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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Prinsesstårta Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge

This Swedish Princess layer cake is pastel green and full of custard, jam, marzipan, and a mound of whipped cream!
This cake was one of the Technical challenges on the Great British Bake Off 2014, I have promised myself to try each challenge and then to sell the result in my Fancy cafe.

Adapted from Mary Berry's Recipe
Preparation method
For the vanilla custard
    600ml milk
    1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeded scraped out
    6 free-range egg yolks
    100g caster sugar
    50g cornflour
    50g unsalted butter

    For the Jam
    200g raspberries
    175g caster sugar

    For the Sponge
    5 medium free-range eggs
    5 oz caster sugar
    2½oz cornflour
    2½oz plain flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    50g butter, melted
    Filling & topping
    600ml pints double cream
    50g dark chocolate (36% cocoa solids), melted

    For the Marzipan
    400g ground almonds
    150g caster sugar
    250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
    2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
    1 tsp almond extract
    green food colouring paste

  1. For the vanilla custard, pour the milk into a pan with the vanilla seeds and vanilla pod and place over a low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until pale and creamy.
  3. Remove the vanilla pod from the warm milk.
  4. Stir the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, whisking, until the mixture thickens. (It should be very thick.)
  5. Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted and incorporated. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Set aside to chill in the fridge.
  1. For the jam tip the raspberries into a deep saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and boil vigorously for about four minutes, or until the temperature reaches 104C/219F on a sugar thermometer. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool completely.

  1. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/Gas 4. Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in springform tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and using an electric mixer, whisk together until the mixture is very pale and thick and the whisk leaves a trail on the surface when lifted. This will take about five minutes.
  3. Sift the cornflour, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon. Fold in the melted butter, taking care not to over mix.
  4. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until the sponge is golden-brown and has just started to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble the cake:
  • using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into three even layers. Place one of the sponges onto a serving plate. Spread a very thin layer of custard over the base of the first sponge.
  • Spoon a quarter of the custard into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a border around the edge of the sponge – this is to contain the jam.
  • Spoon the jam over the sponge, and spread evenly within the border.

  • In a bowl, whip double cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the remaining custard.
  • Spread 1/3 of the custard cream over the jam.

  • Place the second sponge on top and spread the remaining custard cream over.

  • Place the third sponge on top. Spoon over the remaining whipped cream covering the sides and smoothing into a small dome shape on the top. Set aside in the fridge for an hour.
  • For the marzipan, mix the ground almonds and sugars in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, before adding the eggs and almond extract.
  • Knead in the bowl until it forms a stiff dough. Turn out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Using a cocktail stick add a tiny amount of green food colouring and knead to an even pastel green colour.
  • Roll out the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, to a 40cm/16in diameter circle, large enough to cover the cake. 
  • Lift the marzipan up over the cake and using your hands, shape the marzipan around the sides of the cake to get a smooth finish. Trim any excess.

  • Spoon the melted chocolate into a small paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe a swirls over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


Pineapple Upside Down Cake is my youngest sons favourite pudding, he likes retro cakes & desserts like his dad and grandad !

This cake is traditionally baked in a round tin, but if baked in a square or rectangle tin everyone gets a pineapple ring to themselves.

I adapted this recipe from 'Worlds Best Cakes' By Roger Pizey.  I usually use demerara sugar at the bottom of my tin, this recipe caught my eye as it uses golden syrup instead. This gave the cherries and pineapple a lovely gloss and an extra flavour of syrup steamed sponge.


250g golden syrup
10-12 tinned pineapple rings drained from a tin 
glace cherries
225 g very soft butter
225g caster sugar
6 medium eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
400g plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
120 ml warm full fat milk

  • Preheat oven to 175 C
  • If using a cake tin 30x23cm grease & line with baking paper (i used a foil tray, no greasing required)
  • Pour the golden syrup into the tray and spread all over. (warm syrup is easier)
  • Place the pineapple rings in tin with a glace cherry.

  • Cream the butter & sugar together until pale, light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract. (if mix curdles add a little of the flour)

  • Slowly add the flour & baking powder until mixed in.
  • Finally add the warm milk and mix gently to a smooth batter with a soft dropping consistency.
  • Pour the batter over the pineapple rings and smooth over.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 45 mins or until a cocktail stick inserted into centre comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  • Turn out onto a wire cooling tray, cut and share.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Ciabatta Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge

One of the technical challenges on The Great British Bake Off 2014 set by bread baker Paul Hollywood, was Ciabatta. The challenge was to bake four Italian ciabatta bread loaves using Paul's recipe, below.

