Chocolate Fondant Wedding Cake

Your Guide to Using Fondant Icing

Say that you’ve made a really amazing cake and all that’s left to do is decorate it. Look in your cupboard and the box of white sugarpaste or fondant icing is shining like a beacon. You roll it out and it starts sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface, it has cracks and it isn’t big enough to cover your cake. Hopefully with my guide to using fondant icing, your problems will all be fixed.

Stage 1: Dealing with the actual cake and its intricacies

Make the sponge preferably the day before and add the filling. Complete a crumb coat

Fondant icing is often seen in incredibly decadent wedding cakes. All of these cakes have one thing in common, a crumb coat.

 Chocolate Fondant Wedding Cake Spring Fondant Wedding Cake Tie Dye Fondant Wedding Cake

A crumb coat is a thin layer of buttercream which protects the fondant from being contaminated with crumbs from the freshly made cake. The structure of freshly made cakes hasn’t had time to set, which is why when you cut freshly made cakes, they always are crumbly. In many large bakeries, particular industrial ones, you’ll find that they always refrigerate the baked cakes which allow the structure to set and the cake is less crumbly so it is easier to cut and shape their cakes, preventing crumbs getting into the fondant. The crumb coat extra insures that this doesn’t happen. It also provides a surface for the fondant to attach itself to.

Stage 2: Rolling out the fondant icing

To prevent the fondant icing sticking to the work surface, dust the surface lightly with icing sugar, as if you were making bread. Then knead the fondant until it becomes somewhat pliable. If you wish to colour the fondant, dip a cocktail skewer into gel food colourings for the best effect.

 Wilton Gel Colouring Pastes

Be aware that these colourings are much more powerful and potent than your bog standard liquid colourings. They are much more expensive but they will last you much longer than any other liquid colouring mainly because you do not need as much. Continue to work the colouring into the fondant until it becomes even.

When using a rolling pin, avoid applying too much pressure. Use a smaller rolling pin and be light with your hands.

Stage 3: Shaping and cutting

a) Fondant Coffee Beans

 Fondant Coffee Beans

Colour the sugarpaste a very light grey (using a very small bit of black colouring) – don’t worry, the colour isn’t the final colour of them however it does help the final coffee beans look realistic.

Take a small chunk of the sugarpaste (about 5 grams) and roll it into an egg shape. Avoid having tapered ends. Using the blunt side of a table knife, make a small incision in the centre so it resembles a coffee bean.

 Coffee Beans

Roll the fondant bean in cocoa powder and then allow to dry out on a plate for about 30 minutes. This means they become firm and less pliable. Then toss them between your hands to get rid of the excess cocoa powder.

b) Fondant Garden Scene

 Coluring Sugarpaste

How you decide to use it is up to you, I placed it onto a cupcake for an attractive children’s cake (of course do not allow them to eat it, otherwise it would be a sugar overload). I’d advise this not be consumed but rather a decorative piece.

Colour 3 portions of fondant icing a baby pink, a bright green and brown. Take a small portion of fondant and colour it yellow.

Roll out the pink fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Cut out a circle of fondant, using a fluted cutter, and apply onto the surface on a cupcake.

Roll out the green fondant to a thickness of 3mm. Using a table knife, cut out a leaf shape. Then with the knife, create the classic markings of a leaf. Lay the leaf on top of one side of the pink fondant.

For the brown snail, make a long sausage about 20cm long. Take one end and tightly roll it into a spiral shape. Then allow the neck and body to roll upwards and tuck the end back on itself to create the head. Apply a small dot of yellow fondant for the eye. Place on half of the leaf.

c) Fondant Flowers

 Fondant Roses

Take 5 grams and roll into a ball. Flatten out with your thumb and then roll up from one side into a coil shape. This is the centre of your flower.

Take 8 grams of fondant and flatten out into a petal shape. Wrap it around the centre loosely, ensuring that the petal is slightly offset and the petal touches the centre at the bottom only. Using your thumb, open up the petal slightly to create a slight gap.

