It’s week four and the first ever caramel week in The Great British Bake Off Tent. It’s also the first ever week that I have felt a little bit queasy watching the Bake Off judges try all of the bakes during judging. I’m not the biggest fan of caramel and certainly wouldn’t be able to stomach it in the quantities that Prue and Paul had to this week. Caramel and sugar-work are areas of baking that instil fear into many a home baker – in the words of last week’s star baker, Julia: “The tricky thing about caramel is pretty much everything”.
The bakes this week included a caramel shortbread signature (think souped up Millionaire’s Shortbread), a traditional Dutch stroopwafel technical and a caramel cake-themed showstopper with the mandatory inclusion of spun sugar.
In the tent, it was popular rugby-playing Scot, Tom, who fell foul of the judges this week, with his under-baked Hummingbird cake showstopper leading Paul to ask, “How could you manage, with all those beautiful ingredients, to make that!” Ouch.
Despite Liam nipping at her heels during all of the challenges, it was Kate who was eventually crowned star Baker, after her firework cake was proclaimed the best cake Prue had ever eaten.
And so, on to stroopwafels. The traditional Dutch waffle-stamped sandwich biscuit, filled with a gooey caramel filling will be a familiar sight to many coffee shop regulars – although perhaps not in name – and required the bakers to utilise a waffle cone maker to produce its traditional waffle pattern. The caramel filling was the real problem for the bakers in the tent this week and even the challenge winner, Stacey was unable to produce a smooth and gooey filling that passed muster. Social media types have suggested that Prue’s recipe could be the reason for this (Conspiracy…? Might be time for my tin foil hat!), but for once, I won’t be able to find out for myself…
A quick amazon search reveals that the additional piece of kit on the bakers’ benches this week was a Vintage Ice Cream Cone and Waffle Dish Maker, which is currently on offer for a very reasonable £23.68 (down from £34.99!). However, although reasonable, I am reluctant to spend out on a gadget that I know I will never use again – and that I definitely don’t have room for. It also wouldn’t arrive in time to attempt this challenge this week. Unfortunately, this means that I simply won’t be able to have a go at this week’s technical bake in it’s true form, which is genuinely gutting.
I initially planned to skip stroopwafels entirely, substituting a signature millionaire shortbread instead – until that is, BecksBake came along…
Egged on by her and some others, I thought, what the hell?! I’ve got all the ingredients already in, so what’s the harm in having a go? What a fool I was!
The recipe calls for a griddle and a grill press to cook the stroopwafels, but I don’t have a griddle and I don’t even know what a grill press is, so I decided to substitute these for a non-stick frying pan and the bottom of a saucepan. Do you know what is absolutely terrible for making waffles? A non-stick frying pan and the bottom of a saucepan!
The dough itself came out fine as did the caramel filling – in fact, the caramel filling is decidedly tasty. However, it took numerous attempts to find a temperature that didn’t either cremate the stroopwafels or leave them raw in the middle.
Even when this was achieved, I found it was impossible to ensure that even pressure was applied to the biscuit while it was cooking, meaning I had some that were too thin to slice, some that were too uneven to cook through and some that just plain fell apart.
All in all, I managed to fully assemble the eight pictured here and also to decided resolutely that I would never ever ever again attempt to make waffles without a waffle iron. Because seriously, who does that?!
I will confess that I have tried one – purely in the interests of research you understand – and it wasn’t terrible. However, when even your sugar-loving other half decides that they don’t want to partake in a bake, you know you’re on to a loser. So unless someone decides to gift me a waffle iron in the immediate future, I guess I am done with stroopwafels…
Next week is pudding week and it looks like we’ll be facing those tricky little blighters, chocolate fondants – or at least something that looks an awful lot like them! If it is fondants, then those I’ve made many a time before, so here’s hoping!