The grand finale of the Great British Baking Show as shown in the US (last year’s version, for my British Friend) featured a challenge of baking traditional British cakes. Given my complete lack of success with Victoria Sponge, I felt inspired. I used mommyPrimate’s new book as the recipe was slightly different than Paul Hollywood’s, well the ingredients were the same, however the process was a bit difference.
While I didn’t get a domed top, I at least didn’t get a saggy middle. I think the domed top will happen when I either adjust the recipe to make just a touch more batter or use smaller tins. At any rate, it’s delicious. I’m slightly concerned about the fresh strawberries I used for the filling (along with strawberry jam) turning into, uh, fermented strawberries before we can finish the cake, but if we don’t put all of this butter and sugar into our systems I guess it’s okay.
Is this a Victorious Sponge? I’d say yes. Seeing as it took 4 tries, and probably about $15 worth of butter/flour/sugar to finally get a decent result, I think I’ll call it a Pyrrhic victory.
Pro-tip: When only 7/10 of the biscuits you’ve baked turned out aesthetically pleasing, put those biscuits on top of the bucket. People will assume the others were damaged by clumsy hands snatching cookies. 😉
Having not baked much new in a while, and having a good excuse to take something in to work after a four day weekend, I thought a great exploration of my cultural heritage would be shortbread. Blah blah blah emotional spiritual bullshit blah blah blah heritage blah blah blah. Butter. There was lots of butter.
mommyPrimate recently got Tanya Burr’s “Tanya Bakes” and so far everything we’ve had out of it has been super primo, so I thought I’d give her shortbread biscuits a go. She said the dough was crumbly in the book. She was totally right. I had a bit of a hard time rolling it out and cutting it. It’s making me rethink my idea for a shortbread advent calendar.
At any rate, you can’t really go wrong with shortbread. Mainly because butter buffers out every bad decision you could make. My boss was the first one to stop by my desk, her boss the second. Score. Cookies area subtle form of bribery. Just a little way to pay someone off so they like you a little better. Before leaving for the day yesterday, 3 days after these cookies arrived and left faster than a model can change clothing between runway walks, my boss stopped by my desk and said. “I tried to wait until the afternoon to eat the cookie, but then I looked at the expanding puddle of butter on the napkin it was sitting on and I knew it was too good to wait.”
Shortbread, you’re not easy to work with, but you do your job well. When your job is to fish me out some compliments at work.
Now to finish my first cup of coffee this morning.
When mommyPrimate and I were watching The Great British Baking Show we kept wondering what the hell a “Bakewell n” was. They referred to a few different baked goods as Bakewell or Bakewell Style and we were pretty curious. When my copy of Paul Hollywood’s British Baking came in, we found out that Bakewell is a city. Oh, so it’s a regional style thing. Duh. Like in Korea they have Daegu Makchang, Jeonju Bibimbap, and Busan Odeng. Ok. I can handle that.
According to a skin-deep Google Image search, Bakewell appears to be a delightful city. Anyhow, I’m on desserts this week, and I wanted to try to make a Bakewell Tart. This meant I had to make a pastry crust. This intimidated me a bit, but after careful measuring, and a slightly more refined understanding of how dough comes together, it went pretty easily. I even managed to roll it out to the 3mm thickness required for the crust with no trouble, and put it into my tart pan with no trouble. I covered it with a bag of beans and baked it in the blind (so it wouldn’t puff up) for 15 minutes. When I removed the beans and parchment…well…
The crust had inflated a bit, next time I’ll just use more beans. A quick poke with a fork deflated it, and bam! No problem. I added the ingredients for the frangipane filling to my mixer, and a few minutes later I was spreading jam over the bottom of the tart, artfully laying in sliced strawberries (classic is raspberry, but I like strawberries better), and smoothing the frangipane over the top. It went into the oven looking a bit like oatmeal, but came out looking like this:
I set it in the fridge to chill while we went to see The Force Awakens, and after dinner it sliced beautifully. This is a picture of the first slice. Literally the first slice. I didn’t doctor this up at all. It wasn’t impossible to get out of the pan!
It tastes as good as it looks. Maybe even better.
Considering my first go-round with tarts was a complete and total failure, I feel pretty friggin’ redeemed.