I love baking, but rarely get round to doing any. So when Great British Bake Off started this year I thought: sod it, I’m getting involved. And so Bake along with Bake Off began. The rules are simple, pick whatever you fancy from the week’s signature, technical or showstopper challenges and get it baked before the next episode. Also, in the spirit of being adventurous, don’t just pick the simplest one, there’s got to be a bit of a challenge
Cake week, simple. Mary Berry is a big fan of the genoise sponge which I’ve never even eaten, let alone baked. So I gave that a whirl.
I went with former bake off finalist Ruby Tandoh’s recipe from the guardian as that seemed legit. The key to a good genoise is beating in a ton of air in the early stages, as without it your cake won’t rise. I failed. But I don’t blame the recipe. I genuinely felt the moment when my ever-so-careful flour folding resulted in all the air whooshing from the mixture. But it’s a lesson for next time. I also learned icing sugar and strawberries make anything look presentable.
Biscuit Week! While I really wanted to make a 3D gingerbread display of a story from my life, practicality won over and I did Viennese Whirls instead. This time I went straight for the classic Mary Berry recipe but didn’t make the jam. Because who has time for that nonsense unless you’re actually in the bake off tent.
This went pretty well. I’m quietly smug about them. I think I needed a bigger nozzle to get some really good swirl action, and I’d definitely make them smaller next time, but generally pretty easy to make and tasted so good.
Bread Week! And as tempted as I was to make dampfnudeln, if only for the song, instead I faced up to a chocolate brioche.
This is based on Paul Hollywood’s basic brioche recipe from his excellent How to Bake. I added orange zest to the mix before it went in for an overnight chill and then chocolate chips when I was kneeding and shaping it ready for the prove. Pro Tip: if you leave your dough to prove, and then go out and forget about it and come home to find it’s exploded all over where you left it… you can totally rescue it by gathering it all up, reshaping and the leaving it to prove again for an hour. Good to know. I decorated it with chocolate shavings and icing made from orange juice and icing sugar. Good breakfast loaf.
Batter week! I’ve always wanted to make crazy pancake shapes. So after watching a few YouTube videos I made up a basic pancake mix and went for it. I’ve got some squeezey bottles that made everything easier.
Bonus Yorkshire Pudding Recipe. I refused to make them. They’re ridiculously easy and Bake Off massively over-hyped the drama of them. You will never fail with this recipe:
- Pre-heat oven as hot as it goes. Literally, as hot as it can possibly be.
- Take your muffin tin and pour enough oil in each cup to cover the bottom. Put in the oven for around 15 mins.
- Whisk up: 100g plain flour, 100ml milk, 3 eggs, pinch of salt into a smooth batter. Leave to one side.
- Do this next bit as quick as you can without burning yourself.
- When your 15 minutes is up, take out the muffin tin and pour your batter into each cup to around the half way mark. The oil with spit and sizzle when the batter hits it but stay calm. A jug or small laddle will make this much easier.
- Put the muffin tin back in the oven (which is still as hot as it can be) for around 15 minutes
- DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR
- At this point I enjoy sitting on the floor and watching them puff up, but that’s not everyones cup off tea. Have a peer through the glass at them after 15 minutes and make a judgement call if it’s time to take them out.