Category Archives: Desserts

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 23: Scones

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

Hi all, it’s been awhile. I’ve been slacking, between work and well, looking for more work, I haven’t had much time to bake, let alone blog about it.

My bad.

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But, last week, I did – I made scones. Which, if you were keeping track, was totally not what I was supposed to be baking this time. The last time I wrote, I was working through season one’s eighth episode – “Advanced Dough.” (P.S. I’m referring to the seasons as they appeared on Netflix – which is totally not the order they aired in the U.K.)

Anyway, the last time I wrote, I was actually supposed to take on a complicated bake called a povitica but for the first time ever, I decided to skip a challenge. (It was one of the most labor-intensive bakes I’ve ever seen on the show and I’m not quite up to it after the surgery I had in June.)

So I was going to skip to the next bake instead – donuts. But, here’s the thing, I skipped that too. I noticed that I was putting off bakes that are harder to share – that aren’t good the next day or that have be refrigerated, etc.

I was also procrastinating on some bakes in which the ingredients were really expensive and/or hard to find in my Midwestern town. I hate to waste food and quite frankly, I’m cheap, so I thought about the situation, calmly…

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Photo Credit: Giphy

…and I decided to change the system.

Instead of trying to bake every single thing from every single season of GBBS – which is forever-taking, I’m going to focus on baking one thing from each episode – or roughly ten bakes per season. If, for whatever reason, I skip an entire episode, I’ll make 15 bakes from that season instead – sort of a baking penalty.

This way, I can hopefully start making up some ground and maybe one day actually catch up to where they are on the show.

Cool? Cool.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Now on to the bake:

Once I got into a skipping mood, I skipped the entire season one episode 9 – Patisserie episode. The challenges in this one were a little too intense for me now, but maybe I’ll come back to them later on (hopefully when I’ve acquired more baking skills).

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So, instead, I blazed ahead to the final episode of season one: predictably called: The Final. In this episode, the contestants take on pastries like croissants and a technical challenge where they have to make scones, mini Victoria sponges and tartlets.

In the next few weeks, I’ll take on variations of these challenges myself. I’m particularly excited to try to make croissants. But, for now, I started with the scones, because well, I wanted some scones.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

The contestants made tea time scones which resemble our American biscuits. But, I went with a different approach and made Lemon Rosemary scones from my The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays cookbook. You can also find the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s aka Ree Drummond’s website.

 

These scones don’t look like biscuits, instead they look like little sugary triangles of joy. Or well, that’s what they looked like to me anyway when I saw them in the cookbook.

I’d marked the page to remind myself to make these years ago, but back then, scones seemed scary to me. At the time, I hadn’t attempted (and in many cases failed to) make a Baked Alaska or a Swedish Princess Cake or a Hungarian Dobos Torte so I thought scones were hard.

Turns out, they’re not.

First things first, I gathered up all of my ingredients. Then I had to make my scone dough, which was easy. I just shifted together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a big bowl. Then I added two sticks worth of cubed, cold butter. It looks like there’s a lot of butter in here – because there is a lot of butter in here.

Then, thus butterfied (I don’t care that that’s not a word. It should be.) I used a pastry cutter to combine the butter into my dry ingredients in that big bowl.

Then I added one egg, the zest of one lemon, and the leaves from one rosemary sprig to one cup of heavy cream in a measuring cup. I poured this into the bowl and stirred it gently with a fork until all of the ingredients were combined.

I didn’t do so well with this process, so I just mixed it all together with my hands. Which it turns out, wasn’t that bad of a plan, because the next step called for me to use my hands to “press the dough into a ball.”

So basically, I was just a recipe mind reader or something, doing something Ree told me to do even before she told me to do it.

I’m a genius.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Or, I was a genius – until we got to the next part – cutting my dough. I was supposed to press my dough out into a roughly rectangular shape. Which I roughly did.

Then I rolled it out to be about one third of a inch think. I got a ruler and everything.

Precision, guys.

Then I was supposed to use a pizza cutter or knife to cut that rectangle into 12 smaller rectangles. I used a pizza cutter, but maybe I should have used a knife because my rectangles weren’t well, even. We’re blaming the pizza cutter on this, not my tendency to “eyeball” measurements that shouldn’t be “eyeballed”.

From there, I cut my totally-not-even rectangles in half to make 24 smaller triangles, which were also, fittingly not-even.

I transferred the widely-different-sized triangles to two baking sheets I’d lined with baking mats and baked them for 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

But, I actually baked them for more like 25 minutes, because I have a tendency to over-bake things and I guess my definition of “just barely golden brown” is different than most people’s definition and is also quite possibly wrong.

But whatever, when they came out they looked pretty good.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

But they looked even better when I covered them in a bunch of lemon-rosemary glaze. While the scones were cooling, I made a glaze by combining shifted powered sugar, a bit of whole milk, the juice and zest of one lemon and the leaves from one sprig of rosemary.

