food

Oh My Baking: Great British Bake Off – Week 1

HAPPY SEPTEMBER!

I’ve been addicted to the Great British Bake Off for a few years now. My sister was the one that got my dad and I into it, and now I’m a fiend for the show. My sister – Hi Pamcake! – decided to bake along with the bake off, and in sisterly fashion, I’m following in her footsteps.

Every week on the Bake Off, they do a Signature Bake, a Technical Bake, and a Showstopper. Signature is where they’re given a generic idea – aka, make a fruit cake and decorate it – and then they can use their own recipes. The Technical is where they’re all given the same recipe, and they have to recreate it. The Showstopper is where they really get to show their skill when it comes to decorating, and flavours, and everything. My plan, should things go swimmingly, is to do the Technical Bake each week. I’m no pro baker by any means, but I’m not inexperienced either. That being said, the Technical Bake’s are pretty challenging.

This past week their Technical Bake was Angel Cake Slices. Now also known as the bane of my existence. I kid. Sort of. I did have some difficulty with this, but one of the reasons was entirely my own.

Angel Cake Slices from Season 10, Week 1 of The Great British Bake Off

This recipe has you preparing three batters to go in one pan. The pan will be separated by foil and parchment, making sections for each batter. Each of the batters will have been flavoured differently.

My splitting of the batter with little foil and parchment walls.

This Angel Cake recipe is for a genoise sponge cake. This was my first ever genoise. The genoise is a style of cake that focuses on preparing the eggs in a certain way. It’s done over a pot of water, in a bowl, where you mix the eggs and the sugar together. After that, you transfer the mixture to your stand mixer, and whisk whisk whisk. I had no difficulty here. My difficulty was in one of the easiest aspects of the whole cake.

Eggs and Sugar over a pot on the stove – trying to get it to the right temperature. Key word. Trying.

My difficulty was in the pan that I chose. Because my brain wasn’t wanting to do math, I ended up using the wrong pan. The instructions for this Angel Cake was from the GBBO website, so it’s all in British terminology. Most recipes I am used to are about using pans describe in inches, measurements in cups – not grams – and I use regular sugar, not caster. That was one of my other issues. My Italian Meringue Buttercream definitely needed the caster sugar. Speaking of… that buttercream is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Not only was I trying to melt sugar in some water on the stove, but I was also trying to stiffen one egg white to a soft peak. Well, I failed the first time.

My Italian Meringue Buttercream fail. You can see a hardened chunk of sugar on the edge of my mixing bowl. And my egg whites were not peaking. But I couldn’t wait any longer because the sugar was boiling…
and yeah, it hardened.

I will say, my dessert is not the worst looking thing in the world. Is it the most appealing looking dessert? Definitely not. Would Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith send me home? Absolutely. The flavours are there. The texture… well, let’s not talk about it.

My teeny tiny cake.

Some tips on if you’re ever going to attempt this recipe:

  1. Make sure you use the right size pan. Otherwise you get really thin layers like I did.
  2. Be really careful in splitting your flour, egg mixture, and butter mixture when it comes to making each of the three batters. As you can see in one of the photos above, my middle batter didn’t get enough flour distributed to it.
  3. Spend time to switch the grams to cups BEFORE you start baking, not during your measuring. It’ll save you time. And stress. Or, if you have a scale, you won’t have to worry.
  4. Pay attention while making the Italian Meringue Buttercream. You’ll have to be doing two things at once. You don’t want to over-whip the egg white, but you also don’t want you sugar to harden like mine did.
  5. If you can, get caster sugar. It’s a lot finer than regular sugar, but I didn’t see any at Bulk Barn or at my local Food Basics. One of the biggest chain grocery stores might carry it.

Lucky for you guys, you’ll get to see more of my struggles as the weeks go on. My plan is to stick with the Technical, but depending on how busy a week of mine might be, I might have to go with the Signature – if it’s easier. I won’t come up with my own Signature, though. I’ll use one of the recipes they provide on the website from one of the bakers. So that I’m still wading into unfamiliar territory.

The show is on Tuesday nights, but I don’t usually get to watch it for a day or two after – so I’m aiming for a Sunday post every week with the next bake.

A little slice of my little cake.

Hope you’re looking forward to going on this baking adventure with me! Let me know if you try any of the recipes listed on the GBBO website!

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