Sunday, 27 September 2015

GBBO Week 8 - Mokatines

It was the quarter final this week on the Great British Bake Off, and the challenges were all about patisserie. The signature challenge were cream horns – puff pastry cones filled with a sweet concoction. – I’m surprised all the bakers were able to practice this one, as I imagine getting the cone moulds needed would have been a tricky task. I loved the sound of one of Nadiya’s horns – mocha hazelnut – if I ever get these moulds, these would be my cream horn of choice!

The showstoppers were even more crazy – puff pastry masterpieces that ended up looking vaguely like nuns (called religieuse a l’ancienne) – what was even crueller than this mammoth construction challenge (3 layers of puff pastry, held up only by circles of shortcrust pastry - no dowelling allowed!) was that after the challenge had finished, the constructs were left for 10 minutes to see if they collapsed…

The technical challenge, however, is what we decided to bake this weekend. Mokatines – airy genoise sponges filled with coffee icing, and decorated prettily with almonds and coffee buttercream. The only difficulty we had really was not having brown icing for the top of the cake (hence why it is red). Also we couldn’t find the coffee essence used in Mary Berry’s recipe, so used coffee instead.
These sponges pack a big punch of coffee flavour, and are perfect to serve to your friends and family to show off your baking skills.

Makes 9 mokatines


For the genoise sponge:
  • 3 eggs
  • 40g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 65g self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the coffee icing:
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 225g icing sugar
  • Milk, to loosen the icing

For the crème beurre au moka (coffee buttercream)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75g softened butter
  • 1 tsp instant coffee mixed with 2 tsp hot water

To assemble:
  • 4 tsbp apricot jam
  • 100g chopped almonds, toasted
  • 100g fondant icing (colour of your choice)

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin.

2. Make the genoise sponge. Whisk together the eggs and sugar until the ribbon stage – this is where a trail of mixture is visible when the whisk is lifted from the mixture. This takes between 5 and 8 minutes using an electric whisk.

3. Melt the butter in the microwave/in a saucepan. Sieve the flours together in a separate bowl. To the egg/sugar mixture, add half the flour around the sides of the bowl. Gently fold in using a metal spoon, being very careful not to knock the air out.

4. Add half the melted butter, again around the edge of the mixture. Gently fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter.

5. Pour into the prepared tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Leave to cool.

Before baking

After baking

6. Make the coffee icing. Melt the butter in a microwave. In a large mixing bowl sieve the icing sugar and coffee together. Pour in the melted butter, and beat until smooth. If the mixture seems very dry/thick, add a teaspoon of milk at a time, until the mixture is a spreadable consistency.

7. Make the crème beurre au moka. Heat the sugar with 2 tsbp water gently in a pan, then boil steadily for 2-3 minutes.

8. Break the egg yolk in a small bowl using a whisk. Slowly pour in the molten sugar (careful, it is very hot!), whisking constantly. Keep whisking until the mixture is cool (I used a normal whisk for this, but I'd recommend using a stand mixer if you have one).

9. In a separate bowl, cream the butter so that it is very soft, then stir in the coffee. Beat in the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Pour into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.

10. To assemble cut the cake horizontally. Carefully spread the coffee icing on one layer of the cake, and top with the other cake half.
Before slicing

After adding the icing

After adding the top cake layer

11. Trim the edges of the cake, and cut into 9 equal squares (this is easiest to do using a ruler).

12. Heat the apricot jam in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, until bubbling. Press through a sieve into a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to spread on the sides of each sponge square.

13. Pour the toasted almonds into a dish, and dip the sides of each mokatine into the almonds.

14. Pipe small rosettes of the crème beurre au moka in a square on top of the mokatine. If you have spare buttercream left, also pipe rosettes around the base of each mokatine.

15. Make the fondant icing. Soften the icing using your hands. Once pliable, add 4 tsbp water (1 tsbp at a time), and beat. When the icing is smooth, pour into a piping bag, and pipe the icing into the center of each mokatine. Leave to set.

