Monday, 10 August 2015

Ready, steady...BAKE! Week 1

Along with a greater number of people than the World Cup final managed to pulled in, last week I sat down to watch The Great British Bake Off. Being such a popular TV show in the UK and now further afield, and as I’m such a cake fanatic it may not surprise you to hear this. But, for the past two years I’ve had a Bake Off chip on my shoulder. Two years ago I submitted my 30 page application to the show and from a pile of 16,000 entries I was selected to bake for the producers and have a screen test. After weeks of radio silence from the show I received an email letting me know that I’d gotten down to the last 100 but sadly my application wouldn’t be taken any further as there were too many similar girls in my “box” who’d applied and one of those other girls had a better story than me. I was gutted, although in hindsight I don’t think I’d have enjoyed watching myself back on TV but that aside it wasn’t easy to hear quite how generic I am.

I forgave the show in June when they invited me to work on set. Quite frankly this was the best compensation I could have asked for. I was able to spend time in the GBBO tent without the pressure of any cameras in my face and I was able to do the thing that I love…BAKE!

I was excited therefore to watch this episode in case I spotted any of my handiwork (which I did but exactly what is a closely guarded secret) in the background and then it dawned on me as I saw the 13 bakers attempt to impress Paul and Mary with their Black Forest Gateau’s – why don’t I do a weekly bake a long? And so that’s exactly what I’m going to go. Each week I shall bake one of the cakes featured on the show, just for fun and just to share with my friends. This will force me to experiment with my styles and techniques and of course it’ll provide me with no end of fun.

Having covered the Black Forest Gateau some 37 weeks ago (eeekk) in basic patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, I thought this would be a great cake to begin with. If you’d like an in depth history lesson into the origins of the Gateau Au Forest Noir then take a look over here. It’s a truly fascinating story and a dish steeped in tradition.

Being a chocolate based cake featuring tempered chocolate decorations I chose the worst day to make my gateau. Dressed in my shortest shorts and loosest top I went about making my light, airy and fat (butter) free genoise sponge. Starting off the egg and sugar mix over a bain marie, I then very lazily popped my batter onto the Kitchen Aid. In basic patisserie this would have been a huge no no but now qualified I think I’m allowed to take handy time saving short cuts. I beat the mi to ribbon stage and then went about gently folding in the flour and the coco powder. As soon as the batter was ready I poured this into my gateau ring and popped it in the oven to bake at 180 for 25 minutes. After testing its readiness with a knife the cake went straight into the fridge to cool whilst I prepped the cherry compote and soaking syrup (which included a rather hefting helping of delicious Kirsch).

Once cooled using my trust bread knife I cut the cake into 4 pieces. My knife skills came flooding back to me as I spun the discs around the knifes blade with care and precision. After a soaking I set the discs aside, whipped up my cream and began the assembly. On to the first disc I piped a double layered ring of cream, followed by a small ring and then a blob in the middle. I filled the negative space with cherry compote, threw on the next layer and repeated, topping the gateau with the cakes original base. Back into the fridge it went whilst I attempted to melt and temper dark chocolate in the sweltering kitchen heat.

Having only just moved house I came across my first hiccup. No ice. I did however have a delicious joint of frozen belly pork purchased from Waitrose the night before and as such has to improvise using the frozen block of meat to cool down the chocolate to a Nutella like consistency. Back onto the bain marie for a couple of seconds and it was ready to be spread onto my pre chilled tray. I even managed to pipe a chocolate tree. An hour or so later the chocolate had cooled to its perfect snap and the remaining chocolate was at just the right temperature and consistency to be poured over the gateau and ooze elegantly down the sides of the cake.

I topped my effort with gold coated cherries, shards of chocolate, my chocolate tree, a red rose and pink rose petals. With the sponge scraps I made a mini gateau which was intended for someone special but sadly it won’t be making it into his belly any longer. I suppose I’ll just have to eat it myself. What do you think? A gateau fit for GBBO?

Oh and in case you didn’t click on my basic patisserie Black Forest gateau post, this is what my first attempted looked like.

I think that the results are much more visually pleasing now that I’ve applied my own style and finishes. To my eyes at least. Next week on my path to patissiere… who knows! All that I do know is that it’s biscuit week, but how exciting having a choice of three recipes but not having a clue what the three could be! If you’re baking along too tag me in on Instagram, I’d love to see everyones work. Who doesn’t love a cake picture!?!


  1. Wow, such progress! I've applied twice and i didn't hear back (crying/laughing emoji) x

  2. Wow, such progress! I've applied twice and i didn't hear back (crying/laughing emoji) x