It’s week 9 of my GBBO Challenge, the semi-final! It was Pâtisserie week! I was originally planning to make macarons, a pâtisserie staple, but after seeing them make entremets on the show I knew I had to up my game and have a go at them, so I made blackberry and elderflower entremets!
These yummy jam donuts are week 8 of my GBBO challenge, the theme being advanced dough. It was also the quarter final and the week my favourite contestant left the tent!
I’m going to give you an insight into my brain – it was 1:30am and I couldn’t sleep and was feeling very antsy, so what do I do? Read a book? Watch some television? Nope! I got up and made some donut dough! It seemed to do the trick at least. Normally you would leave this dough to rise in a warm place for an hour or so, but since I wasn’t about to stay up all night making donuts (I may be crazy, but I’m not that crazy!) I left mine to do it’s first rise in the fridge overnight. Having it rise in the fridge slowed down the yeast so it didn’t over prove. The second rise, or actual proving, I did at room temperature and it left me with a perfect donut.
These Chocolate Orange Eclairs are for pastry week of my GBBO challenge. I went with eclairs because because they were a challenge for me. I don’t know why but I always get into fights with choux pastry, I can make perfect danish pastry but choux pastry is a challenge for me… I’ve always been a bit backwards!
I did manage to defeat these eclairs though! What defeated me though was a roll of parchment paper, I dropped it onto of the eclairs when I taking photos, which is why some of the chocolate glaze looks the way it does… I have nothing to say about my clumsiness other than oops!
It’s time for European Cakes week of my GBBO challenge! Yay! And I made this fig and orange kugelhopf! A kugelhopf, or gugelhupf, is a yeast leavened cake usually filled with soaked dried fruit such as raisins or dates. I think it is Austrian, but also native to Germany and Hungary and it’s what inspired the American favourite – the bundt cake! I know what you’re probably thinking – but Michelle, why is the Great British Bake Off doing a European Cakes week? Isn’t that a bit redundant considering Britain is in Europe? Well, maybe. But one thing you should probably know about us Brits is we don’t really consider ourselves real Europe (I think some Brits like to think of us as our own continent sometimes!). Taking a day trip to France? You’re not just going to a neighbouring country, you’re going to “the continent” – it’s like we’re a little village on the outside of a big city! So when you hear Brits talking about “Europe” we most likely mean any European country that isn’t part of our Islands!
This cake was a bit of a challenge for me! This is my first time using yeast to leaven a cake and let me tell you, it’s made me appreciate baking powder a lot more! But this is the way they used to make cakes rise before such wonderful things like baking powder were invented, and Europe sure does love it’s traditions! My first attempt was a big failure, my dough just didn’t rise at all – I baked it anyway though to test the flavours and I ended up with a very dense, malt loaf kind of texture. The flavours were great though so at least I knew I had that part sussed. My mum, however, loved it and she ate almost the whole thing! Which was a little weird, but at least it didn’t go to waste! For my second attempt I tackled it from a different, more cake like way as the first time I treated it like a bread dough and mixed the ingredients as such. And it came out great!
As you might imagine, this cake has more of a fruit bread texture than a cake texture, but it is very light. It’s great eaten warm, fresh from the oven and would be yummy with afternoon tea. It’s also wonderful toasted and eaten for breakfast, it would be amazing with my cinnamon honey butter generously spread on it. This kugelhopf is stuffed full of orange zest and dried figs, the dried figs were soaked in orange juice and spiced rum overnight. I then saved the liquid from that to make a honeyed syrup that I cooked fresh figs and orange segments in to decorate the top, and poured the syrup over the warm cake. There were so many warm, yummy flavours coming from this cake – it’s a definite winner. It’s a bit of long winded process to make this cake but I think it’s worth it, you can however speed up the process a little and I’ll explain how in the notes after the recipe.
Everybody knows the classic tarte au citron, the beautiful French tart – a buttery pastry, filled with a zesty lemon custard. It’s a classic and some may say it’s perfect as it is and shouldn’t be changed. To them I say “pah!”. I’m a huge lover of lime and filling this tart with a smooth lime custard just sounded so much more appealing to my palate. Besides, I’m not one to stick to tradition!
This sweet and tart dessert is perfect for a sunny picnic, a celebratory barbecue or even a fancy dinner party. It’s versatile and gorgeous, a perfect choice for pies and tarts week of my Great British Bake Off challenge. I really enjoyed baking this and it was a lot simpler that I thought it would be, I normally associate French with tricky! The trickiest part was baking it just the right amount, you want to bake it until it is just set. You don’t want it to be under baked and runny, but you don’t want to dry it out either. So you have to keep a close eye on it.
I had a fancy French week this week, baking fancy French patisserie classics and eating fancy French food. I fulfilled a bucket list item of mine on Tuesday (well, I don’t have a bucket list but if I did this would have been on it). I ate at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay! I’m a big, big fan of Gordon – I love his recipes, the way he cooks and I think he is just a great person all round. I think if you don’t watch his shows often you’d get the wrong idea about him, because yes he can be very hot tempered and brash but if he can see you are putting effort in and taking care in what you do, he is extremely encouraging and actually very nice. It’s when you’re half-assing something or being intentionally stupid that he loses his temper! I was also super excited to eat at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay because the head chef there is a woman called Clare Smyth and she is the first British woman to receive and keep 3 Michelin stars – and if there’s one thing I love it’s successful ladies! The food was absolutely amazing, we had three courses but they also brought out appetisers and extra desserts. I’ve honestly never tasted anything that good before, there’s definitely a good reason it’s so pricey! If you want to see photos of the gorgeous food I ate, check out my instagram, I posted photos on it on Tuesday and Wednesday.