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This week has been one filled with weddings, traffic jams, training days and parking problems. It may not sound like it, but it’s been a lovely weekend. It has however not been a weekend conducive to the completion of a Technical Bake which was introduced as follows:
“Mary sets the bakers their most demanding technical challenge yet in which they must make a Swedish princess torte. With 24 different stages and only two-and-a-quarter hours to do it in, the bakers have their work cut out for them“
Right then. So, you want me to make the marzipan AND the jam AND Crème pâtissière AND a genoese sponge. Hmm. Well, for the real thing you will have to look to those more valiant than me. This week on the Great British Fake Bake Off I have faked it big time – and not with huge amounts of success. This definitely comes into the category of see what I did and learn from my mistakes.
Frustratingly, I was really chuffed with how the genoese sponge went. It rose fantastically well and tasted good (I may have checked a corner…) The creme pat was also fine. This is where the success ended and the learning began.
1. You cannot substitute whipped cream with 1/2 jar of Marshmallow Fluff (neither Mr B or I like cream really)
2. You cannot save the runny M’fluff/creme mixture my adding Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting
3. Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Frosting tastes weird.
4. BC-CCF (see above), Marshmallow Fluff and Creme Pat is runny.
5. BC-CCF, MF, CP mixture does not get stiffer when frozen…however much you pile on.
6. Yellow marzipan coloured purple looks an unflattering shade of black when photographed in bad light.
7. Even sparkly pink sugar couldn’t make this cake look pretty.
8. Add enough vanilla to crazy icing mixes and they taste edible.
9. Possibly the oddest of all – Mr B likes marzipan even though he doesn’t like nuts. Weirdo.
You can find the full recipe here at BBC Food : Mary Berry’s Prinsesstårta
My fake-bake swaps were as follows:
1 jar of strawberry and champagne jam instead of making my own
1 pack of natural ready made marzipan
1/2 a jar or marshmallow fluff and 1/2 pot of betty crocker pre-made cream cheese frosting BAD IDEA,
Do you know how close I was to just buying puff pastry for this challenge? It’s a good thing Aldi had sold out or this would have been the fake-est of the Great British Fake Bake Off so far. Instead I powered through, made the pastry poached the pears and baked them all good and proper. The only variations this week are that I used ground cinnamon and instead of white wine I used a couple of sloshes of sherry and made up the rest with water.
Two of my pears fell over in the oven. I’m not sure how they avoided this on GBBO. I’m pleased with the softness of the pears though. I think they were cooked just the right amount. The pastry might have benefitted from being a bit thinner but I was surprised at how easy it was to twirl a pear :)
Mini Pear Pies
Lifted straight fromBBC Good Food
For the rough puff pastry
200g/7oz plain flour, plus extra for rolling
100g/3½oz butter, in a block, frozen
100g/3½oz lard, in a block, frozen
1 free-range egg, beaten
2 tbsp granulated sugar
For the poached pears
6 large, firm pears (preferably ones that are straight and tall)
300g/10½oz caster sugar
500ml/18fl oz dry white wine
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zest only
For the rough puff pastry, measure the flour into a bowl and grate the butter and lard into the flour. Use a knife to coat the butter and lard in the flour. Add 120-150ml/4-5fl oz cold water and mix until it comes together to form a firm dough.
Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a rectangle. Fold the top third down and then fold the bottom third up and over. Turn it 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and repeat the rolling and folding. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Repeat the rolling, folding and chilling twice more so you have a total of four folds and turns. Set aside, wrapped in cling film, in the fridge until ready to use.
Meanwhile, for the poached pears, peel the pears, keeping the stems intact. Tip the caster sugar into a large saucepan with 400ml/14fl oz water, the white wine, cinnamon and orange zest and slowly bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for three minutes.
Add the pears to the pan. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Reserving the syrup, remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool on kitchen paper. Using a melon baller or small teaspoon remove the core from the pears.
Return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half and the syrup is thick. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When the fruit and syrup are cool, roll out the chilled pastry to a rectangle measuring 60x20cm/23½x8in and a thickness of no more than 5mm/¼in.
Using a sharp knife and a ruler cut the pastry into long strips 8mm/⅓in wide. You will need about 18-20 strips.
Brush the pears with the cooled sugar syrup and starting from the bottom, wrap the pastry strips around the pears. When you come to the end of the pastry strip, brush the end lightly with syrup and press to adhere to the next pastry strip. Continue wrapping until you reach the top of the pear. (Three strips should cover each pear). Tuck the end of the last pastry piece behind the previous dough spiral.
Cut out six leaf shapes from the remaining pastry. Draw veins on the leaves with a sharp knife and stick one leaf below the stem of each pastry pear, with a little sugar syrup.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C(Fan)/400F/Gas 6. Place the pastry covered pears on a baking tray. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes then serve with a drizzle of the reduced sugar syrup.
This week on the Great British Fake Bake Off (GBFBO) I will be making no-coffee, no-cream, no-brandy tiramisu. The reason for the fake this week is not laziness for once, it’s that Mr B doesn’t like coffee, neither of us are big fans of whipped cream and I didn’t have any brandy.
Instead of the coffee I dissolved cocoa powder into the soaking liquid. Instead of whipped cream I used half fat creme fraiche, a little vanilla essence and less sugar than the recipe states – since the cocoa would add as much of a contrast to the sweetness as coffee would have done. Instead of brandy I used a bit more hot water and the last of some butterscotch liqueur I’d been sent by Fay from Food Fables in a foodie penpal parcel.
I didn’t do the tempered chocolate decorations (oh really, what did you expect?) and I found that I didn’t need nearly as much mascarpone and had a lot of the grated chocolate left. I think I over soaked the sponge, as it oozed rather. However, I was rather proud at how well the sponge came out. I definitely would have got point for even layer, if nothing else! Not my prettiest bake..
Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake
Recipe lifted straight from here – go to link for extra instructions
You will need a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin, a 18cm/7in square tin (and a cook’s thermometer if you’re doing the tempered chocolate)
For the sponge
a little softened butter, for greasing
4 large free-range eggs
100g/3½oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
For the filling
1 tbsp instant coffee granules
150ml/5½fl oz boiling water
100ml/3½fl oz brandy / extra water / other liqueur
3 x 250g/9oz tubs full-fat mascarpone cheese (I only used 1 tub)
300ml/10½fl oz double cream (I used 1 250g tub half fat creme fraiche + 1 tsp vanilla essence)
3 tbsp icing sugar, sifted (I used 1 tbsp)
75g/2½oz dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), grated
For the decoration
100g/3½oz dark chocolate, (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/350F/Gas 4.
Grease a 38x25cm/15x10in Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick.
The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch.
Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the brandy. Set aside to cool.
When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.
Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, cut two 18cm/7in squares from each sponge. Discard the sponge trimmings (or keep for cake pops or a sneaky single-serving trifle).
Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later. I just stacked it and wrapped it in foil to chill overnight as I didn’t have the right sized tin.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth.
Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin.
Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture.
Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge.
Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge.
Scatter over another one third of the grated chocolate.
Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture.
Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake – this is called a ‘crumb coat’ and will seal in any loose crumbs of sponge.
Wipe the palette knife and spread the rest of the frosting in a thicker layer over the cake.
Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
If you want to do the tempered chocolate decoration, go to the BBC link
Dust the chilled tiramisu cake with the cocoa powder before turning out onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help lift out of the tin. Decorate with the chocolate shapes.
My penpal (Ruth) came from London again this month – so close to home infact that the parcel was hand delivered – though sadly I was out. The sender was local, but the contents had a very global feel.
Yet again, I got a fantastic package of goodies which had been carefully put together after chatting over emails. It included even a recipe, which I think is a great idea when you’re receiving spices that you might not have used before.
Vanilla tea I have drunk several cups of this and liked the subtle vanilla undertone. When I googled it, it looks like it’s a premium tea from Mauritius though there’s not that much info about the tea itsself – only the plantation and restaurant.
Clearspring Miso soup paste I loved the Clearspring snacks in my parcel last month so I was glad to see more. i really like udon noodles in soup so I’ll save one pack for that and take the rest to work I think. Yum!
Thai Hot Chili Pretzel sticks a savoury version of Pocky sticks. Yes! These are definitely going to be work snacks.
Anchovies Ruth caveated these by saying that she knows they are a strong taste, but they add depth to the flavour of so many dishes. I’ve heard this said loads of times but have never got around to buying any achovies due to people having such strong opinions. I imagine that I will like them, being a big fish fan, but this is an example of Foodie Penpals giving me the chance to try something that I probably would never get around to otherwise.
Sumac Thoughtfully accompanied by a recipe, Sumac is a middle eastern fruit which is ground into a spice that seems to crop up increasingly often these days in recipes and restaurants. Apparently it has a lemony flavour and in North America the fruits of certain ypes of the fruit are soaked to make a type of lemonade.
Peanut butter granola Ruth is also a runner, so put in this granola as a good post run re-fuel. I’m officially in pre-marathon training now (Running at the start of October) so this couldn’t have come at a better time.
Smoked paprika Ruth mentioned having put in cinnamon stick so I think she might be missing a certain spice from her cupboard, but I was no less pleased to receive this as it’s a great flavour for lots of stews, soups, roasting veg etc and is often used in this kitchen (though not too much so I don’t blow Mr B’s tastebuds!)
Thanks Ruth for a brilliant parcel
More about Foodie Penpals
Started by The Lean Green Bean, Foodie penpals is a way for food bloggers and blog readers to get to know each other, via a lovely parcel in the mail every month. This is Rock Salt has brought it to the UK and Europe. Here’s the rough outline of how it works:
- All interested parties in the UK and Europe – bloggers and blog readers alike – sign up by the form available at the bottom of the Terms and Conditions post
- Participants are matched on the 5th of the month
- Penpals send thoughtful, food related parcels, on or before the 20th of the month. The parcels can include home baked treats, shop bought treats (especially local or unusual things), cake cases or decorations – use your imagination. The parcel must include something hand written – a note explaining the box’s contents, a recipe card, whatever you like. The price limit for the boxes is £10 – this is a limit, the point is not the cost, but the thought (no, really!)
- Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
- At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more. Posts are made available on Lindsay’s blog so we can all find each other easily
I have a confession to make. I’ve known about the Pizza express summer menu all summer and have been too forgetful / lazy to mention it to you. A 25% off voucher dropped into my inbox this morning and reminded me that there won’t be long left to catch it. People more organised than me are already looking ahead to their Christmas menu (eg. Heidi )
So, very quickly, here’s some of the things I tried yonks ago…
One item not pictured (I was too busy discussing its merits with those around me) is the Leggera Summer Salad which has Chicken, goat’s cheese, strawberries, mint and blueberries on seasonal mixed leaves with our light house dressing and fresh basil. You wouldn’t think blueberries, strawberries and mint would work in a savoury salad, but it really does. That said, the gents from a running magazine who were also there to sample the menu were much more interested in the pizza!
I have to say that the highlight of my evening was the lovely guys behind the pizza counter who showed me how to throw pizza dough to stretch it. I had a whale of a time and even got the confidence to go home and make my own - as you saw here. I’m not sure the restaurant manager at your local Pizza express would take kindly to you asking for a demo at peak dining time, but maybe if you wait until closing?
So, since apparently we’re getting a last bash at summer this coming week, lets hold onto those summer flavours a little longer!
Thanks to FabPR for inviting me to sample the summer menu. As usual I wasn’t required to write a review or be nice (good thin, since I’m so late to the party on this one!) I genuinely enjoyed all the food and almost always chose the Leggera menu so this just my normal P.E experience!