Technical Challenge Week 9 – Les Misérables Slices

I was quite nervous when I saw that Les Miserables were a technical challenge, but they weren’t actually that bad! They also tasted really nice – the lemon-soaked sponges were lovely, and the fresh raspberry buttercream was delicious. I’m surprised to admit it, but I would actually make these again!

As there are quite a few steps involved in this process, I think it’s best to refer you to the original website – their instructions are far clearer than I could manage. Good luck!

Technical Challenge Week 8 – Rum Nicky

As it was forgotten bakes week, I had no idea what to expect when making this. I really didn’t expect to enjoy eating it but it was delicious! No soggy bottoms here either – I thought it would be very wet underneath, but it was crisp and dry!

Ingredients

Pastry Dough

  • 200g (1 2/cups) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 100g (1 stick minus 1 tablespoon) cold butter
  •  1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 egg, to glaze

Filling

  •  250g (1 1/2 cups) Medjool dates, coarsely chopped
  • 100g (1/2 cup) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 50g (1/3 cup) crystallised ginger, finely chopped
  • 50mL (1/4 cup) dark rum
  • 50g (1/4 cup) light brown soft sugar
  •  50g (1/2 stick) butter, cut into small cubes

Method

  1. Mix together all of the filling ingredients (except the butter), in a bowl and leave aside to soak while you make the pastry.
  2. For the dough, cut the butter into small cubes, and then add the flour and icing sugar. Rub into the dough until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the egg, lemon juice, and water to the mixture, and mix to combine. Once it balls together, wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes to rest.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Split the dough into two pieces – one third and two thirds. Roll out the two-thirds of dough and use to line a 22cm metal pie dish. Leave the excess pastry hanging over the edge.
  5. Spread the filling over the pastry case, and dot the butter around on the surface.
  6. Roll out the remaining dough and cut into 14 strips around 1/2” wide. Use these to create a lattice with 7 strands either side directly on top of the cake. Brush with the egg to glaze.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160ºC (320ºF) for another 20 minutes.
  8. Serve warm or cold.

 

You can find the original recipe here, on The Great British Bake Off’s website.

Technical Challenge Week 7 – Margherita Pizza

I love making pizzas – I’ve been making these at least once a month for the past couple of years, so I think I would have been pretty good at this challenge! The most important thing is to make sure the mozzarella has been drained and squeezed in kitchen roll to remove as much moisture as possible. If this isn’t done, you may end up with a soup of liquid in the middle of your pizza!

Makes 2 Pizzas

Ingredients

Dough

  •  5g (1 tsp) fast-action dried yeast
  • 260mL (1 cup) warm water
  • 400g (3 1/cups) strong white bread flour
  • 1/tsp salt
  • 2 tsp oil
  • large pinch of sugar
  • basil leaves, to garnish

Sauce

  •  1 can (400g) plum tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • large pinch of sugar

Method

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large bowl. Add the water and oil on top, and mix together with a spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  2. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
  3. For the sauce, chop and fry the garlic in a little oil for a minute, then stir in the tomatoes.
  4. Add the sugar and salt and simmer for 10 minutes until it is a thick, sauce-like consistency. Leave to one side until needed.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF). Split the dough in half and using your hands, press out into a large circle. Try not to press the outside rim to ensure a thick crust.
  6. Add the sauce to the middle of the pizza, and spread outwards leaving an inch rim for the crust. Slice your mozzarella and place on top.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling. Remove from the heat and add basil leaves to garnish. Enjoy!

Technical Challenge Week 6 – Pasteis de Nata

Pasteis

Pasteis de Nata, or Portuguese Tarts, are one of my favourite things to eat. If you’re ever in the Cardiff area, make sure to visit Nata & Co. – it’s a Portuguese bakery where they sell all kinds of delicious bakes, including the famous tart.

Don’t be daunted by the pastry – make sure you use plenty of flour underneath, and regularly lift the dough to ensure it doesn’t stick. Trust me – they’re worth it!!!

Makes 12 Tarts

Ingredients

Dough

  •  125g (1 cup) flour
  • 1/8tsp salt
  • 115mL (1/2 cup) water
  • 110g (1 stick) butter

Custard

  •  12g (1 tsp and 1 tbsp) flour
  • 148mL (2/3 cup) milk
  • 132g (2/3 cups) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 80mL (1/3 cup) water
  • 1/4tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks

Method

Dough

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, and water until combined. It should be a nice, soft, dough. Add a little more flour or water, if required.
  2. Roll into a 12.5″ square. Take one-third of the butter and spread across the left two-thirds of the dough, leaving a 1″ gap around the edges. Fold the right (unbuttered) third into the middle, and then fold the left side into the middle (see slideshow below for further clarification). Turn the dough by 90 degrees.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  3. Roll out to a 12.5″ square again and repeat as before with a further third of butter.
  4. Roll the dough into a 9″ x 21″ rectangle with the short side towards you, and use the remaining butter to cover the dough. Working carefully, tightly roll the dough towards you, brushing off excess flour from the bottom as you roll.
  5. Trim the ends and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight. You can also freeze the dough at this point.

