The end of summer is upon us but sweetening the blow is the almighty Bake off returning to our screens. I have to admit the last series left me disappointed, what with questionable decisions and uninspiring bakes but I already have high hopes for this year, the talent is incredible with some stand out Bakers already at this early stage – also the Kitchenaid’s are back, I missed those beautiful beasts.
Every year I say I’ll try baking the challenges but every year it starts and I don’t and then it’s over! But this year after a flurry of Pre-Bake Off excitement on Twitter, a group of baking bloggers formed who will attempt a bake-off-along and we shall share our efforts on Bakers Anonymous - the newest baking bloggers community on the block!
Personally I want to try my hand at each technical challenge, using the recipe from the latest Bake Off book – The Great British Bake Off Everyday. I will then share my experiences of the recipe, anything I changed, tips I picked up and I’ll probably include some dodgy iPhone pictures too for luck.
The first bake was Angel Food Cake – something that I had heard of but have never baked or tasted. It requires a special pan but I really wasn’t keen on buying one, some people have had success with using a bundt tin – which I intending on using, that was until I spotted Mary’s tip in the book.
To make a home-made angel food pan, use a 25cm loose-bottomed cake tin and set an empty, clean fizzy drink can in the centre.
This was an opportunity I couldn’t really ignore, I could test Mary’s tip and feed it back to the wider community… more on that later!
So for those of you unfamiliar with Angel Food cake, it’s a fat-free cake that uses a lot of eggs whites and creates a kind of marshmallowy cake. This recipe uses the leftover egg yolks to make Lemon curd – which you use a small amount of mixed with passion fruit to top the cake, after it is covered in whipped cream. The rest of the lemon curd doesn’t go to waste either, it goes in a jar, in the fridge and will last about 2 months.
So I read the recipe, got my ingredients together, re-read the recipe, weighed out some ingredients and then re-read the recipe again. I still managed to mess up one of the stages and I didn’t have the lights, cameras, questions, delectably distracting comedienne’s that they have – I can understand why stupid mistakes like confusing salt for sugar happen – poor Toby! Anyone got any suggestions for what I can do with a mixed bag of 125g flour and 300g sugar? Anyone? Bueller?
The egg whites are whisked at a high-speed for a minute, then cream of tartar, salt, lemon zest and juice are added and it’s whisked for a few more minutes. Then some of the sugar, a tablespoon at a time – until firm peaks are formed, I was concerned the mixture would outgrow my bowl – but there was just about enough room.
Then in stages the flour and remaining sugar is gently folded into the eggs and then that is it.
On the programme there was much made about the greasing of the tins, you are not meant to – some did and their cakes flew out. But I wasn’t using an angel food pan and couldn’t decide if I should grease or not. At first I decided to spray with cake release but then changed my mind and wiped it off. I’m not sure if this was a good thing or not – the cake did stick a little to the sides but not overly, the edges were rough but as it was getting covered in cream it didn’t really matter. It also meant it stayed in the tin the whole time it was cooling upside down, yeah I know crazy right!
So yes, the tin experiment. I used a 25cm springform tin and I put a clean, empty drinks can in the centre – measured it a bit to try to make it central and secured it temporarily with tape so it wouldn’t move too much when I spooned the cake mix in.
As it baked and the cake began to raise I noticed the can was being raised with it, as it was just over half way through its cooking time I thought it safe to briefly take the cake out of the oven and pushed the can back in.
When the cake was cooked (about 45 minutes) I carefully balanced it upside down on the can – filled with uncertainty, I didn’t know what to expect, would it fall out or fall over, would it be ruined. But amazingly it stayed put, for the whole hour instructed to cool it for.
Then came the tough part, persuading the cake to come away from the tin without it completely falling apart. The sides were easy – thank you springform magic. But the can and the bottom were trickier, I used a knife, I wiggled it, I teased it, et voilà! Once the can was removed – I cut out the cake that had collected below the can, this little disc was very dense and I hoped was not a representation of the rest.
With the cake part completed it was time for the Lemon curd.
The egg yolks get mixed with sugar, lemon zest and juice and gently heated on the hob – mine took three times longer than what the book stated and I found using a spoon to stir it didn’t work, I needed whisking power. Once thickened, butter is added and stirred through, then sieved, transferred to jars and what’s left gets put to one side.
I whisked some whipping cream with a little vanilla extract until what was meant to be soft peaks but was a little bit over that and then covered the cake. I found that the cream picked up a lot of crumbs, which was tricky to cover up but I think I managed it.
Then I mixed the seeds and pulp of a passion fruit with some of the leftover lemon curd and drizzled it over the top.
Bernie described this cake as tasting like a Solero! I think he hit the nail on the head, as the mallowy cake is a little like eating ice cream, just without the coldness. The lemon curd and passion fruit compliments the cake, I am positive I will make this cake again.
If I don’t get myself a proper tin, I think next time I might try greasing and flouring the tin and securing the drinking can better – either with string or possibly baking beans in the bottom to weigh it down.
Did this weeks Bake off inspire you to bake anything?
Share your wares with us at Bakers Anonymous.