Repeat this process of making 8 gram petals. Each time you apply the petal, make it come up slightly higher up the centre coil and overlap the petals by about 5mm on the coil. Remember to open up the petal before applying another petal. Try to make each petal slightly larger than the one before. By the third “layer” of petal you will need more fondant to make the petal bigger but the same thickness. After 9 petals, pinch the base of the flower where the fondant all touches so the excess fondant comes away. You may wish to add a ball of yellow fondant in the very centre.

Some professionals will colour the petals such that the shades get lighter as you go out. Feel free to do this, but it’s a bit of a faff for me. Some will also brush the flowers with coloured/flavoured powders for the same effect.

Fondant Flower Bouquet Fondant Flowers

d) Fondant Butterflies

 Rolling and Cutting

Roll out plain white fondant to a thickness of 3mm and using a cutter, cut out butterfly shapes. Fold a piece of baking parchment so it has a crease. Rest the centre spine of the butterfly on the crease and allow to dry out and set.

Fondant Butterflies

Fondant is so incredibly useful in a cake maker’s kitchen. Once you get used to the intricacies of rolling it out, learn how to colour fondant cleverly and learn how to make different shapes to suit all manner of occasions, fondant is your very sweet best friend.

All Butter Almond Cookies

All Butter Almond Cookies

There’s something about the smell of freshly baked biscuits and toasted nuts that makes these biscuits to die for. They are ridiculously simple to make and you’ll be surprised that such a small quantity of dough will make a huge batch of biscuits, so these are great for parties or giving as gifts for friends’ birthdays or even, and I dare mention the word in the middle of October, Christmas presents!

Whole Almonds

The dough freezes incredibly well so I’ve bulked up the recipe to include just 1 egg. I’ve never been one to weigh eggs but very few people would wish to weigh out 13g of egg, so I’ve quadrupled the recipe so that one whole egg is used. If you ever needed an excuse to get baking, just take out the dough, cut into biscuits and bake!

The toasted flavour of the nuts really comes through and it resembles the biscotti I’ve made already (you can find them clicking here)! The recipe requires them to be toasted before they are added to the dough. The first time I made them, the butter began to melt from the heat of the almonds and the dough began very tricky to shape. You will need to work quickly to shape the dough into a roughish cylinder and get it into the freezer straight away – the dough needs to be hard so you can cut it into the squares. Even so you can still shape the dough while it’s cooling down into the desired shape.

All Butter Almond Cookies

200g soft unsalted butter or Stork

88g caster or granulated sugar

1 whole medium egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

300g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

140g whole almonds, skin on

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake the almonds for 8-10 minutes until they are warm; do not burn them however. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the Stork/softened butter until it is slightly paler in colour.
  3. Add the whole egg and vanilla and beat until it is thoroughly combined.
  4. Sift in the self-raising flour and baking powder and using a spatula, fold until it is mixed and comes together to form one ball of dough.
  5. Throw in the almonds and work the almonds lightly into the dough. This can be added with the flour in step 4. Divide the dough into 4 portions.
  6. On a lightly floured work surface, knead and shape the dough into 4 long cylinders. Place each cylinder onto a sheet of baking parchment and using the parchment (and maybe another pair of hands), shape the dough into an even cylinder. Repeat for all 4 cylinders and chill until the dough is hardened or until you need to use it.
  7. When you decide to bake the biscuits, preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  8. Using a serrated knife, or very sharp knife, cut out 8mm thick slices of the dough, placing them on the baking tray with a slight space between them; I managed to fit 36 on a tray!
  9. Bake for 11 – 13 minutes until they turn just a slight golden brown around the edges. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.
  10. Wrap up 5 of them in a decorated cellophane bag and tie with ribbon for an attractive gift. I sourced them from my local pound shop!
Nancy's Piece Montee

GBBO 14 Episode 10 Review: The Final Week

So there we have it, Nancy Birtwhistle is the Champion of The Great British Bake Off.

