog and so on my summer holidays, I thought about exploring the YouTube before I started posting, and going through the older videos on their channels. Some of the posts received 60 views in a day and everyone seemed to like them, a success in my books and you can see that post here. Not to be repetitive, I posted related recipes the following day and showed me that with enough hard work I could successfully post every day, a significant journey from November 2012.


However when it comes to the recipes, I’ve found a beautiful myriad between giving my opinion on the finished product, tips and tricks that could make the recipe easier to do in the beginner’s kitchen, a brief background into where the dish comes from and making the recipe my own. I don’t think it is enough to simply write out the instructions for the recipe. I go that one step further, explaining why we fold flour into a cake mix, for example, because I think that you become a much better cook or baker if you know what happens beyond the recipe and then use that knowledge in every recipe you do. Some of the recipes that show this well include my Homemade Soda Bread, Individual Fraisier and Swiss Roll.

Individual Fraisier Irish Soda Bread Basic Swiss Roll

Funnily enough, the Swiss Roll is the sort of direction I’d love to take the blog in. I bake probably once a week, at the most, and so I cannot keep up with the demand of posting regularly to keep an interested audience. Therefore I’d love to be able to post a recipe, with my loving research, tips and tricks and then get my audience to try out the recipe and see how it is. However I know that this isn’t really feasible in the long run so I’ve managed to somehow find a huge bank of recipes, and accompanying photos, that I can fall back on in case I do run out of bakes to blog. Hopefully there isn’t any copyright infringement!

And so to celebrate the 2000 views that I’ve received, I thought I’d celebrate in the only way that I know how: cake!


It is fitting that this is one of the cakes that I baked for my coursework. The cake is a true showstopper because not only does the cake boast an impressive 3 layers of sponge, amazingly heady with cinnamon, but is topped with caramelised apples and a cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Apple Pie Cake

The recipe does come from Edd Kimber’s first book The Boy Who Bakes, and you can see my review for it here. Having made the cake in a very stressful 100 minutes because of the time constraints of the coursework, I noted that both the sponges and the frosting could be made ahead of time and the apples caramelised only when you were ready to serve the cake.

Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients because the cake batter needs the meringue mixture to bulk out what would otherwise be quite little cake mixture and it has a surprisingly low amount of fat considering the amount of cake mixture. The method of alternatively adding milk and flour does actually create a lighter sponge and this is also enhanced by the addition of the egg whites to the cake batter.

For the frosting, ensure that the Stork/butter and the cream cheese are at room temperature as this will allow the cream cheese to mix in smoothly. Leaving the cream cheese out overnight should be enough.

Beware as the cake does serve a hefty 12-16 portions so you could divide up the recipe to have just 2 layers of sponge and it could serve 8 – 12. Either way the cake will guarantee to impress whoever you serve it to and is fit for any celebration.

Cake Batter

225g Stork or butter

470g self-raising flour

½ tsp salt

3 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

400g caster sugar

4 eggs, separated

1 tsp vanilla

250ml milk

Cinnamon Frosting

110g Stork

250g icing sugar

200g full-fat cream cheese

½  tsp vanilla

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Caramelised Apples

5-6 Granny Smith apples

85g Stork

85g soft light brown sugar

½ tsp ground ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line 3 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tins.
  2. Cream together the Stork with 300g of the sugar until it is light, fluffy and paler in colour. Add the egg yolks one by one until they are fully incorporated.
  3. Into a separate bowl, sift in the flour, salt and spices. In a jug or cup, mix together the vanilla extract and milk. Beat through one third of the flour mixture and then add half of the milk mixture. Repeat this, finishing on the final third of flour mixture.
  4. Working quickly, on a high speed and in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Then gradually add the remaining 100g sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, beat through one third of the meringue mix to lighten the batter before gently folding in the remaining two-thirds.
  5. Transfer the cake batter evenly between the three tins and ensure that the tops are level.
  6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the tins comes out clean and the sponges look golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack fully.
  7. For the frosting, beat the Stork with the icing sugar until it is light and fluffy. On a medium speed, beat through the cream cheese, vanilla and cinnamon until the frosting is even and no longer grainy on the tongue.
  8. For the caramelised apples, peel, core and dice the apples. Place them in a large pan with the Stork, sugar and ginger. Cook over a medium heat until the apples are coated in the caramel and are tender. Set the apples aside and reduce the apple juices into a thick and glossy caramel sauce.
  9. Place one layer of the cooled sponge on your cake stand and spread with one third of the frosting. Top with about a quarter of the caramelised apples and drizzle over a third of the apple caramel sauce, allowing it to dribble over the edge of the sponge. Repeat this process before giving the cake a final dusting with ground cinnamon.
Martha's Ski Village Scene

GBBO 14 Episode 2 Review: Biscuit Week

The second episode of The Great British Bake Off aired tonight and really showed each of the baker’s skill. The biscuit week demanded the remaining 11 bakers to make their signature savoury biscuits, Mary’s technical Florentines and a showstopping 3D biscuit scene.

Eliminated: Enwezor

Enwezor GBBO

My Prediction: Nancy

Star Baker: Richard

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis

Bad: Norman

Best Bakes: Martha’s Ski Village Scene

Martha's Ski Village Scene

Richard has done very well for the past two weeks and he is looking like he is already a strong contender. With perfect Florentines earning him a first place finish in the Technical Challenge and an amazing Pirate biscuit scene meant that he earned the title of Star Baker. A consistent performance across both weeks means Richard will be one to watch.

Martha has also done well in both weeks so far. Her Ski Village Scene impressed me and I still marvel at the fact that she is just 17 years old. I love the fact that she knew what to do in the Technical Challenge with the chocolate on the Florentines and she has acquired quite a fan base, with Martha once again trending on Twitter during the programme.

Luis cannot go unnoticed of course with his Dragon-inspired showstopper which really impressed Paul. He did well on the Technical and Signature challenge and I know that this consistent performance will see Luis go incredibly far in the competition. I love that he still hasn’t really shone through and is a bit of a dark horse in the competition so far.

Jordan appeared to have a comfortable week impressing Paul and Mary with his sourdough chilli biscuits, Florentines and biscuit scene and Iain wowed the judges with his Western-inspired biscuit scene. Chetna blew the competition away again with her Carousel-based showstopper and Diana’s Express Train was truly first class (ahem!).

Although Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul were the real stars of the show, all of whom trended on Twitter throughout the program. Mel once again reignited a surprising love affair with Leatherhead Leisure Centre, which also trended on the show, Sue made more cheese puns and even compared Mary to Pussy Galore. Mary was ever fashionable once again, so expect some scarves and white jackets to be sold out soon. Paul even had an attempt, albeit failed, at the jokes, although we now know why Mel and Sue are the hosts, not Paul and Mary.

I have a question about this week and it didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter either. Who makes their own fondant?

Keep an eye out for the people who do well next week because Bread Week is historically known for producing the winners. Rye bread, Paul’s ciabatta and filled loaves are on the menu next week. Catch next week’s episode (Bread Week) on Wednesday 20th August 8pm and the side show, An Extra Slice, on Friday 15th August 9pm BBC Two.

Innuendo of the Week: “Typically I do this on the floor because it gets so stiff” by Enwezor

Asian Spice Crackers

GBBO 14 Challenge 2: Signature Savoury Biscuit

The next challenge on The Great British Bake Off that I’m creating a recipe for is the Signature savoury biscuit in Biscuit Week.

Savoury Biscuits

I was shocked that when I did some research to find a savoury biscuit recipe, in my many recipe books that I couldn’t find one, and then even more shocked that there were very few spiced biscuits on the internet. Eventually though, I managed to come across a spiced cracker, and it is a very good one indeed.

Savoury Crackers

The use of whole spices is very much Asian inspired and are perfect to serve as a homemade party snack. The crackers are heady with the amount of spices in them but I must say that the use of whole spices and not the pre-ground spices is essential because they produce, for me, a better aroma and flavour.

They also provide great colour and resemble those typical shopbought Asian-style crackers, and to enhance this I’ve added cayenne pepper, which also adds lots of heat. I’ve tried to reduce the amount of salt as the recipe calls for a stock cube and some brands I’ve found do tend to be very salty and I hate when savoury crackers and biscuits are overly salty.

Asian Spice Crackers

This recipe is enough to make about 12 savoury crackers, although this recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. Thanks must go to John Whaite for the inspiration for this recipe.

