Looking for a bit of inspiration in the latest edition of the Good Food magazine, I stumbled across a Very Berry Loaf Cake, from a chap who almost won last year’s Great British Bake Off. A thing about the particular programme; it’s becoming a little, well, stale. Somewhat dry. A tad soggy on the bottom. There are, after all, only so many times you can watch someone create a Bakewell Tart.
And think about the presenters, Mary & Paul. Last time I saw it the contestants had to make a three-tier cheesecake with different cakes for each tier. There were nine of them baking so that’s 27 cheesecakes. And then Mary & Paul test-tasted them all. Blurgh.
This Very Berry Loaf Cake, on the other hand, is so light and fluffy you could eat it all day. Which I am currently in the process of doing.
Watching the Great British Bake Off recently it struck me that the creations being created are becoming so complex that the contestants must be practicing. I mean these ‘ordinary’ folk don’t even look phased when asked to prepare crème patissiere, nor slightly troubled by the potential pitfalls of rum baba.
But it wasn’t always like this. In the beginning contestants made things like ‘Chocolate Fudge Cake’ and ‘Lemon Iced Buns’. Now they are asked to make ‘Povitica’ (whatever that is) and ‘Dobos Torte’.
Of course things have to get more interesting as time goes by; viewers don’t want to see six seasons of hapless bakers screwing up a Victoria Sponge. But for eager bloggers like myself its all getting too much.
I like to recreate creations I see on the Great British Bake Off (and other shows) every now and then. And I usually do it a few days after they have been on TV; it’s a good way of getting people to view the blog as they search for what they see on TV (for example, type Nutella Cheesecake with Ferrero Rocher into Google and there is Happiness Stan, 1st on the page, above Nigella! I get loads of visits for that one; it must be on a syndicated show somewhere, its not been done on the Bake Off because it’s a) too easy and b) contains too many pre-made ingredients).
But its got to the point now where the effort outweighs the fun. I avoid things that take more than a day to create, or require thermometers, or utensils I do not own or have never heard of. So after watching someone making a pig’s ear out of a torte I decided to create something dead easy – Bakewell Tart.
For those intimately acquainted with the Great British Bake-Off, the term ‘soggy bottom’ will be familiar. For those who aren’t, let me explain. It doesn’t refer to an unpleasant incident following a night of drunken debauchery. It, in fact, refers to the status of the crust of your pastry-related creation.
A ‘good bake’ has a nicely cooked golden crust on the bottom, no translucency or greyness; it should be tap-able and a bit flakey (just like me). At this point I must digress.
On TV the ‘Great British Bake-Off’ is, apparently, going State-side. Soon you Americans will too enjoy the delights of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry critiquing Mississippi Mud Pie, Apple Pie and who knows what. And from recent comments made by Mr Hollywood (a Liverpudlian, and they don’t pull their punches) it isn’t going well.
Because, he says, when he provides some honest feedback (e.g. this tastes like something my dog threw up) the contestants start blubbing! They can’t take the negative feedback. But it’s something we are well used to in this Sceptred Isle – we’ve spent the last 100 years being told we’re crap.
The problem with baking is it’s hit and miss. Some things go right and some things go very wrong. The main points though are a) never give up and b) post the results no matter what, good or bad.
So in a delirium of confidence bought on by my ability to smear melted chocolate around the insides of a mould I decided to try another Mary Berry creation from BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’. Sachertorte is a rich chocolatey cake that was apparently invented by some bloke called Sacher or something.
It’s main distinction is a smooth satin chocolate covering. The original has a chocolate medallion on top but most people write ‘Sacher’ on the top in chocolate. Easy right? Well it’s always easy on the TV.
A bewildering array of ingredients – and an empty bottle of wine. That doesn’t bode well…
On British TV at the moment is one of the most addictive reality shows – ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Each week a bunch of amateur bakers create ever more complex cakes, breads, biscuits, pies and desserts. And each week one poor soul is discarded because of a soggy-bottomed sponge or an ‘uneven bake’.
This show is popular – TV analysts told us that more men watched it than the European football on the ‘other channel’ one week. It’s proper hardcore-no-holds-barred stuff. The judges include Mary Berry, a British Institution, and Paul Hollywood, the smiling assassin. They take no prisoners.
A couple of weeks ago the contestants were handed the task of producing Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes. Now this looked like fun. In fact so much fun I decided I had to give it a shot. Specifically because it required the use of this unusual looking piece of equipment: