Lemon Curd

Ingredients
Makes about 1⅓ cups
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits

Step 1 – Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.
Step 2 – Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.
Note*Curd can be chilled up to 1 week.

Vegan birthday cake

Plant-based diet recipes - BBC Good Food
  • Prep:1 hr
  • Cook:30 mins
  • plus cooling and 1½ -2½ hrs chilling
  • More effort
  • Serves 16-20

Bake a plant-based version of a chocolate fudge cake for a birthday party. Everyone can enjoy it, including guests who have a dairy intolerance or egg allergies

Ingredients

  • 320ml sunflower oil , plus extra for the tins
  • 450ml soy , almond or coconut milk (the pouring variety, not a can)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 500g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 260g plain soy or coconut yogurt
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 160g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the vegan buttercream

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 400g vegan spread , at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 800g icing sugar , sifted
  • colourful sprinkles (make sure they are suitable for vegans)

Method

  • STEP 1– Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil three 20cm round cake tins and line the bases and sides with baking parchment (if you don’t have three tins, cook the batter in batches). Whisk the milk and vinegar together in a jug – the milk should curdle slightly. Set aside.
  • STEP 2– Whisk the sugar, oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl, then whisk in the yogurt, making sure to break down any sugar lumps. Pour in the soured milk and mix well.
  • STEP 3– Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt into a separate bowl and stir well to combine. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until you have a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-mix.
  • STEP 4– Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins, until well risen and springy, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. A few sticky crumbs are fine, but the mixture should not be wet.
  • STEP 5– Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 20 mins, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack  to cool completely. They will be delicate so be gentle (a cake lifter is helpful). The sponges will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.
  • STEP 6– For the vegan buttercream, melt the chocolate in the microwave a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool. Beat the spread and vanilla on high speed in a Cooks Professional Stand Mixer or a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar gradually, beating on slow to start with, then turning up the speed to max until the mixture is light and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and combine thoroughly. Chill the buttercream for at least 30 mins before using.
  • STEP 7– To assemble the cake, first use a sharp knife to trim the tops off the sponges to make them level. Put one of the sponges on a serving plate, cake stand or 20cm round cake drum (using a cake drum makes it easier to ice the cake neatly and to move it onto a stand or plate later). Spread over a layer of the buttercream, using a palette knife to get an even, neat finish. Top with the second sponge and spread over another layer of buttercream.
  • STEP 8– Top with the last sponge upside-down, so the bottom of the cake becomes the top (this will help to keep the icing neat and relatively crumb-free). Spread the sides of the cake with buttercream. Hold the top sponge steady with a palm if you need to stabilise the cake. Once you have the sides covered as neatly as you can, cover the top with a thin layer of buttercream. Use your palette knife to neaten the top and sides. If you have a side scraper, use it to sweep around the sides and top to sharpen the coating. (This is a crumb coat, trapping any crumbs to give you a neat, firm base.) Put the cake in the fridge to firm up and chill for 1-2 hrs.
  • STEP 9– To finish, cover the sides and top of the cake in the same manner, using most of the remaining buttercream. Press the sprinkles up against the bottom of the cake, about a quarter to a third of the way up. You can dress the top of the cake with a circle of sprinkles, or for a fancier finish, pipe little swirls around the top edge of the cake using any remaining buttercream scraped into a piping bag fitted with a large open star nozzle, then finish with more sprinkles.
  • STEP 10– Keep the cake in the fridge to stay firm, then remove 1 hr before serving. Will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to three days.

Giant pan cookie

Ingredients

  • 175g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. In a Cooks Professional 1000W stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, then beat until well combined.
  2. Sift over the flour, baking powder and salt, then beat again briefly to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon or spatula, then spoon the dough into a Cooks Professional Cast iron pan and press down gently to flatten and spread evenly to the edges. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden. Top with scoops of ice cream, then dig straight in with your spoons!

Baked Apples

Ingredients:
4 apples
25g butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
50g fresh breadcrumbs
40g mixed seeds
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice

Method
1.Core the apples and score the skin around the circumference with a sharp
knife to stop them from splitting.
2.Combine all the remaining ingredients and carefully stuff the apple cores,
scattering any remaining mix over the apples. Place them in the base of the
air fryer.
3.Select the bake function (180°C – 15 minutes), cook for the duration of the
program or they are slightly collapsed

Waffles with hot chocolate sauce, fried bananas and ice cream

Waffles with hot chocolate sauce, fried bananas and ice cream

Serves 4 

Total Time 10 to 30 minutes

Ingredients 

For the waffles 

  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 
  • 425ml/15fl oz full-fat milk 
  • 110g/4oz unsalted butter, melted 

For the chocolate sauce 

For the fried bananas 

Instructions 

1.For the waffles, preheat a Cooks Professional Luxury Rotary Waffle Maker to a medium setting and preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Place a large wire rack onto a baking tray and keep it warm. 

2.Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, milk and butter until well combined. 

3.Ladle some of the batter into each well of the waffle maker, close the lid and cook for five minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Repeat the process until the batter is used up. Keep the waffles warm on the baking tray in the oven. 

4.For the hot chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). 

5.In another pan, heat the sugar and 100ml/3½oz water, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil. 

6.Stir the sugar syrup into the chocolate until smooth and shiny. 

7.For the fried bananas, heat a frying pan until hot, then melt together the butter and sugar. 

8.Add the bananas and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden-brown all over. 

9.Place the waffles on a plate and top with chocolate sauce and serve the bananas and ice cream on the side. 

Bake Off 2019: Episode 10 Round Up

It’s finally here; the Bake Off final. We’ve seen many a talented baker come and go through the tent so far this year, leaving the absolute creme de la creme to reach the final. But who would beat them all to claim the Bake Off 2019 crown? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Chocolate cake

Steph wowed the judges with her Black Forest Gateau cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For their last ever signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make a decadent chocolate cake. Sounds simple? Perhaps that’s why the judges picked such a classic bake; there’s no room for error. They were looking for absolute perfection. The bakers only had two hours to create their masterpieces.

Prue’s top tip : Chocolate cake; it sounds so simple. But we don’t want a bog-standard chocolate cake. What we want is something which is really chocolatey, really decadent, and absolutely astonishingly good flavour. And our course it’s got to be decorated to be worthy of winning the final.

It was anybody’s guess as to who would win the final. Steph had previously won four star baker accolades, and Alice had won two of them. David was the underdog, with no star baker under his belt, but he was determined to succeed. Steph decided to play it safe with a black forest gateau cake; Alice opted for a classic pear and chocolate combination; David opted for a boozy cake with plenty of Armagnac. 

Paul’s top tip : I think using cocoa is a possibility but I’d like to see chocolate in there as well. The baking is integral in this, making sure it’s all beautiful on the outside as well as the in. It’s all about the timing, you’ve got to get it right, there is no room for error. Two hours is quite tight.

David used quite a lot of alcohol in his sponges, to the point where it overwhelmed other flavours. Alice absolutely massacred one of her sponges while she was trying to figure out whether it was cooked all the way through, which meant that the sponges didn’t sit properly when she put it all together. Paul wasn’t happy with the lack of actual chocolate, whereas Prue was more concerned about the presentation. Steph’s only criticism was that her cake was slightly overbaked. It was still hard to predict who was going to snatch the trophy at the end of the final.

Technical challenge: Stilton souffles

The final tricky technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul, in classic fashion, had picked another tricky technical challenge to test the bakers. The judges asked them to make six twice-baked Stilton souffles. These needed to hold their shape when taken out of the mould, and to be delicate and fluffy in texture. Each one had to be served with a thin lavosh cracker.

Paul’s top tip : I wanted something that was going to challenge them but also had a very classic feel to it. What we’re looking for are very proud, tall souffles with a gorgeous golden brown colour coming from the cream and parmesan. 

David seemed to be well in his comfort zone – apart from admitting that he’d once used a housemate’s souffle dish as a plant pot because he’d had no idea what it was. Alice was perplexed with the roux, admitting she’d never made one.

Paul’s top tip : What you’ve got to remember when you’re making a souffle is whisking your egg whites. If you don’t whisk them enough, it’s not gonna carry the air. But if you overbeat it, you’re going to have a similar problem. Be delicate with that mixture.

The nation watched on in horror as Steph made the mistake of using cold water in her bain-marie instead of hot. All in all it was a stressful technical, which was befitting of the final. It was tense watching the bakers put the finishing touches to their souffles. Steph came in third place, followed by Alice, and David managed to snatch the first place spot.

Showstopper challenge: Illusion picnic

David impressed with his illusion cheeseboard.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After a tense technical, it was once again all to play for in the last showstopper. For the bakers’ final challenge, they were asked to make an illusion picnic to serve to their family and friends. This needed to consist of sweet treats disguised as savoury bakes, and vice versa. They also needed to make a nougatine basket to present their picnic in. Their feast needed to contain elements made from cake, enriched bread, and biscuit.

Paul’s top tip : The final challenge is all about deception. They could make a bread roll look like a pork pie, they could make a cake look like a banana. But it’s the final showstopper. It’s got to taste AND look fantastic.

