This week’s episode of Bake Off saw Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood dust off their antique recipe books to prepare for a theme that has never been done before in Bake Off’s history. Brace yourselves, it’s Victorian week.
The first challenge the remaining half a dozen bakers faced was creating a raised game pie, or to you and I in the 21st century that means a perfectly crisp hot water crust pastry crammed with meat. This bake may seem like unfamiliar territory for the majority of the bakers, but for Heston Blumenthal-baker-in-the-making Ian he appeared strangely keen: “this is the week I’ve been waiting for.” Eyebrows were raised even further when he served up his ‘Roadkill Pie’ which had been inspired by his “passion for picking up animals that had been bumped on the road.” The outcome of his roadkill fantasy? A baked Twitter bird logo like pie that was stuffed with an array of birds which failed to please the judges – Sorry Ian, Mary’s more of a Snapchat fan anyway. But could he claw his way back with his pig trotter jelly? Yes he did. Mmmm, trotter jelly. But which baker raised their game and baked their way to Raised Game pie Victorian victory? It’s the ever so patient Tamal, who’s just about getting his comeuppance with a spicy lamb mince pie embraced by an exquisite pastry.
Onto the technical, a ludicrously fiddly Tennis Cake. A standard fruit cake, but topped with a tennis court made of marzipan and decorated with sugar paste and white icing for the rackets, line markings and net. The trick was to allow ample cooling time so the tennis court and it’s details sit perfectly on top. Mat suffered a full on Bake Off meltdown where he began to whip his sloppy neon green sugar paste in a bowl whilst the others calmly rolled their firm pastel green icing out. His tennis court was more Hackney Park than Wimbledon Centre Court. If matters couldn’t get worse, he lost confidence in his icing sculpture abilities and reluctantly slammed the tray in the oven. “The oven?!” Nadiya asked on behalf of the British nation as Mat pulled his brown crispy what-was-meant-to-be-white icing out the oven. You should have listened to Nadiya more Mat as it was her Tennis Cake that won match point.
Finally, the showstopper. A Charlotte Russe: bavarois cream layered with jelly and decorated with fruit encased by ladyfingers aka a trifle with a sponge fence around it. Mat’s previous meltdown reflected within his Charlotte as she spit and melted into his hands. Paul also tried to feebly rescue her, but like a scene from Titanic, she couldn’t be saved. Meanwhile Ian was blissfully sticking edible silver balls onto his regal sponge crown but even his magnificent creation was no match for Tamal whose berry infused jelly stood up and perfectly jiggled without the traditional sponge base. Paul and Mary almost shed a tear at such a culinary creation which finally put Tamal on the baking map as he won Star Baker, he even got a handshake off Paul, not an insult, not a form of criticism but a handshake! Rejoice for Tamal! It was Mat who predictably left the tent, well when it’s the quarter finals next week and you’re getting the basics wrong such as baking icing instead of the cake, what do you expect?
Why not try our good old Victoria Sponge recipe, perfect with a cuppa!
Prep time: 10 mins
- 4 free range eggs
- 220g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 225g self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 225g margarine or soft butter
- Good quality jam (either strawberry or raspberry)
- Whipped cream
- Preheat the oven to 180/350F/Gas 4.
- Grease inside two 20cm sandwich tins until they are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with baking paper.
- Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and margarine/soft butter. Mix everything together until the batter is smooth. The finished mixture should be of a soft consistency that easily falls off the spoon.
- Divide the mixture as evenly as you can between the two tins then gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
- Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 mins until the cakes are golden brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Leave to cool for five mins on a cooling rack then run a rounded knife around the inside edge of the tin to remove your cakes from their tins entirely. Once again put them back on the cooling rack and set aside to cool down entirely.
- To assemble your cake, place one of them upside down on a plate and spread a generous helping of jam on top, repeat with the whipped cream.
- Place the second cake on top, then to finish sprinkle over some caster sugar.
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