I’ll be honest here, I totally used more than the juice of one lemon. Because my lemon was dinky. (Dinky is a technical term, right? I thought so.) So I used the juice of two lemons, because lemon also happens to be my favorite flavor.

Thanks to my overzealous lemon-ing the rosemary in my Lemon Rosemary Scones didn’t stand out much. But that’s okay. (I mentioned I like lemon, right?)

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That’s James Corden with a lemon. Bringing it. You’re welcome.

Anyway, at this point, I was supposed to let the scones cool completely before I dipped them in the glaze to fully cover them. But who in the world can wait to let baked goods completely cool down?

Not me, that’s who.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

So my glaze didn’t stick as well as it should have because my scones were still a bit warm. But, not to be outsmarted by temperatures, or glaze, or instructions, I just popped my coated scones in the fridge for a bit, then took them out and dipped them a second time.

This is the only time double-dipping is allowed, let alone recommended.

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Anyway, in the end, I thought my scones were pretty darn good. But seeing as I’ve never eaten a scone before, I really have no basis of comparison.

They were darn fun to bake though and there were no major disasters, so I’m going to count this as a major win.

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Boom, look! It’s scones!

Next time on the baking blog, I’ll either make croissants, or a Victoria sponge or a tartlet. Who knows? It’s anarchy over here now.

Until then, thanks for reading the blog, and feel free to share it. I’ve gotten rid of my Facebook page, so I no longer have a Sometimes I Bake Mistakes presence there, but you can share it for me, if you feel like it. No pressure.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Also, you can always follow the blog by just hitting that handy follow button over there. See it? Good. Just click that. There, you can put in your email address and get sent the blogs by email. You’ll only get emails when there’s a blog, which, based on my track record, isn’t that often.

P.S. You can also follow me on Twitter, where I talk about baking and other stuff and follow pretty much any Great British Baking Show contestant ever, in the hopes that it will somehow teach me be a better baker.

Anyway, peace out.
– Ash

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Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 21: Eclairs

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

So, it’s been awhile since my last bake. I had hip surgery last month and I didn’t think my already-lackluster baking skills would be improved with me on crutches.

And all in all, I’m glad I waited because these eclairs I made for the Season 1 Episode 7 showstopper challenge were a smashing success – as in they looked like I’d smashed them repeatedly with my fists and then dropped them on the floor.

They were a mess – a delicious mess.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

In this episode of GBBS, contestants were challenged to make 24 eclairs of two different varieties. I didn’t do that because I figured eclairs were best served fresh and I didn’t really have 24 people to share eclairs with at 9 p.m. on a weekend when I decided to make these. (Note to self: I need to make more friends). Also, laziness. Laziness is why I didn’t make 24 eclairs of two different varieties.

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Though, in my defense, I think all laziness in the months post-surgery is called recovery. So I recovered my butt off by making only 12 eclairs of one variety.

Wanting to keep things classically GBBS, I used Mary Berry‘s cookbook. For the uninitiated, Mary Berry is everyone’s favorite judge on GBBS. She’s the queen of baking and the British fairy godmother we all dream of. (We all do that right?)

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Photo Credit: Giphy

P.S. Do not talk to me about the new shows with the new judges. I cant even handle that right now…just no.

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Besides, after being away from baking for so long, there’s no one I’d rather bake with then Mary Berry herself. So I used Mary’s cookbook Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Pastries from the British Queen of Baking.”Get it on Amazon: here. (Then while you’re there, get my books. That was a truly tacky segue into that but I don’t care. I’m just excited you can buy my books on Amazon.)

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Moving on…

I used MB’s coffee eclair recipe which, bless her, was simple and only had a few ingredients.

The first thing I had to do was make the choux pastry which, bless Mary Berry again, is explained step-by-step with pictures at the beginning of the book.

It’s pretty simple. You just put butter in a heavy saucepan with some water until the butter melts and it comes to a boil. Then you take it off the heat and add some shifted flour and a pinch of salt.

From there you stir it quote “vigorously” until it all comes together in a soft ball. Then, once it’s cooled a bit, you gradually add in two lightly beaten eggs, one at a time. You beat that all together until it forms a shiny paste. Which I was totally able to do ya’ll.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Then I had to put the choux into a piping bag with a half inch nozzle and pipe it on to a prepared baking sheet that had been buttered and sprinkled with water. (The water helps to create steam which gives the pastry a crispy crust.)

And here’s where I made my first mistake, folks.

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Photo Credit: Tumbler

I didn’t read the instructions fully. I just assumed since I was making 10-12 eclairs with a top and bottom half that I would pipe 20-24 things. You know, because of math. Had I read the instructions correctly (or just completely) I would have realized I was only piping 10-12 eclairs that I would then cut in half to get a top and a bottom.

At this point, I could have scrapped the pastry dough off the baking sheet, put it back in the piping bag and started again. But, I didn’t do that. (Because laziness, er, I mean recovery.)

