The Great British Bake-Off 2015: the Technical Challenges

This has been a fun blog to put together! 🙂
People who know me well know that I love my soups and salads, but they also know that I love my cakes, biscuits and puddings!
It is often difficult to reconcile being a nutritionist with being a keen baker, who enjoys baking as much as she enjoys eating the resulting baked goodies.
But there is one time in the year when the baking keen-ness becomes baking madness, and that is when the Great British Bake-Off is back on our screens.
Who would have thought that a baking competition could have become such a cult programme?
Have a read of this (rather long) but interesting article in the Guardian looking at the reasons why the Great British Bake-Off has become such a phenomenon:
I adore the programme and make no qualms about it. I will wince when a sponge cake collapses, cheer when my favourite baker does well (or be sad, if she or he is eliminated) and my jaw will drop at some of the astounding pieces of baked art that are sometimes produced during the Show-Stoppers. Clever, talented bakers!
So it was to be expected that Bake-Off fever would soon sweep through Sandra’s Holistic Kitchen, and a few years ago I decided to take on the show’s Technical Challenges.
This would combine my love of baking and my wish to learn new techniques in the kitchen.
So, as a little bit of fluffy mindless fun, here is a little round-up of the Technical Challenges from last year that I decided to tackle (not always successfully.) I never got the chance to complete all the Challenges from the 2015 programme as life threw me a curve ball when I suffered for several months with Benign Paroxismal Positional Vertigo, which made standing in the kitchen (or anywhere else for that matter!) for any length of time impossible.
 
1- Frosted Walnut Layer Cake (episode 1)
Find the recipe here:
A lovely recipe by Mary Berry, not too complicated to do. I wasn’t a huge fan of the frosting which I found too sickly sweet. Be patient while whisking the frosting; it feels like it is never going to reach the right consistency but it eventually does. It took me good 12 minutes, which was a great workout for my little handheld electric whisk!
2- Arlettes (episode 2)
Find the recipe here:
The Arlettes are a crispy biscuit, made from puff pastry, and flavoured with sugar and cinnamon. The recipe uses reverse puff pastry, which almost made me lose my sanity, but the result was SO worth it! These are delicious little biscuits!

 

 

 

 

3- Baguette (episode 3)
Find the recipe here:
I love baking bread for two reasons: kneading bread is one of the best stress-relievers in the world and the smell of fresh bread baking is so comforting and homely.
This is not a complicated recipe. I had a little hiccup with one of the baguettes which got stuck to the plastic bag I had put them in whilst proving for a second time. It deflated and became misshapen but it did not affect the taste at all. There’s nothing like freshly baked bread!

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
4- Spanische Windtorte (episode 4)
Find the recipe here:
This was the recipe from hell! A dentist’s nightmare, one of most sickly-sweet things I’ve ever eaten in my life. I hated making it, I hated eating it… ‘Nuff said.

 

 

 

 

 

5- Gluten-free Pitta Breads (episode 5)
Find the recipe here:
Not a complicated recipe, and it was interesting to use unusual ingredients such as the psyllium powder. I didn’t have nigella seeds so I used poppy seeds. Some of my pitta breads formed pockets while baking, some didn’t. Not sure why. Regardless of the state of their pockets, I loved serving them with scrambled eggs.

 

 

6- Flaounes (episode 6)
Find the recipe here:
I didn’t use the right cheeses, I didn’t use the mastic, I didn’t use the mahlepi. So this was probably miles away from what traditional flaounas should taste like and it probably would have earned me an icy glare from Mr Hollywood(!)
This being said I really enjoyed my version of the flaounes; they were lovely served with a green salad and a sharp, mustardy French dressing.
7- Tennis Cake (episode 7)
Find the recipe here:
I saw the recipe on the show and my first thought was “I don’t think so!” Basically, I turned down the challenge because I knew that the fondant, royal icing, almond paste and ALL THAT PIPING would have sent me round the bend. So I decided to preserve my sanity, ignored the “tennis” part of the recipe, and just baked the fruit cake because it did look delicious. The fruit cake was a hit with my colleagues when I brought it to work as an offering for the MacMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.
And that was it! Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish the last three Technical Challenges as I began suffering from vertigo.
But if you are interested, the technical challenges were:
8- Mokatines (episode 8)
Find the recipe here:
9- Chocolate Soufflé (episode 9)
Find the recipe here:
10- Mille Feuilles (episode 10)
Find the recipe here:
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