Nancy GBBO

Best Bake: Nancy’s Red Windmill and Luis’ Village in Chocolate

Nancy's Piece Montee Luis's Piece Montee Drawing

Signature Challenge: 24 Viennoiserie

The traditional Danish pastries, which consist of either an enriched brioche-style bread dough or a laminated pastry, were the bakers’ first challenge of the Final. Taking normally a whole day to make, all the bakers had to find ways to quickly make these tricky bakes.

Richard tried the simple yet perfect approach, and to get perfect Viennoiserie in 3 and a half hours is tricky in itself. His Pains Au Lait and Pains Au Chocolat were pretty classic Viennoiserie. To create the lamination during the time, Richard tried creaming the butter and spreading it over the dough. This was a massive risk as the butter would be more likely to melt into the dough, unlike Luis who added it as one slab, meaning the layers wouldn’t be preserved. Richard also tried to prove the pastries inside the proving drawer which melted the butter. It wasn’t a good start for Richard, not helped by Paul being upset by the visible tear in the sides of his Pains Au Lait due to the bread joining during baking/proving.

Richard's Viennoiserie

Luis made Apple, Walnut, Raisin and Cheese Chaussons, which Paul and Mary agreed were absolutely perfect with their flaky dough and good flavour, and Pains au Chocolate Blanc with Raspberry and Cream Cheese, which Paul and Mary disliked very much. The raspberry made the dough slightly soggy and the cream cheese didn’t compliment the dry pastry. They looked stunning, a quality we’ve known Luis to possess over the Bake Off, but the flavour wasn’t good. However he was still slightly higher than Richard.

Nancy's Viennoiserie

Nancy was pretty much tied with Luis after the Signature. She lost a few marks on the collapse of the raspberry on the inside of her Raspberry and Almond Croissants. Her Kites had very visible layers and Mary was absolutely stunned by the flavours Nancy had.

End of Challenge: 1st = Nancy, 2nd = Luis, 3rd = Richard

Technical Challenge: 12 Mini Victoria Sandwiches, 12 Mini Tartes au Citron, 12 Mini Scones

Paul and Mary decided to set the bakers a very difficult Technical Challenge. They didn’t give the bakers any instructions, just the ingredients and their quantities. This was a great Technical Challenge for the final, testing all 3 of them on the basics. The timing was also devilish: 3 different miniature bakes in 2 hours.

Richard’s Tarte au Citrons (or Tarte au Colons, as Paul jokingly read the chocolate piping on the tarts) were overbaked as the lemon custard filling was scrambled egg. No matter how good his scones were, his jam was also slightly wet and soaked into his sponge. I thought Richard would be 2nd but the judges placed him dead bottom. I was shocked. By the end of the Technical, all hope for Richard was lost.

Luis blind-baked his pastry for too long and the edges were visibly burnt. The cases also needed patching up and the pastry also had holes as the final tarts had very little filling inside. His scones weren’t glazed but were still very light and baked well, meaning Luis received 2nd place. Even Luis was surprised at the result!

Nancy appeared to be unflustered throughout the challenge, even offering tips to the audience. Her jam was the perfect consistency, she managed to pipe on the word ‘Citron’ on her tarts and although her scones were on the dry side, Nancy took 1st place in what could be the hardest Technical to date!

End of Challenge: 1st = Nancy, 2nd = Luis, 3rd = Richard

Showstopper Challenge: Piece Montee

The final challenge is a test of the bakers’ ability to excel in multiple areas of baking and decoration. Cakes, biscuits, choux pastry, sugar work, petit fours, the list goes on and on.