16. Enjoy!

Note: We find the icing very sweet for the cake, so think that melting 100g plain chocolate and pouring this instead of the icing could be better. 

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GBBO Week 7 - Game Pie

This weekend we decided to go back to last week’s Victorian bake off episode, and make a game pie. After looking in our local butchers we got three different types of game – venison steaks, duck breast and a whole rabbit. I can’t take credit for making this pie however – my boyfriend was in charge – and it was the most delicious, poshest pie I’ve had. He loosely based the recipe on Tamal's – here is his recipe. One addition he made was using freshly picked mushrooms from a forest near his house – don’t do this unless you know your mushrooms!

This made a huge pie – easily enough for 8 good servings.


For the filling:
  • 350g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm chunks
  • 200g carrots, peeled and chopped into 2.5cm chunks
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 450g rabbit (we got this from one chubby rabbit!) – cubed
  • 300g duck breast, cubed
  • 300g venison, cubed
  • 100g dried chopped apricots
  • 100g full fat greek yoghurt
  • 100g black treacle
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Schwartz Moroccan spice blend

For the hot water crust pastry:
  • 80g butter
  • 140g lard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g plain flour
  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 1 egg, beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4.

2. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Boil the vegetables for 5 minutes, until starting to go soft (but still hold their shape).

3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the spices for 1 minute. Add the meats, and fry for 3-4 minutes – this browns off the meat.

4. Add the drained vegetables and chopped apricots, before adding the yoghurt and treacle. Cook for a few minutes, until the sauce has slightly reduced. Season with salt, and leave to cool.

5. Make the pastry. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, lard and salt together, with 240ml water.

6. Sieve together the plain and strong bread flour. Once the lard and butter have melted, make a well in the centre of the flours, and pour in the fat mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon to a smooth dough.

7. Once cool enough to handle, roll out two thirds of the pastry to about 5mm thick – place in your pie dish (we used a 24cm circular tray, but Tamal used a 20cm springform cake tin).
Add the filling to the pie. Roll out two thirds of the remaining pastry to make a pie lid. Cover the filling with the lid, and seal the edges using a fork. Make a hole in the cake for steam to escape whilst cooking.

8. Roll out the remaining pastry and make decorations. Place on the pie.

9. Brush the beaten egg over the pie lid. Bake for 90 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check that the game pie has cooked – it should be around 74c.

10. Enjoy the pie warm or cold.

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

GBBO Week 7 - Raspberry and Mango Charlotte Russe

It was a Victorian-themed Great British Bake Off recipe this week! The first challenge was one I’d not dream of trying yet – game pies. The technical challenge was a tennis cake, which was basically a fruit cake topped with homemade marzipan and sugar paste, and decorated to look like a tennis court. 

This challenge did intrigue me, but I wanted to challenge my baking (rather than decorating skills) more, and thus instead  I decided to have a go at the showstopper challenge – Charlotte Russe.

I hadn’t heard of one of these either before this week’s bake off episode. Simply it is a kind of flavoured set custard, topped with jelly and surrounded by sponge fingers (this is a very simplistic definition, but it gives an overview of the cake…). I actually liked the idea of everyone’s bakes – Tamal’s ended up looking amazing (he even made additional macarons!), as did Ian’s. The recipe I went for looked great also, and looked like it’d be slightly lighter than the traditional (using half the cream in the bavarois) – Nadiya’s raspberry and mango charlotte russe. I adapted the recipe slightly (the original is here)

This recipe takes a long time to make (at least 4 hours), and you need to be prepared to be doing a lot of whisking. I don’t have a stand mixer, and found that an electric whisk does as good a job. However, it ended up looking pretty good and tastes delicious – very refreshing and creamy.

