For the last few years, I have been baking along with The Great British Bake Off and would encourage you to do it too! It probably has had the single biggest impact on my baking than anything else I do, because it has forced me to try things that perhaps I would never even have thought to try otherwise.
The first couple of times I did it, I allowed myself to cherry-pick which challenges I would complete, whether the signature, the technical or the showstopper; however last year, I found myself being repeatedly drawn to the technical challenges – perhaps it was the fear of the unknown…?
As a result, this year I have decided to limit myself to just the technical bakes and for the rest of the series, will be attempting the same bake as the bakers in the tent each week. The rules (that I impose on myself) are that, as before, I will have to follow the same rules (and timings) as the contestants and must post the result regardless of how successful I may or may not have been. *gulp* I hope you enjoy this – probably more than I will!
So, down to business:
Week one in the tent was cake week, which saw the bakers attempt their favourite fruity signature, an ‘illusion cake’ showstopper and most pertinently for this project, a chocolate mini roll technical. The recipe, provided by new judge Prue Leith, caused uproar on social media, with viewers at home left stunned at the inclusion of peppermint in the cream filling. Many of my fellow Twitter bakealongers have advised me that they plan to leave this controversial addition out of their own mini rolls, but in my case rules is rules, so in it must go!
The time allowed for the challenge was two hours and so, with the timer on, I was down to business. Prue’s recipe (which is available here if you wish to have a go yourself) is, in her words, “a bit fiddly” and it advises you to start by preheating the oven and lining your tins with greased greaseproof paper. To do this, I measure the base of my tins and then allow an additional centimetre along the long edges to also line the sides of the tins and an additional 2-3 centimetres along the short edge to give me something to hold when removing the cakes from the tin later. Next, cut out the corners where the folds overlap to avoid these interfering with your cake.
The recipe itself seems fairly straightforward, although be sure to whip your eggs for long enough to ensure your cake rises (unlike some of the bakers) and make sure that you fold your egg whites in thoroughly to avoid visible white patches within the sponge (ahem).
Even filling the cakes and rolling them up wasn’t too hard and in fact, the only problem I did have with this bake was covering the cakes in chocolate. The specified quantities in Prue’s recipe did not seem to be enough to entirely cover the 12 mini rolls to the point that I was having to scrape the parchment under the cakes back into the bowl to reuse. The chocolate was also rather thick without the addition of either butter or cream, meaning that to ensure even coverage, I had to break out the palette knife, ruining any chance I might have had of nice smooth sides. I also realised that I had managed to run out of piping bags just as I needed one, so lost valuable time in the dying minutes trying to tease the end of a roll of greaseproof paper into a homemade version – is there anything worse than the end of a roll of greaseproof? By now, I had seconds to go, so practically flung the white chocolate onto the rolls with barely a care at all, much like tent baker, Liam – fortunately, I don’t think it shows quite so much in my case.
But troubles aside (get used to those as the weeks progress, the Bake Off team do like to make these challenges as tricky as possible), I was able to make twelve (bare-bottomed) mini-rolls in the time given and I actually quite like the peppermint filling – you may notice that there are only eleven rolls in my photograph. Taste-testing might have happened before I took the picture… oops! While not the best thing I’ve ever produced during a Bake Off challenge, I don’t think I would have come last in the tent.
I’ll be serving them up during my Extra Slice viewing party tomorrow, so I’ll let you know what the masses think of them later.
Episode two sees the bakers (and me) face a biscuit-themed technical challenge and the preview at the end of yesterday’s episode looks like it could be fortune cookies, so look forward to another disaster next week!