Sunday, October 12, 2014

Great British Bake Off Technical Bake (5.10)

Apologies for the sheer volume of photos in this post, I finally dug out a proper flash (one that arcs) and the light is so good with it that I got a little carried away.

My second apology is that there are no scones. I'll probably be carted away as "not British" or something, but I just don't like them. I find them claggy and unpleasant. Since these two recipes provided enough cake and patisserie to feed a small army, I didn't feel it was necessary to make scones as well!

The Victoria sponges were a doddle, and, for once, I found the horizontal slicing easy (it helped that the cakes had a decent depth.) As strawberries are out of season, I used a mixture of homemade apple butter and homemade wild plum and apple jelly to give a jam with a good texture and colour.

The tartes au citron were less simple - the pastry shrunk terribly (I knew I should have chilled the pastry in the freezer, but live and learn) so there was not quite enough room for the filling, which in turn lead to custard spillage.

And we all know that custard spillage leads to soggy bottoms.

However, in the tarts without spillage, I had wonderful crisp bases, so maybe I would have avoided Mary's stares?

I almost certainly would have run out of time, however, but I'm not sure if that's because my cakes and tarts were larger than those on the show (I'm afraid my dedication to the technical bake cause did not extend to buying a whole new range of bakeware, so I had to make do and mend.)

I also use black eye beans as pastry weights. These have been my weights since I was a student, and seeing as the bag cost me all of 59p and contains so many more beans than commercially available beans, I'm pretty happy. I did note they used rice on Bake Off!

The flavour of this tart was delicious - I had a little leftover filling, so made myself a lemon posset (silly name for a desset, in my opinion, given what else a posset is.)

Point to note - allow the chocolate to cool and thicken slightly before piping, otherwise you too will pipe, "colon" on top of your tarts.)

I'm a little sad that the technical bakes are now over, it has been a wonderful project to follow through, and I have learnt so many new baking skills. Next I'm thinking of baking through Laduree's book, "Sucre" as a homemade patisserie course. Anyone want to join me?

Personally, I think that they missed a trick with this challenge - they should have taken away their kitchen aids and food processors in order to truly make them go "back to basics," just putting time pressure on them, I don't think, makes for good baking - most of us bake to relax, not to get more hyped up, but, as I'm sure I've said before, I am not made for Bake Off!

Recipes (From BBC Food)
For the pastry
175g/6oz plain flour
100g/3½oz cold butter, cut into small cubes
25g/1oz icing sugar
1 free-range egg yolk

For the filling
4 large free-range eggs
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
150g/5½oz caster sugar
3 lemons, juice and zest
icing sugar, for dusting

For the decoration
100g/3½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), chopped

Preparation method
1. For the pastry, place the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor (I used a good old fashioned pastry blender). Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of cold water. Pulse again until the mixture sticks together in clumps then tip onto a work surface and gather it into a ball with your hands. Knead the pastry just two or three times to make it into a smooth ball. Wrap it in cling film and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
2. Grease 12 x 7.5cm/3in fluted tart tins.
3. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of 5mm/¼in. Cut out circles with a 10cm/4in round cutter and use to line the tins, re-rolling the pastry as necessary. Place the tart cases in the fridge to chill (when I make these again, I will freeze the shells to reduce shrinkage).
4. Preheat the oven to 200C(180C fan)/400F/Gas 6.
5. Cover the base of the tartlets with heat-safe cling film, baking parchment or foil and fill with a few baking beans. Bake blind for seven minutes then remove the cling film and beans (I might also prick the pastry and bake blind for a couple more minutes to prevent puffing up in the next step).
6. Return the pastry cases to the oven for another 4-5 minutes or until they are light golden-brown and completely dry. Set aside to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C(150 fan)/325F/Gas 3.
7. For the filling, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and whisk again until they are all well-combined. Pour the filling mixture into a jug, then into the cooled baked pastry cases. To prevent it spilling as they go into the oven, pour in most of the filling so it almost fills the tarts, carefully sit the baking sheet and tarts on the oven shelf, then top up with the rest of the filling to completely fill the tarts.
8. Bake for about seven minutes, or until just set but with a slight wobble in the centre (DO NOT overcook - far better to remove when more wobbly as the custard continues to cook, and if left for longer will crack, curdle or split).
9. Leave to cool slightly then carefully ease the tartlets from their tins an place on a wire rack to cool completely.
10. For the decoration, melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the surface of the water.) (Allow chocolate to cool slightly and thicken a little) Spoon the melted chocolate into a small disposable piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe the word ‘citron’ or a decoration of your choice on top of the tarts.

For the jam
500g/1lb 2oz strawberries, hulled and halved
500g/1lb 2oz jam sugar

For the sponge
175g/6oz unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
175g/6oz caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g/6oz self-raising flour
300ml/10½fl oz double cream
icing sugar, for dusting

Preparation method
1. For the jam, place the strawberries in a large saucepan and crush with a potato masher.
2. Add the jam sugar and heat gently, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves.
3. Keep stirring, increasing the heat, bringing it to a full rolling boil, one that bubbles vigorously, rises in the pan and cannot be stirred down.
4. Start timing and boil for four minutes only. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. (Since strawberries are not in season, I used homemade apple butter and wild plum and apple jelly mixed together to get a good colour and texture)
5. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 190C(170C fan)/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease the tins with butter.
6. To make the cakes, cream the butter and caster sugar together until the mixture is pale and light. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
7. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in until the mixture is glossy and smooth.
8. Divide the mixture between the mini sandwich tin cups and level with a teaspoon.
9. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden-brown and springy to the touch.
10. Leave the cakes to cool in the tin for two minutes and then ease onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.
11. Whip the cream to soft peaks and spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle.
12. Cut each cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.
13. Pipe one dot of the cream in the middle of each cake base and the rest in dots around the edges. Drizzle the jam over the cream, place the sponge tops on and lightly sift icing sugar over the cakes.

For the final time, I am entering this into Supergolden Bakes #GBBO Bake Along and Mummy Mishaps Great Bloggers Bake Off. I think I will miss this link up most of all - it's been such fun to be competitive in a tame way, and to see what others have baked.


talesofpiglingbland said...

Wow look at the piping on the cake and the neatness of the tart. Call me impressed. I agree on the scone front.

Beckie said...

The neatness of the tart is called "artful photography" and entails not photographing the non-near parts. I was proud of the piping - I used a disposable piping bag for the first time and quite liked it - should have used it for the chocolate really!

Unknown said...

I am impressed with you managing both challenges (eek! I have to do this sometime this week) and I agree that this challenge somehow felt like an afterthought. I think it was lack of time that tripped them up on the show - and nerves. Thanks for linking to #GBBO Bake Along

Beckie said...

This was probably the most enjoyable to bake, of the technical challenges, as it felt more, "normal," in terms of what I was doing. Time seems to have been a major factor in this year's bake off, as well as increasingly obscure recipes. I think I'd like to see more familiar things, but done really well rather than something no-one has ever heard of done badly by all.

The Foggy Knitter said...

I don't especially like scones either! Hopefully neither of us will be drummed out of the country!

I think you'd enjoy Dorothy Hartley's book "Food in England", is part history book, part recipe book. Also the old cookery books published by Persephone books I own half of them (!) and enjoy them thoroughly

Look forward to seeing what you make next.

The Foggy Knitter said...

P.S. You have reminded me of the trouble my dad landed himself in trying to bake pastry blind last year, he used rice, but didn't line the pastry, just poured it on top... I don't know how he managed it since I'd left him with Constance Spry's comprehensive instructions.

Beckie said...

Interesting - who out there actually likes scones then?!

Ooh, more cook books!

Oooh, how annoying, especially with something as small as rice.

Jenny said...

uhm me! i love scones lol!
your tart is so neat and professional looking and lovely piping work on your cake. Mary would be pleased that you piped it!!!
thank you for joining in this year and see you soon x x

Beckie said...

Ah, there's always one ;-) One has to pipe if one wants it to look special! (Mary said so.) Thank you for hosting - it's been such fun!