Vicky Bakes…. ‘Pigs’ and Pavlova

This week was the final of the Great British Bake Off – the last in its current state, what the programme so many of the British public have come to know and love will be like on Channel 4 is yet to be seen…

The final three, Andrew, Candice and Jane, were set the challenge of a signature meringue crown, a Victoria sponge and a full picnic to see who would be crowned the winner. As I have mentioned previously, I was backing Andrew, I picked him as one of three that I thought would be in the final after week 1 and was so happy to see him still in the competition this week. Although I was pretty sure after the first challenge that unless one of the ladies had an absolute ‘mare in the technical and the showstopper that he wasn’t going to win.

I was a little disappointed with the technical and the final showstopper challenge, I’m pretty sure anyone who manages to get onto the Bake Off would know how to make a Victoria sponge, or at least be able to wing it and I would much rather have seen them have to create a showstopper cake rather than a million and one different picnic snacks. I felt it was a bit more quantity over quality.

For this weeks bake off bake along I decided to attempt a filled meringue crown. I really wanted to try and push myself, and as I have only made meringue a couple of times previously I thought that this would be the most difficult challenge for me.

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I used this recipe  as a guide and only used half the recipe. I’m glad I did because I only have a small mixing bowl and any more eggs the meringue mix would have ended up all over the kitchen as the bowl was pretty full by the time I had finished whisking.

I decided the jewels of my crown would be raspberry, pomegranate and pistachios – three of my favourite things. I was really happy with how it turned out but after putting the cream on it needs to be eaten quickly. The next morning the meringue had started going soggy and a syrupy liquid was drizzling out of the meringues.

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I also decided to make Candice’s sausage rolls with the pig faces on. They were so cute that I couldn’t resist having a go at making them this afternoon. I will be taking them into work tomorrow as a Halloween treat for the office. I made two types of sausage roll, honey and mustard pigs and Spanish pigs with chorizo. I cheated and didn’t make my own pastry ( who can be bothered with making their own puff pastry anyway?) and just added chopped onion and seasonings to some good quality sausagemeat.

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Recipe (makes 16 snack size honey and mustard rolls)

  • 1 pre- rolled sheet of puff pastry
  • 6 good quality sausages
  • 1/2 onion – chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 1 egg – beaten

Method

  1. Finely dice one onion
  2. In a bowl add the meat from 6 sausages and half an onion
  3. add 1 tbsp honey, 1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard, season and mix together.
  4. roll out one sheet of pastry, slice in half lengthways
  5. make a long sausage shape down the long side of both strips of pastry then roll.
  6. Slice each roll into 8 snack size sausage rolls, brush with beaten egg and bake at 180 fan for 35-40 minutes until golden.

I’ve really enjoyed the last 10 weeks and seeing everyone’s bakes. I’m looking forward to the bake off Christmas specials and  may even bake along with some of those as well. I’ve heard that there probably won’t be another Great British Bake Off series until 2018 so until then fellow #bakeoffbakealong bloggers.

Vicky x

Vicky Bakes … Palmiers

Week 9 is Semi-Final week, which means there’s only week left (sob) and the last ever episode of the Great British Bake Off on the BBC is next week.

This week’s challenges Palmiers, Savarin and fondant fancies. Mr Kipling makes some pretty good fondant fancies and they look so fiddly, I don’t have a moulded tin to make the savarin in and time was once again pretty short this weekend. So the challenge I chose this week was the Palmiers, I made some with the leftover mincemeat and then some with sundried tomatoes, cheese and chorizo in.

These were pretty easy to make and I was quite happy with result. Although the savoury palmiers could have been more golden.

I was gutted that Selasi left this week, and although I think any of the final three could win I’m rooting for Andrew.

Vicky Bakes … Mincemeat and Marzipan Cake

Tudor Week

Week 8 of the bake off was Tudor week, and I wasn’t particularly enamored with the theme. The remaining bakers were set the challenge  of making a hot water crust pie fit for Henry VII, some odd looking knotted biscuits and a marchpane decorated cake.

I love marzipan so the decision to make the marzipan cake was an easy one this week. Although, the last few weekends have been pretty busy with G’s family golf tournament and wedding dress shopping with my best friend finding time to bake has been a little tricky. So I did cut a few corners making this cake and didn’t make the marzipan myself.

I decided to make a mincemeat and marzipan cake, with marzipan decoration as a practice run for Christmas. I used this recipe and then decorated the cake with a marzipan flower.

The cake was a little drier than I had hoped for but I was quite pleased with how the decoration on top turned out.

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Ingredients

200g self-raising flour
100g cold butter
85g light muscovado sugar
85g ready made marzipan
2 eggs, beaten
jar mincemeat (approx 300g)
flaked almonds
1kg loaf cake tin
Oven 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C

How to make it

  • Preheat the oven and grease and line cake tin.
  • Place the flour in a large bowl, dice the butter, and rub into the flour until the mixture is like bread crumbs (this can also be done in a food processor, but the mix would need to be transferred to a mixing bowl).
  • Dice the marzipan into 1cm cubes and stir into the flour mix with the sugar.
  • Stir the mincemeat into the beaten eggs, and stir this into the flour mix.
  • Spoon into the tin, smooth, and sprinkle with a few flaked almonds.
  • Bake for approx 45 minutes, until golden, and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool before removing from tin and peeling off lining paper
  • Once completely cool, Decorate with Marzipan shapes and then grill until golden.

 

Vicky Bakes … White Chocolate & Raspberry Mousse

Week seven, and possibly my favourite week of them all – Desserts! I am definitely a dessert person, and when eating out I will ALWAYS look at the dessert menu first and work my way backwards.

This week’s challenges were a roulade, a marjolaine or a mousse cake and once again, I have never made any of them before. It took me a while to decide which challenge to do this week, I was torn between a roulade and a mousse cake. I definitely didn’t want to attempt the marjolaine, although it sounded absolutely delicious, it looked far too complicated and although the aim of this is to challenge myself, I didn’t think my baking skills were quite at that level.

I decided to go with the mousse, and chose a raspberry and white chocolate flavour combination. I wanted to create an ombré effect mousse, raspberry mouse at the bottom, raspberry and white chocolate mousse in the middle and then a white chocolate mousse topped with raspberry jelly. I used this recipe as a starting point and adapted it. But in all the excitement of making the mousse, I forgot to save some of the raspberry sauce to add into the second layer of ‘ombre mousse’ so I literally just had the dregs from the pan to add to that layer, and in the end you can’t really see a difference between the white choc layer and the white chocolate and raspberry layer.

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I did bend the rules of the challenge and didn’t make a ‘mousse cake’, just a mousse. I managed to find a use for all those GU pots that we seem to have collected over time. I also made one in a chef ring to basically try and be all ‘mastercheffy’.

These mousses worked out pretty well and felt pretty indulgent. The jelly was a little cloudy but that’s probably because I was a bit impatient in letting the mousse fully set before I poured the jelly on the top.

The recipe makes 4 large mousses or about 6 small ramekins of mousse. This was really easy to make (as long as I remember to follow my own added instructions) and makes me want to try it again in a multitude of different flavour combinations.

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Next weeks theme is ‘Tudor week’,  and looks to be some type of pie, a marzipan centrepiece and knotted biscuit. I’m also really happy that my three favourites are still in the running, Selasi, Andrew and Benjamina, but I think Tudor week might be a tricky one.

Vicky x

Recipe: Makes 4 Large Mousses

Ingredients

  • 200g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 250ml double cream
  • 2 egg whites
  • 25g tbsp sugar
  • 150g raspberries
  • 2 tsp sugar for the coulis

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.
  2. Put a few of the raspberries to one side for decoration, Put the raspberries and 2tsps of sugar in a pan and heat on a low heat to make a raspberry coulis/sauce. Set aside to cool.
  3. Whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside.
  4. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until they hold firm peaks and with the whisk still on high gently pour the sugar down the side until the meringue is stiff and glossy.
  5. Mix in a third of the meringue to the cream then gently fold in the rest.
  6. Separate mix into three equal portions.
  7. Add 2/3 of the raspberry coulis to one portion, and then divide equally in the base of 4 glasses or ramekins, chill.
  8. Add the remaining 1/3 of raspberry coulis and 1/3 of the melted white chocolate to one portion of mousse mix, gently fold until just fully combined. Add to the top of the raspberry layer.
  9. Add the remaining white chocolate to the mousse mix, until just fully combined. Divide equally amongst four wine glasses and chill for two hours before serving.
  10. Top with the remaining raspberries and raspberry jelly (optional) to decorate.

 

 

Vicky Bakes … Citrus Meringue Pie

A brand spanking shiny new week for the bake off this week – Botanical Week. I was so impressed that both Mary and Selasi coordinated their flowery outfits with botanical week. The choices for the bake off bake along this week were Citrus Meringue Pie, Herb Fougasse and a 3 tier flower cake. I cannot justify making a 3 tiered cake when there’s no occasion for something so big, so my choice was between the fougasse and the citrus meringue pie.

