Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Blogger Bake Off Final - Petit Four: Coffee Victoria & Lemon Meringue Tartlets

And so, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I'll say it clear, I'll state my case of which I'm certain [...]  Yes there were times, I'm sure you knew when I bit off more than I could chew. But through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up and spat it out . I faced it all and I stood tall, and baked it my way! 

What's a final without a cheesy ballad thrown in there somewhere? I'm sure the British Bake Off will have one tonight when they announce the winner (RICHARD! RICHARD!) 

This week, I decided after the chaos of the entremet, there was no way I was tackling a croque en bouche, so went for petit four instead. Make a miniature version of anything and it's adorable, so I did these minis of some baking classics, the victoria sponge and lemon meringue pie (I also like to pretend I'm a giant when eating them). 

This entire challenge has been incredible and I would personally like to thank I Love Crafty for organising the entire thing. I've learnt so much from doing this, and don't really want it to stop. That's where you guys come in. If you would like to see the baking continue on Blood, Sweat and Heels then leave a little comment below, because I'm seriously considering making it a permanent feature. Whatever the decision may be, there is a Christmas Blogger Bake Off in the pipeline. 

I really hope you've enjoyed this flurry of baking that's been going on recently and have been inspired to don your apron and get elbow deep in dough. 

Coffee Victoria

225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for tin
225g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
100ml cold espresso

Filling / Icing
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp cold espresso

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Butter one large, deep baking tray, and line the base with baking paper. 
2. Using an electric whisk on high speed, whisk the butter in a large bowl for 1-2 minutes until very pale and fluffy, then add the sugar and continue to whisk for another 1-2 minutes. 

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well with each addition until the mixture is amalgamated.

4.  Sift and whisk in the flour and baking powder in two goes, just lightly, then whisk in the coffee. 

5. Tip the mixture into the baking tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when poked. 
6. Whilst that's baking, for the filling cream the butter in a bowl using an electric whisk for about 1 minute until very pale and fluffy, then gradually whisk in the icing sugar and whisk for 1 minute longer. Finally whisk in the coffee. 
7. When the cake is done, remove from the baking tray and peel off the baking paper. Leave on a wire rack to cool. 

8. When cooled take your cake cutter (I used a shot glass and a knife for this as I didn't have a cutter small enough. Remember, petit four are meant to be eaten in one go) and cut out as many circles of sponge as you can get out of your cake. 

9. To get my icing effect, I used a piping bag and a small star nozzle, but how you decorate yours is completely up to you. Add the filling to one circle, and then gently place another on top, and ice. 

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

175g plain flour
100g cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk

2 level tbsp cornflour
100g golden caster sugar
finely grated zest 2 large lemons
125ml fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons)
juice 1 small orange (or breakfast orange juice)
85g butter cut into pieces
3 egg yolks and one whole egg

4 egg whites, room temperature
200g golden caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour. 

1.Preheat the oven to 200C 
2. For the pastry, put the flour, butter, icing sugar, egg yolk (save the white for the meringue) and  tbsp of cold water into a bowl. 

3. Using your hands, bind the ingredients together until it forms a dough. This will require you to really work the butter into the mix, so there are no lumps of butter. Use an electric whisk if it helps. 
4. Tip the pastry onto a lightly floured surface , gather together until smooth, then roll it out. 

5. Using the same cutter you used for the Coffee Victorias, or a shot glass and a knife, cut out as many circles as you can get from that piece of dough. Pull all the off-cuts together and roll out again and cut more circles. Repeat this until you're out of dough. 

6. Fill a muffin tray with muffin cases, and place a circle in each one. Using your forefinger, poke the dough right into the corners to create a yorkshire pudding shape. Stab each one with a fork and put the tray in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes. 

7. Once chilled, line each bit of pastry with tin foil, and add baking beans for a blind bake. 

8. Put into the oven for 6 minutes. 
9. Remove from the oven, and remove the baking beans and foil. 
10. Put back into the oven for another 6-10 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. 

11. For the filling, mix cornflour, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Strain and stir in the lemon juice gradually. 
12. Make orange juice up to 200ml with water and strain into the pan. 
13. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Once the mixture bubbles, remove from the heat and beat in the butter until melted. 

14. Beat the egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue) and whole egg together, stir into the pan and return to a medium heat. 
15. Keep stirring vigorously for a few minutes, until the mixture thickens and plops from the spoon (It will bubble, but won't curdle). Take off the heat and set aside while you make the meringue. 

16. For the meringue, put the egg whites in a bowl. Whisk to soft peaks, then add half the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking between each addition without over-beating. 
17. Whisk in the cornflour, then add the rest of the sugar as before until smooth and thick. 

18. Using a teaspoon, add the lemon filling to your cases, filling just to the brim. 
19. How you want your meringue to appear is completely up to you, I used a piping bag and a small star nozzle, piping the meringue in tiny blobs. 

20. When you've piped the meringue, turn the grill onto it's highest setting, and set the tartlets under it until the tip of meringue start to brown. Keep an eye on them because this process happens quite quickly. 


Thursday, 2 October 2014

Great Blogger Bake Off: Week 9 - Mango and Lemon Entremet

Jesus Christ this week was hard! I kinda brought it on myself though, choosing to do an entremet. It was a massive mountain to climb trying to pull this off, and I can't describe how ecstatic I was getting it out of the tin yesterday to find that it had set, because it so easily could have gone the other way. I was even more surprised to see that it was the cake of choice for the Showstopper Challenge on the Bake Off yesterday, which gave me a huge sense of achievement. 

I want to apologise for not being as vigilant in photographing the baking process this week. I would get so caught up in the complication of this behemoth of a cake, that i'd do two steps of the recipe without even realizing, or having taken a photo, but hopefully you get the gist if you want to give it a go yourself.

I don't want to take all the credit for this recipe. I need to thank Pastry Workshop Blog for the flavour inspiration and method as well. I found with this cake, no matter what recipe you follow, you're going to have to make your own changes. When working with temperamental consistencies such as mousse, ganache and glaze, you'll end up doing whatever you can to make it set, regardless of what the recipe says. 

Pastry Workshop got the flavour combination on point! The sharp lemon mousse combats the sweetness of the mango mousse and white chocolate glaze, and you get a really subtle hint of lime from the ganache. You can't quite put your finger on it at first, but you know it's there. 

I am dead chuffed with this, and urge any of you to give it a go. It's time consuming and you'll pull out most of your hair making it, but the result is well worth it! 


Poppy Seed Sponge
6 egg whites
A pinch of salt
150g sugar
100g poppy seeds
50g shredded coconut 
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon Curd
5 egg yolks
215g sugar
100g butter
15g lemon zest
90ml lemon juice

Mango Mousse
350g mango puree
100g sugar
45ml water
2 egg whites
6g gelatine (plus 30 ml cold water) 
250ml double cream, whipped

Lime Infused White Chocolate Ganache 
150g white chocolate, chopped
100ml double cream
20g butter
zest from 1 lime

Lemon Mousse
80ml lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon 
Half of your lemon curd
7g gelatine (plus35ml cold water)
2 egg whites
100g sugar
45ml water
280ml double cream, whipped

White Chocolate Glaze 
300g white chocolate, chopped
300ml double cream
3g gelatine (plus 15ml cold water) 


1. Preheat the oven to 170C 

2. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they're stiff. Gradually stir in the sugar, mixing until the whites are nice and shiny. 

3. Stir in the vanilla extract

4. In a separate bowl, mix the poppy seeds, coconut, flour and baking powder together, and then fold this into the egg whites. 

5.Spoon the batter into a round cake tin (I used 23cm to start with, but after baking it shrunk from the sides, so to make the stacking compact, I moved it over to a smaller one). Place into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until lightly risen and golden brown. 

6. When the cake's done, let it cool down in the pan then remove and cut the cake in half lengthways to get two equal sheets of cake. 

7. Place one sheet of cake back in the cake ring you're going to use for the stacking process, and put the other half to one side. 

8. For the curd, combine the egg yolks, sugar, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of hot water and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until melted, thick and creamy. It might take around 20 minutes so be patient. 

9. When the curd is done, strain it through a sieve and then split the curd into two equal portions. You will use half in the lemon mousse, and the other half for decoration. 

10. Place aside to cool down completely. 

11. Combine the gelatin for the mango mousse and the assigned amount of water in a small bowl and let it bloom for ten minutes. 

12. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook the syrup until it begin to thicken - about 5 minutes. 

13. Whilst the syrup cooks, whip the egg whites until stiff.  Begin pouring the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, mixing all the time (preferable with an electric whisk). Mix until glossy. 

14. Reheat the gelatin for a few seconds and stir it into the mango puree then combine the puree with the egg whites. 

15. Whip the double cream then fold it into the egg whites. Then pour the mousse into the cake ring on top of the first layer of poppy seed sponge. 

16. Place back into the fridge and allow for the mousse to set. I allowed 2 hours. 

17. For the lime infused white chocolate ganache, bring the heavy cream to the boil. 

18. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest. Let the mixture infuse until it's completely chilled.

19. Strain through a sieve and then bring back to boiling point. 

20. Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate. 

21. Mix until melted and smooth and then stir in the butter.

22. When the ganache is at room temperature, pour it over the mango mousse and put straight back into the fridge to set. 

23. When the ganache is set, place the second layer of poppy seed sponge on top and put the cake back into the fridge. 

24. For the lemon mousse, mix the gelatin and water in a small bowl and allow to bloom for ten minutes. 

25. Combine the lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan and bring to boiling point. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool, then strain through a sieve. 

26. Warm up the lemon curd and add to the juice and zest. Set aside. 

27. Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes until thickened. 

28. Whip the egg whites until stiff and then gradually add the hot sugar syrup, mixing well with an electric whisk until stiff and shiny. 

29. Stir in the melted gelatin then add the lemon curd. 

30. Whip the double cream. 

31. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature then fold in the whipped cream. 

32. Pour the mousse on top of the ganache and put back into the fridge. From this point, it's up to you how long you leave it in the fridge for. 2 hours will be enough for the mousse to have set, but I wanted to leave it in for as long as possible before adding the glaze, so I left it overnight. If it's your first time making this, overnight is best, just to make sure. 

33. For the glaze, combine the gelatin and water and let it bloom for ten minutes. 

34. Pour the cream into the saucepan and bring it to boiling point. 

35. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. 

36. Add the gelatin and mix well. 

37. Allow the glaze to come to room temperature then pour over the cake. 


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The Great Blogger Bake Off: Week 8 - Spiced Apple and Salted Caramel Pretzels

ADVANCED DOUGH?! Boy did I panic when the theme of this week was announced. I'd only just managed puff pastry dough and now they want me to step things up a notch? Well I gave it a good go. None of the things the bakers on the show were going to be making this week appealed to me (other than doughnuts but I'm terrified of deep fat frying), and I remembered the contestants of last year really struggling with pretzels in the technical challenge, so decided to give them a go. I do love a good pretzel, but wanted to get a bit adventurous with the flavouring. One of my fave flavours is salted caramel, and what goes better with caramel than apple right? Pretzels alone may not be all that complicated, but I sure complicated things by adding apple to the dough. However I took the necessary precautions (that 1tbsp of flour with the apples is a lifesaver) to make sure it wasn't a disaster and so that you guys can give this recipe a go without having to worry about any hiccups. 

500g strong white flour + 1 tbsp
10g salt
7g fast-action yeast 
40g butter, softened 
1 tbsp malt extract (or Ovaltine/Horlicks)
280ml milk
21g bicarbonate of soda
2 Pink Lady Apples 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp nutmeg 
For the caramel
75 grams unsalted butter 
50g soft light brown sugar 
50g caster sugar
50g golden sugar
125 ml double cream 
1 tsp fleur de sel or Cornish Sea Salt 


1. Add the flour, salt, yeast and butter to a bowl . In a jug, add the malt extract to the milk and stir until dissolved. Add the milk mixture gradually to the flour and mix until a dough is formed. 

2. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead. The dough should be stiff but not sticky,and shouldn't need any extra flour to knead. Be patient. The more you knead the smoother and dryer the dough will become. Continue for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and glossy. 

3. Place dough in a clean bowl, cover in oiled cling film and leave to prove until doubled in size (approx 45 minutes). 

4. Whilst waiting for the dough to prove, peel, core and chop the apple into small cubes. In a bowl at the cinnamon, nutmeg and 1tbsp of flour, then add the apple cubes and toss until completely covered. 

5. Preheat the oven to 200C/ 400F / Gas 6 

6. Once proved, turn the dough out and add the apple a handful at a time, kneading each handful until the apple is evenly spread throughout the dough. 

7. Divide the dough into 10 chunks, rolling each chunk into a ball to make sure they're all the same size. 

8. Using your hands, take each piece, and roll the dough into a long sausage shape, tapering the ends and creating a slight bulge in the middle. Each piece should be about 40-50cm long in length. You may need to roll out each o the strands just part way at first, then rest them, allowing the glutens to relax, before continuing to roll them out to their full length. This can help to prevent the strands springing back and creating unevenly shaped pieces. As you roll out the ropes you should apply some pressure to the dough, working from the middle outwards , pushing out any air bubbles that may have formed in the dough. 

9. The traditional way to shape pretzels is to take hold of each end of the strand and lift it into the air to create a U shape. Then, without letting go of the ends , and in one swift movement, flip the centre of the U propelling it to make a double twist. However I found this way to complicated, so with the strand laying down, I created an upside-down U shape, grabbed the ends and brought them up into the U, and twisted them around each other twice. It was much simpler. Lightly press the tapered ends onto the opposite side of the pretzel, attaching them either side of the central bulge. You may find a little dab of water will help them to stick. Carefully flip the pretzels over and onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper, so that the ends are now face down. You should now have a classic pretel shape with three equally spaced sections. 

10. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 7 litres/ 12 1/2 pints of boiling water, and gently drop each pretzel into the water for approximately 5 seconds. Gently remove and place on a baking tray. 

11. With a sharp knife, make a deep slash in the thickest part of the pretzel. 

12. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes , or until they are a deep brown colour.

13. Meanwhile, for the salted caramel, melt the butter, sugars, syrup in a small heavy based pan and let simmer for 3 minutes, swirling every now and then. 

14. Add cream and half a teaspoon of fleur de sel salt (not table salt) and swirl again. Give it a taste to see if you want to add any more salt, before letting it cook for another minute, then pour into a bowl and put it in the fridge.

15. When the pretzels are done, leave them to cool on a wire rack. 

16. When the caramel has thickened enough to pipe, pour into a sandwich bag and snip off a small corner. Pipe over the pretzel in whatever pattern you like. I went for a simplistic zig-zag.