Makes one huge 20cm cake/dessert


For the Italian meringue:

  • 240g caster sugar
  • 20g liquid glucose
  • 4 egg whites
For the sponge fingers:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 120g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120g plain flour, sifted
For the syrup:

  • 100g caster sugar
For the genoise sponge:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 30g butter, melted
For the raspberry bavarois:

  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 400g raspberries, blended (sieving is optional)
  • ½ lime
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 3 sheets leaf gelatine
  • 200ml double cream
For the mango bavarois:

  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 500g frozen mango, defrosted, blended to a pulp (200ml needed for bavarois)
  • ½ lime
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 3 sheets leaf gelatine
  • 200ml double cream
For the mango jelly:

  • Remainder of blitzed mango
  • 2 gelatine leaves


1. Make the Italian meringue. In a saucepan place the sugar and liquid glucose, and pour in 55ml water. Heat gently to 120c (use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature, and keep an eye on the pan as it can burn).

2. Whilst the sugar is heating, whisk the egg whites in a completely clean, grease-free bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one, otherwise use an electric whisk) until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed (a peak forms that topples at the tip).

3. Once the sugar is 120c, take off the heat, and pour into the bowl containing the egg whites, constantly whisking. Keep whisking until the bowl is cool, about 15 minutes – the meringue will become very glossy and stiff. Cover in cling film and set aside.

4. Make the sponge fingers. Grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 190c/180c fan/ gas mark 5.

5. Whisk together the egg yolks and 60g of the sugar until the ribbon stage, where when you lift the whisk, a trail can be seen on the surface of the mixture.

6. In a separate clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining 60g sugar and salt, until soft peaks form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a metal spoon. Gently fold in the sieved flour (it is vital that the flour is sieved!). Once no more flour can be seen, transfer the mixture to a piping bag (with a large nozzle attached).

7. Make the sugar syrup by heating the sugar with 100ml water for 5 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes.

8. Pipe the mixture into 11cm lines, making sure to space them 2.5cm apart. Sprinkle the cooled syrup over the sponge fingers and bake for 10 minutes (until lightly browned). You will have enough mixture for 3 or 4 batches, depending on the size of the nozzle used. There should also be plently spare in case any break in assembly.

Before baking
After baking

9. Make the génoise sponge. Preheat the oven to 200c/190c fan/gas mark 6. Grease and line a swiss roll tin.

10. Like the sponge fingers, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the ribbon stage is reached. Gently fold in the sieved flour, then pour into the prepared swiss roll tin.

11. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly brown, and spingy when pressed gently. Leave to cool. Cut into one or two 20cm circles (depending on the size of your swiss roll tin, one may only be possible – if this does happen don’t worry as you’ll have excess sponge fingers for the second sponge layer).

12. Make the raspberry bavarois. Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. In a saucepan heat the milk, raspberry puree and lime juice. At the same time, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until doubled in volume (this is becoming a pattern isn’t it…). Once the raspberry mixture has come to boil, pour into the egg yolk mixture, constantly whisking.

13. Return to the saucepan and heat gently for a few minutes, until slightly thickend. The mixture will already be fairly thick, so if unsure,heat gently for 2 minutes only. Do not boil, as the mixture may scramble.  Take the pan off the heat.

14. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, and whisk into the raspberry mixture (until the gelatine has dissolved). Set aside to cool.

15. Whilst cooling, whisk the double cream briefly until the ribbon stage is reached  (this only takes around 30 seconds with an electric whisk). Add 120g of the Italian meringue made earlier, and use a metal spoon or spatula to combine. Stir the raspberry mixture into the cream/meringue, and chill until use.

16. Make the mango bavarois. This is exactly the same as the raspberry bavarois method above, except using 200ml of the blended mango (instead of raspberry).

17. Line a 20cm cake tin (with the bottom removed) with cling film. Place a disc of génoise sponge in the base, and press down so that it is flat.

18. Trim all of the sponge fingers on one end so that they are flat and approximately the same height. Place around the diameter of the tin, overlapping them slightly. I found it helpful to use the remainder of the sugar syrup as a glue on the rim of the genoise sponge/on the cling film.

19. Pour in the raspberry bavarois. Chill until set (this took about 2 hours).

20. Once set, add the other disc of sponge OR the spare sponge fingers to make a second layer of sponge. Pour in the mango bavarois and chill until set (we chilled overnight, but I imagine this also would take around 2 hours).

