Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Episode Two - bread and the psychic octopus

This week we learnt that Rob's hobby is mushroom foraging, and no-one wants a bendy bread stick.

Bread was the challenge facing the bakers this time around and gosh did they make some - peacock shaped, octopus shaped and even bread shaped, although the latter resulted in the contestant leaving the show. No-one wants bread that just looks like bread for peetsake! What the hell was Lucy thinking! This episode demonstrated that Mary and Paul are looking for more than just technical skill because frankly it just isn't good enough. What they really want is technical skill, great flavour AND a glorious design which will make fellow dinner guests gaze in disbelief. Not asking for much then.
The highlight of the programme this week was when Sue accidentally leant in an uncooked muffin. Never before has a presenter jeopardised the future of a baker, and in such a sneakily relaxed manner. I think her and Mel have a competition on their hands - who can slightly ruin a bake without the baker getting too angry. If you watch the clip back (yes I am this sad) you can see the tea-towel placed quite obviously over the raw muffins and she goes straight in for the lean, squishing one of the poor things. Lets hope next week Mel can up her game, perhaps tripping and then falling into a dessert? 

Ruby found her inner baker this week, ending up as star baker, so maybe she shouldn't run off back to uni just yet. Rob the satellite designer designed the most horrendous colourful "Paul the psychic octopus tribute" loaf which confused me rather a lot. I didn't understand what it meant (I do now thanks to Wiki) but I still don't understand why one would paint bread with food colouring. It's like making mash potato blue or making croissants pink...the point is the judges didn't like it either because it looked weird. I think he should have made a satellite shaped loaf and stuck to what he knows. Fingers crossed the satellite cake is still to come!

This week I will be making bread sticks :)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Angel Food Cake attempt from Episode 1

So each week I am going to try and make one of the bakes shown on BBC2's The Great British Bake Off...and I will be choosing the easiest one because I don't bake things very often - I'm more of a meal cook than a cakey bakey cook. It will be interesting to see how hard these challenges actually are for an inexperienced baker. Admittedly I don't have a camera crew in my face and millions watching, but are they crying and bleeding everywhere over nothing? (probably) 

This week is the Angel Food Cake which is a lemon flavour, very light fluffy thing. I can honestly say it is  pretty easy to make because mine was a huge success! I found the recipe online and this is what you need:

For the cake

For the topping
  • 300ml/10fl oz whipping cream

  • You also need to make your own lemon curd and mix it with passion fruit seeds but as we didn't see the bakers making curd on the programme you will not see me doing that either. I bought some lemon curd and the supermarket didn't have passion fruit - this is realistic baking.

    Here is me with the weird shaped cake mould. It isn’t the one used in the programme but it seemed to do the trick.

    First, you find a sieve. I never see bakers on GBBO spending ten minutes rooting though every draw in the kitchen, asking the dog for help, standing in the hall way with a blank expression on their faces then eventually ringing their mum to locate said item. We were off to a slow start but when found, you sift the flour and 100g of the sugar in to a bowl and put it to one side.

    Jessie was no help at all in finding the sieve.

    Then you put 10 egg whites in to a bowl and using an electric mixer you whisk for a minute. Next, you add the Crème of Tartar (What the hell is this? Is it related to Tartar sauce? Who knows), lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Mix this on high for 2-3 minutes. Then spoon by spoon, add 200g of caster sugar and keep mixing until the peaks are “firm and not stiff”. I think mine were stiff but it was hard to tell.

    Here is the mixer I used that belonged to my grandma and is at least 35 years old. It still works which is amazing, but it does smell like burning when in use. Part of the cable is cello taped together which isn’t very encouraging.

    Now you FOLD, like bedding, the flour and sugar you set aside, in to the egg whites mixture. Apparently you need to keep the air in and do it slowly. I was FOLDING but there were still waterfalls of flour at every FOLD. I didn’t want to do anymore so at this point I tipped it into the mould anyway.