Alice was upset at the news that her parents’ flight had been cancelled, but thankfully they were able to make it for the Bake Off carnival. The bakers were going all out in this final challenge to impress. They created some absolutely stunning illusion bakes that would make even a professional baker proud! 

Alice created these deceptive ice cream buns.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off


Prue’s top tip: All the techniques and all the decorations that the bakers have dealt with over the last ten weeks and sort of summed up in this one showstopper, and what we want is really good bread, really good cake, really good biscuits.

Things didn’t go to plan to for Steph; her cake was dry, and she started worrying that her macarons weren’t good enough. Poor Steph got upset at the end of the challenge, as she felt she didn’t do her best. Alice had done a wonderful job with her illusion picnic, however Prue felt that her bread lacked flavour. David presented a phenomenal cheeseboard, and thoroughly impressed the judges. So much so that he was crowned the winner for the 2019 Great British Bake Off!

Next year…

So Bake Off has finished for another year. We’re certainly going to miss it! Did you predict the winner? What were your favourite bakes? Perhaps the budding bakers among you will think about applying for season 11 of Bake Off! Let us know what you thought of the final on our Facebook page.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 9 Round Up

It was the semi-final this week in the tent, which saw the return of patisserie week! The bakers were so close to the finishing line, and no one wanted to be the last to go home before the final. Who would succeed in reaching the coveted final, and who would have to hang up their apron and head home? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Domed tartlet

Rosie impressed with her domed tartlet.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the bakers’ first challenge this week they were asked to make eight elegant, beautifully decorated, domed tartlets. These needed to have a sweet pastry case and be exquisitely decorated.

Prue: These need to be absolutely identical. They need to be neat as pins. 

All of the bakers were intent on creating the perfect bake to impress the judges. We loved the fact that they had all worn ties in solidarity with Henry who had been sent home last week!

Paul: This challenge is all about timing, it’s about precision and it’s about the setting. We want that flakiness and butteriness that a good sweet pastry brings, and then you want to pack a punch with the top. 

At the end of the first challenge everyone seemed about even in terms of skill, however the judges were very critical of even the smallest things. They were looking for utter perfection this week.

Technical challenge: Gateau St Honore

Prue’s fienish patisserie technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Prue had unsurprisingly picked another obscure fiendish bake for the patisserie themed technical. The bakers were asked to make a gateau St Honore, which unlike a regular circular gateau is rectangular and comprised of two layers. The first layer was puff pastry, followed by choux buns dipped in sweet caramel and then filled with a silky creme chiboust. The bakers then needed to repeat that for the second layer and finish with piped Chantilly cream.

Prue: This is really difficult to make and not look a mess. Everything has to be right. The choux buns have to be the right size, the creams have to be the right texture, the pastry has to be thin and neatly trimmed. They have to do puff pastry, which is going to be quite difficult. 

Most of our attention was focused on Rosie panicking. While the other bakers cracked on with the challenge, she started fretting that her choux wasn’t thick enough, or that her creme pat wasn’t quite right, and she ended up re-making everything three times. We were sure that she would fall into last place with all the wasted time, however Rosie surprised not only us but also herself when she managed to beat everyone to first place! David was back in his ever-familiar second place, and Steph and Alice lagged behind in third and last place. Once again it was all to play for in the final challenge!

Showstopper challenge:  Sugar glass case 

Alice stunned the judges with her Save The Oceans cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To finish off the semi-final, the judges asked the bakers to make a sugar glass display case, which needed to be completely transparent. Inside the bakers needed to display an edible depiction of something that they held precious in their life; it had to contain at least one baked element and fit the theme of the week.

Prue: What we want is a real celebration of patisserie; showcasing it in a sugar glass cabinet emphasises that. The sugar glass cabinet has to be crystal clear. We want to see through it, just like through a pane of glass. Inside it has to be high class, really exquisite pastries. We want lots of different textures; jellies, mousses, ganache, maybe sponge cake, but it has to work together so that it feels as if it’s married, and that’s how it should be.

There were quite a few ambitious bakes to finish off this week – but it was the semi-final after all! Unfortunately for Rosie her bakes disappointed the judges with their lack of flavour. David almost came close to leaving the tent as the judges felt he’d only presented a cake, which didn’t fit with the patisserie theme. Alice had a much better final challenge, and managed to beat Steph to the last star baker crown!

Next week…

It’s the nail-biting final! We can’t believe it’s been ten weeks already. Who will rise above everyone else to be crowned the best baker of them all? Do you have a favourite baker? Who do you think is going to win? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page!


Bake Off 2019: Episode 8 Round Up

It was the return of the classic pastry week last night in the Bake Off tent. Pastry has felled many a competent baker; who would rise to meet the challenge, and who would be left with a soggy bottom? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Savoury tarte tatin

We loved Henry’s savoury tarte tatin offering!
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the first pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a tarte tatin. It could have any combination of flavours, however with a classic Bake Off twist it needed to be savoury, and it needed to use full or rough puff pastry. This needed to have good lamination, and be perfectly baked.

Paul’s top tip: What they’ve got to do is to create a savoury filling. They can use cheese, they can use onions, they can use mushrooms, they can use whatever they wish. But if they add too much liquid to the tarte tatin, it will soak down and really give it a soggy bottom.

All of the bakers opted to use rough puff pastry for their bakes. There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations from the bakers for this challenge, with everyone eager to earn their place in the semi-final next week.

Prue’s top tip: A classic tarte tatin is made with apples or pears. You put the pastry on the top of the frying pan and then you turn the whole thing out. The key to a perfect tarte tatin – savoury or sweet – is the caramelisation. You need that pie to look golden and delicious.

At the end of the first challenge, Henry and David had done really well. Poor Rosie and Alice fell victims to the infamous soggy bottom – something that bakers always strive to avoid – and Steph was somewhere in between with a good combination of flavours but too thin pastry.

Technical challenge: Moroccan-style pie

Another tricky technical from Paul.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul had picked another tricky technical for the bakers this week. The judges asked for the bakers to make a Moroccan pie using warka or brick pastry. Cue confused looks from most of the bakers – apart from David, who had heard of this one before. Perhaps this would be his chance to seize that elusive first place in the technical challenge!

Paul’s top tip: It’s a bit like making filo mince pies. You put layer on layer on layer, and build it up, then put your filling in it and fold the layers over the top. But it’s made with warka pastry, or brick pastry, and this is the difficult part. 

Most of the bakers were flummoxed by their most recent challenge – apart from David, who seemed confident that he could master the unusual pastry. Steph became upset when her pastry evaporated off the hot plate, but she managed to tame it in order to present her pie. Poor Henry and Rosie both fell victim to their pies falling apart once cooked.

Paul’s top tip: Warka pastry is quite a loose batter; it’s basically made on a hot plate. You have to put it on the brush; if it’s too thin, as they’re brushing it on it will just disintegrate. If it’s too thick, it’ll act like a pancake and go splodge, and they’re not going to be able to push it around. 

Surprisingly Henry came in last, followed by Steph. Alice came third, and somehow Rosie managed to secure second place for herself despite the fact her pie completely fell apart. Who knows? Maybe she sacrificed it to the pastry Gods. David came out on top – finally managing to secure that first place that has evaded him so far in the competition! As David said himself: “Finally got first place. It only took 8 tries.

Showstopper challenge: Vertical pie

Rosie created another artfully decorative bake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After the first two challenges, it was all to play for in the show stopper. It was impossible to predict who was in trouble! For the final pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a vertical pie. The judges wanted to see a large pie base with decoratively shaped pastry, arranged vertically supporting at least two further pies. Their fillings could be either savoury or sweet.

Paul’s top tip: What we mean by a vertical pie is we want a minimum of three pies stacked on top of each other. Whether it’s short crust or hot water crust, the choice of pastry is critical. The flavours have got to be there as well. Too much liquid in their filling can seep down. We want to be able to put the knife through and cut a wedge out and let it all hold its shape.

There were some ambitious bakes in the pastry pipeline! David sparked debate with his lidless pies, and earned a dubious look from Paul. All of the bakers went for some wonderful designs, varying between sweet and savoury flavour combinations. Rosie started stressing when her pies struggled to stack, declaring that she was the most likely to be sent home.

Prue’s top tip: The pastry needs to be thin enough to be delicious, and firm enough to hold the whole thing together.

Paul and Prue were very underwhelmed with the final challenge, as every single pie turned out to be really dry. Steph rose above them all once again to be crowned star baker, and unfortunately it was time for Henry to leave the Bake Off tent. It was tough to call after looking at all the bakes, however the judges felt that Henry was lagging behind the others in terms of skill.

Next week…

It’s the semi-final next week, so the bakers will have to pull out all the stops to be in with a chance of getting into the coveted final. We can’t wait to see all the delicious bakes they’ll come up with! Did the right person leave the tent this week? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Bake Off 2019: Episode 8 Round Up

It was the return of the classic pastry week last night in the Bake Off tent. Pastry has felled many a competent baker; who would rise to meet the challenge, and who would be left with a soggy bottom? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Savoury tarte tatin

We loved Henry’s savoury tarte tatin offering!
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the first pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a tarte tatin. It could have any combination of flavours, however with a classic Bake Off twist it needed to be savoury, and it needed to use full or rough puff pastry. This needed to have good lamination, and be perfectly baked.

