Cranberry Cake and Christmas Trees

Around about mid-October (not coincidentally: around the time I last updated the blog), we upped stakes and moved to lovely East Lothian. The move has been…an adventure, to put it euphemistically, but we’re now settled in enough for me to get really excited for the holidays. I love Christmastime. Especially over here, because Britain gets really into Christmas. Our town had a whole big ‘Christmas … Continue reading Cranberry Cake and Christmas Trees

The Great British Bake Off: This is No Time to Riff

Who_will_win_The_Great_British_Bake_Off_series_six_The Bake Off is back! Hope you’ve all perfected your pastry and sponge because Paul and Mary have high expectations now!

Mel and Sue welcome us back with a little play on worriers/warriors that isn’t quite as funny as I hoped. Looks like it might take a little while to get into the stride.

Some of the new bakers talk about how shocking and scary this is. One of them is hoping just to serve non-raw food that tastes good. Those are good places to start. One woman tells us she’s quite random: she can start off making a cake, and then by the time she’s finished it’s a meat pie. Say what? That doesn’t sound random so much as…Mad Hatter-ish. And possibly magical.

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The Great British Bake Off: Back to Basics

bakeoff-14_3066651cPreviously on The Great British Bake Off: Richard the Builder, Nancy, and Luis killed it, overcame all the competition, and made it to the final.

We’re reminded of the three finalists’ awesomeness: Richard’s éclair stair and amazing biscuit pirate scene, Nancy’s beautiful first-challenge orange and chocolate cakes, Luis’s delicious looking filled bread and spicy dragon biscuit.

Mel, Sue, and the judges enter the tent to deliver the first challenge: Viennoiserie—an assortment of pastries such as pain au chocolat. They have to make two types. And they’re off!

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The Great British Bake Off: Eurocake

Image by Smitten Kitchen
Image by Smitten Kitchen

Previously on The Great British Bake Off: After the Great Baked Alaska drama, we had a return to form as the bakers settled down and made some crazy custards, pears, and three-tiered pies. Kate came out on top, and Norman was finally sent packing after trying to go risky by making the most disgusting-sounding meringue in history.

It’s European cakes week (I guess when it comes to pastry Britain isn’t considered part of Europe), and in a send-up of Eurovision, Mel and Sue put on bad accents to welcome us. I have no idea what Sue’s accent is supposed to be. American? Dutch? Dutch-American?

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The Great British Bake Off: Meltdown

gbbo-baked-alaskaPreviously on The Great British Bake Off: Bread! Lots and lots of bread. It was a carbfest. Luis blew everyone away with his amazing bakes, and Jordan failed to rise to the challenge.

It’s dessert week, and to start off, they need to make a self-saucing pudding. Eight of them, actually. They get started. Paul says the key thing with these is to keep the sponge light, so it bakes fast. Mary adds that the sauce needs to have some texture and the right consistency.

Luis admits that puddings aren’t his strength and he finds them kind of risky, what with the sponge plus moisture.

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GBBO Inspiration: Lemon and Rosemary Fairy Cakes

This happens every year. I settle down to watch the Great British Bakeoff and happily spend an hour absorbing images and descriptions of deliciousness, thinking vaguely, at some point, ‘oh, it’d be nice to have a bit of cake/tart/giant croquembouche.’ And somehow, within 24 hours (typically more like 12 hours) that desire becomes an all-consuming need, and by the time my husband gets home from work the next day we’ve got something cooling on the countertop while I’m frantically beating icing or melting caramel and our son’s giving his dad a look that says, ‘I dunno, dad, she’s been muttering about proper sponge consistency all day. I think she may have a problem.’

But at least we grownups get cake at the end of it.

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The Great British Bakeoff: Mary Berry’s Cherry (Cake)

Image: BBCThe Great British Bakeoff is back and OMG did you hear that this season has the oldest AND the youngest contestants EVER? Yeah, I don’t care nearly as much as the Beebs seems to think I should. Frankly, I don’t care about any of the contestants’ ages, genders, sexual orientations, skin colours, or ancestry, I just care about the bakes.

So, let’s get to it, so we? Mel and Sue welcome us back as the VO tell us that many applied, but just 12 have made it through to face the next 12 gruelling weeks of baking scrutiny. One woman tells us she’s been baking 60 years, while one guy stresses about potentially burning things. A Scotsman is really looking forward to having Mary taste his wares. That’s not nearly as dirty as it sounds on the page.

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The Great British Bakeoff: Burnout

GBBOFinal-2458445Previously on Great British Bakeoff: The Bakewells went to France in pastry with canapés, Charlotte royale, and opera cakes. Beca was sent packing, while Kimberly took home Star Baker.

Finals! And man, has this been in the news a lot lately or what? Between Raymond Blanc maybe spilling the beans and Paul Hollywood allegedly fancying Ruby (though he claims Kim’s more to his taste), I feel like there’s a new story every day. Do they really need the extra hype?

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The Great British Bakeoff: La Semaine Francaise

Kimberleys-Charlotte-Royale-1Previously on The Great British Bakeoff: Ruby whined and whined and was awarded with star baker for her dairy-free vegetable cake decorated to look like a garden. Christine’s guitar cake looked amazing, but apparently tasted lousy and she was sent on home.

It’s French week in the semifinals (I accidentally called last week the semis. Sorry about that.) and we’ve all got our favourites picked out now, right? I’m pulling for Kim. Her stuff always looks and sounds amazing.

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The Great British Bakeoff: Shut UP, Ruby!

Kimberleys-toadstool-butternut-squash-spiced-cakePreviously on The Great British Bakeoff: Frances’s fancy work won her star baker, while Glenn reached the end of the line and earned Paul’s derision for his unconventional puff pastry making technique.

It’s the semifinals, folks, and unlike last year, it’s all ladies. They arrive at the tent and suit up, ready to begin their baking weekend. These people must all be sooooo sick of pastry and desserts once the whole thing’s over.

Their first challenge is to make a loaf using unusual flour: chestnut, spelt, whatever, as long as it’s not wheat. Off they go. Paul tells us that every flour has a different gluten level, which can affect anything—rise, flavor, texture. Most of them are using spelt flour. I love spelt flour, but it has a weak gluten structure, so you have to be ready for that. Frances is making a tear-and-share loaf made to look like a bouquet of flowers, decorated with honeycomb and bees. Ruby’s doing a mango and nigella seed spelt cob. Mmmm, sounds nice. She interviews that she’s bettered her stress management over the past few weeks.

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