Richard, after a terrible 1st day, needed to truly excel here. He was inspired by his home and called his Piece Montee ‘The Mill on the Hill’. There were sponge layers covered in green icing with an almond nougatine and a croquembouche sitting on top with a windmill made of caramel. To decorate, Richard had some pink meringue mushroom. Paul and Mary were intrigued by the colour but the flavour of the sponge and jam was impressive. Richard’s flavours were very good with contrasting sponges that did compliment. Mary called his choux “first-class”. I did feel however it was as good a showstopper as it could’ve been but Richard did finish on a high.

Richard's Piece Montee

Luis was inspired by his hometown of Poynton and its mining background. His “Village of Chocolate” was aesthetically phenomenal, everyone on Twitter was gasping at its splendour. How Luis managed to construct that chain of choux buns and get them to stand rigid like soldiers wows me. Unfortunately Luis’ flavours slightly let him down but no matter what, Luis was still in with a fighting chance thanks to a strong 1st day.

Luis's Piece Montee Drawing Luis's Piece Montee

Nancy wowed everyone with her amazing Piece Montee, inspired by a windmill, this time coloured red and it even rotated like a windmill. The flavours were impressive and there was even a croquembouche hidden in there somewhere. A trio of very very good challenges meant that Nancy deserved the crown tonight.

Nancy's Piece Montee

Last week I mentioned the trends in the past winners and this series didn’t even disappoint.

  • The person who won Star Baker the most times did the worst in the Final
  • The public’s least favourite came through to win

It’s shown that Richard’s 5-time Star Baker didn’t at all influence the result. It is all down to how you bake on the day.

You might remember I made those predictions at the start of the series. Here’s what happened…

R3L2N1

Didn’t go very well did it? Oh well, maybe next year!

Richard Entremets

GBBO 14 Episode 9 Review: Patisserie Week

What an amazing semi-final this week. Some of the trickiest challenges to date saw off one of the Bake Off’s flavour powerhouses in history. They faced Signature Baklavas (however you pronounce it), a Technical Schichttorte (a grilled German cake) and 24 Showstopping Entremets. Was there any favouritism from the judges this week however… find out below.

Eliminated: Chetna

Chetna GBBO

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

Star Baker: Richard (for an unbelievable fifth time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis

Bad: Nancy

Best Bake: Every contestant’s Entremets impressed me this week

Chetna Entremets Luis Entremets Nancy Entremets Richard Entremets

I am incredibly saddened to say that Chetna Makan, you have finally been eliminated from Bake Off. For those of you who do not know already, I predicted that Chetna would finish first before the show even started and it’s unfortunate that she had to leave during a week in which the standards were higher than Mary Berry after having one of Luis’s doughnuts last week. We all know Chetna is the “Flavour Queen” and once again she didn’t disappoint but it was purely technical faults that meant Chetna has to go home. Her baklavas were good but they were just slightly below the grade on flavour for Paul. The grilled cake Technical challenge didn’t go well with Chetna finishing last. In order for Chetna to stay safe, she had to have a faultless showstopper, which was unfortunately not the case, with Mary slating Chetna’s poor layers and Paul criticising her flavours.

WE STILL LOVE YOU CHETNA! #TeamChetna

Nancy didn’t have her best week, despite wowing everyone with her relatively simple, but perfect, baklava and her Raspberry and Almond Entremet. A 3rd place finish in the Technical meant that Nancy was considered for elimination.

Luis had another strong, and consistent week, with a unique “baklava cup” in the Signature, fantastic looking and tasting Entremets in the Showstopper and all topped off with a 1st place Technical finish. Despite this great week in which Luis looked unflappable, he still didn’t receive Star Baker.

I did say this last week but I don’t think Richard deserved Star Baker this week. For so many weeks in Bake Off history, Mary and Paul say that Star Bakers are given the accolade for a great week of consistency and amazing baking, which Luis undoubtedly demonstrated this week. Only on a few occasions has Star Baker been given out to a baker who redeemed themselves with an absolutely exquisite and faultless Showstopper – Ryan from Series 3 was one such baker. Unfortunately I don’t think Richard met this criteria not least of all his Technical Bake was nowhere near the standard that Luis, quite literally, bought to the table.

