After sending in my details a while ago, I received an email last week from a production assistant at Love Productions asking if I would like to attend the filming of the first episode of the companion show to The Great British Bake Off, An Extra Slice. The show’s move to Channel 4 and the resultant change in hosting line up has been a hot discussion topic, both among cakers and baking fans alike and so naturally I was intrigued to see how this would play out on screen.
I have another post all about our visit to the studio scheduled for Thursday, so look out for that, but in the meantime, I thought I would tell you all about my showstopper bake.
Regular viewers will know that the An Extra Slice audience are encouraged to bring along their own bakes inspired by that week’s episode and the theme of episode one, as in previous years, was cake week, with the bakers in the tent tackling their signature ‘fruity cake’ recipes, a mini-roll technical that offered its own slightly less-than-mini challenges and a spectacular illusion cakes showstopper – cakes that are disguised as something else entirely.
Those of you who have followed my work for some time will know that this final challenge is where my real passion lies and I was delighted to be asked to create my own take on an illusion cake to bring along to the show.
Sat in my cake room last week, looking for inspiration, my eyes fell upon my trusty Kenwood stand mixer. After creating my sewing machine cake in 2015, I had realised how easily the internal structure could be adapted to form the basis of a stand mixer and, as a result, a stand mixer cake had been languishing on my ‘wannado’ list ever since. I realised that the start of the new-look Bake Off was the perfect time to bring it out of mothballs and so I headed off to my local hardware store to buy the required provisions to build the support that would form the basis of my cake.
I started by drawing around the outline of the base, top and spine of my real mixer to get the necessary measurements and then sensibly handed these over to someone infinitely less clumsy than me – I’m lucky enough to have a very handy father-in-law who was able to take my measurements and replicate these into a perfectly formed wooden frame.
Once I had made this food safe, it was simply a case of loading it up with layers of my signature mud cake, filled and crumb coated with a luxurious milk chocolate ganache.
After a final coat of ganache, it was then time to cover the cake with sugarpaste, which is trickier than it sounds on such an awkward shape, and so I panelled this – meaning I covered the cake a panel (or piece) at a time, joining the seams at locations where they would be least detectible. There are cake artists out there who have mastered the art of seamless panelling, but sadly I am not one of them. The final details were also added in sugarpaste and the dial was hand finished with edible marker (available here).
The bowl was carved from layers of my lemon madeira cake, filled and coated with a lemon-flavoured white chocolate ganache and covered in grey sugarpaste. To achieve the shiny silver finish I used Rolkem’s Super Silver (which I bought here) mixed with a little vodka and airbrushed on – do make sure you clean your airbrush thoroughly though once you have finished to avoid blocking it (I have a separate airbrush purely for dust based colours, just in case). I topped the bowl with ganache and then cut a neat slice into the back and slotted it over the dowel-covered rod to add the bowl to the frame. To disguise the slice, I used yet more ganache to pipe spilt drips, which I repeated around the rest of the bowl.
The cake was added to a hand-crafted wood-effect board and to finish the display, I used cake cut offs to create a bag of flour (filled with ground French meringue) and a block of butter in its wrapper. Finally, I added a spilt egg (an all too familiar sight in my kitchen) using piping gel and a sugarpaste yolk.
The finished cake weighed an absolute ton and I was dreading the thought of getting it into Central London, so I was relieved to discover there is a public car park right around the corner from the studios – I don’t think either me or the cake would have survived the journey on the train!
Don’t forget to come back on Thursday to find out how we got on and make sure you’re watching The British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Thursday 31st August, on Channel 4 at 9pm to see whether my cake made the cut…