Technical Challenges: Final Week

So I’ve come to the end of the Bake Off challenges. I’m a little sad to reach this week, I must admit. As time-consuming and occasionally stressful as it has been at times, I’ve really enjoyed the bakes, and now feel far more confident in my baking abilities.

I have to say that in actual Bake Off conditions – with half-recipes, a highly stressful environment, and little time – I may well have been found huddled in a corner of the Bake Off tent, clutching a whisk and crying quietly to myself. But with the relative comfort of my home and recipes that included oven temperatures and timings, I found myself having a wonderful time week after week, and I find myself eager to try again next year.

There are some recipes that have been wonderful new finds – I will certainly be making povitica and kouign amann again – and others that, while great, I probably won’t be rushing to re-attempt (*cough cough* schichttorte *cough cough*).

This final week was a pleasant surprise, as they were all things I had made before, but I actually ended up with potentially more issues than any previous technical bake!

So here’s what happened:

Technical Challenge: Final WeekI decided to do as the contestants did, and make these without the aid of a recipe. I used the Mary Berry recipes (here, here and here) for ingredients/amounts only.

This actually probably worked in my favour a little, because I would probably have had even more issues had I followed the timings. You see, my biggest problem turned out to be lack of equipment.

I had not anticipated needing mini-cake tins and mini-tart tins. So I tried to make do with mini-loaf tins for the Victoria sponges, and a muffin tray for the tartes au citron. It wasn’t a total disaster, but the results were certainly a far cry from what I would have liked to have produced! I might need to make a big Victoria sponge and lemon tart just to remind myself that I can do them!

Victoria SpongesAnyway, the Victoria sponges came out tasting delicious, but the quantities were a little tricky to get right with the sizes of the loaf tins, so they were not the best ones I’ve ever made! The main problem I had with them actually was trying to keep an eye on the strawberry jam while simultaneously breastfeeding my daughter. This proved impossible. So I took my jam off the heat a little bit too early, and ended up with the same problem as Richard – it was too runny and seeped into the cake (although my husband claims it’s better that way!). I have made jam so often I should know better – but in my attempts at multitasking I wasn’t paying enough attention!

SconesThe scones came out pretty much perfect, other than the baking powder I used, which (with so much in there) left them with a slightly tinny taste due to the aluminium in it. It’s happened before with that baking powder, so I will definitely be switching to an aluminium-free one! I was not at all frazzled by the scones though. I could make them in my sleep, having made easily over 1000 in my time. I used to help my chaplaincy team at university make hundreds for cream teas during freshers’ weeks! Just goes to show that practice really does make perfect.

Tartes au citronThe tartes au citron were easily my worst bake. They came out ok (I suppose at least they weren’t ‘scrambled egg’ like Richard’s), but again, I was trying to breastfeed and watch them bake in the oven, so I left them a little too long and they were a little too set and slightly flavourless as a result. They were particularly tricky to get right (and certainly pretty) without the right baking tins! Still, given the circumstances, I guess they weren’t too bad. The chocolate was difficult, although I think by that point I had partly given up – I didn’t attempt to temper it properly or use a greaseproof paper piping bag like I usually would working with chocolate. I just melted it and drizzled with a spoon. I see what Paul meant by it coming out looking like tarte au ‘colon’ though – easy to do!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my attempts at all of these challenges as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them. I might have to make this an annual thing! 😛 Although I might take a little break from advanced technical bakes for the time being. As much as I’ve loved it, and although I feel pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished, I’m still not sure you’ll be seeing me on Bake Off anytime soon. Maybe in a few years…

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2 thoughts on “Technical Challenges: Final Week

  1. Of think you have done really well! I know that I am a good cook and can make a decent bake, but I am no baker, so bake off is not one of my ambitions, I know my limits. Maybe in 20 years time, but I have learnt by watching it, and have very much enjoyed reading about your exploits. You should be proud, and please will you make P, H and I a Princessa Torte? Xx

    1. Definitely. I’m planning on attempting it again next time we go to you! 🙂

      Thank you, I really enjoyed it. I think you can be a naturally decent baker, but it’s all about practice to become a particularly great one – I guess that’s part of why I wanted to do the technical challenges!

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