    Here is it in the mould and here is me going around the middle with a knife to let out any bubbles. I am so confused though. I thought the FOLDING was to keep the air in, then you have to use the knife to remove the air. Wtf Mary Berry.

    Check the dog. She looks confused.

    Put in the oven for 45-50 mins at 160 C for a fan oven. It was done at 40 mins for me.

    Once out of the oven, you hang it upside down and in the programme this meant propping the mould on tiny feet. My mould didn’t have feet or even legs so instead I slipped it over a bottle of pink food colouring, helped by some plates and a tube of icing. Leave for an hour.

    After an hour the bloody thing was still very much wedged in there so I used a knife to go around the edges and then used a pallet knife to prize it out on to a wire rack.

    It came out in one piece!! Hallelujah! It looked a bit shit though. Most of the outside of the cake was still in the tin.

    Next, you ignore the fact that your cake looks really really bad and you whisk the cream and vanilla together for sosososososossosososo long and then your arm kills. Finish when there are “soft” peaks.

     Here comes the best bit: get a spoon and spoon the cream on to the cake and spread it about with a pallet knife.

    Then take your jar of lemon curd and put it into a bowl and mix it about a bit. Then drizzle everywhere. On the cake. Not all over the house. But a lot of it does get on the table.

    Ta Da! A cake that looks awesome and better than most of the Great British Bakers’ attempts (applause).

    Here is me with cake.

    Here I am poking cake to check the texture and pretending to be Mary Berry.

    How good is this slice?

    As you can see I am chuffed to bits with this cake. I didn’t cry or cut my fingers off and it tastes delicious!  If all the bakes go this well maybe I should apply for next year’s series! I don’t want to overshadow Mary Berry by being just too good at baking though.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Great Beginning - crying, flirting and salty cake man

It’s the new series of the Great British Bake Off and as I am an unemployed recent graduate, I thought why not celebrate this occasion with a blog!

            Great start to the series with a show ever so similar to those which came before it, mmm as comforting as a cup of tea. Mel and Sue (presenters) were on top form, the contestants are as interesting and as batty as ever, and the cakes were magnificent. As much as I enjoy the show, it astounds me that each episode attracts over six million viewers. It just shows that warm soothing telly like this appeals to a huge demographic and, shown by the failure of the US version of the show, the programme is very bloody British and we like that.

            One episode in and there has been crying because some custard curdled, bloodshed and a man who made a salty cake. The girl who cried needs to go back to university and chill the hell out because clearly the pressure of making a sponge cake has gotten too much already. Salty cake man had to leave the competition this week, what a shocker, but it is a shame because I thoroughly enjoyed his chaotic ambiance, muttering “where’s that thing” as he started a bake. It was refreshing to have someone who clearly wasn't sure about the names of the implements never mind the science of baking.

            My favourite contestant is Glenn the English teacher who isn't taking it too seriously but who clearly has talent. I was won over when he was commanding his spaniel to “Molly, where’s the Bake Off? Find the Bake Off”. The token nerdy baker award goes to Rob, a space satellite designer who has been cursed with a tedious voice and he must have thought this would go extremely well with a tedious personality, and he has accomplished that. When tempering chocolate he was saying “it’s all about crystal structure” blahblahblah, but actually he is obviously a very clever chap and he is rather quaint in his A* student kind of way. He clearly knows what he is doing, even as far as the crystal structure, so he is one to watch out for.

            In more news, how intense will the flirting between Paul and Mary become over the series? It has got off to a meek start, but a start nevertheless, with Paul’s quip “oh you’re cruel Mary” in reference to the difficulty of the technical challenge. Sparks will fly.

            Tune in next week when I will be examining the highs and lows of bread baking, keeping up with flirt watch, nerd watch and following the sugary drama.

Final three predictions (dun dun duuun!): Beca, Rob and Howard.