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Cherry Bakewell Victoria Sponge: #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong

The second pre-bake theme for #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong was Victoria Sponge. Never one to stick to the classic, I chose to use Cherry Bakewell icing sugar by Sugar and Crumbs to help me create this sponge. I have reviewed Sugar and Crumbs before and I loved their high quality products which are also naturally flavoured. You can find Cherry Bakewell sugar by clicking here.

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The Cherry Bakewell sugar has a distinct flavour that will instantly remind you of the Cherry Bakewell tarts! I decided to compliment this flavour by creating an almond sponge and using a strawberry jam in the centre since this is a Victoria sponge after all.

Both almond flavoured sponges are topped with a layer of flaked almonds before baking which add texture and flavour as they toast in the oven. The top layer of sponge is covered with a thin yet essential layer of icing which reminds you that this is Cherry Bakewell inspired.

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I think a cream cheese icing works much better in this cake. Its tangy flavour balances out the sweetness slightly as the flavour of the Cherry Bakewell sugar is strong and powerful. However if you want to do a whipped cream or a buttercream, feel free to use your favourite recipes.

You can find my other #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong bakes by clicking on the links. Check out my Coffee and Vanilla Striped Biscuits and my Vanilla Custard Creams.


For the sponges:

225g margarine

225g granulated sugar

4 eggs

1/2 tsp almond extract

200g self-raising flour

50g ground almonds

50ml milk

20g flaked almonds

For the filling and decoration

60g margarine

40g cream cheese

130g icing sugar

120g Cherry Bakewell icing sugar

120g strawberry jam

20g icing sugar, plus extra

Half a glace cherry


Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Grease and line the base of two 23cm sandwich tins with a circle of baking parchment.

Place the ingredients for the sponge, except the milk and flaked almonds, into a bowl and use an electric whisk to beat it together for 45 seconds. Then take a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold through the milk until the cake batter is even and a thick pouring consistency.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the 2 cake tins and then sprinkle over the flaked almonds evenly. Bake the cakes for around 18 minutes until the top is golden brown, the cake is starting to come away from the edges and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out, making sure the top is facing upwards.

For the cream cheese frosting, cream together the margarine and cream cheese. If you are opening a new package of cream cheese, try to drain off any of the excess liquid which could make your frosting runny. Add the icing sugar and Cherry Bakewell sugar in 2 batches, beating well between each addition. You will find on the first batch it is very runny but thickens up dramatically into a frosting which is thick, soft, light and holds its shape. Place into a piping bag, seal the top of the bag with an elastic band and place into the fridge for 15 minutes. Cut off a 1cm hole.

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Beat the strawberry jam in a bowl until it has loosened and is pipeable. Place into a piping bag and seal the top with an elastic band. Prepare the water icing by mixing 20g icing sugar with a few drops of water to form a thick icing that doesn’t spread out.

On a cake board, place one layer of the sponge. Pipe blobs around 2cm wide around the edge of your sponge, alternating it with the jam. I found it easier and quicker to pipe all of the frosting first and then fill the gaps with the jam. You can follow the pattern in the picture below:

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Place the other layer of sponge on top, pressing down lightly so the frosting and jam bulges out and can be seen; you may wish to fill in any gaps at this stage.

Spoon out the water icing around the top edge of the sponge. Use a palette knife to spread an evenly thin layer of the icing forming a 1 inch border of icing. Then pipe another circle of the frosting dots and then leave a 2cm gap and continue to pipe more blobs until you reach the middle. Fill the channel with more of the strawberry jam and pipe dots of the jam around the edge of the water icing.

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Lastly top the cake with the place cherry half. Keep refrigerated.

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Recap of Cake Week: Bake Off Episode 1

 

I just want to say, I pretty much guessed all the challenges right for this week based on the teaser clips and trailer! Here were my predictions.

Signature: Drizzle Cake

The humble drizzle cake is a classic cake and one that cannot be beaten with its sugary crust and moist cake. And “ultimate moistness” was exactly what the judges wanted from these drizzle cakes. But with Mary wanting invention, some of the bakers took a trip around the whole M25 before deciding what they wanted to bake.

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Val, Lee and Andrew stuck to the classic lemon drizzle cake with Val and Lee adding orange and Andrew adding rosemary. Louise used the same flavours as Val and Lee but is shaping her cake as an orange and is adding an alcoholic kick with Cointreau. But Paul catches her out as she is not technically doing a drizzle cake, instead just doing a Cointreau icing over the cake. But Lee’s butter for his cake is stuck in the Kitchenaid paddle – he should have taken Val’s tip of using margarine! It’s also good to see Kitchenaids back instead of the Kenwoods!