21. Once the mango bavarois has set, make the mango jelly. Simply soak the 2 leaves of gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes. Heat the remaining mango puree in the microwave (or in a pan), until boiling. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, and stir into the mango puree until dissolved. Pour onto the cake - here we used a heart shaped mould (awwww). Chill to set the jelly for approximately one hour.

22. Once set, very carefully remove the charlotte russe from the tin and remove the cling film.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

GBBO Week 6 - Piña Colada Frangipane Tart

 This week on the Great British Bake Off, it was all about pastry. Sadly again I couldn't try to properly reproduce the technical challenge - the flouna - a cheese filled pastry/bread - as I couldn't get hold of the cypriot spices required :( Looked tasty though! The showstoppers were vol-au-vents, which I did try and will try to post about soon. However, it was the first challenge, the signature, that took my fancy.

 The signature challenge were frangipane tarts, sweet shortcrust pastry tarts filled with an almond paste concoction and topped with fruit. A lot of the baker’s recipes did intrigue me - I’ll definitely be trying out Paul’s mulled pear Christmas tart this December! However, one of the bakers who didn’t do so well in this challenge was Mat. His tart was based on a piña colada – pineapple, rum and coconut. These are three of my all time favourite flavours, so I decided to have my own go at this.

The result had tonnes of coconut flavour in the frangipane, a sweet pineapple topping with an undercurrent of coconut rum. Due to the juiciness of the pineapple, this pastry can end up a little soggy, so make sure to blind bake the pastry (baking it without any filling in).

Makes 1 x 20cm tart.


For the pastry:
  • 60g cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 125g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the frangipane:
  • 85g butter, softened
  • 85g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut rum
  • 45g ground almonds
  • 40g dessicated coconut
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks (you could use canned, but I find it doesn’t have as much flavour as fresh)
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam


1. Make the pastry. Measure the butter, flour and icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingertips – this breaks up the butter, and will turn to a breadcrumb consistency.

2. Once the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the egg and bring the dough together into a ball. Do not overwork the pastry – as soon as it is a ball, cover in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Once chilled, take the pastry out of the fridge. Place between two sheets of clingfilm, and roll out to a circle about 24cm in diameter (this will cover the base and the sides of a 20cm tart tin). Carefully place in your tin – if there are any holes, don’t worry, just fill it in with leftover pastry. Place back in the fridge for 20 minutes.

4. Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan/ gas mark 4. Place greaseproof paper onto your dough, and fill with baking beans (or uncooked rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans/paper from your tart and bake the pastry for a  further 5 minutes.

5. Whilst the tart is blind baking, make your frangipane. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy (you can do this stage with an electric mixer if wanted).

6. Add the eggs, rum, ground almonds, desiccated coconut and flour, and fold in. Spoon into the pastry case and level.

7. Top with the pineapple in your preferred pattern – here I tried to do concentric circles.

8. Bake for 25 minutes – the pineapple does bubble a lot, but if the frangipane is not liquid, and firm when lightly pressed, it's cooked. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

9. Heat the apricot jam and 1 tablespoon of water together in a saucepan or microwave. 

10. Spread onto the top of your tart, and try to avoid any big apricot lumps – if you want to be sure there are no lumps, press the heated jam through a sieve first.

11. Enjoy the tart warm or cold :D

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Monday, 7 September 2015

GBBO Week 5 - Gluten Free Pitta/Flat Bread

 As I mentioned in my previous post, I attempted to bake gluten free pitta breads, using a different recipe to that of Paul Hollywoods...I just couldn't get the psyillum powder in time to do it his way.
This recipe had no scary ingredients, and took around half an hour to make.
I'll admit that they were more flat bread than pitta bread, but they were delicious (if a bit uneven...)! We had them topped with roast chicken - yummy!
This is a recipe based on one from this website.

Makes 6 pitta breads

  • 255g gluten free white bread flour  (we used Doves), plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan oven/ gas mark 7. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper, and dust with flour.

2. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Make a hole in the center of the bowl.

3. Warm the yoghurt and milk together (in a pan or microwave) until it is lukewarm (not boiling!). Pour into the hole you've made in the dry ingredients, then add the vegetable oil.

4. Stir together the dough - it will be very wet! Once all the dry ingredients have been incorporated stop mixing - overworked pittas do not taste good :(

5. Dust your hands in flour. Take approximately 1/6 of the mixture, and pat in flour. Place on a prepared baking tray and flatten out, ideally to about half a cm. Try to aim for an oval shape. Repeat with the rest of the mixture to make 6 pittas.

6. Bake for 10 minutes. At this point, take out of the oven and carefully flip over - I found that some of the pittas did stick (if you have any suggestions they'd be greatly appreciated!). Bake for a further 3-4 minutes.

7. Take out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

8. Enjoy!

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GBBO Week 5 - Dairy Free Peanut Butter Ice Cream

 Another great week of the Great British Bake Off, and this time it was all about alternative ingredients. The first challenge was all about making sugar-free cakes – my argument about this challenge really was that sugar was used in all the bakes…honey and agave syrup still are sugar-packed – it’s just not refined sugar (like caster or brown sugar)…apart from that the challenge was interesting – I actually loved the simplicity of Alvin’s pineapple upside down cake, but Ugne’s cake disaster reminded me of many of my own :(

The second challenge were gluten free pitta breads. Paul’s recipe had a really strange ingredient – psyillum powder…I really wanted to make these but couldn’t find this powder on such short notice. I did try a different recipe however, which I will hopefully post about soon.

The third challenge were dairy free artic rolls – traditionally a log of ice cream wrapped in a fatless sponge that has been coated with jam. I adored Paul’s tropical beach, and Nadiya’s bake was simply stunning. However it was Ugne’s peanut butter ice cream that intrigued me the most, so I decided to give this a go this weekend. I based it on a recipe found here.

I loved this recipe - I didn't have an ice cream maker so had to resort to the traditional way of making ice cream. Even with this hinderance however, the ice cream tastes fabulously soft and creamy. 


For the ice cream:
  • 1x 340g can full fat coconut milk (I tried using light coconut milk  but the ice cream didn't set as well)
  • 80g smooth peanut butter (we made our own! See notes at the bottom for details)
  • 110g runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For a peanut butter ripple:
  • 1tbsp unflavoured oil
  • 3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract


1. If you are lucky and have an ice cream maker, make sure that the insert is frozen and ready to use!

2. In a food processor (we used a nutribullet), combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract, and blitz until smooth. Chill for at least half an hour.
Now if you have an ice cream machine, simply pour the ice cream mixture in, and follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.

3. If like me, you don’t have an ice cream machine, pour into a tub. Freeze for an hour, then pour into a food processor and briefly blitz (to get rid of ice crystals) – repeat twice (freezing an hour in between).

4. Whilst the ice cream is freezing/churning, make the peanut butter ripple (this adds extra sweetness to the ice cream so it’s well worth making). Simple stir together the oil, peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract until a smooth paste is achieved. You can adjust the sweetness by adding more honey if preferred.

5. After three hours of freezing (the traditional way), or after churning, pour in the peanut butter ripple goodness and swirl in.

6. Freeze the ice cream until completely solid (I left it overnight). To make it the creamiest possible ice cream, I gave my ice cream a blitz in the food processor after chilling overnight - which is why the ripple is not too visible here. I'd recommend doing this if you don't have an ice cream churner.

7. Enjoy!

Notes: To make your own peanut butter, use a food processor (I highly recommend nutribullets), to blitz down 200g roasted peanuts and 1 tsp unflavoured oil. We used slightly salty peanuts, but previously have used dry roasted (these were amazing but not suited for ice cream...). Keep processing until smoothness is achieved.

Before blitzing

Super smooth blitzed result!
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