Ciabatta is something I have never baked before so was looking forward to testing 
Paul Hollywoods recipe.

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt10g instant yeast
40ml olive oil
400 ml tepid water
Fine semolina for dusting (optional)

1. Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container.
(It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough).

2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add the olive oil and three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water. Then mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy.

3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled, even trebled in size – 1-2 hours or longer.

My tub was too shallow, or my dough was growing fast. My dough started off where the pen mark is on the tub, so it has more than trebled in size.

4. Heat your oven to 220°C and line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.

5. Dust your work surface heavily with flour – add some semolina too, if you have some. Carefully tip out the dough (it will be very wet) onto the work surface, trying to retain a rough square shape. 

Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. Coat the top of the dough with more flour and/or semolina. Cut the dough in half lengthways and divide each half lengthways into 2 strips. You should now have 4 pieces of dough. Stretch each piece of dough lengthways a little and place on prepared baking trays.

6. Leave the ciabatta dough to rest for a further 10 minutes, then bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Cool on a wire rack.

Here they are my finished loaves !

Tiramisu Cake Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge

Another technical challenge from the British Bake Off 2014

Adapted from Mary Berry Recipe


For the filling
For the decoration


  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C
    Grease a 38x25cm Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
  2. For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric hand-held mixer, whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. The mixture should leave a light trail on the surface when the whisk is lifted.
  3. Sift over the flour and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula, taking care not to over mix.

  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and tilt the tin to level the surface.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

  6. For the filling mix espresso & brandy. Set aside to cool.
  7. When the sponge is cold, carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two thin sponges of equal depth.
  8. Using the loose base of a square cake tin as a guide, 7inch squares from each sponge.

  9. Line the base and sides of the square tin with long rectangles of baking parchment; there should be plenty of excess parchment which you can use to help lift the cake from the tin later.

  10. Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar to make a creamy, spreadable frosting.
  11. Place one layer of sponge in the base of the lined cake tin. Spoon over one-quarter of the coffee brandy mixture. Then spread one-quarter of the mascarpone frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over one-third of the grated chocolate.

  12. Place the second sponge on top, spoon over another quarter of the coffee mixture then spread another quarter of the frosting over the soaked sponge. Scatter over another one third of the grated chocolate. Repeat with the third sponge and another one-quarter of the coffee mixture and frosting and the remaining grated chocolate.
  13. Place the fourth sponge on top and spoon over the remaining coffee mixture. Using a palette knife spread a very thin layer of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake.

  14. Chill for at least one hour in the fridge before turning out.
  15. While the cake is chilling, melt half of the chopped chocolate in a small bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.) Gently stir the chocolate until it reaches a melting temperature of 53C.

  16. Remove the bowl from the heat and add the remaining half of chopped chocolate and continuing stirring gently until the chocolate cools to 31C or lower and is thick enough to pipe.
  17. Place a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Use another sheet to make a paper piping bag.
  18. Spoon the melted chocolate into the paper piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe decorative shapes onto the baking parchment. Leave to set until required.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Florentines Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge

  • The Great British Bake Off is back on T.V.  I don't watch much television but have made a point of watching this series and trying each of the technical challenges.  Florentines is something I haven't baked before so I was looking forward to trying these out. 

    Florentine biscuit (or, more correctly, a Florentine) is an Italian pastry made from setting nuts (most typically hazel and almond) and candied cherries into a caramel disc, which is then often coated on the bottom with chocolate.
    Using Mary Berry's recipe below:

    50g butter
  • 50g demarera sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g dried cranberries or glace cherries, finely chopped
  • 50g candied peel, finely chopped
  • 25g almonds, finely chopped
  • 25g/1oz walnuts nuts finely chopped
200g plain chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line three baking trays with baking parchment or silicon sheets.

Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the 
butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped 
cranberries or cherries, candied peel and nuts to the pan. Stir well to mix.

Make 18 florentines (approx 18g each) by spooning six teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to 

each of the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for them to spread during cooking.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden-brown. Leave the florentines to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack using a palette knife.

Melt chocolate in microwave on low setting until just melted and smooth.

Spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each florentine and leave to cool slightly before marking a zigzag in the chocolate with a fork. Leave to set, chocolate side up on a cooling rack.

After baking these for the first time they were so delicious I decided to bake larger florentines so I doubled the recipe and placed 18 slightly domed tablespoon measures on a baking tray (approx 36g each), baked for 15 minutes.

The photos below are of my larger size florentines !

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