Custard

  1. Whisk the flour and 30mL (1/8 cup) of the milk together in a medium bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the sugar, water, and cinnamon together until it reaches 100ºC (220ºF).
  3. Meanwhile, add the remaining milk to a separate saucepan, and scald (until 82ºC/180ºF). Whisk this into the flour/milk mixture.
  4. Remove the cinnamon stick and then pour the syrup into the flour/milk mixture, whisking together as you do. Add the vanilla and leave to cool for a minute before whisking in the egg yolks.
  5. Strain the mixture into a clean jug. The custard does not need to be thick at this point.

Baking

  1. Pre-heat your oven to your highest setting (mine was 250ºC), and remove your dough from the fridge.
  2. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces, and place one piece into each cavity in your muffin tin. You may need to let your dough soften out of the fridge slightly before continuing.
  3. Using your thumbs, push the dough down into the tin until the base is covered, then push up the sides of the tin to create the sides. Repeat with all of your dough.
  4. Pour your custard into each cup of dough so it is three-quarters full, and bake until they are brown around the edges and on top (around 12-15 minutes).
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They are best eaten warm!

This recipe has been adapted from leitesculinaria.com. You can find the recipe here.

Technical Challenge Week 5 – Molten Puddings

I love making molten puddings – I am constantly making a similar recipe, which is chocolate with an oozy chocolate centre. Hopefully I will put that on my blog soon!

These puddings are so easy to make for dinner parties – the mixture can be made in advance and kept in the fridge in their moulds. Once you are ready, you can pop them straight into the oven. Just make sure to add a couple of extra minutes to account for the chilling. This recipe is also quite easy to scale – you can always third the recipe to make two as a practice to perfect the times!!

Makes 6

Ingredients

  •  cocoa powder, for dusting
  • 165g (1 cup chopped) dark chocolate
  • 165g (3/4 cup) butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 85g (1/2 cups) caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 6 heaped tbsp peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) or 180°C (360°F) fan. Grease 6 pudding moulds or ramekins with butter and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. Melt the chocolate and the butter together, and leave to one side to cool.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until pale and frothy. Fold in the chocolate mixture, then sieve and gently fold in the flour.
  4. Add three-quarters of the batter to the moulds, and then spoon 1tbsp of peanut butter onto each. Top up each mould with the remaining batter.
  5. Place the moulds on a baking tray and bake for 8-12 minutes – they should still have a bit of a wobble.
  6. Take them out of the oven, and leave for about a minute before turning out onto a plate.

The original recipe can be found on The Great British Bake Off’s website.

Technical Challenge Week 4 – Stroopwafels

2017-09-20 12.47.19-3

When I discovered that stroopwafels were the next technical challenge, I was worried – I thought it would be impossible to create these without a waffle iron. However, necessity is the mother of invention! I managed to ‘make’ one using two cast iron pans, which you can see below:

2017-09-20 11.40.51-3

With this setup, I heated up both pieces separately on a medium-high heat. Once heated, I added a ball of dough to the bottom, and (using oven gloves!) I put the smaller pan on top and squished it down for 30 seconds. I then left these to cook for a further minute and a half, and I think they turned out great! The smaller cast iron piece had a design on the base, so this also made them come out quite pretty, if I do say so myself!

2017-09-20 12.53.32-3

As with all the bakers in this challenge, my caramel also came out very grainy. If I were to make these again, I think I would try to melt the sugar alone first, and then add in the butter. The sugar just did not want to dissolve for some reason.

However, they tasted amazing, and I would definitely attempt them again in the future.

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 300g (21/2 cups) plain flour
  • 65g (1/4 cup) butter
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1/tsp cinnamon
  • 65g (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 65mL (1/4 cup) warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt

For the caramel

  • 200g (1 cup packed) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • You will also need a 10cm (4 inch) round cookie cutter.