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Photo Credit: Giphy

I baked the pastry for 10 minutes at 425 degrees and then lowered the temperature to 375 degrees and baked them for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile I made the filling which was just whipping cream, whipped.

Maybe it’s just me, but straight-up whipping cream didn’t do it for me. So I broke from Mary’s recipe and added 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla to the whipped cream. I thought it tasted better.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Then I made the coffee icing which was just instant coffee, butter and water, mixed with some powdered sugar. To make it, you put a bowl over a pan of simmering water on the stove. You put the instant coffee, butter and water in the bowl and heat it until the butter melts. Then you take it off the heat and mix in the powered sugar.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Then I had to assemble the eclairs with the coffee icing on top and the whipped cream in the center. And this is where it turned into a real mess – my frosting was pretty thin so it may have been smart to let it chill and thicken a bit before I attempted to frost my eclairs but I didn’t because – impatience.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

From there, my lack of patience and watery icing led to a sort of coffee flood. The icing was too thin to stay on top of my eclairs so it basically just got everywhere.

This would have been a problem, had I not just decided to just scoop it all up and eat it with a spoon.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

I am nothing if not a problem solver.

It was freaking delicious. And the eclairs were delicious too, despite their looks. They were so delicious, in fact, that I was planning on sitting down with a cup of tea and eating one like a proper English lady. But I’m not a proper English lady so I ate an eclair while I was waiting for my tea water to boil. Then I ate another one while the tea was brewing.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

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Photo Credit: Giphy

All in all, I might actually make these again, and if I actually follow the directions, who knows, they may get even better.

P.S. Any mistakes in this bake are fully my own and do not reflect any wrongdoing or miscommunication on the part of Mary Berry – who we all know is the queen of baking (and our hearts.)

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Next time, I’ll move on to Season 1 Episode 8 “Advanced Dough” where I’ll have to make an enriched sweet fruit loaf. Yeah, I’m not totally sure what that is either. But I’ll be okay right?

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Until then, you can check out the blog’s page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and just generally share the blog with all your friends and stuff. Or not, the ball’s in your court.

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Sometimes I Bake Mistakes: Birthday Party Edition

Hi, guys. It’s been awhile. I’ve been busy with some work stuff and more importantly, some birthday party stuff.

Yeah, I’m 31 years old and I still care about my birthday. I realize this may seem juvenile, or just plain self-centered, and, yeah, it may very well be those things. But to me at least, it’s also something more.

If you know me fairly well, you’ll know that the last few years have been pretty rough. Between health problems that have lingered for far too long and the anxiety and depression that so often go along with feeling bad for far too long, things haven’t been great sometimes.

I don’t say that for pity or sympathy or anything. (I suck with pity and sympathy. Don’t give it to me. I’ll be awkward about it.) Besides, I am getting better. Just far more slowly than I’d like to. And, even with all that, I’m still far luckier than a whole heck of a lot of other people. I get that.

I just say these things because I want you to know where I’m coming from when I tell you that sometimes feeling well enough to celebrate is reason enough to celebrate.

Life is too short, and frankly sometimes too hard, for you not to do the things you want to do when you want to do them.

So if you feel good (physically, mentally, the whole deal) celebrate, man. Find the things that bring you joy and embrace them unapologetically and enthusiastically. Even if they seem silly. Even if they seem stupid. Even if they seem weird.

Because who cares if it’s weird? Just be you. Just go for it. Go big. Go bold.

Or, in my case, go bake.

***

Which leads me to the birthday party. I had a Great British Baking Show-themed birthday party. (Because of course I did.)

And I had big plans for it. Because I love big plans. (This is one of the several hundred ways I hope to one day be like Leslie Knope.)

Unfortunately, unlike Leslie Knope, I sometimes don’t do as well with time-management, so my big plans are fine until I actually need to do them. At this point, I usually realize I have overdone it and I look a little something like this:

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Photo Credit: Giphy

Because the thing is, I got carried away with the bakes. As it was a GBBS-themed birthday party, I had to deliver on the bakes, right? Of course, I did. The only problem was I decided to deliver on six of them.

If you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll know that I’m still a novice baker. With most of the desserts I’ve tackled so far, the time I make them for the blog is the first time I’ve baked them. So, yeah, just to remind you, I’m essentially approaching every bake like this:

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But, I figured I would just do some of the bakes I’d done before, so it should be no big deal, right? I mean, I’d already done them once (to varying degrees of success) but I figured the second time would be easier.

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Uhh….yeah, I was wrong. Because some of the bakes weren’t necessarily easier the second time around and some of them I didn’t end up doing at all, because, umm, time was a factor (a factor I did not manage well).

Okay, here’s what I attempted to bake in a span of two days for more than two dozen guests: a Swiss Cake Roll, Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake, Mini Coffee and Walnut Cakes, Sugar Cookies (which I shaped like tea bags – because, Britain, guys), a Tiramisu Cake and Florentines.

