GBBO Technical Challenge 6 – Fougasse

Fougasse is such a silly word. I think nearly every time I said it I hesitated, hardly believing it could be a real word. Even now, just over three weeks after (oops) having made it, it’s weird.

Firstly, gratuitous daffodils:


The first thing I had to decide with the fougasse was whether or not to halve the recipe – it made 2 loaves. Twitter and Facebook unanimously suggested “no”.

It was a fairly standard bread-y recipe. Dry ingredients in a mixer, with oil and warm water, adding the rest of the water slowly. It called for 350ml water, but I’d added only 250ml when the dough became super slimy and sloppy. I didn’t add all of the water, and crossed my fingers, feeling thankful I wasn’t doing this as an actual Technical Challenge.

Next step was to add freshly chopped herbs. At the time, I only had fresh rosemary, so I topped up with dried herbs. At the time of writing, I’ve added more herbs to the window ledge herb garden. Maybe I’ll have to make this one again…

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I left it to be kneaded in the KitchenAid, and oiled the biggest container I had. You may remember it from such bakes including “oh dear me, the mixture doesn’t fit in this bowl, get the big guns out”. I put it in the airing cupboard and left it to rise for about 1 hour. The tub may have been slightly tilted. Can you tell?

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Step 3 (Raise the money!) – mix together flour and semolina, to heavily dust the worktop.


Then I had to tip out the “quite loose and flowing dough”, half it, and spread each piece out to a flat oval on its own baking sheet. My dough was not loose and flowing. Even though I wasn’t on the GBBO, I still felt scared.

I’m not sure why the surface had to be quite so heavily dusted. The dough hardly touched any of the flour mix, though maybe that’s because it wasn’t quite as flowing as it should have been?

Then the leaf-cutting. I gathered my trusty pizza wheel, and made my 2 vertical cuts, and 12 diagonal cuts, stretching the dough to emphasise the new leafy forms.

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I had to leave them to rise again for 20 minutes, in a plastic bag. I don’t own any of the thicker clear ones, so a trusty Ocado bag it was. I took the first one out after the 20 minutes, but realised the last sentence of the last step was “Serve warm, as soon as possible”. Given the second one was going to be for a dinner party, let’s just say the second fougasse stayed in the airing cupboard for many multiples of 20 minutes.

Before baking, the loaves were drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with oregano.

Chris was in charge of the camera at this point. I was on brush with olive oil and sprinkle with crushed sea salt duty.

Oh dear, they were fresh from the oven and were best served immediately whatever were we to do.


Second loaf didn’t look quite so leafy – the holes had closed up somewhat – but it still tasted pretty good 🙂




Issue 9

Recipe: “Daisy-Fresh Cookies” – “You can make these bright and cheerful cookies using your Daisy Embosser Set as cutters. The technique is quick, easy and fun to do, and the finished results look fantastic”
Brought to you by: The Producers

Hahahaahahahaa. Quick and easy. Ha.

There are actually 20 steps to this bake, which I’ve condensed down for you below.

Step 1. Bake biscuits.
Step 2. Make daisies.
Step 3. Stick all the things together appropriately.

(Un?)Surprisingly enough, step 2 was the tricky one. Well, maybe not tricky, but definitely fiddly! However, I agree, they’re worth it, and it is a relatively simple decorative idea, overall.

I used the lemon biscuit recipe from this issue, but didn’t have any lemons, so substituted orange flavouring for the lemon zest. Fun fact: after they were baked, I asked Chris to try a bit of biscuit, and asked him what it tasted of. “Lemon”, he pronounced confidently. Winning.

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I also finished off my vanilla sugar in this recipe. Must make more. I love vanilla sugar. Please enjoy a gratuitous photo of it, and imagine the smell.


I used hired hands for making the dough (thanks Chris!), and put it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes 36 hours.

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When it did come out of the fridge (and had enough time to soften… …), it was a nice simple case of finding a cutter big enough to contain the large daisy (a pint glass), and sticking them in the oven for 12 minutes. Can you spot the moment I got bored of cutting out circles and just wanted to get to the end of the dough?




The recipe said it made “roughly 12 large” cookies. I think it made more, but I’m not certain because I ate some, and I also made some rectangles.


Anyway. Biscuits baked (and a few nommed), I moved onto the daisies. I’ve actually tried to use this cutter before (one of the few items I’ve already used!), and it was a bit of a nightmare. I was apprehensive. The magazine recommends for each cookie to have one large and one small daisy, and a centre, decorated with non-pareils or stabbed a lot with the fluting and veining tool (from issue 10).

I’ll start with the simple part – the centres. I jumped into the future again as I didn’t have any non-pareils, though I think that would look cool.I’m not ruling out making these again, so I might try that next time.


And to the daisies. I can sum up where I went wrong: if it says to use (a mix including) flowerpaste, do it. Just do it. It’s actually the reason they were a nightmare when I used them last. What possessed me to just try again with 100% sugarpaste expecting a different result is completely unknown. Look how soft they stay, and how hard it was to pull the sugar paste away:


Still, for whatever reason, I persevered, before trying to lift them onto the biscuits:




Take two. I made up a 50:50 mix, and tried again. Much better.

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The thing I was worried about only happened once:


This is actually a photo of one of the last ones I did. I finally worked out the technique for getting them neat! You need to roll the mix of pastes out, forget about leave it for a bit, then wiggle the cutter after you’ve pressed it in.


I found it quite hard to get neat edges on the daisies, even with the mix of pastes, so they ended up a bit raggedy, but they’re not terrible. The first batch I decorated (5 on Saturday) was a mix of single and double daisied biscuits, because I was running out of time, and noe of the was very lopsided, as I dropped the top daisy onto the edible glue. No way was I going to try and reposition it.

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I finished the rest of them on Sunday, ready to take to Camelids choir on Monday. I was good, and did double daisies on all of them!





Issue 8

Recipe: Tiered Cameo Cake – “Use your Silicone Cameo Mould in combination with some simple decorative techniques to make this beautifully elegant tiered celebration cake”
Brought to you by: Owen Pallett – Heartland

Over the years of collecting this magazine, I’ve ended up with very many silicone moulds. Here’s to using them all! I was planning to take this cake along to the balboa lesson of Cambridge Lindy Hoppers, and didn’t fancy carrying a tiered cake, as well as my (3 pairs of…) dance shoes, so I narrowed myself to a “Cameo Cake”. All good. Alas, as you’ll see, the cake was only dinky, and not tall enough to put the cameos on the vertical edge. Still, they could go on the top. Alas alas, the cake was so dinky that putting all 6 cameos on it looked way too crowded, so I only used four of them. So, I didn’t follow this recipe to the letter, but I still tried to go for the main techniques. I think that’s ok.

This is one of those recipes that calls for multiple baked cakes in the ingredients list, so I started by baking a little round sponge. I knew I had some chocolate “buttercream” (actually vegan, so it always feels odd to call it buttercream) left, and I wanted to choose a flavoured sponge. One quick text upstairs later, and salted caramel was chosen!

I didn’t take that many photos of making the cake – all the fun was in the decoration!


Cake baking section: tick.

Decoration: begin!


I like working with flower paste, but dear me it goes hard quickly. My thumbs got a workout kneading that innocent looking block.

I had to colour some of the paste yellow, and lightly grease the cameo mould. I have learned that they mean *really* lightly. I greased it once, and that was more than enough for making all 6 cameos. I think it would have happily made more as well.

Mm, greasy.

To actually make the cameos, I was instructed to “press a small amount of the white flower paste into the cameo, at first with my finger, then with the flat end of the fluting and veining too (which comes with Issue 10)”. Luckily I was able to jump into the future and get the tool from issue 10.


It was actually really hard to get the paste only in the bit which was meant to be white. I found that it spilled out into the other areas when the yellow background was added, and I had to learn to put much less paste in than the photo above, making sure that it wasn’t quite up the edge of the face. The photo above is my first attempt, and I diligently pushed paste into all of the nooks. I added the yellow paste, smoothing it over, and left it for a few seconds to firm up. The cameo popped out easily, but I had serious colour bleeding going on.


I then put it in a plastic wallet (so it didn’t dry out so much that it wouldn’t adhere to the rounded side of a cake), and got on with making the others. This bit was even harder, as the white paste only seemed to want to stick to my fingers. By the last one, I was using about half the amount of white paste I used for the first, and only bothering with the fluting and veining tool to get the paste off my thumb.

Of course this is not an egg. It’s not called Mark.

Next up was making the scallops for the edges of the cameos. I didn’t have any flower paste left, but I did have some black modelling chocolate (which as a bonus I needed to use up!). It was SO CRUMBLY.


I attempted to roll it out, and cut tiny circles out. Cutting them in half left me with crumbly scallops. Yum.


And here are the cameos chilling out. You can see I got better at guiding where the white should be, even on this terrible photo:


The last component was black bows. Now, there was absolutely no way I was going to try and make fiddly bows out of that crumbling mess, so I grabbed some normal sugar paste, and coloured it black. After that, standard bow stuff – lots of strips, folding, pinching, leaving to dry..

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With everything ready to go, I grabbed the edible glue and my brush. First step was to work out where the cameos would sit. It was at this point I realised quite how small the cake I baked was.


Next Lots of fiddliness as I tried to stick on the scallops without crushing them, followed by the bows. I also have to have a “woo go me” moment – I measured the paper ribbon by eye. I think I did pretty well.

No lovely finished photos, because I had run out of good cameras in the house, and it was demolished after the lesson, but overall, I think this turned out well. The cake tasted ok, and I quite liked the effort:end result ratio. I’m more excited to use the other moulds now!


GBBO Technical Challenge 7 – Marjolaine

Do not adjust your set! Yes, I have skipped challenge 6 for now – I will be coming back to it. We were invited to dinner with some friends we haven’t seen in too long (and won’t be leaving it that long again!), and I offered to bring something sweet along. Challenge 6 is the fougasse, so I thought that wouldn’t quite fly, but number 7 was sweet, and definitely over-the-top enough that I needed an occasion to make it for.

Oh my, this was a big cake. It claims to serve 10-12 people. Lies. I think about 15 people had multiple portions of this. Maybe even more. (Surprisingly enough, we didn’t finish it on the dinner evening, so I took it with me to a friend’s birthday party the next evening)

The recipe is here, for those who fancy it, or just want to have a little nose at how ridiculous this is. I notice the screenshot of Mary’s version has 9 lines rather than 7, but hey 😉

Ok. There are lots of photos and lots of parts to this one. This was super extra multi-tasking. Apologies it’s going to take me a while to write up!

Firstly, this is what I needed to buy. So so many nuts, and I didn’t even manage to get all of the ones I needed. I’m not sure what Tesco checkout lady thought of me. Oh well.


First real stage of baking was the daquoise, which is a lovely word. I needed to blitz some of the almonds and hazelnuts, so I got out my trusted mini chopper blender thingy… Alas. there’s a loose bit on it, which means it works and spins and appears to chop until you put the tiniest piece of anything in it. One emergency message later, and I was on my way to pick up my friend’s blender. One emergency phone call later, I was able to use the thing.

Nuts blended, they were set to be toasted, left to cool*, and then have sugar and cornflour added.

*I didn’t quite follow this and have to admit that I did end up burning my tongue on hot nuts. Sigh.

Next stage was to do the meringue base for the daquoise. Relatively straightforward. I then had to gently fold the nut mixture into the meringue, spread it out over 2 Swiss roll tins, and bake for a long time followed by an even longer time for it to cool in the oven.

While they were baking and cooling, I moved on to the ganache. Another bit I was confident about doing. Win.

While the ganache was melting together, I moved on to preparing the pistachios. The Inception noise was somewhere in my head at this point. So many layers of multi-tasking. They only got 3 hours on the show to do this (I think my total was just under 4, but I was talking to friends in Florida and Liverpool at the same time, which I don’t remember them doing on the show…)

This was the day I learned just how little pistachios weigh. The recipe calls for 50g slivered pistachios. I couldn’t find them, so bought pistachios in the shell. I had to shell them, peel off the papery non-pretty-non-green bit, then sliver them, without crushing or chopping them. This is probably why I took closer to 4 hours making this. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Yes, that’s 0 grams folks.

Next, to start the components for the praline. I still don’t know how you pronounce that word. Prah-leen? Pray-leen? Prah-line? Pray-line? Who knows. Not Danielle.

A quick check on how the kitchen was looking:


Yep. Completely taken over by Marjolaine.

The daquoise was done! I had to leave it in the oven until “completely cool”, then when it came out I had to (try and) remove the baking paper, before leaving it to “cool completely”. Hmm.

This was terrifying. The paper was right on the edge of being stuck to the first one, but I just made it. No such luck with the second, and I had to take a mini scraping implement to the very delicate meringue. (Ah, maybe this is also why it took nearly 4 hours…)

Ok, meringue layers safely freed from their parchmenty prisons, I could go back to the recipe. I was somehow partway through step 7 (of 11). On with the praline.

Boiling sugar and water is always such a scary thing. This batch had to go to 170 degrees, then immediately have the toasted almonds added and stirred in, and poured onto a sheet of baking paper. Before it cooled down and got hard. Mostly made it. Could have been a bit quicker.


The hardest part was finding somewhere in the kitchen for it to live.

Gratuitous praline photo

Step 8! French buttercream. Another pan of sugar and water, but only going to 115 degrees this time (soft ball stage)


That was on a low heat, so while that was getting to temperature, I broke up and blitzed the praline. It seemed a bit of a waste at the time, to make something as beautiful as a block of nutty caramelly goodness, then just smash it all up, but that’s what the recipe said to do..!

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Back to the French buttercream – keeping up? Egg yolks whisked, and the sugar syrup steadily poured in. When that had cooled down, in went the butter.



And, while the butter was being mixed in, I toasted the next batch of almonds. I had no idea what layer of multi-tasking I was on.

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When the butter was combined, I added the praline powder. Hooray, the buttercream was done, everything was cool, and I could now actually finally begin to construct the marjolaine!

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Step 1 (of construction. Step 10 of the recipe) – cut the daquoises in half, lengthways. Wow, these were going to be big. I only broke it in one place, which I thought was pretty impressive after how much I’d had to hack at it to get the paper off.


Layer of daquoise, layer of praline buttercream, layer of daquoise:


Add ganache and another layer of daquoise:


Go go more praline buttercream:


Oh dear, the second daquoise was a little shorter than the first. I just had to trim it and find a home for it.


Right. Add all of the buttercream everywhere, and attempt to stick toasted flaked almonds to it. How anyone makes this look neat is still a mystery to me. They didn’t really stick:


Next was getting the ganache into a piping bag with the correct star nozzle, and making the pattern for the top. I piped a sort of shell thing, and made sure I had the seven diagonal lines across the top. Then, I had to fill the gaps with alternating pistachios and hazelnuts (hand chopped, because the processor did them too finely, even on a pulse setting..). I didn’t take any photos in the middle of this because I just wanted it to be over at this point.

So, with that, DA-DAH:



What an utter beast of a dessert. This cake carrier is just over a foot long, for some sort of scale. Trying to fit it into the fridge was a laugh. It held a delicious cake for a couple of days (and even convinced someone who didn’t like nuts), but I’m not sure I’d make this one again. It was quite rich (no WAY does this cut into just 10 pieces), and a bit pricey, but I’m happy to have ticked it off!


GBBO technical challenge 5 – Bakewell Tart

A small group of us decided to have a Lord of the Rings marathon (extended editions, naturally) at the weekend, and I volunteered to bake. Bakewell tart was my next challenge – perfect.

I gathered up bits and pieces, ready to bake in an unfamiliar kitchen (and did well to remember most things, and guess which would already be there, apart from caster sugar!). The main thing I forgot was my camera (which is actually in a different city to me right now), so this post is brought to you by unfamiliar-camera photos (and a handful of phone camera ones), in keeping with the bake. Looking back, we also got a bit distracted by the films, so pictures are a bit sporadic sorry!



Since the Viennese whirls challenge, I’ve decided that homemade raspberry jam is the bee’s knees. The recipe calls for 200g raspberries, but the shop sold packs of 150g, so I just adjusted the quantity of sugar. This turned out absolutely fine – there was enough jam for the tart, for me to eat some along the way, and for the host to have some on toast the next day!

Jam setting

Next was homemade pastry. This is a bit of a luxury for me – I have a contact allergy to flour, so I usually tend to avoid making it. Recently I’ve taken to only wearing one glove while I bake, as my hand doesn’t seem to react as much these days, but rubbing butter into flour without both hands covered felt really naughty! (and also amazing. I miss working directly with flour. Kneading dough </3)


The sweet shortcrust pastry (with additional icing sugar) was then rolled out to fit the flan dish, stabbed with a fork and left to chill in the fridge for way more than half an hour, because elves.

I have no photos of making the filling, probably also because elves (maybe Aragorn), but it was fairly straightforward stuff – cream together butter and sugar (golden granulated, not caster!), and stir in other ingredients, including the wonderful almond extract.

The pastry case was blind baked and cooled, some jam was eaten, and the tart constructed before it was put back in the oven. Nothing too disastrous happened. No soggy bottom, though I realise I didn’t take a photo to prove it. You’ll just have to believe me.



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Lastly, decoration! A simple almond icing. I had allowed myself a glass of wine by this point, so I’m going to blame that for the really, really, untidy consistency of the white icing. I added more water to the pink, I just have no idea why I didn’t for the white as well.




And the verdict? Om nom nom. This was a GOOD tart. I will be making this many many times again in the future. It went down pretty well with the others too – there wasn’t much left in the morning!

Issue 7

Recipe: Ruffle cake – “Ruffled buttercream icing is far easier to create than it looks. Use this issue’s Large Petal Nozzle and follow our step-by-step guide to create this fabulously feminine cake.” [Sigh. That’s ridiculous for many reasons. Let’s ignore it]
Brought to you by: Symphony No. 6 – Tchaikovsky

I’ve wanted to make one of these cakes for ages. Actual years. That’s definitely a good thing about this challenge – I’ve given myself a reason to make all these exciting things. I might need some new guinea pigs though. This is a really big cake. And I didn’t even follow the recommendation of covering 3 layers of cake… [EDIT: I’ve just received a text which means that the lucky guinea pigs will be the Blue Sky Big Band!]

So first things first: bake a couple of Victoria sponges. (Sweet potato fries not an essential ingredient)

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When they were both baked and the kitchen tidied (mini resolution to actually tidy as I go), I moved onto the Swiss meringue buttercream. Oh dear me I’d forgotten how delicious it is. I made it once, a good few years ago. It’s way more involved than “normal” buttercream, but approximately 50 times tastier.

So, to make this, I gathered egg whites and mixed them with granulated sugar. Didn’t look great. The leftover egg yolks looked much nicer at this point:



Over a pan of simmering water, and it was whisked until it reached 60 degrees C. I didn’t pick the best bowl for attaching the sugar thermometer to. The back of the hobs might be slightly sticky with egg and sugar mix now. Maybe. I also didn’t have enough hands to get a photo, so I borrowed Chris who’d come to mooch for lunch.


Then the super awesome bit started. When it reaches temperature, you put it in a stand mixer, and whisk on high until the bowl is cold, and it’s all pillowy and fluffy and lovely:


In the meantime, butter was cubed. I was quite grateful for the instructions at this point. You add the cubes one at a time, mixing well between (yes, it takes ages). Step 7 reads “The mixture will deflate a little at first and may even start to look a bit curdled, but it isn’t – keep beating until the buttercream thickens up again”. I didn’t dare to stop the mixer to get a decent photo of just how bad it was – I just keep beating and hoping!




Swiss meringue buttercream is so so silky smooth and not overly sweet and ridiculously edible. I tried to make it the same colour as the magazine, and filled my now-cool cakes.

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Then, a little crumb coat, and the fun began. It looked like not very much buttercream, for the amount of ruffling there was going to be (this becomes important later), but I plodded on, having a little practise on the palette knife first.



I marked out vertical lines with the palette knife, filled the piping bag, and started to ruffle 🙂 It was surprisingly easy, once you got the first bit of icing to stick to the crumb coat. In an ideal world I would have crumb coated the cake more (/properly), but as I say, I was worried about the quantity of icing.



I did some ruffles, then decided to start on the top of the cake – it really didn’t look like there’d be enough. It was trickier to make the top look neat, but I think it got better towards the middle.

This is about when my worry became quite real. There wasn’t enough buttercream. I wasn’t going to be able to finish the ruffles on the top, and half of the cake on the side. I didn’t have enough eggs or butter (or time) to make more. With the space on the top, and the amount of buttercream I had left I thought I could have a go at a buttercream flower (I’ve always wanted to do something like this video, at 1:02). I was a bit panicky, especially after I dropped the first one (luckily back into the bowl of buttercream), so there’s no photos of it in the making. There was nothing I could do for the back of the cake, other than fake it, so: surprise! The photos of the cake you saw yesterday are just taken at very considered angles ; )



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GBBO technical challenge 4 – Lace Pancakes

Well! Finally I reappear. Short story is work went a bit funny. Long story is too long. Either way, back to the challenges!

I’ve had the page open in the book for months, but could never quite find the right occasion to make such silly pancakes. How on earth are they practical? You can’t really story any topping or filling on them (trust me / see photos below). However, an opportunity presented itself yesterday, when I received a lovely message out of the blue from Roya, suggesting breakfast. Friend, bacon, maple, and photographer. Perfect!


Making the batter and filling the bottle were easy enough, and once the pan was actually hot enough, making the pancakes was relatively fine. They didn’t stick, and were surprisingly easy to turn, though I confess I did not follow the part of step 5 which read “..then turn it over by flipping it”

*may have been nibbled by photographer

I say “relatively fine”, because oh dear me was making the pattern stressful. The batter was much more runny than I expected, and maybe the piping nozzle I’d attached to my squeezy bottle was too wide, but dear me that batter ran. Let’s just say my patterns weren’t quite like the beautiful filigree wonder that is the lace pancake from the book.


Taste-wise, I actually didn’t rate them that much. Maybe it’s how I cooked them, but they were slightly hard (another factor in making them easy to turn?), and a bit flavourless. It’s ok though, we added plenty of bacon and maple syrup to get over that : ) I even made a bacon heart.



Also, I admit that I didn’t follow the exact challenge – I made 4 or 5 lace pancakes, then decided to make normal ones with the rest of the mixture. As I guessed, eating them with any sort of filling is basically impossible. Roya reckons rolling is the way forward.


The following pancake is named “let’s use up all the batter left in the bottle”.


My advice would be to save the faff and make normal pancakes. With a different recipe. Sorry GBBO!

Issue 6

Issue 6

Recipe: Stencilled cupcakes – “Use this issue’s Designer Cake Stencils to create fancy filigree cupcakes. Step by step, you’ll learn how to paint stencil designs with royal icing and decorate with gold lustre dust”
Brought to you by: Akhnaten – Philip Glass (yes, the entire opera)

Back to the magazines! I’d wanted to do these earlier in the week, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients for the suggest cupcake recipe. It was a stem ginger cupcake recipe, and I had everything except stem ginger. I went to 4 different shops on my way home from work at the start of the week, and found ginger in none of them. So, last night I decided to just go for it, and omit the stem ginger. I had ground ginger – that’d be fine, right?

The first thing I discovered was a hole in my bag of sugar. The second thing I discovered was that I didn’t have any self-raising flour, but I had plain flour and baking powder. Crisis averted.



Actually, as I write this, I’m remembering that I didn’t have enough caster sugar, by a significant number of grams. I got distracted taking the photos above, and didn’t make up the difference. Oops!

Also, when I got to the point in the recipe which said to stir through the finely chopped stem ginger, I thought I’d just triple check my cupboards. I found a bag of stem ginger – could’ve made them earlier. Oh well!


Anyway. The main thing I found with this recipe was that it was very thick. Apparently it made 12 cakes. I doubted that very much.


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Yep. Knew it.

Baking was (pleasantly) uneventful, and I moved on to making the toppings. Slightly apprehensive about using the stencils. I’ve amassed many of them over the course of this magazine series, and have always thought they looked like a fair bit of hassle to use (particularly when using them on the side of a big cake). Luckily, this seemed like a nice easy introduction to using them (and it’s also kind of the whole point of the blog…)

First step: colour the sugarpaste. I only had silver lustre dust in, but I still thought their choice of purple and turquoise would work.

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After making a little bowl of stiff peak royal icing, I had to roll out the sugarpaste to about 3mm thick. Then simply balance the stencil and smush icing all over it.


Result: not terrible!

Using a circle cutter to actually get the shape for the top of cupcake, I then came across the problem. It was way too thin and I couldn’t move them without destroying them. I was a terrible judge of 3mm, looking back (side on?) at it.

It sat sadly at the edge of the board before I eventually squashed it back into to purple sugarpaste ball

Cakes came out! Nowhere near as domed as the ones in the magazine. Maybe I used cases which were bigger than theirs?


No matter, I had a plan. You were meant to put a light coat of buttercream on so that the sugarpaste discs would stick. I went for a buttercream dome : ) Following photo is a WIP – they ended up more dome-y once I’d made sure there was at least some buttercream on each cake!


Back to the discs. I rolled them thicker, and experimented a bit with the consistency of the royal icing – slightly runnier icing got the tiny bits of the stencil, but then spread slightly. It wasn’t a bad effect though – much smoother than the stiff peak. In the end, I went for a consistency between the two.

It was around this point Chris came down to see where I was up to. Saying yes he’d like a cake, I asked him to fetch the vodka. He was confused.


Not super tidy – this was one of the ones with (very) stiff peak royal icing

Of course, it was the very last cake which had the best stencil result:


I had some little bits of sugarpaste left over, and I was still awake, so I decided to make some sprinkles for a future cake.


Skipping forward in time somewhat, here are the finished articles in a light where you can actually see what colour they are.


I’ve been good and restrained and not tried one yet, but the verdict from Chris was that they were nice, if a little sweet with the buttercream and sugarpaste together. Probably a good thing I forgot to add the rest of the sugar then.

GBBO technical challenge 3 – Dampfnudeln

I think my immediate feelings towards this challenge were summed up as soon as I’d finished watching the episode (yes, I was catching up):


After watching the episode, the fear of lifting the lid too soon seemed to be the most important thing that stayed with me. Other thoughts that stayed were mostly around what on earth they were. What strange strange things! A steamed bread.. roll?, but served with custard and plum sauce so sort of a pudding as well?

I finally got round to making them, after waiting for the right time to make 12 of them (a bit indulgent when only 2 people were in, and I hadn’t wanted to halve it), and be well enough to do so (yay, first cold of the season)!

Yesterday, there were 3 of us for dinner. I halved the recipe, apart from the vanilla sauce, because I’d measured out the cream already, and didn’t want to be left with 75ml double cream, or half an egg yolk. Plus, Chris likes custard-y things, so I knew it’d all get eaten.

Making the dough was generally fine. Nothing out of the ordinary, and my trusty KitchenAid helped out with the kneading.


While they were rising, I got on with the plum and vanilla sauces. The plum sauce was delicious, even though I had to change my sugar (could have sworn I had demererarara sugar in), and very simple to make.

The vanilla sauce was slightly more interesting! I was crossing my fingers before I made it, as I don’t like custard, and haven’t made it before (maybe shocking confession number 2, after the jam revelation of Viennese Whirl week?). I figured if I’d made it myself I’d be more willing to give it a go, and it certainly didn’t turn out as luminous as Bird’s does.

I had to whisk together some ingredients off the heat until thick and pale:

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I then gradually whisked in heated milk and cream before it went back on the pan to thicken. It went a bit lumpy, but when I reheated it for serving, I squashed them all away : )



Finally the main show. I shaped the dampfnudeln, and prepared the poaching liquid. before combining both of them (off the heat) for a second prove.

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Poaching liquid

They rose a little bit.

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Then the lid went on.

And I had to wait.


25-30 minutes over a medium to low heat, followed by 5-10 with the lid off to brown the bottom. There was a bit of steamy smoke about 15 minutes in, and I should have trusted myself to change something. I was a bit stubborn, and kept the heat high, and the lid on for 25.


They had already very much browned on the bottom. Here’s the pan after I’d removed them all.


However, I served the top part of each one, and they were actually delicious. A lot of time goes into them, so I wouldn’t make them again as an everyday dessert, but they’re definitely in the ‘would bake again when I had lots of time’ category!



And the vanilla sauce was pretty good too ; ) I’m not a custard convert yet, but this may be the first step…

Issue 5

Recipe: Ice-Cream Cone Cupcakes – “These irresistible cupcakes are baked inside the cone, then finished with colourful buttercream swirls and sprinkles to look like traditional ice creams.”
Brought to you by: Scheherazade – Rimsky-Korsakov

I had a mini dilemma when choosing which recipe to do for this issue. Each magazine has 3 sections in it, and usually 2 of them use the free item which came with that issue. Should I be baking only recipes which use the item from that magazine? That wasn’t my original plan, though maybe I’ve been preferring the recipes which do use the freebie. This week, I went the other way.

The item was a heart cutter, and I believe I’ve demonstrated to you that I can use biscuit cutters, so I opted to go for the much more exciting-looking ‘Cakes for kids’ recipe.

I learned a lesson this week:

Always follow the recipe. Or, be willing to create modern art to get round the fact that you didn’t.

Maybe obviously, this recipe needs ice cream cones with a flat bottom. Else, how are they to stand up in the oven?

Well, when you construct an elaborate concoction of baking dish, foil, tape, and stabbed crosses, you have a slim chance of making it work when you can’t find flat-bottomed wafers in the shop and don’t make the extra trip to the big shop. You have less of a chance when you do this but take the tip off so they stand upright. You have even less of a chance when you cut the ends off the conical wafers and balance them on paper cases on a flat baking dish. Trust me.

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But in theory, it was great!

Pretty standard recipe, though the batter was a little thicker than I’d usually go. Probably helped me weight down the cones though, and tasted good, so no complaints.


The ones in the foil contraption wobbled a bit, and just baked a bit tilted.

The ones in the foil contraption with the tips cut off baked in the pie dish.


The ones where I’d cut the end off and balanced in paper cases looked amazing until I had to lift them to the oven. Then they ended up like this:



Next, buttercream! I’d made my bed by this point, so went all out and made three different toppings: salted caramel, peppermint, and banana. I also had chocolate chips and sprinkles.

This bake was for my work’s cake club. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get them in if I iced them at home, so I prepared to do some Live Baking, and took filled piping bags in.

Oh dear.

The mixture, nice and smooth and pipe-able when it was put in the bag, had solidified, even though the office was quite warm. First the salted caramel sprung a leak, then basically exploded.

I need stronger piping bags.

Still! Some of them worked!


And the ones that didn’t? They melted in the heat ; )