Paul’s top tip: What they’ve got to do is to create a savoury filling. They can use cheese, they can use onions, they can use mushrooms, they can use whatever they wish. But if they add too much liquid to the tarte tatin, it will soak down and really give it a soggy bottom.

All of the bakers opted to use rough puff pastry for their bakes. There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations from the bakers for this challenge, with everyone eager to earn their place in the semi-final next week.

Prue’s top tip: A classic tarte tatin is made with apples or pears. You put the pastry on the top of the frying pan and then you turn the whole thing out. The key to a perfect tarte tatin – savoury or sweet – is the caramelisation. You need that pie to look golden and delicious.

At the end of the first challenge, Henry and David had done really well. Poor Rosie and Alice fell victims to the infamous soggy bottom – something that bakers always strive to avoid – and Steph was somewhere in between with a good combination of flavours but too thin pastry.

Technical challenge: Moroccan-style pie

Another tricky technical from Paul.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul had picked another tricky technical for the bakers this week. The judges asked for the bakers to make a Moroccan pie using warka or brick pastry. Cue confused looks from most of the bakers – apart from David, who had heard of this one before. Perhaps this would be his chance to seize that elusive first place in the technical challenge!

Paul’s top tip: It’s a bit like making filo mince pies. You put layer on layer on layer, and build it up, then put your filling in it and fold the layers over the top. But it’s made with warka pastry, or brick pastry, and this is the difficult part. 

Most of the bakers were flummoxed by their most recent challenge – apart from David, who seemed confident that he could master the unusual pastry. Steph became upset when her pastry evaporated off the hot plate, but she managed to tame it in order to present her pie. Poor Henry and Rosie both fell victim to their pies falling apart once cooked.

Paul’s top tip: Warka pastry is quite a loose batter; it’s basically made on a hot plate. You have to put it on the brush; if it’s too thin, as they’re brushing it on it will just disintegrate. If it’s too thick, it’ll act like a pancake and go splodge, and they’re not going to be able to push it around. 

Surprisingly Henry came in last, followed by Steph. Alice came third, and somehow Rosie managed to secure second place for herself despite the fact her pie completely fell apart. Who knows? Maybe she sacrificed it to the pastry Gods. David came out on top – finally managing to secure that first place that has evaded him so far in the competition! As David said himself: “Finally got first place. It only took 8 tries.

Showstopper challenge: Vertical pie

Rosie created another artfully decorative bake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After the first two challenges, it was all to play for in the show stopper. It was impossible to predict who was in trouble! For the final pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a vertical pie. The judges wanted to see a large pie base with decoratively shaped pastry, arranged vertically supporting at least two further pies. Their fillings could be either savoury or sweet.

Paul’s top tip: What we mean by a vertical pie is we want a minimum of three pies stacked on top of each other. Whether it’s short crust or hot water crust, the choice of pastry is critical. The flavours have got to be there as well. Too much liquid in their filling can seep down. We want to be able to put the knife through and cut a wedge out and let it all hold its shape.

There were some ambitious bakes in the pastry pipeline! David sparked debate with his lidless pies, and earned a dubious look from Paul. All of the bakers went for some wonderful designs, varying between sweet and savoury flavour combinations. Rosie started stressing when her pies struggled to stack, declaring that she was the most likely to be sent home.

Prue’s top tip: The pastry needs to be thin enough to be delicious, and firm enough to hold the whole thing together.

Paul and Prue were very underwhelmed with the final challenge, as every single pie turned out to be really dry. Steph rose above them all once again to be crowned star baker, and unfortunately it was time for Henry to leave the Bake Off tent. It was tough to call after looking at all the bakes, however the judges felt that Henry was lagging behind the others in terms of skill.

Next week…

It’s the semi-final next week, so the bakers will have to pull out all the stops to be in with a chance of getting into the coveted final. We can’t wait to see all the delicious bakes they’ll come up with! Did the right person leave the tent this week? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Chicken & Ham Pie

Packed with flavour, this chicken & ham pie is the perfect family comfort food to tuck into.

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 50g butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4 slices of ham, cut into thick strips
  • 500g ready-to-roll shortcrust pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Take a large pan and throw in the chicken, carrots, potatoes, celery and half the thyme. Add in the chicken stock and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Place a colander over a large bowl, and pour in the pan contents. Remove the thyme, then reserve 600ml of the cooking stock.
  3. Return the empty pan to the heat, and pop in the butter. Once melted, add the onions and cook until soft, then stir in the flour and a little stock at a time until you have a thick, smooth sauce. Pour in the milk and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining thyme, lemon juice and parsley, then season to taste.
  4. Mix together the chicken, vegetables and ham in an ovenproof dish. Pour over the sauce and leave to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / Gas mark 6.
  5. Roll out the pastry to around 5cm larger in circumference than the pie dish, and brush with the beaten egg. Lay gently on top of the pie mix, and press the edges to seal. Make a couple of small incisions in the centre to allow steam to escape, and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

Image source: mikafotostok via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 7 Round Up

It was another first in the Bake Off tent this week as we saw the bakers get stuck in with festival-themed bakes. There were some unusual challenges, but who would come out on top? And who would be the next baker to leave the tent? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Festival buns

Henry created these tempting pastry treats.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the first challenge, the bakers were asked to make 24 yeasted festival buns. These needed to be buns that would be found during festivals such as Eid or Christmas, and the bakers needed to add their own twist.

Paul’s top tip: The bakers have got to produce 24 festival buns. They can represent any country in the world, they can have pretty much anything in as long as it’s related to a festival. But they’ve got to get them beautifully light, airy, full of flavour and pack a punch.

There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations in the bakers’ buns. Michael opted to put a lot of fruit in his, which got a concerned look from Paul. Most bakers went for classic hot cross buns, but Henry went for a tempting pastry instead.

Prue’s top tip: The most obvious festival bun to us is the hot cross bun at Easter. These buns have to be yeasted, but they could have spice in there, or other flavours. What I’m after is uniform, beautifully flavoured, beautifully textured, absolutely delicious buns.

Steph and Henry both earned handshakes this week – would Henry do enough to topple Steph from a potentially fourth star baker in a row? On the opposite end of the baking scales, poor Alice didn’t seem to do well with her blueberry and lemon flavoured buns.

Technical challenge: Cassatelle

Paul picked an intriguing festival delicacy for the technical challenge.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul had chosen the technical challenge this week, and asked the bakers to make 12 Sicilian cassatelle. These are pastry crescents filled with a smooth and creamy ricotta, which is flavoured with chocolate and orange, and then fried until crispy and golden. They needed to be uniform in shape and size.

Paul’s top tip: These are basically Sicilian snacks that you’d have at a carnival. So inside these beautiful pastries we’ve got ricotta, chocolate, and orange in there as well. The hard bit is getting the pastry nice and thin and overall filling this properly with the ricotta. The other problem they’re going to have is obviously they’re going to fry it. If they don’t roll their pastry and it’s a bit thick, as soon as it hits the oil, chances are it’s going to burst open and the ricotta will pour out.

Both Michael and Alice had difficulty with their cassatelle bursting open. David once again missed out on the top spot in the technical, joking that he repels first place. He came second with Rosie beating everyone to come in first. Alice came last, followed by Michael in fifth place. After not doing as well as the others in the signature, this put them in danger of leaving the tent at the end of the weekend.

Show stopper challenge: Kek lapis Sarawak

The last baking challenge for our bakers was to make a ‘kek lapis Sarawak’. Confused? It’s a colourful cake which originates from the Sarawak region of Malaysia, and is often used in religious and cultural celebrations. 

The judges wanted to see the bakers’ take on it; the cakes needed to display even and precise layers, and it needed to be grilled. Certainly an unusual way to make a cake! Once the cake had been grilled, the bakers needed to cut and reassemble it into intricate patterns that run through the whole cake.

Prue’s top tip: We’ve asked the bakers to do a Sarawak style layer cake. This has many, many layers in different colours and flavours. They put a thin layer of batter in a cake tin, grill it for a few minutes, take it out, add more batter, grill it, and add however many layers they want. Then, cut it into any shapes they like, then they reassemble those pieces of cake so that they make a fantastic pattern. It’s very difficult to do.

All of the bakers struggled with this unusual way of cake making. David had to scrap some of his layers, as did Rosie when they burned. Rosie opted for a more complicated pattern which didn’t quite pay off. Alice managed to save herself with her beautiful cake, and Henry earned himself the star baker title. Unfortunately it was time for the loveable Michael to leave the Bake Off tent.

Next week…

It’s the return of pastry week for next week’s episode, which is also the quarter-final! Did the right person get sent home? Or do you think someone else should have left the Bake Off tent? Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 7 Round Up

It was another first in the Bake Off tent this week as we saw the bakers get stuck in with festival-themed bakes. There were some unusual challenges, but who would come out on top? And who would be the next baker to leave the tent? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Festival buns

Henry created these tempting pastry treats.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the first challenge, the bakers were asked to make 24 yeasted festival buns. These needed to be buns that would be found during festivals such as Eid or Christmas, and the bakers needed to add their own twist.