Of these, Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake is the only thing I abandoned entirely, because I didn’t have time. I did however manage to bake everything else, again to varying degrees of success.

But I can say that my Swiss Cake Roll actually looked like a Swiss Cake Roll this time. Which is a massive improvement from my first attempt which looked like a folded, cracked mess of cream. Don’t remember that particular bake? Check out the first blog in my series. Yeah, I’ve come a long way from there baby, if I do say so myself (at least when it comes to Swiss Cake Rolls.

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I did however manage to sort of (mostly) burn a good chunk of the Florentines and the sugar cookies. I then decided to partially dip the sugar cookies in almond bark to cover up the burned bits. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone they were a little burned. It will be our little secret.

And the tiramisu cake, well, that turned out to be the most annoying thing of all. In retrospect, the fact that I was making it about an hour before people arrived and I probably wasn’t in the best head-space was probably part of the problem.

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Anyhoo, on GBBS, Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake was a technical challenge so our normally-lovable GBBS judge, Mary Berry, made it extra tricky for the GBBS contestants. For starters, she made the bakers cut a sponge cake that was approximately an inch thick, in half. Horizontally. This is just brutal.

I wanted to have the tallest sponge cake possible for my tiramisu cake, because, well I had to cut in half. Horizontally, remember? Which is just nuts. So I was careful not to over-mix, which Mary warned me could reduce the cake’s height. Unfortunately, I under-mixed it. So when I cut my sponge cake in half, there where just a bunch of chunks of unmixed flour inside of it.

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So, yeah, I had to make a whole other sponge cake for the Tiramisu Cake. But this time I wasn’t playing Mary Berry’s cut-cakes-in-half-horizontally-game, so instead I just doubled the recipe and made two cakes. That way I wouldn’t have to cut them in half to get the number of layers I needed. This was sort of genius on my part. So yeah, I was feeling pretty good.

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Unfortunately, when I was putting the cake together, I forgot that I had essentially doubled the thickness of my sponge cake, so in turn, I would need to double the amount of coffee/rum mixture I would need to soak said sponges. So, yeah my cake wasn’t as coffee/rum soaked as it should have been.

And, as for the coffee and walnut cakes, yeah, those didn’t get their little decorations on top because yeah, time was a problem.

But the thing is, none of that really mattered. All that mattered is the fact that I had a Great British Baking Show party. And it had all of this stuff:

And all of this food:

But, most importantly, of all, it had a bunch of my favorite people in the same place at the same time. And that’s pretty freaking great and had me feeling like:

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Photo credit: Giphy

So thanks to everyone who came out for the party! And special thanks to Molly who did the decorations. (She will pretend I did, but I did not.) And to Sharon and Beth for helping me with last-minute cooking, baking and dish-washing. You’re the best. And to Aunt Mona who was smart enough to take photos, when I was not. P.S. I used some of your pictures.

Anyhoo, next week, I’ll get back to my regular baking schedule. I’m supposed to be making a tower of pies. Which after the party, should be easy, right?

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Or, you know, maybe not.

P.S. Just a reminder “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes” has a Facebook page now. It’s @sometimesibakemistakesblog.

You can follow it, if you feel like it. No pressure.

Later, gators.

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Photo credit: Giphy

 

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 12: Baked Alaska, Part 2

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

Part of the reason I decided to bake my way through GBBS was because I wanted to get better at making mistakes and learning from them.

In that way, my attempt at a Baked Alaska was a rousing success. That was the only way in which it was a success.

To be clear, things went…badly.

Like, this badly:

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Photo credit: Giphy

But, to back it up a bit, let’s recap.

The Baked Alaska was the showstopper challenge in Season 1 Episode 4’s Desserts episode. And because I didn’t want to make my own ice cream like the contestants had to, I had decided to use GBBS judge Mary Berry’s recipe for a Neapolitan Baked Alaska which uses store-bought ice cream.

Last week, in Part 1 of my Baked Alaska challenge, I had gotten through about three steps in that recipe and those three steps were basically just mixing up store-bought ice cream and sticking it in a bowl in the freezer to well, freeze.

But, I nailed that part, nailed it.

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Photo credit: Giphy

So, naturally I was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

This week, after my Kitchenaid mixer arrived though, I started in on the harder parts of the Baked Alaska – the chocolate sponge cake base and the meringue that was supposed to cover all of the Baked Alaska to help insulate the ice cream from the heat when I put the whole thing in on the oven. More on that later… (Spoiler! It does not go well.)

Anyway, Mary explains this recipe further in her and and fellow GBBS judge, Paul Hollywood’s Masterclass series. So, naturally, I watched that and listened to everything Mary said. In that episode, she said that it was a good idea to bake the sponge cake the day before so it was “stone cold” before you attempt to put your ice cream on it.

(This seemed clever. Though the idea of putting ice cream into an oven — which is something she told me to do later in the recipe — did not seem clever.)