1 tsp each of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
1/4 garlic clove
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 beef stock cube
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
30g Stork
½ tsp sesame oil
100g plain flour

  1. Preheat your oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Using a pestle and mortar, or a rolling pin and a plastic sandwich bag, bash the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds and peppercorns until they resemble a coarse powder.
  3. Place the crushed spices into a food processor, small enough that the spices actually get ground up, along with the garlic clove, cayenne pepper, stock cube, salt and sugar.
  4. In a pan over a low/medium heat, melt the Stork with a further 30ml water and sesame oil. Having removed the pan from the heat, stir in the spice mixture and flour. Mix until it combines into a dough.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 5mm thickness. If you make a larger batch, you will find it easier to get a thinner dough that doesn’t stick, tear or shrink back in the oven by splitting the mixture into smaller pieces. Keep lifting the dough away from the table to check it hasn’t stuck to the table. Once you’ve rolled out the dough to the right thickness, flour the table again.
  6. Using a fork, prick the entire dough all over. Then using lightly floured 5cm cutters, cut out circles of the spiced cracker dough and transfer to the baking tray. When lifting the dough away from the surface, avoid changing the shape of the dough as much as possible.
  7. Bake the spiced crackers for 9 – 12 minutes. The crackers should be lovely and golden brown and crisp.
Chetna's Swiss Roll

GBBO 14 Episode 1 Review: Cake Week

A brand new year, brand new channel, brand new location and a batch of 12 new bakers. That’s right the first episode of The Great British Bake Off showed tonight and what a grand entrance it made. The cake week demanded the 12 bakers to make their signature Swiss Roll, Mary’s technically demanding Cherry Cake and make 36 Miniature Classic British Cakes.

Technical Cherry Cake

Eliminated: Claire

Claire GBBO

My Elimination Prediction: Iain

Star Baker: Nancy

Nancy GBBO

Good: Richard, Martha

Bad: Jordan, Iain

Best Bakes: Chetna’s Cardamom, Pistachio and Coffee Swiss Roll and Nancy’s Jaffa Orange Cakes

Chetna's Swiss Roll Nancy's Cakes

Claire had a run of bad luck in the show, with Paul not liking her orangey cream inside her Swiss Roll and exploding chocolate cakes for her showstopper challenge. Her week was very much chaotic and it’s an incredible shame, not only because I predicted Claire to come second overall but also as she had so much more to give.

I was completely stunned by Martha’s performance this week. I was not expecting her to do that well and that tells me she is a dark horse. Mary said it herself, “how does she have that knowledge at 17?” In fact she was one of only 3 contestants to trend in the UK on Twitter and she has acquired a huge fan base already.

Nancy took the accolade of Star Baker this week and I have to retract my prediction for Nancy finishing eleventh because her flavours were phenomenal and her bakes looked great. She will go further than I initially thought. Sorry Nancy!

I knew Chetna would do well in the Bake Off thanks to her flavours, but I didn’t expect a cardamom, pistachio and coffee Swiss Roll from her. She wowed many people on Twitter and has also turned into a favourite on social media.

But for everyone, Norman was the true star of the show. With his loose-bottomed cake popper gadget, his Swiss Roll “for men” and his retro flavours, he has become everyone’s favourite with “loving Norman” trending on Twitter during the show.

What would the show be without Mel and Sue however? Making Swiss Rolls by pushing Roger Federer down a hill, popping Mary’s cherry in the oven and stealing Diana’s mousse were some of my personal highlights.

It’s back and it’s back with a bang. Catch next week’s episode (Biscuit Week) on Wednesday 13th August 8pm and the side show, An Extra Slice, on Friday 8th August 9pm BBC Two.

Innuendo of the Week: “Ganaching my buns” by Diana

Basic Swiss Roll

GBBO 14 Challenge 1: Signature Swiss Roll

So of course The Great British Bake Off returns tonight (8pm, BBC1) and the first Signature Challenge in the Cake Week is their signature Swiss Roll and I wanted to share my completely new original Swiss Roll recipe.

Strawberry Swiss Roll Basic Swiss Roll

Now I am afraid that this recipe is purely an amalgamation of several different recipes and techniques and therefore I haven’t actually tested the Swiss Roll. I was going to do it this morning however my oven is a bit faulty and thus there is no picture of my Swiss Roll but be assured, both the original recipes are very trustworthy.

One of the biggest trends in Swiss Roll is to pipe on a paste, known as joconde paste, which is very similar to a tuile mixture, onto the baking parchment which lines the Swiss Roll tin so the pattern comes out onto the sponge, which is on the outside of the rolled Swiss Roll.

Decorated Swiss Roll

The way I do it is to spread this joconde paste, coloured and flavoured using cocoa powder, and use a plastic toothed scraper, which you can purchase very cheaply from good cake stores, to scrape away the paste leaving straight lines of the paste on the parchment. Others such as Mary-Anne Boermans, whose joconde paste recipe I’ve used, have piped the paste onto the parchment instead, but either way still works.

Using Joconde Paste

To ensure that the paste remains “solid”, i.e. the fat doesn’t melt and the joconde paste keeps shape, you can chill the tin with the parchment in until you need the tin but this isn’t a necessary step.

Check out my initial thoughts on every contestant, and my predictions on their finishing positions, here.