Paul’s top tip: The bakers have got to produce 24 festival buns. They can represent any country in the world, they can have pretty much anything in as long as it’s related to a festival. But they’ve got to get them beautifully light, airy, full of flavour and pack a punch.

There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations in the bakers’ buns. Michael opted to put a lot of fruit in his, which got a concerned look from Paul. Most bakers went for classic hot cross buns, but Henry went for a tempting pastry instead.

Prue’s top tip: The most obvious festival bun to us is the hot cross bun at Easter. These buns have to be yeasted, but they could have spice in there, or other flavours. What I’m after is uniform, beautifully flavoured, beautifully textured, absolutely delicious buns.

Steph and Henry both earned handshakes this week – would Henry do enough to topple Steph from a potentially fourth star baker in a row? On the opposite end of the baking scales, poor Alice didn’t seem to do well with her blueberry and lemon flavoured buns.

Technical challenge: Cassatelle

Paul picked an intriguing festival delicacy for the technical challenge.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul had chosen the technical challenge this week, and asked the bakers to make 12 Sicilian cassatelle. These are pastry crescents filled with a smooth and creamy ricotta, which is flavoured with chocolate and orange, and then fried until crispy and golden. They needed to be uniform in shape and size.

Paul’s top tip: These are basically Sicilian snacks that you’d have at a carnival. So inside these beautiful pastries we’ve got ricotta, chocolate, and orange in there as well. The hard bit is getting the pastry nice and thin and overall filling this properly with the ricotta. The other problem they’re going to have is obviously they’re going to fry it. If they don’t roll their pastry and it’s a bit thick, as soon as it hits the oil, chances are it’s going to burst open and the ricotta will pour out.

Both Michael and Alice had difficulty with their cassatelle bursting open. David once again missed out on the top spot in the technical, joking that he repels first place. He came second with Rosie beating everyone to come in first. Alice came last, followed by Michael in fifth place. After not doing as well as the others in the signature, this put them in danger of leaving the tent at the end of the weekend.

Show stopper challenge: Kek lapis Sarawak

The last baking challenge for our bakers was to make a ‘kek lapis Sarawak’. Confused? It’s a colourful cake which originates from the Sarawak region of Malaysia, and is often used in religious and cultural celebrations. 

The judges wanted to see the bakers’ take on it; the cakes needed to display even and precise layers, and it needed to be grilled. Certainly an unusual way to make a cake! Once the cake had been grilled, the bakers needed to cut and reassemble it into intricate patterns that run through the whole cake.

Prue’s top tip: We’ve asked the bakers to do a Sarawak style layer cake. This has many, many layers in different colours and flavours. They put a thin layer of batter in a cake tin, grill it for a few minutes, take it out, add more batter, grill it, and add however many layers they want. Then, cut it into any shapes they like, then they reassemble those pieces of cake so that they make a fantastic pattern. It’s very difficult to do.

All of the bakers struggled with this unusual way of cake making. David had to scrap some of his layers, as did Rosie when they burned. Rosie opted for a more complicated pattern which didn’t quite pay off. Alice managed to save herself with her beautiful cake, and Henry earned himself the star baker title. Unfortunately it was time for the loveable Michael to leave the Bake Off tent.

Next week…

It’s the return of pastry week for next week’s episode, which is also the quarter-final! Did the right person get sent home? Or do you think someone else should have left the Bake Off tent? Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 6 Round Up

After the dramatic double elimination last week, we wondered what Paul and Prue would have next in store for the bakers. This week was the classic dessert week! But how did the bakers get on? Let’s find out.

Signature challenge: Layered meringue cake

Rosie went for a bold combination of flavours.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

To start off dessert week, the bakers were asked to make a layered meringue cake. It needed to be a large cake with a minimum of three layers, sandwiched with a filling of their choice.

Paul’s top tip: We want the bakers to create a beautifully aesthetic meringue cake. You want definition, you want peaks, you want a bit of shape to your meringue, so when you look at it, you think, “Wow, I want to eat that.”

All the bakers went bold with their flavour combinations and choice of decoration.

Prue’s top tip: It seems quite simple, because they can all make meringue, they can all whip cream, they can all know about flavour. But the danger is because it’s simple, they will want to overcomplicate it.

Nearly all the bakers got a grilling from the judges, as they dove into the nuances of the meringue cakes. Henry was one of the only bakers to get mostly positive feedback.

Technical challenge: Verrines

Prue certainly tempted our tastebuds with these fruity verrines.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

Prue had picked another fiendish technical for the bakers. For their technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make perfectly layered verrines; a layered dessert in a glass. It needed to consist of a mango compote, a creamy coconut panna cotta, a fresh raspberry jelly, topped with a coconut and lime streusel and a short sable biscuit.

Prue’s top tip: They could go wrong with not remembering to chill everything between each layer, and if you don’t get the measurements right, you won’t get the layers right. 

All the bakers did really well considering how difficult the challenge they had been set was. At the end of the technical, Priya and Michael were in a precarious position as they came last and second to last. At the opposite end of the baking scales, David came in second, and Alice beat everyone to come out on top. It was all down to the show stopper challenge!

Show stopper challenge: Celebratory bombe dessert

Steph impressed once again.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

For their final challenge of the week, the judges asked the bakers to make a celebratory bombe dessert. It needed to be moulded into a semi-spherical or fully spherical shape; it needed to contain at least one baked element, and at least two other dessert elements such as ice cream or bavarois.

Paul’s top tip: It’s a little bit of luxury, a bombe. They’re probably going to build into a mould. The critical time is when they let it all out because you’re going to have so many different layers, so many different textures. They’ve all got to be set at the same time. If one layer collapses, the probability of all of them collapsing is very, very high.

It was nailbiting to watch all the bakers trying to put their bombes together, but they all managed to finish in time. There was a mixed response to the bakers’ creations, but at the end of the weekend it was time for Priya to leave the tent. Unsurprisingly, Steph succeeded in being crowned star baker for the third week in a row!

Next week…

It looks like next week the bakers will be diving into festive bakes with festival week! What did you think of their creative desserts? Did the right person leave the Bake Off tent? Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page!

Bake Off 2019: Episode 6 Round Up

After the dramatic double elimination last week, we wondered what Paul and Prue would have next in store for the bakers. This week was the classic dessert week! But how did the bakers get on? Let’s find out.

Signature challenge: Layered meringue cake

Rosie went for a bold combination of flavours.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

To start off dessert week, the bakers were asked to make a layered meringue cake. It needed to be a large cake with a minimum of three layers, sandwiched with a filling of their choice.

Paul’s top tip: We want the bakers to create a beautifully aesthetic meringue cake. You want definition, you want peaks, you want a bit of shape to your meringue, so when you look at it, you think, “Wow, I want to eat that.”

All the bakers went bold with their flavour combinations and choice of decoration.

Prue’s top tip: It seems quite simple, because they can all make meringue, they can all whip cream, they can all know about flavour. But the danger is because it’s simple, they will want to overcomplicate it.

Nearly all the bakers got a grilling from the judges, as they dove into the nuances of the meringue cakes. Henry was one of the only bakers to get mostly positive feedback.

Technical challenge: Verrines

Prue certainly tempted our tastebuds with these fruity verrines.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

Prue had picked another fiendish technical for the bakers. For their technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make perfectly layered verrines; a layered dessert in a glass. It needed to consist of a mango compote, a creamy coconut panna cotta, a fresh raspberry jelly, topped with a coconut and lime streusel and a short sable biscuit.

Prue’s top tip: They could go wrong with not remembering to chill everything between each layer, and if you don’t get the measurements right, you won’t get the layers right. 

All the bakers did really well considering how difficult the challenge they had been set was. At the end of the technical, Priya and Michael were in a precarious position as they came last and second to last. At the opposite end of the baking scales, David came in second, and Alice beat everyone to come out on top. It was all down to the show stopper challenge!

Show stopper challenge: Celebratory bombe dessert

Steph impressed once again.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off.

For their final challenge of the week, the judges asked the bakers to make a celebratory bombe dessert. It needed to be moulded into a semi-spherical or fully spherical shape; it needed to contain at least one baked element, and at least two other dessert elements such as ice cream or bavarois.

Paul’s top tip: It’s a little bit of luxury, a bombe. They’re probably going to build into a mould. The critical time is when they let it all out because you’re going to have so many different layers, so many different textures. They’ve all got to be set at the same time. If one layer collapses, the probability of all of them collapsing is very, very high.

It was nailbiting to watch all the bakers trying to put their bombes together, but they all managed to finish in time. There was a mixed response to the bakers’ creations, but at the end of the weekend it was time for Priya to leave the tent. Unsurprisingly, Steph succeeded in being crowned star baker for the third week in a row!

Next week…

It looks like next week the bakers will be diving into festive bakes with festival week! What did you think of their creative desserts? Did the right person leave the Bake Off tent? Let us know your thoughts over on our Facebook page!

Strawberry Pavlova Cake

Looking for a show-stopping dessert? Filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. this pavlova cake is guaranteed to put the wow-factor into your next dinner party!