But, despite my reservations, I did as Mary instructed, baking my sponge cake base the night before. It was a simple recipe, just some eggs, caster sugar (I just use granulated), self-rising flour, cocoa powder and melted butter.

You just beat the egg and sugar at full speed with an electric mixer until it’s pale in color and “thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted”. Then you shift in the flour and cocoa powder and “gently fold it in”. Then you pour the butter down the side of the bowl and “gently fold in” that too.

Mary Berry is big on mixing cakes gently. There are legit reasons for this, namely so you can avoiding knocking the air out of the cake mixture which will cause it to lose its volume. But, personally I think Mary would mix up cakes gently even if this wasn’t the case, simply because she’s all lady-like like that.

That’s not really my style. I’m not great with finesse. So, my first attempt at a sponge cake, fell decidedly flat.

But then, I tried again the next morning and followed Mary’s directions better and, probably not surprisingly, that made for a better, fatter, more air-filled sponge cake.

So yeah, after that I was feeling pretty good. I could follow directions. I could make simple sponge cakes. I wasn’t burning things. I was getting cocky basically.

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It was time to take on the meringue.

To make the meringue, I had to put caster sugar and a bit of water into a saucepan and heat it until the sugar dissolved and the whole thing reached 230 F.

Meanwhile, I had to whisk the egg whites in a large bowl of an electric mixer until they were stiff. When my sugar/water mixture reached 240 F, I had to carefully pour that into my beaten-up egg whites. Then I just had to let my mixer mix that for about 15 minutes or until the meringue mixture was completely cold.

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My mixer is doing all the work while I just stare at it. I don’t mind this arrangement.

Then while that was happening, I took my ice cream I froze the other day out of the freezer. Since I had wrapped the bowl with cling film, it came out pretty easily.

I got out my good, “stone cold” sponge cake and put it on an ovenproof pan. Mary wanted me to put it on a pretty, oven-proof plate or something but I don’t have that so I just plopped it on a cookie sheet. It was less fancy, but it did the trick.

Then I flipped over my ice cream on top of the cake and removed the cling film. (Sidenote: I should not have removed the cling film already. More on that later…)

So far, so good. At this point I basically just had a bunch of layers of ice cream sitting on top of a sponge cake. If I would have just stopped here, I would have come out ahead. But, I just had to add the meringue.

You know how when someone is really good at something, they can make even technically difficult things look ridiculously easy? Yeah, Mary does that sort of thing all the time and watching her can make you dangerously over-confident in your own abilities.

As such, I went into the next part of the recipe, a bit like this:

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Mary’s recipe calls for you to take your ice cream/cake creation out of the freezer and remove the cling film at this point. (I had already removed my cling film earlier which allowed for some condensation to grow on the outside of my ice cream.  This would not be good for me.)

Then Mary said I should use a palette knife to spread a thin layer of meringue over the ice cream and the sponge to form a coating. When I watched Mary do this in her Masterclass episode, it looked so easy. Like so ridiculously easy.

It was not easy.

My meringue kept slipping off the cake because of the condensation, so I had to keep using more and more of it to cover the cake.

But eventually, after a lot of time and a bunch of meringue, I had managed to cover my Baked Alaska.

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I should have just stopped here. I didn’t just stop here.

From there, I was supposed to take the rest my meringue and put it into a large, disposable piping bag. First, I used a pasty brush to paint a thin line of food coloring along the inside of each side of the bag. Mary used yellow and pink. I used orange and pink. Then I spooned my meringue into the piping bag.

Starting from the top of ice cream, I was supposed to cover my Baked Alaska with rosettes of meringue until it was completely covered.

But the problem was I didn’t have nearly enough meringue left to do this. I was able to get rosettes of meringue over about the top two thirds of the cake. But then I ran out, so what I had looked something like this:

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See, I could have just edited this so you didn’t see the bottom third of this, and you would have never known my failure. But, I didn’t do that because of honesty, and because, frankly, things are going to look much uglier than this really soon.

At this point, I had a couple options. I could have ruined the pretty rosette effect and instead just spread the meringue that was already on the cake out to completely cover the Baked Alaska. I could have tried to quickly make more meringue to cover the thing completely. Or I could have just said screw it, and threw the thing in the oven anyway.

I did the last thing. Because, once again, this blog is called “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes” not “Sometimes I Make Really Practical, Rational Choices That Require Hard Work and Patience But Pay Off Very Well For Me In the End.”

So, according to Mary’s instructions, I had my oven preset to 450 degrees F, so I could put ice cream in it.

(Seriously, is it just me or are Baked Alaskas just disasters waiting to happen? Sure. Put ice cream into the oven. What’s the worse that could happen?)

I was supposed to bake it for 4 to 5 minutes or until my meringue turned golden brown.

