Sunday, 9 August 2015

[Great British Bake Off] - Technical Challenge No. 1, Walnut Coffee Cake

The Great British Bake Off is back once more on television, and this year I’ve decided to take on the challenge of the technical bakes!
What that means is following a basic recipe and sticking to the strict time limit given to the contestants.

I am also probably going to end up altering the recipe/ingredients to my own tastes and by what I can easily get on hand. So it is probably more accurate to say that I am going to be inspired by these bakes. And the first week only proved this to be the case!

Artistic angle to hide the cracks...

First Week: Walnut Cake

Sophie’s Bake: Walnut & Coffee Cake
So the first technical challenge was a lovely walnut cake using one of Mary Berry’s recipes. As soon as I saw it I knew I was going to adapt this into a Walnut & Coffee cake. The fact I didn’t have cream of tartare to hand aided in this swift decision making.


225g Unsalted Butter
1 tsp of Baking Powder
225g Caster Sugar
4 Free-range Eggs
50ml Strong Coffee
225g Self-raising Flour
100g Walnuts

225g Unsalted Butter
350g Icing Sugar
50ml Strong Coffee
Candied Walnuts
12 Walnut Halves
100g Caster Sugar
3 Tbsp Water

Sponge Method

 1)     Preheat the fan oven to 160C, 180C for non-fan ovens. And grease your baking tin of choice! The recipe called for the mix to be split between three cake tins, I only have one so just used one. The beginning of my deviations.

 2)     Chop the walnuts into fine pieces. 

Some fine nuts
3) Sieve the flour, baking powder and chopped walnuts together in a bowl.

 4)     Cream the butter and the sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy.
 5)     Add the coffee mix to the creamed sugar and beat well.

Appropriate mug is appropriate

 6)     Beat the eggs separately and slowly add into the creamed sugar mixture while stirring. 

 7)     Fold the flour walnut mix into the wet mix gently, being careful not to over fold.
 8)     Pour the mix into the baking tin/s and level the surface.

Ready for the oven

Fresh out the oven!
 1)     First get the caramel on. That’s two tablespoons of water with 100g of caster sugar on the hob at a low temperature. Once the colour turns brown quickly take it off the heat and dip the walnuts in the caramel. Leave the walnuts to cool on the side.

 2)     For the buttercream frosting beat the icing sugar and butter together until pale, then add the coffee and mix well.

    Now this is where it started to go a bit wonky for me. The contestants had 1 hour and 45 minutes to make their cakes, but my giant one tin cake took 1 hour in itself. That's without the cooling time. So not being equipped with a blast chiller in the London I had to improvise...

Bringing It Together
  1)     Cut the cake in half once cool and add a thick layer of coffee buttercream. You see the 'once cool', this is really important. I didn't take my own advice, due to the time pressure and accidentally ended up with a cake in pieces....
  2)     Spread the rest of the buttercream on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut pieces. Or in my case, try and rescue cake by covering the cracks!


So the above recipe is fine! My cake tastes great. Presentation wise it’s a bit….

Where I went wrong is cutting it before it was fully cooled, thanks to the time constraint I was under. The frosting got the better of me as well, I added too much coffee in it which resulted in the mix splitting. I also didn't make enough frosting, so didn't get the perfect covered top. Thus the artful cropping. 

But the proof is in the tasting, and it tastes pretty darn good! So a blind person would give me 8/10! Reality is probably a 6/10 and bottom of the pile. Here's to next week's biscuit challenge going better!


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