I’ll let you into a little secret, I have yet to make a successful meringue. So this week I decided to go with the citrus meringue pie and aim to conquer my baking nemesis.

I used this recipe as a guide  to make mini lemon, lime and orange meringue pies, and this recipe for the meringue as I had no cream of tartar as suggested in the first recipe. I think I should have spent a little longer reading the recipes before I started, as I found the curd to be a strange thing to make. I’m not sure if the recipe maybe had a typo as it became very gloopy very quickly, I added extra lemon juice to try and thin it out.It also didn’t include egg yolks, which nearly every other recipe I found afterwards did.

Having said that the curd was pretty tasty, just not as creamy as a normal lemon curd. Overall, I’m chuffed with how these turned out. I actually managed to make meringue!! Yay! There was even a little happy dance once they’d come out of the oven.

The curd is tart and zesty with sweet, fluffy, marshmallowy meringue! And the fact they are mini makes it easier to share, rather than having to eat a whole pie between the two of us. I had to take a bundle round to the family and some into work the next day to stop us from eating them all – On reflection, bite sized citrus meringue pies are equally as dangerous to leave in the house.

I’m a little late in posting this week so Week 7 bake off has already been on TV… Dessert week! Yay! I can’t wait to get stuck into one of those challenges over the weekend.

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Vicky x

Vicky Bakes …Bakewell Tart

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This week has turned out to be somewhat of a bumper bake off week, not only did I attempt the bake off challenge over the weekend, I also had a Macmillan coffee morning at work to prepare a selection of goodies for. I could have combined the two, but I did feel that taking something half eaten into the office for everyone else to try was a little bit tight. 

As so often happens when watching the Great British Bake Off, I see the challenge, and the pretty pictures of the bakers ideas and then their baked creations, and think to myself “ooo I’m definitely going to make that this week”. Then 10 minutes later when the next challenge is revealed I change my mind and say “no, I’ve changed my mind I’m definitely going to try making that one” and so continues throughout the whole program. This week, waiting for them to reveal the technical challenge I said to G “I hope it’s Bakewell tarts, I love Bakewell Tarts” and then two seconds later it was announced it was going to be Bakewells – I literally whooped with excitement! No surprises as to what I made this week….

 

I followed Mary’s recipe and I was pretty happy with the result… Although I did perhaps roll the pastry a little too thin and I got a few cracks and breaks when I added the icing. The recipe makes a family sized tart and I think next time I would be tempted to halve it and make smaller individual tarts. The smell of almonds and the frangipane baking was absolutely divine and that alone is reason enough for me to bake this again. G loved this and has requested for me to make him a birthday bakewell tart, a christmas bakewell tart… basically any occasion he could think of – he would like a bakewell tart for it.

 

Vicky Bakes … Lace Pancakes

A new theme for week 4 of the Great British Bake off – Batter week, and like a lot of people on social media I was a little uninspired.

As a proud Yorkshire lass, I think the only thing Yorkshire puddings should be filled with is lashings of gravy, and served with a Sunday dinner. I like to think of myself as pretty good at Yorkshires, I can only remember one occasion, when I was about 12 and probably the first time I’d ever tried to make Yorkshire puddings on my own, that they came out like biscuits. I can pretty much guarantee a rise from my Yorkshires, although never uniformly.1599336_340463946094707_2047322137_n

I decided against doing the signature as my challenge this week although I did make Yorkshire puddings to go along the Sunday dinner I had been craving since watching the bake off on Wednesday evening. The first roast me & G have had in the house since moving in together nearly 6 months ago. I was obviously a bit rusty as they didn’t rise quite as well as they have done in the past, and seemed to puff outwards rather than up. Unfortunately these didn’t last long enough for me to get a picture. We also don’t have a fryer so that narrowed my choice of challenge to the technical…

Never again will I attempt to make lace pancakes, these were so fiddly and I don’t think I managed to get even two looking remotely similar. The first problem was getting a thick enough batter, the second getting control of a squeezy bottle. I failed both of these… I put the mixture, which turned out to be too runny, into an old Mayo bottle with a squirty lid, which then came out as a big blob and I struggled to control the amount coming out of the bottle. For the second pancake I transferred all the mix to a piping bag, thinking that if I cut a smaller hole in the bottom I would be able to control it more. I was wrong. It is impossible to hold a piping bag, with incredibly runny batter in one hand, while trying to flip a flimsy pancake with your left hand …. Luckily I had my trusty kitchen sidekick to give me a hand.

Watching on Wednesday I thought the technical looked like one of the easiest I’ve seen on the bake off – when I had a go I think I would have definitely been at risk of leaving the tent after that challenge.