And, as I sat there watching it in the oven with the oven light on for a few minutes things looked promising. There was no melting. The meringue looked like it was cooking. Things were looking good…

But then, they weren’t:

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As you can see, the thick sheets of meringue on the side of the cake just slipped off and melted all over the place.

And as for me, I did this:

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Just kidding,  I didn’t do that.

For once, I was actually pretty chill (ice cream pun intended) about this mistake.

Because, the thing is, despite how disastrous this bake looked and, by golly, did it look disastrous,  it was still just ice cream and cake and meringue and it was still delicious.

Delicious, but really ugly.

All in all, it basically just tasted like a slightly-less good, Dairy Queen ice cream cake. So, if you end up with something that tastes even remotely like that, you can’t complain too much.

And hell, at least I didn’t throw it in the trash can. This is a low bar for success, but sometimes you need a low bar.

Next week, I move on to Season 1 Episode 5’s Pies and Tarts episode.

My first challenge will be a custard tart, which, yeah, I’ve never made before in my life. But at least it doesn’t require me to put ice cream into an oven, so for that I am already very thankful and cautiously optimistic.

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Am I the only one who wants Cheetos after seeing this?

P.S. I started a Facebook page for the blog. If you want to “like” or “follow” it, it’s called “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes Blog”.

And as always, you can follow the blog here to be notified of new posts. Just use the handy “follow” buttons on the page to either follow by email or follow using WordPress if you’re a fellow blogger.

Thanks for reading.

Sorry, this one was well, sort of a disaster. We’ll get ’em next time, guys.

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P.P.S. Watch “Moone Boy”. You’ll like it. I swear.

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 12: Baked Alaska, Part 1

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

Okay, so this week I’m supposed to be tackling a Baked Alaska, which was the showstopper challenge on Season 1 Episode 4’s Desserts episode.

And I’m going to do that. I’ve already done that. Well, I’ve done about a third of it at least. But first, I can’t talk about that episode of GBBS without talking about #Bingate.

Here’s an explanation from Eleanor on The Good Place. (P.S. Watch that show.)

So the bakers were making a Baked Alaska (a.k.a a sponge cake, ice cream and meringue masterpiece) on what was apparently one of the hottest days of the year. (Sidenote: it was only 77 degrees Fahrenheit, which here, is a basically lukewarm, but in Britain, it was apparently a “scorching day”. Those are PBS’  words. You can check out their official take on #Bingate here.)

Anyway, we’ve got ice cream. We’ve got heat. We’re basically building toward a disaster, right? Right. (If by disaster, you mean someone on a reality television show having a bad day. Which is what I mean right now.)

#Bingate was arguably, disaster-worthy, by GBBS standards. It was said to be the most controversial moment in GBBS’ history.

It legitimately became a national news story.

What’s #Bingate? I’ll break it down: one of the bakers took another baker’s Baked Alaska out of the freezer. And it melted! It melted! (Because it was a “scorching” day, remember?)

And, yeah, that’s all #Bingate was.

Iain, one of my favorite season 1 contestants, put his Baked Alaska in the freezer as he went to mix up some meringue or something (as you’re wont to do with ice cream on scorching days.) Then, Diana,  another contestant (show below in orange), came along and took Iain’s Baked Alaska out of the freezer while she put in her own.

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Photo credit: BBC/Love Productions

And then…she didn’t put it back.

I know what you’re thinking:

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Yeah, that’s what Iain thought to.

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Photo credit: BBC/Love Productions

I get it, Iain. People are messed up.

And, Iain’s Baked Alaska was real messed up too. When he went to pull his ice cream out of the dish, it ummm…well, I’ll just show you:

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Photo credit: BBC/Love Productions

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And Iain, didn’t handle it well (by British standards.)

If this had happened on an American television show, Iain probably would have gone after Diana with an egg beater or something, or at the very least, dumped his melted ice cream all over her head.

But this is Britain, so what Iain did (which, reminder: caused a SCANDAL in the U.K.) was just calmly throw his ruined Baked Alaska into a trash can (or bin in the U.K.) hence #Bingate.

Then he calmly walked away from the tent to collect his thoughts before judging time.

Come judging time, Iain obviously had nothing to present, so he just had to carry the trash can up to the judging table.

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Photo credit: BBC/Love Productions

Frankly, he’s being a jolly good sport about the whole thing, in my opinion.

But, the judges, the venerable Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, didn’t agree. Though they were sympathetic that it was just a moment of craziness that led Iain to throw his dessert into the bin, he was still kicked off the show that episode. Paul explained that he and Mary have to have something to judge and they couldn’t very well judge a trash can. So Iain got the boot.

And the British public was well, as angry as the British public can get. They called for Diana to be kicked off the show, but Iain, ever the good sport, came to her defense:

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So that is the story of the famous (infamous?) Baked Alaska meltdown a.k.a. #Bingate.

P.S. Did you notice how I waited until the very end of that to put in the “meltdown” pun?  You have no idea how hard that was for me to do.

Anyway, now on to my Baked Alaska.