Kate says that “she’s happy now she’s got some cake for company” and that’s exactly how I feel about cake! Next we see the youngest baker Michael starting off his Lime, Ginger and Honey Drizzle Cake, a few junctions away from your classic lemon drizzle. Selasi is also adding cardamom to his cake to his citrus drizzle cake and he’s already won over a legion of fans over on Twitter with his calmness.

Kate and Candice are adding fresh fruit to their cakes to achieve that ultimate moistness before Kate tells us about the dimples in her bottom (the bottom of her tin that is!) and Candice explains her gluten-free cake. The supposedly healthy cake (and frankly healthy and cake do not belong together!) is based on rhubarb and custard. She’s poking in her custard too! Benjamina also has nuts in her drizzle cake, with a pistachio, cardamom and lemon drizzle.

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Jane reveals that she’s left her ground almonds out! ARGH! So she’s got to remake the batter for her Lemon and Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake. She’s got an hour left which is more than enough time to get that cake made in time! Selasi also realises he’s forgotten his cinnamon! Meanwhile Val is dancing away whilst stirring and Tom is making the tonic curd for his drizzle cake. No that’s not something from Breaking Bad, it’s actually going into his G&T Drizzle Cake. Twitter swoons.

Andrew’s cakes have domed, Louise is testing her cakes and Val’s cakes are telling her that they’re not ready – no really, she’s listening to them speak! Mel tells us that if the sponges are overbaked, the drizzle cannot penetrate deep enough. And Louise has made the Page 3 of drizzle cakes! And Rav is going with a Ginger Spice Yuzu Drizzle Cake. At this point, drizzle has been said over 50 times and Andrew’s planning to evenly distribute his drizzle by measuring halfway down with a cocktail stick.

Val’s exercising in and everyone’s drizzling their cakes. Candice is being careful not to get the drizzle in her grooves and the Wet Cakes (apparently that’s what they’re called in Croydon) are suddenly being covered in a lot of icing – that’s not what I had in mind for a drizzle cake if I’m being honest. I’m missing a lot of the crunchy sugary tops that I was expecting to see however the requisite of the syrup drizzle was there in all the cakes. But now it’s the judging.

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Benjamina gets away unscathed. Lee’s cake has an open but poor texture and Michael has made a good ginger cake but not a drizzle cake. Paul can’t find the blackberries in Kate’s cake and Tom overwhelms the judges and Sue with alcohol! Candice’s gluten-free cake has a stodgy pudding texture and Rav gets into a pickle with flavours. Andrew doesn’t have enough lemon in his cake and Louise has a dense cake. Val has a dry cake with no drizzle. Selasi has fantastic flavours and Jane gets lots of positive feedback with Mary saying “that’s a drizzle cake”

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Technical Challenge: 12 Jaffa Cakes

With 2 hours to make these 12 Jaffa Cakes, they had plenty of time to do this and I know that becasue when I recreated this Technical Challenge at home, I only gave myself 90 minutes and I managed to finish in the time! And I don’t know anyone who has ever dunked a Jaffa Cake into a tea Paul! The disgust on Mary’s face is the same disgust I have when Paul pronounces Candice and Cand-eece!

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The challenge starts with making the jelly as it needs time to set. The recipe calls for a block of orange jelly to be dissolved in water. Candice adds fresh orange juice to balance out the flavours. Next is the whisked sponge, made by whisking up eggs with sugar and folding through the flour. Unlike Jane and Benjamina, there is no need to whisk over heat since it’s just a whisked sponge and not a Genoise and you don’t need the extra air in this recipe as you don’t want it to rise too much. Andrew overfilled his tin so his cakes have a dome.

Val and Jane are debating what way to put their jellies on their sponges and Andrew has followed suit. Val has put hers on the right way and Jane has realised she’s done it wrong but Andrew is still doing them all wrong! Time for the judging.

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Benjamina’s Jaffas look bad but taste good. Louise’s Jaffas are fairly uniform…ly bad. Oh Paul that’s just mean. Jane gets caught out with her mistake and Lee’s don’t look like Jaffa cakes! Kate and Tom get good reviews and Candice has a good jelly. Andrew gets chastised for his mistake and Rav has thick chocolate. Val’s cakes stuck and Selasi’s are neat.

Andrew finishes in last place. Next is Lee, followed by Val, Louise, Rav, Jane and Benjamina. Candice finished 5th with her good jelly and Kate is 4th. Tom finished 3rd and Michael finished just short of the top! Selasi finishes first. He’s had a great day.


Showstopper: Mirror Glaze Cake

The mirror glaze cake has been something of a trend in the last year. With even Instagram and Twitter videos of people glazing their cakes, everyone loves them. Simple? Nope. Not at all. The bakers are all using Genoise sponges, made by whisking eggs and sugar over hot water, folding through flour and melted butter. It should be the perfect cake for a layered cake like this.