Ingredients

  • 9 eggs, whites only
  • 600g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 400ml double cream
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g strawberries

Method

  1. Begin by heating your oven to 120°C / 100°C Fan / Gas Mark 1/2. Take three sheets of baking parchment and draw circle on each; one 20cm, one 16cm and one 12cm in circumference. Put the baking paper on baking sheets, with the penned-on side down.
  2. Pop your egg whites in a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks being to form. Slowly and gradually add in the sugar, continually whisking, until you have stiff, glossy peaks. Then whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto the baking parchment, filling each circle, and smooth the top over but leave the edges rough. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 100°C / 80°C / Gas Mark 1/4, and continue to bake for a further 90 minutes. Allow to cool in the oven, then remove from the parchment.
  4. Whip the cream together with the icing sugar and vanilla extract, then fold in the strawberries (reserving a few for decoration). Assemble by laying the largest meringue on a cake stand, then top with the cream and strawberry mix. Place the middle sized meringue on top, and repeat the layering process with the smallest sized meringue. Top with cream and the reserved strawberries.

Lead image: viennetta via Getty images.

Strawberry Pavlova Cake

Looking for a show-stopping dessert? Filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. this pavlova cake is guaranteed to put the wow-factor into your next dinner party!

Ingredients

  • 9 eggs, whites only
  • 600g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 400ml double cream
  • 75g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g strawberries

Method

  1. Begin by heating your oven to 120°C / 100°C Fan / Gas Mark 1/2. Take three sheets of baking parchment and draw circle on each; one 20cm, one 16cm and one 12cm in circumference. Put the baking paper on baking sheets, with the penned-on side down.
  2. Pop your egg whites in a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks being to form. Slowly and gradually add in the sugar, continually whisking, until you have stiff, glossy peaks. Then whisk in the cornflour and vinegar.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto the baking parchment, filling each circle, and smooth the top over but leave the edges rough. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 100°C / 80°C / Gas Mark 1/4, and continue to bake for a further 90 minutes. Allow to cool in the oven, then remove from the parchment.
  4. Whip the cream together with the icing sugar and vanilla extract, then fold in the strawberries (reserving a few for decoration). Assemble by laying the largest meringue on a cake stand, then top with the cream and strawberry mix. Place the middle sized meringue on top, and repeat the layering process with the smallest sized meringue. Top with cream and the reserved strawberries.

Lead image: viennetta via Getty images.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Is there anything better than salted caramel? No, we don’t think so either. This easy-to-make sauce is perfect drizzled over cake, ice cream, apple pie – anything really! Give it a go and see for yourself.

Ingredients

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes (you may want to add more depending on your personal preference for saltiness!)

Method

  1. Melt together the butter, sugars and syrup in saucepan and let everything simmer together for about 3 minutes, swirling the pan ocassionally.
  2. Pour in the cream along with half a teaspoon of salt flakes, and give everything a stir. Taste for salt levels (carefully, as it will be hot) and add more if required.
  3. Pour into a jar for serving and storing.

Image source: NJSirano via Getty images.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Is there anything better than salted caramel? No, we don’t think so either. This easy-to-make sauce is perfect drizzled over cake, ice cream, apple pie – anything really! Give it a go and see for yourself.

Ingredients

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes (you may want to add more depending on your personal preference for saltiness!)

Method

  1. Melt together the butter, sugars and syrup in saucepan and let everything simmer together for about 3 minutes, swirling the pan ocassionally.
  2. Pour in the cream along with half a teaspoon of salt flakes, and give everything a stir. Taste for salt levels (carefully, as it will be hot) and add more if required.
  3. Pour into a jar for serving and storing.

Image source: NJSirano via Getty images.

Mocha Profiteroles

An added kick of espresso brings a new level of indulgence to this classic dessert, which will soon become a new found favourite amongst coffee lovers!

Ingredients

For the profiteroles:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten

For the filling:

  • 4 tbsp custard powder
  • 6 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 600ml milk
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in hot water
  • 284ml pot of double cream
  • 100g icing sugar

For the sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50ml espresso
  • 2 tbsp kahlua

Method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add mix in a pinch of salt. Take a saucepan and add 200ml of cold water along with the butter and bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in the flour, and beat the mixture until it begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Tip onto a plate, and leave to cool.
  2. Heat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6. Return the paste to the saucepan and gradually add the eggs, beating continually. Once everything is well incorporated, spoon small balls of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and poke the undersides with a teaspoon. Turn them upside down, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  4. To make the filling, mix the custard powder and caster sugar with a splash of milk until you have a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk, then stir that into the paste. Pour the mixture into a pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick custard.
  5. Now stir in the coffee and leave to cool. Softly whip the cream, sifting in the icing sugar, the fold into the custard. Pipe into each choux profiterole.
  6. For the sauce, melt the chocolate and the butter with the espresso in a microwave-proof bowl, in 30 seconds bursts. Mix in the kahlua, then pour over the filled buns.

Image source: merc67 via Getty images.

Mocha Profiteroles

An added kick of espresso brings a new level of indulgence to this classic dessert, which will soon become a new found favourite amongst coffee lovers!

Ingredients

For the profiteroles:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 85g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten

For the filling:

  • 4 tbsp custard powder
  • 6 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 600ml milk
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder, dissolved in hot water
  • 284ml pot of double cream
  • 100g icing sugar

For the sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50ml espresso
  • 2 tbsp kahlua

Method

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl and add mix in a pinch of salt. Take a saucepan and add 200ml of cold water along with the butter and bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat and tip in the flour, and beat the mixture until it begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Tip onto a plate, and leave to cool.
  2. Heat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6. Return the paste to the saucepan and gradually add the eggs, beating continually. Once everything is well incorporated, spoon small balls of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and poke the undersides with a teaspoon. Turn them upside down, and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
  4. To make the filling, mix the custard powder and caster sugar with a splash of milk until you have a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk, then stir that into the paste. Pour the mixture into a pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick custard.
  5. Now stir in the coffee and leave to cool. Softly whip the cream, sifting in the icing sugar, the fold into the custard. Pipe into each choux profiterole.
  6. For the sauce, melt the chocolate and the butter with the espresso in a microwave-proof bowl, in 30 seconds bursts. Mix in the kahlua, then pour over the filled buns.

Image source: merc67 via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 5 Round Up

The bakers were back in the tent this week to celebrate everything about the 1920s. What delightful treats would we discover? Who would rise to the challenge, and who would sink like a sad soufflé? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Custard tart

David really impressed with his classic tarts.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To start off 1920s week, the bakers were asked to make four individual highly decorative custard pies. These needed to be open-topped and the custard had to set during baking.

Paul’s top tip: With shortcrust pastry you want it to melt in the mouth and that’s the critical thing. Overwork it, it makes it too rubbery. So the best thing to do with the pastry is just bring it together, chill it down. I want to see a beautifully-formed custard pie, silky smooth, but it must contain a theme of the 1920s.

Rosie had a bit of a disaster when she accidentally knocked one of her tarts to the floor, and her decorations didn’t quite go to plan. On the opposite end of the spectrum, David earned the second Paul Hollywood handshake for his vanilla custard tarts! It was an even playing field at the end of the first challenge, so the bakers got ready for the technical.

Technical challenge: Beignets soufflé with sabayon

Prue’s devilishly difficult technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Prue had chosen another fiendishly difficult technical for the bakers. They were asked to make 18 beignets soufflés. Confused? A beignet soufflé is a fried choux ball filled with a strawberry jam. It needed to be crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, uniform in size and shape and served with a sabayon.

Prue’s top tip: The most difficult thing is how you’re going to get it into perfect balls and drop it into the fat. I think the best way to do it is with two spoons. Try to create a quenelle, but get it round rather than quenelle shaped. Inside we expect to see lots of air and some soft, almost stretchy, dough.

Everyone seemed to struggle with this technical. Michael got emotional when he couldn’t get his pastry mixture to work properly, but managed to pull it together to present his beignets soufflés. At the end of the technical, Helena came out on top, and surprisingly David came in last place. It was all hinging on the last challenge as to who would have to leave the Bake Off tent.

Show stopper challenge: Prohibition-era inspired cocktail cake

Henry certainly impressed with his White Russian cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

The last challenge of the week for our bakers was to create a prohibition-era cocktail cake. Prohibition was the time when alcohol was banned in America, and was sold only by gangsters like Al Capone.

Paul’s top tip: We’ve given the bakers four hours to produce this Prohibition cake so you’ve got to think backwards. How long is it going to take to decorate the cake? Allow yourself at least an hour, maybe more. Your sponges should be in and out of the oven within the hour and that gives you plenty of time to produce real baking magic.

Paul and Prue wanted a 1920s-themed two-tier cake. The flavour needed to be based on the bakers’ favourite cocktails and the design needed to be a visual spectacle that was typical of the era.

Prue’s top tip: I want three things. I want a wonderful design, a delicious cake, and it will taste of a recognisable cocktail.

Even at the end of the last challenge, it was still hard to say for certain who would be going home this week. The judges decided it was the end of the road for two bakers, and in what we certainly thought was a shock elimination the delightful Helena and Michelle were chosen to go home. Steph was once again crowned star baker for the second week in a row!

Next week…

It’s dessert week next week! We can’t wait to see what tasty creations the remaining bakers will come up with. What did you think of 1920s week? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

Bake Off 2019: Episode 5 Round Up

The bakers were back in the tent this week to celebrate everything about the 1920s. What delightful treats would we discover? Who would rise to the challenge, and who would sink like a sad soufflé? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Custard tart

David really impressed with his classic tarts.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To start off 1920s week, the bakers were asked to make four individual highly decorative custard pies. These needed to be open-topped and the custard had to set during baking.

Paul’s top tip: With shortcrust pastry you want it to melt in the mouth and that’s the critical thing. Overwork it, it makes it too rubbery. So the best thing to do with the pastry is just bring it together, chill it down. I want to see a beautifully-formed custard pie, silky smooth, but it must contain a theme of the 1920s.

Rosie had a bit of a disaster when she accidentally knocked one of her tarts to the floor, and her decorations didn’t quite go to plan. On the opposite end of the spectrum, David earned the second Paul Hollywood handshake for his vanilla custard tarts! It was an even playing field at the end of the first challenge, so the bakers got ready for the technical.

Technical challenge: Beignets soufflé with sabayon

Prue’s devilishly difficult technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Prue had chosen another fiendishly difficult technical for the bakers. They were asked to make 18 beignets soufflés. Confused? A beignet soufflé is a fried choux ball filled with a strawberry jam. It needed to be crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, uniform in size and shape and served with a sabayon.

Prue’s top tip: The most difficult thing is how you’re going to get it into perfect balls and drop it into the fat. I think the best way to do it is with two spoons. Try to create a quenelle, but get it round rather than quenelle shaped. Inside we expect to see lots of air and some soft, almost stretchy, dough.

Everyone seemed to struggle with this technical. Michael got emotional when he couldn’t get his pastry mixture to work properly, but managed to pull it together to present his beignets soufflés. At the end of the technical, Helena came out on top, and surprisingly David came in last place. It was all hinging on the last challenge as to who would have to leave the Bake Off tent.

Show stopper challenge: Prohibition-era inspired cocktail cake

Henry certainly impressed with his White Russian cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

The last challenge of the week for our bakers was to create a prohibition-era cocktail cake. Prohibition was the time when alcohol was banned in America, and was sold only by gangsters like Al Capone.

Paul’s top tip: We’ve given the bakers four hours to produce this Prohibition cake so you’ve got to think backwards. How long is it going to take to decorate the cake? Allow yourself at least an hour, maybe more. Your sponges should be in and out of the oven within the hour and that gives you plenty of time to produce real baking magic.

Paul and Prue wanted a 1920s-themed two-tier cake. The flavour needed to be based on the bakers’ favourite cocktails and the design needed to be a visual spectacle that was typical of the era.

Prue’s top tip: I want three things. I want a wonderful design, a delicious cake, and it will taste of a recognisable cocktail.

Even at the end of the last challenge, it was still hard to say for certain who would be going home this week. The judges decided it was the end of the road for two bakers, and in what we certainly thought was a shock elimination the delightful Helena and Michelle were chosen to go home. Steph was once again crowned star baker for the second week in a row!

Next week…

It’s dessert week next week! We can’t wait to see what tasty creations the remaining bakers will come up with. What did you think of 1920s week? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

Espresso Martini Tiramisu

An added adult twist to a family favourite, this indulgent tiramisu is made using espresso, kahlua and vodka. A real show-stopper for any dinner party!

Ingredients

  • 400ml strong black coffee
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp vodka
  • 4 tbsp kahlua
  • 500g mascarpone
  • 600ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste
  • 2 tbsp espresso powder
  • 300g sponge fingers
  • 50g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Take a bowl and mix together the black coffee, brown sugar, vodka and 3 tbsp of the kahlua, then set to one side.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix up the mascarpone for a couple minutes, then beat in the double cream, icing sugar and vanilla paste until you have soft peaks. Tip out 1/3 of the cream into another bowl, then mix the coffee powder with the rest of the kahlua and stir in to make a coffee cream.
  3. Dip the sponge fingers into the vodka-coffee mixture, then lay a single layer in the base of a large, serving dish. Spoon over 1/2 of the plain cream, then grate over a good layer of the dark chocolate. Add another layer of coffee-vodka dipper fingers, then spoon over the coffee cream and grate another generous layer or chocolate on top. Add another layer of soaked fingers, top with the rest of the plain cream and finish with a final grating of chocolate.
  4. Chill until ready to serve (for at least 4 hours) and dust with cocoa powder to finish.

Image source: AnnaPustynnikova via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 4 Round Up

We’re three bakers down, and back for another week in the Bake Off tent. This week was another first for the Bake Off; dairy week! Who would rise as the cream of the crop, and who would curdle in the wake of the challenges? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Dairy cake

Steph’s stunning dairy cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

The bakers’ first challenge was to create a dairy cake. The cake mixture needed to contain a cultured dairy product, such as buttermilk or yoghurt. The aim was to create a moist sponge, though as Sandi reminded us they needed to be careful. Too much moisture and the cake would become prone to tearing. 

Paul’s top tip: This week we want them to celebrate dairy. More to the point we want to bring in a cultured milk; buttermilk, a yoghurt. Where they’ve got to be careful is by adding cultures they may over bake it; it might dry the cake out and it will almost be like cardboard.

Unfortunately Michael’s cake tore as he tried to remove it from the mould. He tried to rescue it, but it didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. Phil was the only other baker to be in trouble at the end of the first challenge, after Paul said his cake lacked flavour.

Technical challenge: 12 maids of honour

Prue’s tricky technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Prue set the bakers the unusual challenge of recreating a favourite treat of Henry VIII; 12 maids of honour. They needed to have a flaky rough puff pastry case, one layer of lemon curd, a silky smooth well-risen cheese curd filling and topped with a Tudor rose.

Prue’s top tip: I want to see the layers of pastry. And you don’t need to bake it blind or you’ll get a soggy bottom!

The technical proved to be disastrous for most of our bakers. Helena made the wrong pastry, Priya encountered several issues, but it all became apparent when the judges appeared and commented that none of them were up to the standard they had expected.

Steph came first with David in second, and Priya came last. At the end of the technical, it looked like Michael and Priya were in trouble.

Show stopper challenge: Mishti 

Helena created some tasty mishti.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After the first two challenges, there was a lot riding on the show stopper to rescue our bakers. Their final challenge was to create a stunning display of milk-based Indian sweets known as mishti. Their display needed to contain three different types of mishti, with twelve portions of each type. 

Paul’s top tip: This show stopper is going to be fascinating. The Indian sweets are all about vibrancy, it’s about colour. They are used at birthdays, weddings predominantly, and we want that vibrancy; it’s that sense of celebration.

A lot of the bakers went all out in an attempt to impress. Priya was determined to save herself after the disastrous technical challenge, as was Michael. Henry proved to be too ambitious, as his ice cream-based treat didn’t set in time. It was so close between who would be next to leave the Bake Off tent, with Paul and Prue hinting that two bakers could be up for the chop. 

Steph pipped David to the post to be crowned star baker, and in the end it was time for Phil to leave the tent, which came as a shock to us as well as him. Paul and Prue decided that his show stopper was pretty basic in comparison to everyone else’s, which meant that Michael and Priya were safe to bake another day!

Next week…

Next week, the bakers face a celebration of the roaring twenties. What interesting bakes will we see? Let us know what you thought of dairy week over on our Facebook page!

Blueberry Yoghurt Cake

Moist, light and studded with an abundance of fresh blueberries, this cake is perfect for any bake sale or simply as a midweek treat that all the family will love.

Ingredients

  • 175g Greek yoghurt
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 150g fresh blueberries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°c / 160°c Fan / Gas Mark 4, then grease and flour a loaf tin.
  2. Grab a stand mixer and mix together the yoghurt, eggs, vanilla extract and olive oil. Once combined, gradually add in the flour along with a pinch of salt, and mix until combined.
  3. Gently fold in the blueberries and transfer to your loaf tin.
  4. Bake for around 60 minutes, until golden on the top. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a clean skewer into the centre – if it comes out clean, then you’re good to go!

Lead image: ALLEKO via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 3 Round Up

The bakers were back in the tent this week for the iconic bread week! We can vividly remember Paul’s lion from series 6, but would anyone make anything to champion that doughy creation? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Tear and share

Michael impressed with his Keralan star bread.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To kick off the show, the bakers were asked to make a filled tear and share loaf. It could be sweet or savoury, but it needed to be made with yeasted bread dough and then shaped and baked as one loaf. 

Paul’s top tip: Tear and share isn’t as simple as you think. I think if the bakers keep it simple; simple flavours and a good simple base dough, they’ll do really well. Make it any more complicated and they’re going to struggle.

The bakers had 3 hours to get stuck in with their creations. There were loads of tempting flavours, varying from the more traditional cheesy varieties, to spicy chilly combinations, and even some sweet baklava and cinnamon roll inspired treats. At the end of the first challenge, things weren’t looking so good for Henry, as Paul hated the flavours he had used. Everyone else seemed to have done really well with their interesting flavours. Michael thoroughly impressed with his tear and share, and earned the first hand shake of the series!

Technical challenge: 8 white burger baps

Paul’s tasty technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After a fascinating signature, it was time to move on to the technical challenge. Paul and Prue asked the bakers to make 8 white burger baps, as well as 4 veggie burgers to go in half of them.

Paul’s top tip: You’ve got to develop the gluten properly because otherwise it will be very cake-like and not stringy. It needs a good kneading and then to be left to prove for a good half hour to forty-five minutes.

Henry saved himself after the signature by coming out on top in the technical, whereas Amelia was in danger by coming last. At the end of the technical, Paul and Prue thought Alice and Rosie were also in trouble.

Show stopper challenge: Artistically scored loaves

Rosie’s fantastic lion bread.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To finish, the bakers were asked to create a display of artistically scored decorative loaves. They needed to all make a scene, and had to include two impressively sized loaves, however their success would be dependant on the decoration and scoring.

Prue’s top tip: You want to cut just through the skin of the dough so that when it rises in the oven all the cracks will open up just a bit. You don’t want the heat to open it up like a wound.

Most of the bakers went for big, bold flavours, and gave themselves a lot to do. Just like last week’s show stopper biscuit challenge, Rosie once again created a beautiful selection of loaves that truly were an artistic triumph. Amelia failed to impress by playing it safe, and unfortunately Henry didn’t do all that well with his poor choice of fougasse bread, which as Paul warned him at the start of the challenge didn’t lend itself well to scoring. Luckily for Henry, Amelia was the baker chosen to go home at the end of bread week, and he lives to bake again.

Next week…

Next week is dairy week, which is a first for Bake Off! What challenges will our bakers face next? Let us know your thoughts about this week’s episode over on our Facebook page!

Cinnamon Roll Tear & Share

This classic American pastry is surprisingly easy to make, and make the perfect addition to any brunch.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, yolks only

For the filling:

  • 60g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 100g icing sugar

Method

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / Gas Mark 5. In a stand mixer bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks, butter and mix until well combined, then pour this into the flour mix (whilst beating) until a dough has formed.
  3. Mix together all filling ingredients, aside from the icing sugar, in a small bowl. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about the size of a piece of paper.
  4. Spread the filling out evenly on top of the dough, then roll up tightly and cut into 8 equal rolls and arrange in an oven dish so that they are tightly packed in together. Bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Mix the icing sugar with water until it reaches your desired consistency, and drizzle over the top.

Lead image: viennetta via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 2 Round Up

The baker’s dozen is over and we are left with 12 talented bakers, who this week, faced crunch time (pun fully intended) as they took on the perils of biscuit week.  

Signature Challenge: Decorated Chocolate Biscuit Bars 

The show kicked off with this week’s signature challenge; decorated chocolate biscuit bars, and we really got to see the contestants’ imaginations come in to play. Helena’s ‘Witches Fingers’ were a halloween-themed highlight, albeit not to the judges’ taste, but it was Michelle’s bakewell-themed biscuits that won over Paul and Prue, with Rosie and Alice following closely behind with their virgin mojito biscuit bars and honeycomb mallow peanut bars.  

And what can we say about poor Jamie who, having narrowly survived last week, doesn’t seem to be any stronger in the initial biscuit week challenge. 

Technical Challenge: Fig Rolls 

So, onto the technical challenge of fig rolls. A tricky one, and certainly not a biscuit you’d ever really think to make yourself at home, the bakers are asked to produce 12 of the biscuits, identical in shape and size. Noel forgets to mention this fact at the delivery of the challenge, and so Sandi swoops in to elaborate, reminding us that this initially unlikely duo are actually a match made in TV heaven.  

In true bake-off fashion, the instructions are minimal, and the usual flustering occurs. Helena manages to make 11 fig rolls instead of 12 but, true to her gothic personality, draws the missing one on in chalk with “RIP” written as if it was a biscuity crime scene. Jamie, for some reason, decides to egg-wash his biscuits. The pair are placed 12th and 11th respectively, with Alice coming out on top and securing her place as ‘one to watch’ this week. 

Show Stopper Challenge: 3D Biscuit Constructions 

Image source: The Great British Bake Off

3D biscuit constructions are the order of the day when it comes to the show-stopper challenge. The old Bake-Off adage of ‘style over substance’ is warned from the off, as the bakers are reminded that their showstoppers, no matter how impressive, should not compromise any loss of flavour or texture.  

Rosie sets herself the mammoth task of baking 212 biscuits for her chicken, while Henry sets to work building an organ – opening us up for some good old-fashioned Bake Off innuendos. Jamie proposes to make a guitar and you can hear a collective sigh/gasp from the entire nation as it falls apart when removed from the oven. Helena manages to save herself with an impressive spider hatching from an egg, complete with a spun-sugar web. 

Unsurprisingly, yet well deserved, Star Baker goes to Alice this week, who has stepped up to the plate and really shown us what she can do. Even more unsurprising, perhaps, is the inevitable demise of Jamie who is sent home. We’ll miss his cheeky, youthful personality, and we’re certain he’ll be off to fine tune those baking skills even further. 

Next week… 

It’s the week all the bakers dread, and all the viewers love – bread week! Bread guru, Paul Hollywood, will undoubtedly be on the prowl for the perfect loaf and judging from the trailers, there are some amazing creations for him to sample. Yes, we are jealous. Let us know your thoughts on last night’s episode over on our Facebook page! 

Bake Off 2019: Episode 1 Round Up

It’s that time of year! ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is back on our screens once again, tempting our tastebuds with all of the bakers’ delicacies. This year there are 13 bakers in the Bake Off tent all vying for the esteemed title of star baker. 

The first week’s challenge was cake; a classic baking feat, are you much of a baker if you can’t bake a decent cake? Let’s find out!

This year’s contestants.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Signature challenge: Fruit cake

The bakers got stuck in straight away with the first challenge – to create their signature fruit cake for the judges. This had to have a significant amount of fruit, and needed to be beautifully decorated. 

Paul’s top tip: The fruit cake for me is one of those basics of baking. Pick a great sponge base, fill it with fruit. But it’s about the consistency of the batter; too thin, all the fruit will drop down to the bottom, too thick, they all stay at the top. Get the balance right and it will bake beautifully.

A lot of the bakers went for classic family recipes. All of the bakes had fantastic favours which made our mouths water! Though we did want to take the knives away from Michael after he repeatedly injured himself when trying to chop up the fruit. Dan decided to change his recipe at the last minute to create a much bigger cake than he had practiced with – a very risky strategy, which unfortunately didn’t pay off.

Prue’s top tip: They’ve only got two and a half hours so they have to get those cakes into the oven, out of the oven, and get it cool because we want it decorated as well, and there’s a real danger that they’ll be putting icing onto a hot cake and it will just melt.

For their fruit cakes, there was a lot of inspiration from classic holiday recipes. Christmas, Easter, and even Halloween made a feature with Helena’s cake of choice. Poor Henry suffered a mishap when his royal icing house decoration crashed to the tabletop, but the flavours of his fruit cake rescued him.

At the end of the first challenge, Dan was in trouble after his fruit cake turned out to be raw. Most of the bakers did really well and impressed with their flavours. It was a fairly even playing field, which was soon to be put to the real test by the first technical challenge…

Technical challenge: Angel cake slices

A little slice of heaven.
Image source:
The Great British Bake Off

For their first technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make six identical angel cake slices, each made of three layers of genoise sponge, and each cake sandwiched between layers of Italian meringue buttercream. The angel cake slices needed to be topped with icing, which needed to be feathered.

Prue’s top tip: It sounds simple enough, but the point is it’s a genoise sponge and it’s really easy for that mixture to become flat. If they overmix, it’s not just volume they lose, the texture becomes rubbery. It has to be light!

The bakers were all given the same ingredients along with Prue’s 15 stage recipe. Some of them got into difficulties straight away; Jamie had lost all the air from his sponges, which is never a good start. Dan was hoping for this technical to save him after the disastrous first challenge.

Jamie came last, but we did love Jamie’s polite “Thank you,” to Prue’s honest “It’s just awful.” Henry came out on top in the technical challenge, which is a wonderful achievement to have under his belt so early on in the series.

Show stopper challenge: Birthday cake you dreamt of as a child

Michelle’s fantastic Ty Tylweth Teg.
Image source:
The Great British Bake Off

The last challenge of the weekend was to create the ultimate birthday cake that they dreamt of as a child. The bakers were given free reign over flavours and decorations, with the only requirement that it be a spectacular show stopper.

Paul’s top tip: Time will be their enemy. It’s about colour, it’s about detail, it’s about wow. They’ve got to show us what they can do.

There were fairy themes, pirate themes, an even a schnauzer made an appearance. Though Jamie wasn’t off to great start when he forgot to add his eggs…

Prue’s top tip: I’m rather hoping for some originality. Children dream a lot; I want them to try to remember what they dreamt about. But as always, what matters far more than anything is the quality of the cake. The flavours should be real and punchy it has to be delicious.

Bakers had to make plenty of cake to make those show stopper sponges, as well as think about how to support their ambitious bakes. Once their bakes were in the oven it was time to focus on all those decorations!