***

As you probably noticed from the title of this post (because you’re so smart and observant), I’m doing this challenge in two parts for several reasons:

  1. I knew, going in, that it would take me at least half a post to explain #Bingate.
  2. I learned from Iain that you need to make sure your ice cream is really firm, so I worked ahead so I’m not messing with my ice cream the same day as I do my cake and meringue.
  3. I ordered a KitchenAid mixer and I’m waiting for it to get here before I tackle my meringue.

What I have done so far, is my ice cream.

In the actual challenge, the bakers made their own ice cream, but I don’t have an ice cream maker, so I cheated a bit and decided to follow Mary’s recipe for a Neopolitan Baked Alaska instead.

This recipe calls for using store-bought ice cream and Mary explains the recipe step-by-step in her and Paul’s Season 1 Masterclass Episode: Part 2.

The recipe has 15 steps. I’ve done three of them. And the three I did are basically just about putting ice cream into a bowl and then putting it in the freezer. But so far, I’ve nailed it, guys, nailed it.

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Photo credit: Giphy

To get the ice cream ready, I had to line a 3-liter mixing bowl with cling film or Saran wrap, as we say it in America.

Then, in a separate, large bowl, I beat 1 liter of vanilla ice cream to soften it a little and then put it into the base of the bowl I wrapped with cling film. Then I had to level it off using a spatula, and then freeze it for at least an hour or until it’s firm.

Then you get to repeat the exact same steps with a liter of strawberry ice cream and then a liter of chocolate until you get a full bowl of ice cream.

(Sidenote: I used ice cream that comes in 48 ounce containers which are actually supposed to be about 1.42 liters or something. When I measured it out though, I ended up just using the full container because that looked close enough for me.) Also, I may have eaten some of the ice cream as I was assembling this. Just maybe.

So after more than three hours of combined work and waiting time, I have succeeded in making a bowl of ice cream. (Yay, me!)

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Okay, applause aside, later this week, I’ll start on the actual hard parts of this baking challenge: making a chocolate sponge cake base, and the meringue that I have to cover the whole thing with before I put it in the oven. I did mention that I have to put this in the oven, right? After it has ice cream in it? That seems like a terrible idea.

And yeah, it could go terribly…but, it’s okay, I’m totally not worried about it at all. Like at all.

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***

P.S. I changed the web address of the blog so now it’s https://sometimesibakemistakesblog.wordpress.com/ Before that it was something totally unrelated which made no sense. Now it makes sense. So win.

P.P.S. I also got a separate Facebook page “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes Blog”. You can like it, if you feel like it. No pressure. Thanks.

Ashley out.

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Photo credit: Giphy

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 11: Tiramisu Cake

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

Update 7-12-2017: It’s come to my attention that this blog post has been posted on a cooking website, without my knowledge and without giving me credit. I’m all for sharing, but please give me credit or at least link to my site so people can see my other original content. Thanks.

I usually start each post by announcing what this week’s bake was, but this time I have to talk about something else first.

I’ve got to talk about Val, guys! I just have to.

The new (for America) GBBS season 4 is now on PBS. Four episodes are available so far, and in those four episodes, I have fallen in love with Val. Everyone has fallen in love with Val.

Val is a semi-retired, primary school head teacher who has been baking for more than 60 years. She dances around while she bakes, and says her cakes sing to her when they’re ready. Also, she makes everywhere she goes happier and brighter and kinder, simply by being there.

She’s lovely, just lovely. (Even Paul Hollywood, of glacial stare fame, said “I love Val.” He doesn’t normally throw that kind of affection around. But it seems that even he couldn’t help himself. No one can help themselves. Val’s loveliness is infectious.)

I mean, just check out some of her highlights:

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Val is ridiculously sweet, silly, warm and kind. And the world could always use more people like her.

Kindness, in particular is the most underrated quality in people, and it especially seems like that lately when, in our Internet-troll-filled world, cruelty is often mistaken for cleverness and rudeness is mistaken for strength.

For the sake of my sanity and my faith in humanity, I have to be reminded that there are nice people out there. I need to hear about the Vals of the world. I’ve got to know they’re out there, sharing baked goods and goodness and just generally Hufflepuffing it up.

(P.S. If you don’t know what Hufflepuffs are, seriously, just go read Harry Potter already, please. But suffice it to say that the Hufflepuffs are the nice ones in the Harry Potter universe. They’re also the best ones, not that any true Hufflepuff would say that, because you know, bragging’s not nice and stuff.)

So, since the Hufflepuffs of the world aren’t going to say it for themselves, I’ll say it for them. They’re the best. The gosh darn best. Thank God for the Hufflepuffs, thank God for Val and thank God for nice.

We could use more of all three.

***

Now, on to the bake:

This week I took on Mary Berry’s tiramisu cake which was the technical challenge in Season 1 Episode 4’s Desserts episode.