Jane’s revising the Technical making a Jaffa Cake Cake. Louise is going for a mirror cake based on a white chocolate trifle with a raspberry creme pat! I want to stuff that in my face now! Benjamina is also going for a white chocolate glaze but is filling it with a salted praline meringue buttercream! Yes please!

Selasi’s approach is worrying me, mainly because he says he “doesn’t understand it, I’m just baking it”. This is wrong, baking is a science. You can’t really get away in baking without knowing what you are doing scientifically, like what effect the hot water has on the eggs in a genoise, why we knead bread or even why we add lemon juice into puff pastry! Rant over.

Andrew’s doing an Ultimate Indulgence Cake with an orange genoise and a salted caramel cream, hoping to redeem himself after his last place finish. Rav is going for a mocha inspired mirror cake and Michael is being extra trendy by going for a matcha cake. Anything I’ve ever tried matcha takes a bit of getting used to so this could be interesting! Mary doesn’t look impressed just smelling the sponge!

Candice’s sponges haven’t risen and she’s just thrown them to the side of the tent! Waste not, want not. Sue’s there in a flash! But she’ll have to work quickly if her Mirror Mirror cake is going to work! She’s not alone. Tom, Val, Michael and Benjamina are all redoing their sponges.

Tom clearly has a plan to get on Mary’s good side by lacing his bakes with alcohol, he’s got kirsch in his cake. But Lee is going for an extravaganza. He’s got 2 layers of ganache between his 4 layers of sponge before they’re coated with a chocolate glaze. Kate’s back to her fruit, making a gooseberry inspired cake covered in a bright blue glaze. EEK! Val’s got a lot of flavour in her frosting which will go in her chocolate cake.

Candice captures exactly how I feel about genoise with her mocking voice. The next stage is the crumb coat. Benjamin’s buttercream has split and has done everything twice. Jane’s smoothing out her ganache and Val tells us she bakes to relieve stress. We almost have a complete reincarnation of Baked Alaska Gate with everyone viaing for that one freezer space – like seriously you’ve brought back the Kitchenaids, what about a freezer! – as the bakers need their cakes cold to glaze them.

And we’ve got our first cry of the Bake Off from Benjamina over a split buttercream. Fair play to the editing team, this last 15 minutes of the bake is so tense! Candice almost recreates a Rob by dropping his cake but all the bakers are glazing and suddenly I’m back looping a mirror glaze video on Instagram not before Louise gives the bleep an appearance! And the bake is done!

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Jane is first up and her cake is looking perfect. The decoration is exquisite and it’s so shiny and smooth! Jane, on the verge of tears, wows the judges with her elegant Jaffa cake. Rav’s next and he’s got a good shine on his mocha cake but his genoise is dry. Tom, ironically, didn’t put enough kirsch in his cake and Michael doesn’t impress with his grassy matcha cake. Kate’s blue glaze doesn’t get good reviews from Mary but the flavour is good.

Selasi’s glaze is not very shiny but it looks stunning with those layers. Val’s next and she’s got a brilliant shine on her cake but she’s got a strange buttercream. After a tiny bit of flirting between Val and Paul, Lee’s up next with his creation. Paul says it’s too simple, his genoise is dry as is his ganache. Oh dear. Louise doesn’t have a mirror glaze but the cake is fantastic. Benjamina is next and she’s got a great shine on the white chocolate glaze. What’s more, it’s delicious! Candice is driven to the verge of tears after her genoise sponges are deemed raw, despite a brilliant shiny glaze.

Last up is Andrew. And he smashes it out of the ballpark, or rather the Bake Off tent. He’s got good soft genoise layers and a fantastic shiny glaze. He’s married his flavours well and Paul and Mary are impressed. He’s saved himself.

In contention for Star Baker are Selasi, Benjamina and Jane. Everyone thinks it’s Selasi on Twitter. But Candice (or Cand-eece), Lee and Val are all up for elimination.

First, Jane is crowned Star Baker! She’s almost crying!

But the first baker eliminated is Lee! What a shame, he had a fairly standard week but everyone upped their game in that showstopper.

Thank god Val is safe. I can’t wait to see more of her! Well done Jane, I wasn’t expecting her to be Star Baker but well deserved too!


Star Baker: Jane

Jane GBBO

Eliminated: Lee

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Highlight of the Episode: Mel asking Candice where she got her orange juice from, Candice replied “from the orange”.

Innuendo of the Episode: The drizzle can’t penetrate deep enough.


Next week is Biscuit Week. You can find out what the challenges are going to be here.

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Trying the #GBBO Technical Challenge: Jaffa Cakes in 90 minutes

With Bake Off tonight, I’m trying to recreate the Bake Off Technical Challenges at home. Each week, I will be discussing how I got on with the bake, posting pictures of some stages, providing my own commentary as well as the recipe, a Bake Off style judging and where I think I would finish and my reflections. Some of the bakes I’m doing before the episode comes out so I’m making a rough guess of how long the bake will take. The bakes which happen after the episode is aired will follow the time given in the episode.

With an advanced knowledge of what the cake Technical is and a brief 5 minute look at the method (and hence doing it from memory – yes I know!) as well as a list of the ingredient quantities, here are my Jaffa Cakes.

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For this Technical challenge, I had to make 12 Jaffa Cakes comprising of a fatless sponge, an orange jelly and a dark chocolate coating in 90 minutes. *After the episode has been broadcast, I know that they had 2 hours. This won’t affect any scores but is annoying knowing I definitely could have used packet jelly and done this properly!*

I toyed with using a orange packet jelly from Aldi which does take a while to set up I have found or Greens Orange Quick Gel which set in 20 minutes, which I had in my cupboard when I bought it in a sale. Worried about time I decided to use the Greens Orange Quick Gel.


Let’s start with the recipe that I used:

2 eggs

50g granulated sugar

50g self-raising flour

Zest of 1/2 an orange

2 sachets of Greens Orange Quick Gel, plus the ingredients following the method of the packet

100g dark chocolate


Time: 6:00pm, 90 minutes remaining. On your marks, get set, bake

I read the instructions on the packet of Greens Orange Gel, and boiled the kettle. I preheated the oven to 180ºC and greased the 12 holes of a cupcake tin. I lined two 20cm sandwich tins with a layer of clingfilm.

With the kettle boiled, I poured 400ml over the 2 sachets of powder with 50g sugar and stirred it until it dissolved. I stirred it once every 2 minutes, following packet instructions.

Time: 6:15pm, 75 minutes remaining. Jelly into the fridge

I put 2 eggs into a bowl with the sugar and the orange zest. I set it aside briefly whilst I poured the ‘jelly’ into the tins evenly and placed it into the fridge.

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Time: 6:20pm, 70 minutes remaining. Start of the whisked sponge

I whisked the eggs, sugar and orange zest until it reached ribbon stage; this took about 4 minutes.

Time: 6:26pm, 64 minutes remaining

I sifted in the flour and used a spatula to fold it through. I divided the cake batter between the 12 holes and then placed it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.

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Time: 6:33pm, 57 minutes remaining. Sponges went into the oven to bake

Time: 6:43pm, 47 minutes remaining

I took the sponges out of the oven, I’m leaving them to cool in the tins until there are 40 minutes left. Then I took a palette knife and went around the edge of the tins to lift out the sponges onto a cooling rack.

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Time: 7:00pm, 30 minutes remaining. Assembling the Jaffa Cakes

Take a round cutter which is smaller than the top of your cake and is the same size as the base. Cut out 12 rounds of the jelly and place 1 round on top of each sponge. Set aside.

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Time: 7:12pm, 18 minutes remaining 

Currently it’s 26ºC in the kitchen so tempering is out of the window. I melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second blasts. I left the chocolate to cool down for 5 minutes.

Time, 7:20pm, 10 minutes remaining

I spoon just over a teaspoon of the melted chocolate on top of the jelly and used the back of the spoon to spread it out, leaving it to flow over the round of jelly itself. I avoid putting too much on so it doesn’t spill over the sides of the sponge.

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Time: 7:30pm, 0 minutes remaining. Bakers, your time is up! Please bring your Jaffa Cakes up to the gingham altar. 


Here are my 12 Jaffa Cakes. My opinion is that 90 minutes was the right amount of time for this bake, if I worked quicker, then I certainly could have had enough time to put them into the fridge to set the chocolate up.

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I also really hated using the Greens Orange Quick Gel. The flavour (more on that later) was not up to scratch but did work with the chocolate. It set up really quickly which made me feel good until I tried to lift one of the rounds and it collapsed on the palette knife. It was incredibly soft and I immediately knew that this was going to make covering it in chocolate immensely difficult.

What made it even harder is that I left the chocolate to sit for too long before coating the Jaffa Cakes. All of this meant the final stage of the bake took me so long and so I didn’t get a chance to cool my Jaffa Cakes down and during my judging, the chocolate was still not set and so it didn’t have the crack. It was after chilling for 30 minutes that the chocolate set and crack.


With my bakes ready for the judging, I now decide on the criteria that I will judge my Jaffa Cakes on: appearance, flavour, chocolate work, sponge and jelly.