All of the bakers created some pretty impressive bakes which made our mouths water. Michelle’s Ty Tylwyth Teg (that’s ‘fairy house’ in Welsh) shone out from the crowd – a carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting which prompted Prue to ask for the recipe, and earned her the star baker apron for the first week. Da iawn, Michelle!

At the end of the weekend, it was down to Dan or Jamie as to who was going to be first to leave the Bake Off tent. It’s always sad to say goodbye to one of the bakers, especially in the first week when we’d still like to get to know them all better, but unfortunately the first Bake Off casualty was Dan.

Next week…

It’s biscuit week next week! There looks to be another variety of challenges for our bakers to face, and we can’t wait to see who’ll come out on top. Do you have a favourite baker yet? Do you think the right person went? We want to hear what you think over on our Facebook page!

Bake Off 2019: Episode 1 Round Up

It’s that time of year! ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is back on our screens once again, tempting our tastebuds with all of the bakers’ delicacies. This year there are 13 bakers in the Bake Off tent all vying for the esteemed title of star baker. 

The first week’s challenge was cake; a classic baking feat, are you much of a baker if you can’t bake a decent cake? Let’s find out!

This year’s contestants.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Signature challenge: Fruit cake

The bakers got stuck in straight away with the first challenge – to create their signature fruit cake for the judges. This had to have a significant amount of fruit, and needed to be beautifully decorated. 

Paul’s top tip: The fruit cake for me is one of those basics of baking. Pick a great sponge base, fill it with fruit. But it’s about the consistency of the batter; too thin, all the fruit will drop down to the bottom, too thick, they all stay at the top. Get the balance right and it will bake beautifully.

A lot of the bakers went for classic family recipes. All of the bakes had fantastic favours which made our mouths water! Though we did want to take the knives away from Michael after he repeatedly injured himself when trying to chop up the fruit. Dan decided to change his recipe at the last minute to create a much bigger cake than he had practiced with – a very risky strategy, which unfortunately didn’t pay off.

Prue’s top tip: They’ve only got two and a half hours so they have to get those cakes into the oven, out of the oven, and get it cool because we want it decorated as well, and there’s a real danger that they’ll be putting icing onto a hot cake and it will just melt.

For their fruit cakes, there was a lot of inspiration from classic holiday recipes. Christmas, Easter, and even Halloween made a feature with Helena’s cake of choice. Poor Henry suffered a mishap when his royal icing house decoration crashed to the tabletop, but the flavours of his fruit cake rescued him.

At the end of the first challenge, Dan was in trouble after his fruit cake turned out to be raw. Most of the bakers did really well and impressed with their flavours. It was a fairly even playing field, which was soon to be put to the real test by the first technical challenge…

Technical challenge: Angel cake slices

A little slice of heaven.
Image source:
The Great British Bake Off

For their first technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make six identical angel cake slices, each made of three layers of genoise sponge, and each cake sandwiched between layers of Italian meringue buttercream. The angel cake slices needed to be topped with icing, which needed to be feathered.

Prue’s top tip: It sounds simple enough, but the point is it’s a genoise sponge and it’s really easy for that mixture to become flat. If they overmix, it’s not just volume they lose, the texture becomes rubbery. It has to be light!

The bakers were all given the same ingredients along with Prue’s 15 stage recipe. Some of them got into difficulties straight away; Jamie had lost all the air from his sponges, which is never a good start. Dan was hoping for this technical to save him after the disastrous first challenge.

Jamie came last, but we did love Jamie’s polite “Thank you,” to Prue’s honest “It’s just awful.” Henry came out on top in the technical challenge, which is a wonderful achievement to have under his belt so early on in the series.

Show stopper challenge: Birthday cake you dreamt of as a child

Michelle’s fantastic Ty Tylweth Teg.
Image source:
The Great British Bake Off

The last challenge of the weekend was to create the ultimate birthday cake that they dreamt of as a child. The bakers were given free reign over flavours and decorations, with the only requirement that it be a spectacular show stopper.

Paul’s top tip: Time will be their enemy. It’s about colour, it’s about detail, it’s about wow. They’ve got to show us what they can do.

There were fairy themes, pirate themes, an even a schnauzer made an appearance. Though Jamie wasn’t off to great start when he forgot to add his eggs…

Prue’s top tip: I’m rather hoping for some originality. Children dream a lot; I want them to try to remember what they dreamt about. But as always, what matters far more than anything is the quality of the cake. The flavours should be real and punchy it has to be delicious.

Bakers had to make plenty of cake to make those show stopper sponges, as well as think about how to support their ambitious bakes. Once their bakes were in the oven it was time to focus on all those decorations!

All of the bakers created some pretty impressive bakes which made our mouths water. Michelle’s Ty Tylwyth Teg (that’s ‘fairy house’ in Welsh) shone out from the crowd – a carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting which prompted Prue to ask for the recipe, and earned her the star baker apron for the first week. Da iawn, Michelle!

At the end of the weekend, it was down to Dan or Jamie as to who was going to be first to leave the Bake Off tent. It’s always sad to say goodbye to one of the bakers, especially in the first week when we’d still like to get to know them all better, but unfortunately the first Bake Off casualty was Dan.

Next week…

It’s biscuit week next week! There looks to be another variety of challenges for our bakers to face, and we can’t wait to see who’ll come out on top. Do you have a favourite baker yet? Do you think the right person went? We want to hear what you think over on our Facebook page!

Get Bake Off ready

Another year has passed, and it’s once again time for us to visit ‘The Great British Bake Off’ tent. The baking programme has become essential British viewing over the years, and it’s so easy to get inspired to make your own kitchen creations! If you want to know how to get Bake Off ready so you can cook alongside the baking stars, we’ve got you covered.

Baking essentials

Cooks Professional stand mixer
A Cooks Professional stand mixer will be essential.
Source: Cooks Professional.

You won’t be making much progress without getting the bare baking essentials ready! The equipment you need will be specific to the recipe you choose; if you’re making gooey chocolate brownies, you’re not going to need a rolling pin. Take a look at what kitchen concoctions you want to try and stock up on what you need.

A good place to start is a stand mixer – this will be a welcome addition to your kitchen if you regularly make cakes, as well as a variety of other treats. Cake tins, mixing bowls, and a set of measuring scales are a worthwhile investment too. Those will suit a variety of sweet and savoury creations, no matter what you choose to make.

These are just the basics, of course – if you want to do more intricate stuff like piping, you’ll need to stock up on piping bags and an assortment of piping nozzles to make your buttercream stand out from the crowd. For things like game pies that we often see in Bake Off challenges, you’ll likely need a special tin so as to keep your pie in check in the oven. 

Foodie inspiration

Woman looking at a recipe book surrounded by ingredients
Looking at recipes will be a good place to get started.
Source: Motortion via Getty images.

The best way to get inspired is to take a look at recipes to tempt your tastebuds. If you want a good place to start we have a variety of tasty recipes right here on our blog. Recipe books from your favourite chefs is another great place to start, or even food bloggers can give you an idea of where to get started.

Remember that baking is supposed to be fun, so pick something that gets you excited to start cooking! Things like croissants are more complicated, so certainly aren’t for the less confident – it can take days to prepare the pastry for that particular delicacy. If you consider yourself more of a novice, choose something fun and simple to get you started. Why not give our Eton mess a try? Or for the more adventurous, this gin and tonic cake is the perfect recipe to start with.

If you’re up for more of a challenge, why not try creating your own recipes? Have a think about what flavours will combine well, and get experimenting. Be wary of more potent ingredients like lavender or liquorice – the strong flavour can often make them difficult to use. Start with a basic Victoria sponge or crumble recipe, and then add your own twist.

Practice, practice, practice

Woman piping onto a tart.
Practising your piping is essential for perfection.
Source: Unsplash.

The best way to make sure your baking excels it to keep practising. If you get the hang of the basics, you’ll be well on your way to Bake Off ready. Don’t be put off by burning your caramel, or your souffle sinking – it’s better to try, try, and try again until you whip those baking skills into shape.

We’re sure your family and friends will be all too willing to taste your bakes, so you can get the feedback you need to improve. That pavlova didn’t turn out as you expected? Bake another one! The flavours are spot on, but that piping needs extra work? Keep practising with those piping bags until everyone marvels at your buttercream prowess. You can practice by using a glass or a mirror to pipe onto. Not only will these let you view your beautiful designs, but they’re easy to wipe clean afterwards.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t get it right the first time around. Paul Hollywood wouldn’t be a bread extraordinaire if there weren’t a few duff loaves along the way! You can learn from your mistakes, and find yourself a better baker at the end of them.

Get baking!

Leah's triple chocolate brownies
You can’t go wrong with Leah’s brownies!
Source: Cooks Professional.

Now that you’ve got all the knowledge you need to get started, it’s time to go and get baking! The best way to get Bake Off ready is to keep practising and going over those essential skills. If you keep up the hard work, you’ll be a star baker in no time at all. 

To get you in the habit of baking regularly, why not enter our Bake of the Month competition over on Facebook? We encourage everyone to share their kitchen creations with us at the end of each month, and you could even win yourself a lovely baking prize too!