Of course I cannot finish my review without predicting the winner. Previous patterns of the winners include:

  • Bakers who finish in the Top Three of the Bread Technical Challenge tend to win the competition – LUIS
  • The person who has won Star Baker the most has never won the competition – RICHARD
  • The underdog has come through to win – NANCY

Who do I go for? Well I want to find out who you think will win by voting in the poll below:

Simple Shortcrust Pastry

This shortcrust pastry would be ideal for savoury flans or tarts. Foods that have overly sweet fillings would benefit from having an unsweetened pastry much like this one. People are so scared and worried about making pastry themselves and I want to demystify the process showing you how simple it really is. Hopefully you’ll never buy ready-made shortcrust pastry ever again.

Chilled Pastry

There is an argument over using margarine and butter for pastry and pastry is one of the only times I will use butter because it solidifies when refrigerated, meaning the pastry becomes easier to roll. We always try to refrigerate pastry because this not only sets the fat, making it easier to roll, but it also relaxes the gluten and this prevents the pastry shrinking back in the oven. You’ll see some people complain about making pastry saying that “their hands are too hot”. As long as you chill the pastry sufficiently between each stage, or as directed in the recipe, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Unlike bread, we do not want gluten to form; shortcrust pastry gets its name from the fact that the gluten strands are short, making a crumbly melt in the mouth pastry. This is just one aspect of making pastry that puts people off as you are quite tempted to overwork the pastry, meaning it is tough and rubbery. My tip to prevent this is to cut the butter into small cubes so it is easier to work into the flour.

To bind the flour and butter together, usually an egg or cold water is used. In smaller quantities of pastry, water is the better option as the egg may make the pastry too wet. Remember that any form of liquid should be gradually added to reduce the risk of the pastry being too wet. This means that the food processor is the essential bit of kit for making shortcrust pastry as the flour and butter can be made into breadcrumbs before being combined by the liquid added through the funnel. Of course if you do not have a food processor, copy the instructions below except using your own hands and a large bowl.

150g plain flour

75g cold butter, cut into 5mm cubes

2-3 tbsp ice cold water – this amount could vary so have extra water on hand in case

  1. Place the plain flour into a food processor. Add the cold cubed butter and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. With the processor running, add the ice cold water tablespoon by tablespoon until the pastry comes together into a dough.
  3. Turn out the pastry onto a very lightly floured surface and knead for about 20 seconds until it is smooth on the outside.
  4. Wrap the pastry up in clingfilm and press it out into a disc. Chill until required.

 

Drawing of Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree

GBBO 14 Episode 8 Review: Advanced Dough Week

The quarterfinal of the show did not disappoint with the bakers being tested with all manners of tricky enriched doughs. Chetna and Richard both had firsts ever on this week’s show and Nancy once again mesmerised with her use of technology. Find out my thoughts below.

Eliminated: Martha

Martha GBBO

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

Star Baker: Richard (for an unprecedented, and record breaking, fourth time!)

Richard GBBO

Good: Luis

Bad: Nancy

Best Bake: Luis’s Black Forest Cherry Tree

Drawing of Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree Luis's Black Forest Cherry Tree

Don’t get me wrong I like Richard but I thought he wasn’t the person for Star Baker tonight. Luis amazed with his Signature Fruit Loaf (see above) and came a respectable 2nd in the Technical. Mary loved his cocktail inspired doughnuts and this week he didn’t have real significant problems. Richard came 4th in the Technical (although he did copy Nancy!) and didn’t appear to have all that great a first day. Personally no matter how good your Showstopper is, you have to be consistent. Even so, he still did do well over the weekend and has made Bake Off history by being awarded Star Baker for the fourth time. Statistically he is a surefire finalist but baking never follows statistics.