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  • Appearance: The batch does not look consistent, there are some Jaffa Cakes which have the jelly revealed, some which have the sponge covered and overall aren’t a good batch. However the redeeming quality is that the sponges are fairly consistent looking. Score: 3/10
  • Flavour: The jelly is weak and not sweet enough yet despite this, it’s melt in the mouth texture works well with the slightly bitter dark chocolate and the sweet sponge. Score: 8.5/10
  • Chocolate work: Poor, quite frankly. There are clear struggles with evenly spreading the chocolate over the sponges, which has left the jelly exposed. Score: 2.5/10
  • Sponge: The sponge is light and soft, flecked with orange zest. The crumb texture is perfect. Only concern would be that it slightly stuck to the tin so don’t look perfect. Score: 9.5/10
  • Jelly: Managed to hold its shape enough that I managed to cut out rounds but it was very soft and melted away when pressure applied to it – hence making chocolate work on top even harder. Score: 3.5/10

 

Total score: 27/50

Difficulty ranking: 3.5/10

Finishing position: 10th-12th

If I were to make these again, which I certainly will, I would definitely make my own jelly. As soon as I started cutting out the rounds of jelly, I knew it was a mistake using Greens Orange Quick Gel. Either a jelly block or a homemade jelly simply adding gelatine to orange juice would have been better and would have held its shape more. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have let the chocolate cool down as much before working with it, it became very hard to work with and separated from the jelly as I continued to spread it. I would also work a lot quicker so I had time to cool the chocolate in the fridge.

Read my thoughts on the bakers of Bake Off 2016 by clicking here as well as my predictions of the challenges for Biscuit Week by clicking here.

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Prediction of Bake Off Series 7: Biscuit Week Challenges

The theme for the second week of The Great British Bake Off has already been revealed as Biscuit Week – and yes I know we’ve not even seen the first episode yet! From the BBC website, we know that:

“The bakers start with a signature challenge, but who will snap first with just a few hours to make 24 identical decorated biscuits?

Hidden under the gingham cloth is a technical challenge that requires perfect piping to avoid a crumbling whirl.

Sue Perkins drops in for tea and history as she discovers the etiquette of dunking biscuits, from Victorian high society right back to Greek survival biscuits.

The final showstopper challenge requires precision baking to build a biscuit structure that reveals a little more about each of the bakers.”

The Signature Challenge sounds very simple but decorating 24 biscuits in icing so that they are identical is tricky. I would have liked it to have been a cookie based challenge since we’ve not had many of those in Bake Off.

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The Technical Challenge cannot really be anything other than that Mr Kipling favourite, the Viennese Whirl. These won’t be too difficult to make compared to the Arlettes from last series and the concentric circle tiles from series 4. However I’m sure they’ll give them hardly any time at all to make them!

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The Showstopper seems to follow suit from the last 2 series with a gingerbread biscuit structure. The only twist is that the structures will be following a theme related to the bakers themselves, perhaps a hobby in biscuits!

I will update the post with more predictions when more details have been revealed.

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Lemon Funfetti Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I came up with my recipe for these cupcakes following the Depressed Cake Shop theme. I attended the Essex event a couple of weeks ago, hosted by the brilliant Liz (aka Bubakes), raising money for Mind and Help for Heroes selling bakes all coloured grey.

I brought along 24 of my Grey Lemon Funfetti Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with a chocolate rose (as well as 50 Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies). Now you don’t have to colour them grey at home but the colour from the sprinkles leaks into the sponge making the final cupcake very interestingly coloured, almost like tie dye! My choice of sprinkles are rainbow vermicelli sprinkles because they are what I had but also come in lots of colours which help give the cupcake its funfetti effect.

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As with all of my cupcakes, I use an ice cream scoop to portion out the batter into my muffin cases. The sprinkles do make it hard to use the scoop properly as they can get in the way however as long as the cupcake cases are filled up to two-thirds full and evenly, it’s fine.

I have often struggled with cream cheese icing as it often goes runny and cannot be piped. I have finally managed to make a cream cheese icing that I piped using a star nozzle and held its shape. Here, I used the photography app Prisma which is fantastic for changing all of your photos with lots of great effects. Look here at the definition on the cream cheese icing:

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This is my signature cupcake recipe, which works to give tasty, light and moist cupcakes every time.


175g margarine

210g granulated sugar

3 eggs

250g self raising flour

60ml lemon juice

80g Greek yoghurt

60g rainbow vermicelli sprinkles

100g margarine

80g cream cheese

500g icing sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon

Chocolate decorations – these are optional, but add a little extra to your cupcakes. I recommend my White Chocolate Sprinkle Hearts, which compliment the lemon flavour.


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

Place all the ingredients for the sponge into a large bowl except for the sprinkles and beat for 1 minute using an electric whisk until well incorporated and even, scraping down halfway through. Fold through the sprinkles until evenly incorporated.

Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide the batter between the 12 cases, making sure not to fill them more than two-thirds full.

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Bake for 18 minutes or until the cakes are springy, golden brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the cream cheese frosting, cream together the margarine and cream cheese. If you are opening a new package of cream cheese, try to drain off any of the excess liquid which could make your frosting runny.  Add in the lemon zest.

Add the icing sugar and lemon juice in 2 batches, beating well between each addition. You will find on the first batch it is very runny but thickens up dramatically into a frosting which is thick, soft, light and holds its shape. Place into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, seal the top of the bag with an elastic band and place into the fridge for 15 minutes.

Pipe a swirl of the icing on top of each cupcake. Exert pressure on the bag starting in the centre of the cupcake and exerting the same pressure, make your way around the cupcake, returning to the centre, pressing down while releasing the pressure and lifting the bag away. Place a chocolate decoration on the top of the icing. Leave the icing to firm up before serving.

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Fondant Cake

Responding to ‘Breaking Down a Decorated Cake’

There’s a post out on a blog entitled ‘Breaking Down a Decorated Cake’. Maybe you’ve read it. Maybe you agree with it. If you haven’t, the premise of the post is guiding the readers through making a cake decorated with fondant. Sounds great and normal! Except this post wouldn’t have been written if it hadn’t been for the misinterpretation of a tweet saying that “fondant is only good for covering up a bad bake”. It is without any doubt that the person responsible for the post being written is me, for the following tweet:

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This post seems to be driven on the fact that I tweeted my opinion because the blogger believes that I cannot work with fondant in the first place. I have worked with fondant many times during my GCSEs and I have dabbled with it in the past. I have even written about fondant many times on my blog. I wrote a post on how to make your own fondant and make fondant carrots.

The point I was trying to make is that in a comparison of these 4 cakes, one decorated heavily in fondant and the rest are non-fondant and have all been made by me, the majority of people would say that the fondant cake is better. And I don’t think this is an unreasonable assumption to make.

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The majority of fondant covered cakes that you buy from supermarkets tend to be very plain sponges filled with jam and buttercream. This is what I meant by my tweet. Nothing else. I was simply commenting on the supermarket’s fondant cakes. I certainly wouldn’t criticise any of the skilful bakers on Twitter, many of whom I consider friends! I know how hard they all work to produce their cakes. But it’s a fact that you won’t see most shopbought fondant cakes being anything else apart from this formula whether you buy it from Tesco or Waitrose.

But I do have a problem with fondant cakes. As much hard work goes into making fondant cakes, it can seem that non-fondant cakes aren’t as skilful and challenging as fondant cakes when this belittles cake bakers like myself. I never use simple recipes, I always change up the ratios of ingredients in my sponges to adapt to flavours and occasions, and with the scientific element of baking, this is not easy. There is skill in changing up and inventing cake recipes just as there is skill in using fondant.

Call me superficial but whenever I see fondant cakes get more positive reception than one of my new non-fondant inventions, it makes me feel not as good of a baker. When you see all the fantastic reception that fondant covered cakes get, it diminishes my abilities because I know that I will probably never get that reception on any of my normal non-fondant cakes. I know that some people feel that way and yes you’re right, it’s a skill I don’t have but there is no way that I would ever disrespect cake decorators.

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I understand the hours that go into making a fondant cake, I mean I have watched enough episodes of Cake Boss to know they can often take days to make what with sculpting figures and making animals. But my cakes often take hours to make too and because I work as a chef in a takeaway, I know exactly how demanding the catering industry is; I had to work during my exam period which caused 5/6 hour night’s sleep and 28 hour working weeks as well as school. The majority of my commissions will involve me being up until 2am at night, even though I baked my cakes at 10am the previous morning.

Fondant Butterflies

So please don’t disparage me by saying that I don’t know how long it takes to make a fondant cake because I know a lot about baking and more than you seem to think I do! If you had taken 5 minutes of the 18 hours that it took you to make your fondant cake to ask me what I meant by my tweet rather than spending even more time writing up your post, perhaps we both wouldn’t need to be writing these posts.

There’s no denying that fondant is a necessary tool for cake makers because there is no other way to get this immense detail into your cake decorating. And I also know people hate fondant – the times I have used fondant myself, I hated it. But there is no way that I would disrespect the hard work and time that goes into making fondant cakes.

Coluring Sugarpaste

The post also calls into question my maturity. I do find on Twitter and in real life, people older than me are constantly looking down on me and not giving me the respect that I deserve. I continued to blog throughout my A-Levels and still got into a brilliant Russell Group university. If there’s one quality in people I absolutely detest, it’s looking down on me and being patronising simply because I am younger than them. And neither am I saying that I’m better than you, I think we need to treat each other as equals. We both have a lot to learn baking wise.

I’d also end on the fact that this was my opinion. Opinions should be openly shared and nobody should feel as if they have to stop sharing their opinions because of a few comments yet this is exactly how I felt. I’ve recently celebrated getting my A-Level results yet I cannot focus on that as much as I would like because my passion for baking, recipe developing and blogging has been called into question. This has probably made me very vulnerable to a lot of abuse and hate from within the blogging and baking community but why should I hide away whilst there are many people getting the wrong end of the stick and forming an opinion about me? It’s been two days since the post has been released and I’ve already noticed some accounts acting differently towards me.

I have spoken out on something that has hurt me a lot. There is a strong baking community on Twitter; we all follow each other and we always give each other likes and know quite a bit about each other. Everyone compliments everyone else’s bakes and I love being a part of that community. Yet a comment made between a group of 3 people in a casual non-offending conversation has spiralled into an entire blog post written by someone who I admire(d) calling my maturity and baking abilities into question.

I love the blogging community. I always love to write guest posts and have people guest post on my blog. I have made so many fantastic friends on Twitter and I have also met so many of these people too. But it’s sad that I have felt that there is no point in continuing to blog. In a motley group of people brought together by a love of cake and The Great British Bake Off, it’s sad that I also wanted to delete my Twitter account.

IMG_2783Inside of Couronne

So how long did this post take to write? 6 hours. I found it very hard to express my thoughts about this because I was angry that a tweet taken out of context had got so out of hand – as it seems is happening way too often in today’s society.

To summarise, I do not doubt the skill that cake decorators have and I most definitely know how hard fondant work is and I bake for commissions, I’ve baked dessert buffets for 120 people, I know things like this take time. This whole situation escalated from something that was not actually targeted at cake decorators rather the supermarkets and this all could have been cleared up had the blogger in question asked me what I meant rather than us both writing reaction posts. I’ve seen all of the comments that bakers have made in response to her post and it makes me annoyed that all of these people probably don’t understand what I meant.

But I don’t like fondant and I don’t like the fact that fondant cakes will pretty much always get more attention than a non-fondant cake. I also understand that fondant is an essential tool for cake decorating because I don’t know how else you can sculpt people or animals and this is a skill that I’ve yet to master. And I know that. I most certainly do not hate fondant cakes out of jealousy which is what seems to come across. Fondant cakes do look beautiful when they are done well and your cake looked fantastic but your attitude was far from perfect. Let me pick out a few of the statements which have stayed with me since reading your post:

“Maybe they should first judge their own abilities”

The impression I get from this is that you don’t think I’m that good of a baker. I am deeply offended that you believe this and it suggests that all of the positive comments and encouragement you’ve tweeted to me in the past year has all been fake.

IMG_3262 Salted Caramel Choux Buns

“They’ve tried working with it, it’s not for them, which is fair enough but shall we try to be a little more mature about it” and “I would never dream of going on social media and say … how it’s only good for covering a bad bake …  some of the nasty and naive comments I’ve read this week on Twitter”

I would have hoped that you would have been mature enough to ask for my side of the argument rather than promoting your post out on social media and encouraging people to comment their views on what a naive person I seem to be. I’ve seen all of the responses to your post, they make me out to be a villain who is rude and ignorant. Encouraging such nastiness and naivety seems a bit hypocritical doesn’t it?

“The next time you feel the urge to write an ill-thought comment about working with fondant, spare a thought for all the hard work,range of skills, knowledge, time and effort that has gone into it”

I know exactly how much hard work goes into making fondant cakes, more than you seem to think! And my tweet about fondant was not ill-thought, in fact I did research into the fondant cakes offered in both Tesco and Waitrose which was what this comment was regarding in the first place.

  • The Tesco’s ‘Me To You Gift Cake’ is described as a “moist sponge with a layer of raspberry jam and sweet filling, covered with soft icing and edible decorations.
  • The Waitrose ‘Fiona Cairns Celebration Cake’ is described as “an undecorated celebration cake covered in soft white icing”, one of the flavours being “vanilla sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream filling”.

Perhaps the next time you feel the urge to write a post based on what you think something means that offends you, you should take the time to spare a thought for how you’ve hurt the person you are addressing indirectly and also to clarify what I meant before you wrote the post.

I am most certainly prepared to see the number of Twitter followers I have drop dramatically but I am not having people call me out about an opinion that I have which, after clarification, I think people will share. If you aren’t happy with it, that’s okay too because it’s your opinion. I’m not going to tell you if your opinion is right or wrong.

Thanks to Vicky for giving me permission to use her photos.

Val GBBO

My Initial Thoughts on The Great British Bake Off Contestants

With just 5 days to go until the new series of The Great British Bake Off starts, I’m going to once again do my annual prediction of the final rankings. My track record hasn’t been brilliant but that will never stop me trying; like the National Lottery!

Below are the order I think the bakers will finish in from top to bottom. Please remember this is an opinion post and no offence is intended. These opinions are formed from the information from their biographies and what I’ve briefly seen of them in the trailer.


Val

Val GBBO

Something about Val reminds me of Nancy Birtwhistle who won Series Five. She can draw on a ton of experience from being in charge of the kitchen for over 60 years! What warms me to Val is that she incorporates baking into her teaching so that the children can love it as much as she does. What a fantastic woman! What’s more, she does aerobics whilst waiting for her bread to prove! I will be gutted if we don’t see that in the tent! And to quote her bio, “she can make the classics with her eyes closed”, so if she’s not the one to watch out for, I don’t know who is!

Andrew – @cakesmyth

Andrew GBBO

An intelligent studious guy, Andrew strikes me as an adventurous baker who fundamentally bakes the classics which he gets from his mum and gran yet will produce elaborate and stunning looking showstoppers; the mere mention of a baguette concorde in his bio is evidence of this! I think Andrew has what it takes to go all the way to the final!

Kate

Kate GBBO

You get the feeling that Kate knows what she’s doing in the kitchen. She instantly reminded me of Ruth Clemens, Holly Bell, Brendan Lynch, Kimberley Wilson, Luis Troyano and Tamal Ray and by that, I mean she will be good at almost every week with just a tiny mishap near the start. With that, Kate is dangerous. She works with sugarpaste into the daylight hours crafting all manner of sugar decorations suggesting that she has a good eye for decoration. There’s no doubt that she will handle the pressure well, being a nurse after all, so I think that Kate will go far.

Tom – @Tom_gilliford

Tom GBBO

Tom’s bio made me smile the most mainly for the fact that he will sit down and reevaluate his work-life balance if he doesn’t have time to bake. What a man! Not only that, he believes in “everything in moderation” after having lost 30kg! This is inspiring and that’s pushed Tom up in my rankings. But in terms of baking, I think Tom knows his way around all the disciplines and will have a somewhat scientific approach to his baking and will be consistent each week.

Louise – @LouBaraDa

Louise GBBO

The experimentation with bread suggest that Louise knows what she’s doing with the oven. Historically, bakers who are good in Bread Week get very far in the competition – think back to Edd Kimber, Jo Wheatley and John Whaite, all of whom won the Bake Off – and this makes Louise dangerous. Much like Andrew, she likes elaborate designs which could make Louise the dark horse!

Benjamina – @bakedbybenji

Benjamina GBBO

Benjamin could definitely whip up a storm in the Bake Off tent with her modern style of simple flavoured bakes. She has an advantage with her love for following the latest trends which could make her bakes stand out in the tent but how will Paul and Mary respond to these trends? The perfectionism in Benjamin could push her to thrive in showstoppers but dwindle chances of success in technicals.

Jane – @Janebbakes

Jane GBBO

Jane’s been baking for a long time and draws on her experiences watching her family in the bakery. The fact that Jane will bake bread fresh most mornings suggests that she is not to be messed with! Sticking to the classics could be advantageous for Jane as she knows they will be loved but she could also fall victim to the Norman-trap when he didn’t push his boundaries!

Michael – @michaelgeo96

Michael GBBO

The youngest baker of the competition certainly has a strong background with baking and the Greek influence could certainly show strength with his flavours. Michael could suffer from lack of practice as he’s still at university and has to balance his team with his baking, football and studying.

Candice – @CJ_Brownie

Candice Bake Off

Candice looks dedicated to her baking and a strong contender. Much like Andrew, her baking comes from her nan and we all know that this is a potent formula. Not much else is said about Candice’s baking in her bio however she loves vintage things so could we do some kitsch items and decorations make their way into the tent?

Rav – @RavSBansal

Rav GBBO

I think we could certainly see a few problems with Rav’s vegan baking when it comes to the technicals simply because the use of vegan substitutes changes how he bakes and uses certain ingredients so it will be interesting to see how Rav deals with that. However, I believe Rav will have strong flavours and his adventurous quality could work to his advantage!

Lee

Lee GBBO

Lee’s admission that he doesn’t veer from the norm could be troublesome in the tent, especially as the challenges have become more abstract in recent series like the Spanish Windtorte, the 3 tiered cheesecake or the Princesstarta! But with over 30 years of baking experience, this could play into his hands!

Selasi – @selasigb

Selasi GBBO

Selasi’s bio says he has a delicate touch despite his passion for motorbikes. I mean he even belongs to a Sunday Motorbike Club (sounds very similar to another Sunday club I know)! Just how will Selasi respond to the tent? I’m not too sure, there isn’t much to go on apart his delicate cupcakes, so unfortunately Selasi has to go at the bottom here.


So do you agree with me? What are your predictions for Bake Off 2016, who’s your winner and who do you think will eliminated in Cake Week? You can also read my predictions for the Cake Week challenges here and read the full bios of the bakers here.

Vote in my poll here: