The Bake Off Final

IMG_2152We’ve had the Bake Off challenge final… I came… drumroll please… third.  Of five.  A distinctly average performance among my peers, but I definitely had some highlights.

One of them was my final bake (did you notice that “bake” becomes a noun in these competitions?). The brief was a cake that was a British classic – we only had to produce one tier rather than the three featured on the show though (we’re not made of money, and by God, we definitely had enough cake to go around!).

I wanted to do something a little different for the last one, and when I saw “British classic”, I decided to try and interpret Eton mess into a cake.  Consulting my Good Book (which I’ve already raved about), I made the decision to incorporate two of its recipes – Genoise raspberry cake and macarons (which have been on my list to bake for ages).  I’d never made either before – what better time to try it?

IMG_2110I made the macarons two days before the final.  My book suggested drawing around the piping nozzle, so I did half a sheet of that size, and half a sheet where I drew round a 5p piece.

They actually turned out really well. I found my rhythm by the end of the piping and wished I could do more once I’d worked out how to minimise the annoying nipple that happens when you stop piping, but I’ll know for next time (hint: don’t pipe in a spiral, pipe straight down and flick your wrist away).

IMG_2156The cake was like a scientific experiment.  Genoise cakes have no raising agent, so the fluffiness comes from beating eggs over a pan of boiling water. I started off with a medium bowl, and was whisking as I read the instructions… the eggs will expand by five times their original mass. I switched bowls.

I’m impressed by the lift it gave the cake, because I was dubious that I could pull this off. But hey, it worked, enough that I could cut the cake into three layers.

IMG_2180The cream is just whipped double cream with a spoonful of icing sugar and (many) crushed raspberries. I just popped various sizes of macarons and raspberries on the top. Very artfully, obvs.

Two other contestants made it to the final and we convened at my house with our judges (Katheryn actually wore a blue stripy shirt in honour of Paul Hollywood). I was up against a marshmallow/vanilla/rosewater cake with cake pops confection and a carrot and walnut cake with beautifully crafted tiny marzipan carrots on top. One of our judges (who is a baker) also brought a huge chocolate Oreo cake.

IMG_2165We were not short of cake.

My cake went down very well, I finished on a high, and the leftover macarons were hoovered up with compliments at work too. It’s been expensive, time consuming and challenging for all of us, but I’m pretty sure we’ll all be up for it again next year when we’ve recovered.

Note to the BBC: please don’t make the contestants bake game pie next year. A-thank you.

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