This brings me onto Chetna: where was Chetna in the judge’s deliberations? Chetna has definitely been a quiet horse across the series; in weeks where I thought she did well, she wasn’t even considered for Star Baker. Her Date and Walnut Swirl Loaf was impressive, and although the flavours didn’t suit Paul, they both agreed that the design element was inspired, in fact so inspired that they even used her bake as the Technical challenge, just the proper version of it (prepare to see them in Marks & Spencers in a couple of weeks), and this it in question is a Povitica. Of course Chetna came first and her doughnuts weren’t all that bad so I don’t see why this didn’t warrant Star Baker.

Povitica

Nancy daringly used the microwave to prove her Fruit Loaf, which is a technique that once somebody has perfected, will surely change the shape of the baking world. The only problem she encountered was a raw middle, caused by her bread being too big. A 3rd in the technical and playful doughnuts secured her place next week. Nancy has always done well, being her only bad week in the history of the show, which is quite something. She will have to really step up however if she is to meet the standards of Richard and Luis.

Oh Martha it was just one mistake too many this week really. Overproved doughnuts, a raw povitica and a dense Signature loaf meant that the tent’s youngest ever baker had to depart just weeks before the final. Everyone loves Martha and I think she has done so much hard work for the show and she is truly inspirational. Mary said it herself that we should be looking out for Martha in years to come, which is a view I also share. Martha Collison’s TV show will be out in 2020 (if it is, you heard it here first!)

The semi-final is a hard time for anyone to leave but if our bakers cannot rise to the challenge, they won’t be allowed in the final. A signature Baklava, with their own filo pastry, a Technically challenging Schichttorte (which is a cake cooked in a grill?!) and a selection of showstopping Entremets (yes I’ve never heard of them either) are all on the menu next week.

Your Guide to Choux: Les Petits Croquembouches

Choux pastry is used to make all manner of sweet and savoury pastries ranging from savoury gougères to sweet éclairs, beignets and profiteroles to the showstopping Gateau St Honoré and Croquembouche, however I’m making little choux buns and filling them with pastry cream before finishing with spun sugar.

Choux Buns with Cream Gateau St Honore

People are quite daunted by making choux pastry as it can be hard to tell when the flour mixture is beaten enough over the heat. The cooking of the dough is vital to the finished pastry as it dictates how the rest of your pastry goes. Undercooked dough cannot absorb enough beaten egg, which will result in a deflated choux bun which is dry and tough. The way that I know whether my choux paste is done is that the paste “furs” at the bottom of the pan, which basically means it has started to stick to the base of the pan and the bottom of the pan looks “furry”. It sounds odd but is a surefire way to guarantee a good start to your pastry.

When it comes to adding the eggs, make sure that the dough has cooled down slightly and that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. But all too often a recipe would call for 3 eggs but adding the third egg could be not enough or too much, ruining your beautiful choux pastry. Not having enough egg in the choux pastry will create a dense choux pastry that will not rise in the oven; having too much egg will in the pastry will create a wet choux pastry that will not hold its shape in the oven. One way to reduce the chance of this happening is to take a bowl and beat the number of eggs stated in your recipe in a bowl and gradually add the beaten egg. This way you can add smaller amounts of egg instead of chancing your perfect choux pastry on another egg, which could easily ruin it.

Now the texture of the choux paste may also indicate whether your choux pastry is done. The final dough should look shiny without patches of flour and when you scoop the pastry with a spatula, it should fall thinly and form an inverted triangle on the spatula. To fix a thick batter, you should add some more of the beaten egg mixture, but only gradually as adding too much egg cannot be fixed.

Choux Pastry

When it comes to the piping of the choux pastry, be confident to make the choux bun quite high; this simply increases the chance of having well risen and puffed-up choux buns in the end. Try to make each bun relatively round by holding the piping bag vertically and not at an angle and pressing the bag in one confident movement as opposed to going around in a circle. Make sure that the dough is completely smooth on the top as any peaks in the choux pastry will easily catch and burn during baking. Using a dampened finger, smooth out the peaks and try to round off the choux buns.

