Is it safe to talk about Bake Off yet? Have we all calmed down?
Week eight brought us to the quarter finals and Forgotten Bakes week, with Prue and Paul (or their researchers at least) scouring ancient cookbooks to find “classic creations of yesteryear that have been overlooked” AKA the most obscure and fiddly recipes they could muster up.
Our signature challenge, this week, was the Bedfordshire Clanger, a pasty-like, suet pastry-based bake that marries savoury and sweet fillings to provide a whole meal on the go – and provide ample opportunities for witty word play. Would anyone ‘drop a clanger?’ (Incidentally, yes. Kate did.) The technical required the bakers to create a Cumberland Rum Nicky, topped with a 14-strand lattice and served with a batch of traditional rum butter. Finally, the show stopper saw the bakers crafting a selection of elaborate fat-less sponges with no raising agent: the Savoy Cake. Served on a plinth also made of sponge.
At the start of the episode, we were treated to a VT of the nation’s favourite uni student, Liam optimistically declaring, “I just need to be consistent, bang out three good bakes and I should be fine. See what happens, innit?” And as it happened, Liam did remain consistent, failing to impress the judges in any of the three rounds and sadly, he was sent home, with Stacey claiming Star Baker.
As the nation collectively gasped in horror, accusations began to fly around. How had Kate survived after quite literally dropping a clanger? Did Stacey deserve her star baker win after ripping the oven door off its hinges? Both have fielded complaining tweets admirably this week and ultimately, the judges’ decision is final, but I know many didn’t take the decision well – myself included (I do love a GIF).
Now, after my BB8 dramas last week, it looked like I wouldn’t have time to craft my Cumberland Rum Nicky before tomorrow’s episode arrived, but thankfully this week is half term and so I have afforded myself the luxury of a day of baking today. Granted I also have my Cake International pieces AND a tutorial to complete this week, but my Nicky was top of my list.
On the show, the bakers were provided with a gorgeous wide-rimmed pie dish in which to create their Nickys (Nickies?), but I don’t have anything similar at home and my local supermarket failed to provide anything also. I decided to use a flan tin instead and just opted to mentally prepare myself for this to be a terrible decision, as is usually the case when one deviates from the GBBO recipe.
The recipe calls for the inclusion of medjool dates, which are large and amber in colour, but I already had some bog standard dried dates in the cupboard, so I just used those. These were coarsely chopped and added to chopped apricots, crystallised ginger, brown sugar and 50ml of rum. The bakers were not afforded a way of measuring their 50ml of rum, so, in sympathy, I opted to free pour too. These were then left to soak (in my grandmother’s old pudding basin) while I tackled the pastry. As always, Paul dictated a particularly fiddly method of crafting a sweet shortcrust, but luckily it was not vastly dissimilar to those we have seen before and so this made for a fairly easy start to the bake.
The #disasteroftheweek struck, when it came to splitting the pastry to ensure I had some set aside for my fourteen-strand lattice. In my distracted state (the phone rang), I managed to drop the third I had set aside for the lattice on the floor. Brilliant. Due to time constraints (and laziness), I decided that I would just make my lattice from the cut-offs, once I had lined the tin. This meant I could only manage a ten-strand lattice, but I honestly don’t think it would have been too much of an issue even in the tent. Paul’s usually OCD about such things seemed somewhat lacking this week.
Once finished, it was time to place it in the oven for an initial bake of 15 minutes (after which I trimmed the edges – flan tin, remember?) and a second bake of 20 minutes at a slightly reduced heat.
While it was in the oven, I turned my attention to the rum butter and immediately screwed it up by adding my rum too quickly – causing the mix to separate and curdle. Yum. Luckily I had enough time and ingredients left to go again – which meant I got to hand-beat my butter twice! Yay*!
[*please note some exuberance may be sarcastic in nature.]
Removing the gooey tart from the tin provided a final challenge, but luckily I eventually managed this without a hitch and then it was time to taste it!
VERDICT: All in all, I don’t think the Cumberland Rum Nicky deserves to be consigned to the history books. The rum and the ginger pack a flavour-filled punch and rum fans in particular will like its pairing with rum butter. I found the two together a little over powering, but the Nicky on its own is delicious. I could easily see it proving a popular addition to our Christmas dinner dessert selection.
In tomorrow’s episode, our final four, Steven, Sophie, Stacey and Kate, head into the semi-final, facing challenges including choux buns and a meringue sculpture showstopper.
I’ll see you then…!