Great British Bake Off – Patisserie and The Final

Great British Bake Off Victoria SpongeYes I know.   The Bake Off has finished and we all cried along with Nadiya when she won and gave that lovely speech.   Back at Craftguider Towers, I was really busy with my volunteering, followed by tonsillitis and a stinking cold and a back that went twang.  I’ve been waiting for a good time to do my soufflé for chocolate week, but there hasn’t been the time, so I’m summing up my patisserie efforts and the final traditional bake now before you all forget what a bake off is!Great British Bake Off eclairsI made choux pastry for the first time this year when I chose to make éclairs for my turn on the WI cake rota.   This stood me in good stead for my Religieuses that I made for the Great Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off.   Even though they didn’t win, they tasted delicious, but I still needed to perfect them.   Cue patisserie week on Bake Off and Religieuses à l’Ancienne.   Yes, those nuns were back, but this time they were Dalek shaped constructions.   Instead of the construction element, I spent my time perfecting my pastry, and I finally managed the crisp choux shells I needed.Great British Bake Off Victoria sponge sliceTo represent the traditional bake in the final, eldest Craftyguidelet wanted to make a gluten free Victoria sponge.   She roped in Mr CG to replace me, and used the Cake Angels recipe to make a nice sponge.Great British Bake Off Custard CreamsYoungest Craftyguidelet didn’t want to be left out and made some more gluten free custard creams from the Honeybuns cookbook.   My originals from biscuit week were mentioned in Homemaker Magazine in October as I used the cutters and stencil from a previous free gift.   I won’t let the fame go to my head!

I must make time for the soufflé so I can finally finish my bake along.   Ingredients bought so watch this space…

Have you been inspired by the Bake Off to create anything new?

Great British Bake Off – Victorian

Great British Bake Off Tennis Cake RecipeOK, I’m running a bit behind on my bake along.   Cast your minds back to Victorian week when the bakers were asked to make game pie, tennis cake and charlotte russe.   Selecting my bake for this week was quite easy.   Game pie was out as I’m a vegetarian, and there aren’t enough hours in my day to indulge myself to make a charlotte russe.Great British Bake Off Tennis Cake FruitI used Mary Berry’s recipe for tennis cake and started preparing the fruit.   Be warned.   You are in this for the long term!   It is a fairly simple recipe to follow, and I converted it to gluten free by substituting the flour and adding an extra egg.Great British Bake Off Tennis Cake FinishedThe resulting cake took slightly longer to bake than the 2 hours allotted in the recipe, even though I used a slightly larger tin than in the recipe.   This meant turning the oven up by 5 degrees for some of the cooking time and then turning the oven off after 2 hours and leaving the cake inside for an hour while I did the school run.   These hazards would add an extra challenge to the real life Bake Off!Great British Bake Off Tennis Cake SliceThe resulting cake was lovely and fruity and tasted delicious.   And I know I cheated by not doing the marzipan and icing.   It didn’t need it, and frankly I didn’t have the time to spend on it.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to think about my gravity defying nun…

Great British Bake Off – Pastry

Great British Bake Off Chicken and Mushroom vol au ventsI’m playing catch up a bit with my Great British Bake Off bake along.   Last week was pastry week and the bakers had frangipane tarts, flaounas from Cyprus and vol au vents to contend with.   As I was hosting a family buffet dinner, I decided that vol au vents would make a perfect finger food and found a Hairy Bikers recipe that looked tasty.Great British bake Off Pastry vol au ventsI used Mary Berry’s method for puff pastry  but struggled a bit with the forming of the cases.   I had to use a sharp knife to cut along the baked score lines to make the shells ready for filling.Great British Bake Off Smoked Haddock and Prawn vol au ventsI adapted the recipes a little bit making chicken and mushroom as well as this smoked haddock and prawn version.   They went down really well so a success.   Not beautiful and regular, but very tasty which is the most important thing.

And if you didn’t click the link for Mary Berry’s puff pastry method above…Great British Bake Off Puff Pastry…well she thinks that life is too short to make puff pastry too!


Great British Bake Off – Alternative Ingredients

Great British Bake Off Sugar Free Carrot Cake sliceI’m a bit behind with blogging my bake along.   There is so much going on at the moment with going back to school, starting all my Guiding and WI commitments  and having family over, it’s all getting a bit hectic!