Method

  1. In a large bowl, rub the butter and the flour together until it looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the yeast, cinnamon, and sugar.
  2. Stir in the warm water and egg, and knead together for two minutes, until smooth. Cover and leave for 30 minutes.
  3. For the caramel, melt the butter and sugar together over a low heat until dissolved. Add the cinnamon and syrup and stir until it starts to bubble. Stir in the vanilla, and keep warm.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized pieces, and cover with a damp cloth to prevent them drying out.
  5. Heat up the waffle iron or cast iron (see instructions above), and grease with butter. Place a ball on, and close the lid. Bake for 1-2 minutes until they are a dark golden colour.
  6. Quickly, remove the stroopwafel and place on a chopping board. Cut using a 10cm (4 inch) cutter, and slice in half with a sharp knife.
  7. Add a heaping tablespoon of caramel in the middle of one side, and gently push the two sides together to evenly distribute the caramel across the surface. Place on a wire rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining dough.

 

This recipe was originally from the Great British Bake Off’s website, which you can find here.

Technical Challenge Week 3 – Cottage Loaf (Walnut and Berry Bread)

2017-09-16 09.23.46-22017-09-16 09.30.07-2

The technical challenge from week 3 was a cottage loaf. I thought it would be a bit boring to do a loaf of white bread – so here is my favourite bread recipe reimagined as a cottage loaf!

My Walnut and Berry Bread is delicious as-is with butter, but is also great toasted. I try not to make this too often because it rarely has time to cool down before the loaf is gone!

I like to change up the fruit I add to this recipe – my current favourite is a mixture of currants, flame raisins and dried cranberries. However, if you can’t find or don’t like any of these, feel free to add whatever you like!

Ingredients

  •  150g (11/cups) white bread flour
  • 150g (11/cups) wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 200mL (1 cup) warm water
  • 100g (3/cups) walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g (2/cups) dried fruit (see above)

Method

  1. Mix together the flours, salt, yeast, and cinnamon. Add the sugar and oil to the water and mix briefly.
  2. Add the liquid to the flour, and mix until you have a have a dough – add a little more water if the dough is dry. Knead for 5 minutes until soft and springy.
  3. Add the fruit/nut mixture to the dough and knead thoroughly until well incorporated.
  4. Take two-thirds of the dough, and roll into a ball. Place onto a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with one hand. Take the remaining third and repeat on top of the larger ball. Flour two fingers and push down through the centre of the dough from the top down to the bottom to bond the two sections together.
  5. Cover with oiled clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to rise for around an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Remove the covering and make 8 slits in each tier of the bread. Place into the centre of the oven and add cold water to the bottom of the oven to create steam.
  7. Bake for around 35 minutes. Turn the loaf over and check if it sounds hollow – if not, place back into the oven upside-down for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

 

This recipe has been adapted from Delia’s Walnut and Raisin Bread – find it here.

Technical Challenge Week 2 – Fortune Cookies

2017-09-08 23.42.12-2.jpg

I was very excited when I saw that fortune cookies were next on the agenda – they have been on my to-do list for so long! This finally gave me an excuse to make them, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

A silicone baking mat is required for this recipe – fortune cookies will stick to anything else (even greaseproof paper!), so make sure you have a mat! Also be aware that you need to manipulate these as soon as they come out of the oven – a small spatula can help to flip and fold the cookies to prevent burning yourself. My only other advice would be to make sure they have started to brown on the edges – underbaked dough will not harden fully and will prevent a crisp snap.

I really did enjoy making these, and I hope you will too!

Makes 12 Fortune Cookies – 6 of each

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 65g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 11/2 tsp cornflour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • orange food colouring

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) / 130°C (270°F) fan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat, and prepare fortunes for your cookies.
  2. Gently whisk the egg whites together with the vegetable oil and water.
  3. Sieve the flour, cornflour, and salt together in a separate bowl, and stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the egg mixture to the bowl and beat until smooth. Do not aerate the batter.
  5. Divide the batter into two bowls. Add the almond extract to one, and the orange extract to the other.
  6. For the orange fortune cookies, place 3 tbsp batter into a disposable icing bag and set aside. Colour the remaining batter bright orange.
  7. For the almond cookies, place one tablespoon of batter onto one side of the silicone mat and using the back of a spoon, spread until you have a 10cm (4″) circle. Repeat on the other side of the mat with a second tablespoon of mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.
  8. Working quickly, remove from the oven and lift a cookie from the tray. Add a fortune to the centre, fold in half and press the edges to seal. Place the middle of the folded edge of the cookie on the rim of a glass to fold them in to make the classic shape. Place in a 12-hole muffin tin to cool and set. Repeat with the other cookie, and the remaining batter to make six in total.
  9. For the orange cookies, place two tablespoons of batter onto the silicone mat and spread as before. Using the piping bag, pipe six circles of light-coloured batter around the circle, 1cm in from the edge. Drag a cocktail stick through the first circle, and follow around to form a heart pattern around the outside of the cookie.
  10. Bake and shape as above, to make a further six cookies.