Because the pastry rises thanks to the moisture, steam can often make the final baked pastry soggy if you do not dry out the pastry. To dry out the pastry, you have to make a hole in the bottom of the pastry and then bake the pastry for a further 5 minutes to allow the steam to escape. However avoid opening the oven during the baking period until the choux buns are completely baked and set as the colder air will make the choux buns collapse.

However there is something magical about making the perfect choux pastry which puffs up in the oven. A small amount of batter will make many choux buns and that’s why I love choux pastry. Not only is it simple to make, in comparison to puff or shortcrust, for example, it has a large yield and there is nothing wrong with just filling the choux buns with whipped cream.

CroquemboucheIndividual Croquembouches

The actual pastry can be made up to 12 hours in advance, just as long it remains covered and refrigerated, although it’s best used immediately.

You can find the recipe for my pastry cream here.

100g plain flour

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp sugar

150ml water

75g Stork or butter

3 eggs, beaten in a bowl

1 egg, beaten in a separate bowl

1 quantity of pastry cream (see link above)

150g granulated sugar

2 tbsp water

  1. Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Place the water and Stork/butter into a medium saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the fat has melted. Then bring the mixture up to a rolling boil and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the pan all at once and beat well using a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. Place the pan back on the medium heat and stir the pastry for 1 minute until it begins to stick to the base of the pan. Then allow it to cool in the pan.
  4. Pour about a quarter of the beaten egg into the slightly cooled choux pastry and beat again using the wooden spoon until the egg is completely incorporated. Don’t worry about it looking curdled and split, just give it a good beat and eventually it comes together.
  5. Gradually add more egg beating the mixture until it comes back together until the choux pastry looks soft, shiny and has a dropping consistency.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a couple of baking trays with some baking parchment.
  7. Place the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a large 1cm round nozzle. Pipe multiple walnut-sized rounds of the choux pastry onto the baking trays, spaced about 4cm apart.
  8. Using a dampened finger, flatten down any peaks on the choux buns and smooth out any rough edges. Lightly brush the choux buns with the other beaten egg.
  9. Bake the choux buns for 20 – 25 minutes without opening the oven. They should be puffed up, golden and crisp. Remove the buns from the oven and poke small holes in the base of the buns using a knife or skewer. Bake for a further 5 minutes to dry out. Cool the fully dry and baked choux buns on a wire rack.
  10. When you are ready to serve the choux buns, fill a piping bag with some of the pastry cream (ideally not completely cold) using a nozzle which is big enough to fill the choux buns through the hole you made during baking. Pipe enough pastry cream into the choux buns so that they are full.
  11. Pile up some of the filled choux buns onto your serving plate. Chill in the fridge whilst you make the caramel.
  12. Place the sugar and water into a saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, do not stir, turn up the heat to high and allow it to cook out. Meanwhile fill the sink or a tub with cold water.
  13. During the cooking, you may occasionally stir the pan but the caramel is done when it is a light amber and golden brown colour, like the colour of whisky. Turn off the heat and immediately plunge the pan into the water for 5 seconds, being careful that it doesn’t splash. Then place the pan back on the heat; this will prevent the caramel setting too quickly and allows it to turn slightly darker without the risk of overcooking.
  14. When the caramel has taken on a thick consistency, just before it solidifies, dip a balloon whisk or a couple of forks in the caramel, so that it is dripping off the end. Then over a sheet of baking parchment, flick the sugar backwards and forwards so it creates thin strands of sugar which, over time, build up to create a ribbon of sugar. If the sugar on the utensil is used up, dip again, although beware that it may have set; if so, return to the heat to loosen again. Alternatively you can do this over the serving plate itself if you feel brave enough, as I’ve done.
  15. Gather the spun sugar strands and using your hands, mould into the shape you want and place over the choux buns on the plate. Serve immediately.

 

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