The Great British Bake Off is here again after a long wait with series six, finally.... I've decided to take part this year and bake along with the contestants from the comfort of my own home. I've applied to take part in the show last year but unfortunately didn't qualify. Oh well, never mind. I've decided to join the bake off in a different way, probably less stressful and test my skills. So, this is how it's going to work: I bake up a treat, post the picture and share with you the findings on this blog. Whether it is a disaster or delight I will be happy to share it with you guys and at the same time learn something new along the way.
In episode one the bakers had to present cakes: British Walnut Cake (technical challenge and Mary Berry's recipe), Madeira Cake (signature bake-bakers favourite/own recipe) as well as Black Forrest Gateau (showstopper).
I started with a walnut cake and here is the recipe:
Frosted Walnut Layer Cake
For the sponges:
225g self-raising flour,
1 tsp baking powder
100g walnuts, finely chopped
225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
For the caramelised walnuts:
2 tbs water
100g caster sugar
10 walnut halves
For the buttercream:
125g butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
250g icing sugar
For the boiled icing:
2 large egg whites
350g caster sugar
4 tbsp water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/Gas 3. Grease 3 x 20cm sandwich tins and line the base of each tin with baking parchment. Mix the flour, baking powder and walnuts together in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs a little at a time.
3. Fold in the flour mixture using a large metal spoon. Divide the mixture equally between the 3 tins and level the surfaces.
4. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the cakes are golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
5. For the caramelised walnuts, tip the sugar into a pan and heat over a low heat until the sugar is beginning to melt. Increase the heat and cook the caramel to a dark golden colour. Remove from the heat, add the walnut halves and swirl to coat in the caramel. Transfer the walnut halves onto a silicon sheet and leave to set.
6. For the buttercream, put the butter, vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon of the milk and half the icing sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining icing sugar and pour in the rest of the milk if needed, to make the buttercream the right consistency.
7. Spread half of the buttercream over one of the sponges and place the second sponge on top. Spread the remaining buttercream over the second sponge and top with the third sponge.
8. For the boiled icing, measure the egg whites, sugar, water and cream of tartar into a bowl set over a pan of hot water and whisk for 8-10 minutes until thick.
9. Cover the top and sides of the cake, swirling the icing to form softened peaks. Work quickly as the icing sets rapidly. Leave to set in a cool place, but not in the fridge. Decorate with the caramelised walnut.
The recipe i's taken from The Great British Bake Off website, here is the link: http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/mary-berrys-frosted-walnut-layer-cake-technical-challenge/
The recipe is very straight forward and I was quite confident before I got baking...too confident.
I started with setting up the oven and lining my sandwich tins. Baking walnut cake was easy enough as I bake almost on a daily basis, easy peas!
Then, I went to make buttercream and started on caramel. Buttercream was nice and fluffy, however the caramel was another story...
Apparently, you shouldn't stir the caramel while it's cooking but you must keep an eye on it as it is very easy to burn. Of course, I let my caramel from sight for couple of seconds and it burned. It was bitter in taste and a bit darker than it supposed to. I still managed to dip my walnut halves into it so it looked nice in the picture-shhh it's a secret. First lesson learned-never leave the caramel out of your sight! Like...ever!
Next thing to prepare was my boiled icing which is actually very similar to Swiss meringue buttercream that I made a couple of times before. I was mixing it for about eight minutes but then it started sticking to the bottom of the bowl so I've decided to stop in case I over do it. It looked perfect, however it was grainy to taste...grrrr! I would love to know what happened here-should I have mixed the icing for longer so the sugar dissolves or maybe next time use icing sugar instead?
Perfect! First the caramel and now this! But as a true sport I didn't give up hope and obviously had to show something to the 'judges' (read-my husband and kids).
During the cake assembly I've managed to destroy one of the walnut cakes, so I had only two left...gave up on that point and was really disappointed with myself. However, I've decided to work with what I had because hey!, at the end of the day it's only a cake, right? I have to admit that the cake looked really nice at the end and didn't taste that bad. The cake itself was nice and moist, buttercream was delicious and fluffy. My kids didn't complain about the grainy boiled icing and ate it all saying it was delicious...obviously... We left the walnuts on the side...
All in all it was a delicious disaster!