 

This recipe was adapted from Paul’s Fortune Cookies Recipe, which can be found on The Great British Bake Off’s website.

Technical Challenge Week 1 – Mini Rolls

2017-09-04 21.07.13-2   2017-09-04 21.05.04-3

So here we are – Series 8 of The Great British Bake Off has started! As a personal challenge this year, I am going to attempt the technical challenges from each week and post my results.

As mini rolls are so readily available in the supermarket, it had never crossed my mind to make them from scratch! I used Prue’s recipe but made a couple of adjustments to emulate store-bought mini rolls. In this recipe, the peppermint filling is substituted for vanilla, and they are coated in milk chocolate instead of a combination of plain and milk chocolate.

Overall, they were trickier to make than I expected – it was quite fiddly to roll the sponge without tearing it, and to ensure the rolls were completely coated in chocolate. I am quite pleased with my results though – hopefully I wouldn’t be the first to leave the tent!

Makes 12 Rolls

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 60g (2/3 cup) cocoa powder
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp water (boiled)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar

For the Filling

  • 150g (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 300g (21/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Coating

  • 400g (2 cups chopped) milk chocolate
  •  100g (1/2 cup chopped) white chocolate

Method

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) / 160°C (320°F) fan. Grease two swiss roll tins (30cm x 20cm / 12″ x 8″) and line with greaseproof paper.
  2. Mix together the cocoa powder, butter, vanilla extract, and water.
  3. Separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks and 100g (1/2 cup) sugar together and whisk until smooth and frothy. Mix into the chocolate mixture.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and remaining sugar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Beat one-third of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture, until mixed thoroughly.
  6. Carefully fold the remaining egg white into the mixture, making sure to keep as much air in the batter as possible.
  7. Pour the mixture into the two tins and level gently with a spatula. Bake for 12-18 minutes, then leave the tins to cool completely on wire racks.

Filling & Rolling

  1. Combine the butter, icing sugar, and vanilla extract until mixed, then beat vigorously until pale and fluffy.
  2. Flip the cakes onto fresh greaseproof paper and remove the old paper. Score a line 4cm (approximately 13/4“) from each short end of the cake, so you have two lines on each cake.
  3. Spread the buttercream evenly over the top of both cakes, and roll one side towards the centre using the greaseproof paper. Turn the cake and repeat on the other side so they meet in the middle and cut along this line. Repeat with the other sponge so that you have four long rolls.
  4. Even the ends by cutting off a small amount, then divide each roll into three. Place these seam-side down onto a cooling rack and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.

Coating

  1. Melt the milk chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Place the cooling rack on top of a baking tray to catch the excess, and pour the chocolate over the rolls to cover.
  2. Once the milk chocolate has set, melt the white chocolate and place into a disposable piping bag. Cut off the tip and pipe lines across the top of the rolls. Leave to set.

This recipe was adapted from Prue’s Chocolate Mini Rolls Recipe, which can be found on The Great British Bake Off’s website.

Coca Cola Cake

Coca Cola Cake

I know, I know – who thinks of these things? I would have never thought of adding cola to a cake, but that’s exactly what happens here. It doesn’t flavour the cake, but instead creates a sweet, moist, chocolate cake. However, the frosting on top does have that sickly-sweet cola flavour. I tend to use buttermilk substitutions instead of buying buttermilk – add 1 1/2tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 125mL (1/2 cup) of milk, and leave for 10 minutes before using. Go on, give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Makes a 20cm (8 inch) square cake or 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cake

  •  200g (1 2/3 cups) plain (AP) flour
  • 250g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 125mL (1/2 cup) buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g (1/cup) unsalted butter
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • 175ml (3/4 cups) coca-cola

For the icing

  •  225g (1 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 30g (2tbsp) butter
  • 45mL (3tbsp) coca-cola
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c (350°f). Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) square tin.
  2. Add the butter, cola and cocoa to a saucepan and heat until melted.
  3. Place the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl, and add the egg, buttermilk, vanilla and cola into a jug.
  4. Add the cola-butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Add the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for around 40 minutes, or until a few moist crumbs cling to a toothpick.
  6. Leave in the tin to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
  7. For the icing, melt the butter and cola together as before. Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Mix in enough sifted sugar to make a smooth, runny icing.
  8. Cover the warm cake with icing and leave to cool before serving.

This recipe was originally from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess‘.