Baking Bad: Recreating the Technical Challenges from the Great British Bake Off – Week 1: Jaffa Cakes

So the Great British Bake Off is back on our screens and in full flow (by that I mean coming up to week 3). I’m an avid fan of the bake off as well as being an amateur baker myself. You can find some of my recipes in the archives to the right if you’re interested in what I’ve done so far.

Despite all my baking I’ve never decided that I was crazy enough to attempt the rounds of the Bake Off. Yes I’ve occasionally made a few different recipes that have featured on the show, but there’s one thing that has often eluded me – the Technical Challenge. But what is a technical challenge I hear you ask? Well, allow me to show you this extract from the Bake Off’s website:

Technical Bake

This challenge separates the wheat from the chaff. Take one basic recipe, with the same ingredients and instructions, and ask our bakers to produce the finished product… sound easy? Well, any variation on the finished product will be a result of their own technical knowledge and experience – or lack of. Bakers are laid bare in this task and this is where the pressure’s really on in the bake-off.

So without further ado I’ve decided to bake each of the technical challenges from this season of the bake off and see how I do, as an amateur baker in my own tiny kitchen. Let’s get on with it!

Week One: Jaffa Cakes

First up – it’s Jaffa Cakes! Who doesn’t love a jaffa cake? Gorgeous little spongey, orangey, chocolatey packs of goodness. They are simply amazing, especially with a cup of tea (though no dunking!). If you don’t know what a jaffa cake is, then check out this brief section from the ever knowing wikipedia:

“Jaffa Cakes are biscuit-sized cakes introduced by McVitie and Price in the UK in 1927 and named after Jaffa oranges. The most common form of Jaffa Cakes are circular, 2 1⁄8 inches (54 mm) in diameter and have three layers: a Genoise sponge base, a layer of orange flavoured jelly and a coating of chocolate.”

So what does the Queen of Baking herself have to say about Jaffa Cakes? Well, this blurb comes from the start of her technical challenge recipe.

“Jaffa cakes are nowhere near as tricky to make at home as you might think.” Well, what could go wrong?  Follow Mary’s recipe here to make your own and see!

Firstly its a case of zesting an orange and adding it to some orange flavoured jelly and boiling water. So far so good, right?nothing can go wrong? Well, thats my first issue. I followed the recipe and zested what I’d consider a small orange. Turns out it was not a small orange and I ended up with far too much zest in my jelly! Still, it tasted fine, if a little pulpy – though it set fine and went into discs perfectly, as seen below.

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Next up was the sponge. I’ve made a fair few sponge cakes in my time and I’d say that I’ve gotten pretty good at it too, though I’ve never made a whisked sponge before. I was a little apprehensive, but I absolutely nailed it! I think the sponge was the best part of my Jaffa attempts! Simples!

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Now the board is set, the pieces are moving. Time to put it together and melt some chocolate. I assembled the jaffa cakes, putting the disc of jelly onto the sponge. I melted down the chocolate. And that’s when it all went to pot. Pouring with a spoon didn’t work as the hot chocolate wanted nothing about staying with the cold jelly. It disappeared down the side of the cake in a weird gloopy mess. Piping the chocolate worked a little better but still left gaps. The whole thing looked a mess. I’ve had issues with chocolate in the past when I bake and this was no exception. Guess I need to work on it before I apply myself! 😉

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Still, a quick trip to the fridge solved the problem mostly and they tasted great! Overall, I’d give myself a 4/10 for presentation and a 7/10 for taste.

But what about Mary’s judgement I hear you say? Well, I’d rate this bake as a Concerned Mary Berry.

273Stay tuned for next time – I take on biscuit week and Viennese Whirls!

Recipe: Skinny Lemon And Blueberry Cake

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It’s time I told you a big secret about me. I am a huge fan of cooking shows. What? You already figured that out? Oh…

Yes, it’s true I’m a massive fan of any television programme involving food! Current favourites include the Jamie Oliver “Double the time it takes me to make these meals” series and recently, The Hairy Dieters. What intrigued me most about the the Hairy Bikers new show was that they attempted to keep eating the same foods that they loved whilst trying to lose weight and get healthier. This ranged from the creation of a slimline pie and a waistline friendly quiche to one of my personal favourites: Skinny Lemon Cupcakes.

In case you’re new to this blog, I’m an avid baker and I especially love baking cakes (don’t get me started on buttercream icing though, I have a long running vendetta against that foul creation). With my love for cake, but also my love for exercise, this seemed like the perfect recipe to try especially due to everybody having New Years resolutions to eat healthier or lose weight! sadly due to the fact that I left my cupcake tins at home after the holiday this had to become a full cake. What a shame.

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Ingredients:
for the cake
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g golden caster suga
100g blueberries
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 large eggs
150ml low-fat natural yoghurt
2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
50ml sunflower oil
and for the icing
200g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
Grease or line a cake tin
Sift flour and baking powder together in a large bowl and storing the sugar
Zest the lemon and add to the mix along with the blueberries
Whisk the eggs until smooth and add the oil, milk and natural yoghurt – stir until smoothly combined
Add mixture to the dry ingredients and stir together with a large metal spoon
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes
Enjoy a nice relaxing cup of tea whilst you wait
Once cooked, remove and allow to cool.

Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice together until you reach desired consistency
Take a spoon and liberally drizzle the icing over the cake, it doesn’t need to look fantastic, it’s a rough and ready tasty cake!

And that’s it! The calorie count of this cake is roughly half of a a standard, with butter cake BUT that isn’t an excuse to eat twice as much!
Leave me a comment if you make the cake and let me know how you get on!
Now you have your cake, go and eat it too!

Recipe: Stud Muffins

‘The Great British Bake Off’ started again this week! In case you don’t know, it’s an amazing TV show which takes 12 amateur bakers and pits them against each other to see who is the best baker. Like all good head to head shows, someone is booted out by the judges for failing to impress with the bakes that they’ve produced that week and so the show goes until the final when the Master Baker is pronounced the winner. This is TV at its finest, Masterchef for only baked goods! Needless to say, if you’re free Tuesday Nights at 8pm UK time, you need to watch this.

In case you haven’t been reading my blog long, or you have been and you are thoroughly unperceptive, you might not know that I LOVE cooking. Any kind of food, any course, any cuisine I just like to cook. My real passion in cooking though, is baking. Cakes are a particular speciality of mine, and combined with my housemate, we’ve made a few impressive looking birthday cakes for friends (not to blow our own trumpets here but these cakes are pretty doggone awesome). Unfortunately, one baking fad that I’ve never really got into has been cupcakes. If you go anywhere on the Internet that has anything to do with baking at all, you’ll see someone that has made a cupcake. Now these cupcakes can just be regular, plain run of the mill iced cupcakes, but more often than not they’ll be some pretty amazing pieces of baked artwork. In contrast to some of these fantastically beautiful cupcake creations, I’m going to share a recipe for the cupcakes ugly cousin. Today, we’re making…

    Double Chocolate Chip Muffins!

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Ingredients:

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250g self raising flour
25g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
170g caster sugar
1/2 pack chocolate chips
175ml milk
2 eggs
100ml sunflower oil
1 – 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Mix all the dry ingredients together into a bowl and stir them to combine.

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Add in the eggs, milk, vanilla and oil and fold them into the mixture until everything is combined.

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Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and place on a tray (paper muffin cases are fine, but we have reusable silicone ones).

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Place the muffins into a hot oven for 10 minutes, then turn them and put them back in for another 6 minutes.

Whip the muffins out of the oven and make sure that they have risen properly.

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Remove the muffins from the case if you’re using silicone cases or they’ll sweat!

Enjoy them!

They’re really easy to make and absolutely delicious, so why not show some love for the less attractive sibling of the cupcake and make a batch of your own muffins and share them in the comments!

Recipe: Super Simple Sweet Snacks!

Do you ever find that you have any cake left over when you’ve baked one? Me neither! However, here is a super simple recipe for a tasty treat that uses very few ingredients and both tastes and looks good! Today I’m going to share a recipe for….

CAKE POPS

Yep, cake pops! The cupcake craze has spread like wildfire and shows no desire to die down, but since absolutely everyone in the world is using the humble cupcake to impress at their social gathering how can you stand out? Simple, buck the trend and bring out the jazziest dessert you’ll have seen in a while! If you have no idea what a cake pop is then allow me to fill you in. It’s simply a ball of cake on a lollipop stick, just like a tasty baked ChuppaChup, that you can customise with tons of toppings to make them as funky and delicious as you like. In true Blue Peter style, here’s one I made earlier:

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Cake pops are really easy to make so let’s jump right in!

You will need:
Cake – leftover or baked especially
“Frosting” – I used buttercream icing
Lollipop sticks
Chocolate – any kind will do!
Toppings – sprinkles etc.

The Method
– Grab your cake and crumble it into a bowl, making sure that the crumbs are quite fine.

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– Add in your icing/frosting and stir it together, until you get a moist dough.

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– Shape the dough into small balls and place onto a tray lined with grease proof paper

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– Put the tray of cake balls into the freezer for about 30 minutes to let them firm up and start to set.

– Melt the chocolate and get the cake balls out of the freezer.

– Dip the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, just far enough do that it will help hold the cake onto the stick, like glue.

– Push the stick into the cake ball and place back in the fridge for a few minutes.

– Dip the cake pop into the melted chocolate and try to cover the whole thing. Gently let it settle over the cake and try to tap off any excess.

– Dip the chocolate covered cake into the toppings and coat it liberally so that it looks as jazzy as possible!

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– Repeat for all cake pops and put them back on the tray and into the fridge to set.

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– Remove, eat and impress your friends with your super simple but stylish dessert treats!!

That is all there is to it! I really meant it when I said that these were simple! You can make them with almost any topping and some versions that I’ve seen have been amazing with such examples as the 1Up mushrooms from Mario, yellow smiley faces and the entire of our solar system – including Pluto!

Feel free to share pictures of your cake pop creations with me either in comments or tweet them to me, with the links found over to your right!