Joconde Paste
100g Stork or very soft unsalted butter
100g icing sugar
100g egg white – about 2 – 3 egg whites, depending on the size of your egg, but save the egg yolks
100g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Swiss Roll Sponge
3 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks saved from the joconde paste
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g self-raising flour

Decoration
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Strawberry or raspberry jam
150ml double cream
25g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. For the joconde paste, beat together the Stork with the icing sugar until it looks a couple of shades lighter. Then gradually add in the egg whites and sift in the flour and cocoa powder. Fold the dry ingredients into the mixture.
  2. Spread onto a sheet of baking parchment, larger than the size of your 33cm x 23cm Swiss Roll tin. Using your plastic scraper, scrape away some of the joconde paste to leave diagonal lines of the paste on the parchment.
  3. Then line the tin with the parchment, ensuring that it doesn’t come up too high in the tin (this could flop over into the sponge) and that it fits in the sides and base well. Remove the parchment and trim the edges using scissors to create a good fit, leaving some room for excess to lift it out.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200c
  5. Place the 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks into a large bowl with the caster sugar and vanilla. Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla until they are very light, pale and thick and have reached the ribboning stage. This means you can draw a figure of eight using the whisk onto the mixture and it fades away after two seconds.
  6. Sift in the flour, in two batches, and fold through using a rubber spatula. The flour tends to clump so make sure that you scrape right down to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Pour the Swiss Roll mixture into the tin, keeping it as close to the base of the tin. Use a palette knife to spread the mixture into the corners and ensuring that it is level.
  8. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the sponge is golden brown and springs back when you touch it.
  9. Take a large piece of parchment and sprinkle it with lots of granulated sugar. Turn out the sponge onto the parchment and remove the tin and parchment which lined the tin, being careful not to break the sponge.
  10. Using a table knife, lightly “cut” a line of sponge one inch from the long edge to help start the roll, but do not go all the way through. Then roll up the Swiss Roll with the parchment inside, ensuring you have a tight roll. Allow the sponge to cool fully.
  11. When you are ready to serve, and the sponge is cool, whip up the double cream with the icing sugar and vanilla until it holds a relatively thick peak, but do not overwhip.
  12. Unroll the sponge and spread with a thin layer of your chosen jam. Leave a good inch of sponge at the opposite long edge uncovered to prevent the filling running out later. Then spread over the cream, ensuring it is even across the sponge.
  13. Then using the parchment to help you, reroll the Swiss Roll. Fold over the initial cut sponge and remember to bring the sponge back closer to you after each movement to allow a tighter roll. Any cracks in the sponge are fine.
  14. Finish the Swiss Roll by doing your final roll onto your presentation plate and dusting with icing sugar.
Biscotti

Chocolate and Nut Biscotti

Biscotti are these dry twice-baked Italian biscuits, in fact the name itself originates from a word meaning “twice cooked/baked”. You’ll often see biscotti in coffee shops alongside an espresso or even as a dessert with vin santo, a Tuscan fortified wine.

BiscottiBiscotti 3

Some recipes for biscotti will make a very firm dough but this recipe is a very wet dough and this, personally, allows the dough to hold more filling without losing the texture; a biscotti should be baked with its filling, whether that be the obligatory nuts, dried fruit or chocolate.

These make a huge batch – once I managed to squeeze out 50 biscotti – so this recipe is great for making edible gifts.


125g nuts – any variety will do like hazelnuts, walnuts etc

50g dark chocolate – value chocolate is fine (you won’t notice a difference)

3 egg whites

125g granulated sugar

100g plain flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line one baking sheet with baking parchment
  2. Place the nuts into a baking tin and bake for 3-4 minutes until they are just toasted. Roughly chop half of the nuts. Set aside to cool. Chop the chocolate into pieces (large and small) and add into the nuts.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until frothy. Then gradually whisk in the sugar until they form stiff peaks.
  4. Sift in the flour and add the nuts and chocolate. Fold until they are combined.
  5. Spread the mixture onto the tray. Use a spoon to smooth the surface. It should be a large rectangle of dough.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes – it should be lightly golden and set. Touch the top and it shouldn’t give way too easily. Allow to cool fully.
  7. Heat the oven to 160°C. Using a serrated knife, slice the baked loaf in half (to form 2 long logs) and cut 5mm slices of the dough. Any edges of the loaf which have caught in the oven can be simply cut off.
  8. Place on the tray with the exposed side upwards and bake for 15 minutes, remembering to turn halfway through baking. They should be light golden on each side and crisp.
  9. Allow them to cool completely before eating. They keep for a week in an airtight container.