When I heard that there was going to be a ‘Free From’ week, I got excited.   After all, I do so much gluten free cake baking, I should have something in my repertoire that would cover one of the challenges.   Er, no.

The gluten free element was Paul Hollywood’s gluten free pitta bread technical challenge.   I Googled a few recipes on some US websites and came up with a long list of specialist ingredients like psyllium husk powder, various rice flours, arrowroot powder etc. which I knew I’d have to pay a fortune for from my specialist supplier and I’d only use them once before they’d fester in the back of my cupboard until they went out of date.   Asking Mr CG, the gluten intolerant member of the family, if he actually liked pitta bread, he declined the opportunity so I was let off the hook.

With no ice cream maker to make a dairy free Arctic roll (yes, they may have said dairy-free ice cream roll, but we know what they really are), I went for the sugar free cake (gluten free of course).Great British Bake Off Sugar Free Carrot Cake

I chose a sugar free carrot cake recipe from the BBC Food website and adjusted it slightly to make it gluten free.   All I can say is, never again.  Great British Bake Off Sugar Free Carrot Cake Frosted

On the Bake Off, the bakers were all using sugar substitutes like honey or syrups and my recipe had none.   The topping was cream cheese with orange zest.   How was that ever going to taste like anything other than cheese on a cake?   Husband was bravely trying to eat it, youngest was picking out the raisins and eldest was turning her nose up completely.   The relief when I told everyone they could leave it was obvious.Great British Bake Off Lemon Meringue Roulade

The next day I served this.   A lemon meringue roulade full of sugar and cream (although gluten free!) which went down really well.Great British Bake Off lemon Meringue Roulade sliceLovely and soft, marshmallowy meringue, beautiful lemon flavour and indulgent cream.   We restrict enough ingredients in this house without cutting things out unnecessarily.   The sugar stays!

I’m catching up with pastry this weekend.   Think I’m attempting the vol au vent.   Eep!

Great British Bake Off – Desserts

Great British Bake Off Creme Brulee sliceDessert week and a tale of two halves for me and my Great British Bake Off bake along.

Having been out of the country last week, I didn’t have much time to research the recipes featured in the programme this week.   The Spanische Windtorte, a Spanish wind cake (?!!!) from Austria made with French and Swiss meringue – the United Nations of desserts – was the technical challenge, with a stacked cheesecake for the showstopper.

I made the signature challenge of creme brulee and used Mary Berry’s party size brulee recipe and halved it for our family.   I didn’t try adding fruit or alcohol, so having watched the programme, I think my job was easier (freeze your berries first advises 2011 Bake Off winner Jo Wheatley).Great British Bake Off Creme Brulee custardMy custard set well with the requisite wobble in the centre.   I initially adjusted my cooking time down as my brulee was smaller than Mary’s, but I ended up cooking for longer and even bumping up the temperature slightly to get the right consistency.   Stage one successfully completed and put to chill overnight in the fridge.Great British Bake Off Creme Brulee finishedMary’s recipe then said to grill with the demerara sugar topping for 20-25 minutes before chilling for between 5 and 10 hours.   Although she says to keep an eye on it, I thought to start checking around the 15 minute mark.   Eldest Craftyguidelet noticed the burning first after about 8 minutes.  Oops!   Despite some obvious burnt bits, it was still very nice, and the custard was smooth and creamy.   Definitely one to try again, perhaps with the control of a blow torch.

Next week is Alternative Ingredients week with sugar free cakes, gluten free pittas and dairy free ice cream rolls.   Gluten free baking is supposedly my home territory so the pressure is on!   Time to find a recipe.

Great British Bake Off – Bread

Great British Bake Off Baguette BreadUnfortunately I couldn’t watch the Bake Off live this week so I don’t know how the bakers got on with the challenges.   Looking at an episode write up, the 3 rounds were quick breads, baguettes and 3D bread sculptures.

I tend to try gluten free bakes so that Mr CG can help share the calorie load.   However I am yet to find a decent gluten free bread recipe that the gluten eating members of the family could enjoy, so on this occasion, the gluten stays.   I chose baguettes which was the technical challenge, and consulted Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book for his recipe.Great British Bake Off Baguette bread doughThe dough came together well.   It was quite wet but that’s what Paul said it should be like so I didn’t argue.   I proved it in a square container as suggested, but then it came time to turn it out and form the baguettes.   The dough was still very sticky and I ended up with 4 slug shapes rather than baguette shapes.   After proving, it was difficult to score the dough, but I managed to ooze the loaves onto baking trays.Great British Bake Off Baguette bread slicedThey may not be perfectly formed, but they were lovely and crusty and great with some butter.    Big thumbs up from the Craftyguidelets!

Great British Bake Off – Biscuits

Week 2 of Bake Off and it is biscuit week!   As I didn’t fancy biscotti, and arlettes seemed a bit out of my league, it was the biscuit selection in the biscuit box that were this week’s CG household challenge.   Time to dig out a couple of books off the shelf that I’ve neglected.   Great British Bake Off Biscuit Honeybuns bookI’ve had the Honeybuns book for a while.   It isn’t my gluten free recipe book of choice as some of the recipes need flour blends rather than basic off the shelf gluten free flour.   However, I managed to find a biscuit recipe using my store cupboard ingredients plus polenta and custard powder.Great British Bake Off Biscuit gluten free custard creams doughThe Craftyguidelets loved cutting out the bright yellow biscuit dough.Great British Bake Off Biscuit gluten free custard creamsThe resulting gluten free custard creams, sandwiched together with a custard flavoured butter cream were lovely, even for the 75% of the CG household who eat gluten.Great British Bake Off Biscuit Biscuiteers bookNext came the box.   I bought the Biscuiteers book some time ago but have never used it, however I thought that the recipes would help me with creating a decorated box.Great British Bake Off Biscuit boxThe book is set out differently to a normal recipe book.   There is a section on dough making over a few pages.   I made the basic biscuit dough, although there are lots of different flavours of dough in the book.   The next section is on the different royal icing consistencies and how to colour, pipe and embellish the icing.   The largest section is on the different themes of biscuit shapes e.g. Christmas, Bridal, Animals etc. with comprehensive icing instructions, and templates in the back of the book.Great British Bake Off Biscuit Box constructionI just made rectangles based on an ice cream tub.   The icing was my first attempt and a bit rushed as I had Craftyguidelet assistance and the time pressure of dinner to make – not something the Bake Off contestants have to deal with!Great British Bake Off Biscuit box detailThe box was roughly glued together with royal icing and held up with various objects until the icing dried.Great British Bake Off Biscuit finished boxAnd the final ‘Ta-dah!’.   The pink hearts were made from left over dough and iced by the Craftyguidelets.

I’ve learned new techniques, made recipes from two under-used books on my shelf and completed a real personal challenge.   It hardly matches the fantastic creations from the Bake Off, but I’m rather chuffed that the whole thing stayed up!

What baking challenges have you given yourself recently?

Great British Bake Off – Cakes

Great British Bake Off Cake Roulade sliceThe Great British Bake Off is back!   Episode one is over, the first star baker has been crowned, the innuendos have come thick and fast, The Berry has had her alcoholic fix, a new mudslide cake has been invented and the twelve are down to eleven.

I thought I’d try and do a mini bake-along to see if I could try some new things and step out of my baking comfort zone.   Having had the stress of a baking competition myself but the great experience of adding to my repertoire, I looked up the three bakes from this episode to choose something to attempt myself.

It was Mr CG’s birthday this week and he mentioned that he liked Black Forest gateau.   My favourite gluten free Cake Angels book had a Black Forest roulade recipe so it was a done deal.Great British Bake Off Cake ChocolateThe cake is baked in a swiss roll tin and doesn’t contain any flour.   The ingredients list looks like it would make a sweet, chocolate omelette, but the resulting sponge turned out well.   I dutifully followed the instructions and left it overnight covered in baking paper and a damp tea towel.Great British bake Off Cake ingredientsOnce constructed the next day, it needs to be left rolled and wrapped up in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.   Cue the Craftyguidelets to lick the spoons, scrape sponge off the paper and generally hoover up everything they can.Great British Bake Off Cake RouladeAnd this was the final result.   I didn’t use kirsch as it was going to be eaten by the Craftyguidelets, but it still tasted delicious.   We eat dairy so I used whipped double cream rather than the dairy-free equivalent in the book.   It was even nicer the following day when we finished it off.

Next week is biscuit week.   I’m not a fan of biscotti and I’m not sure I could do a gluten free arlette.   A biscuit box with 36 biscuits inside seems a bit of an excess for a family of four so I might scale that down and attempt my first ever gluten free biscuits.

Have you been inspired to bake something?