I freaking love tiramisu, so I was super excited about this bake and because I’ve eaten a fair bit of the dessert in my time, I was also dangerously cocky.

Basically, I was like, I’ve got this.

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Except sometimes I didn’t have it, really. And that started right from the very beginning with my baking set-up. The recipe called for me to build up layers of brandy-and-coffee-soaked sponge cake, mascarpone cheese and chocolate shavings in a square pan.

According to Ms. Berry’s helpful instructions on her and Paul’s GBBS Masterclass Season 1 Part 2 episode, ideally I’d have a loose-based, high-sided, square pan for this assembly. And, yeah, I didn’t have that. I also couldn’t easily find one at local stores and I wasn’t about to pay more than $30 for the ones I saw online. So, I got creative and I basically used trash.

First, I cut a roughly 7-inch square from a piece of cardboard. I used a beer six-pack container. I didn’t actually dig the cardboard out of the trash. I took this out of the beer fridge. (Shhhh. Everyone has beer fridges. That’s totally normal.) Then I covered my cardboard square with tinfoil.

Then I got out the only square baking dish I had, a glass one without a loose bottom. I made two very long strips of parchment paper and placed one vertically across the dish and one horizontally. (This part’s pretty close to Mary’s instruction’s actually.) Then I put my tinfoil-covered cardboard square on top of that. This was my attempt at making a loose bottom pan alternative.

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I did this. I’m basically a kitchen MacGyver. Wait, do people still know who that is?

And yeah, I was really, weirdly proud of it. I had no idea if it would work, but I thought it looked pretty handy, considering I had no idea what I was doing.

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And then, feeling-pretty dang pleased with myself, I got on with my bake. First, you start with a simple sponge cake which only has eggs, caster sugar (I’ve just given up and just started using granulated sugar) and self-rising flour.

When I watched the Masterclass episode on this, Mary repeatedly talked about how the most important part thing about this cake was that it maintained its volume.  So to do that, I had to try to keep as many air bubbles in it as possible.

That meant I had to whip up the eggs and sugar for a really, really long time. I used an electric hand mixer on it for about five minutes. (Okay, my definition of a “really, really long time” may be different than other people’s).  Mary said the mixture was supposed to become very pale and thick.

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This looks like mayo. Doesn’t taste like mayo.

Then I had to sift in the flour and fold it in gently. Mary was very clear on this. She was also insistent that when I pour the batter into the pan, I didn’t do it from a great height, because apparently this removes some of the air bubbles from the cake and takes away its volume. So I did everything as she instructed and my cake batter did look pretty bubblicious.

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Look at all these cute little bubbles! : )

I felt pretty pleased with myself, bubble-wise. At this point, I basically thought I was crushing it and I was feeling pretty good.

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Then I had to bake the cake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until, as Mary said, it was risen, golden-brown and springy to the touch. And, for once, I did. I didn’t burn it, guys. Just look at this:

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Totally not burnt. This is a low-bar for success, but, hell, I’m taking it.

At this point, I was getting dangerously pleased with myself and I was totally ready to take on the next step, the filling.

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The filling is pretty simple. You dissolve instant coffee granules in boiling water and mix it with a bit of brandy (100 ml.) and then you let it cool. Then you mix together 3 (9 oz) tubs of full-fat mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream (the Brits call it “double cream”) and sifted powered sugar (Brits call it “icing sugar) in a big bowl. And, you do the step I forgot to do at this point: you grate some dark chocolate. I used baking milk chocolate instead.

I also made a small substitution for the mascarpone cheese. I was supposed to use 3 (9 oz) tubs but the kind I found in the store came in 8 ounces, so I just used those. I could have bought a fourth tub to make up the difference, but I was too cheap to do that.

Anyway, here’s what my mixed up mascarpone cheese filling looked like, once it was all whipped up:

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You totally can’t tell I’m 3 ounces short of mascarpone here, right?  I didn’t think so.

Then I popped that in the fridge and since my cake was now cool, it was time for the cutting. I was really nervous for this part because my cake wasn’t exactly tall, but somehow I was supposed to cut it in half horizontally. Which totally seemed impossible.

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I’m supposed to cut this in half. In half. Horizontally!? How?!

I was worried about this for two reasons: 1) because, frankly I didn’t think there was enough cake there to cut in half and 2) because, I’m super crazy klutzy and cutting a cake in half horizontally seemed like a prime time for me to accidentally cut myself.

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But, guess what, guys? I didn’t cut myself and I somehow actually cut that super-thin cake in half. Horizontally! I put my makeshift cake bottom on the cake to steady it and then I used a knife in a saw-like motion to cut across the cake, just like Mary told me to. And, it actually worked. Then I used the cake bottom as a guide again to cut two, 7-inch squares from each of my new cake layers.

And, yeah, they didn’t look perfect, but they looked far better than I thought they would, so I took it as a win.

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Then came the layering. First, I put my fake cake bottom back in my pan and I put one of my new square cake layers on top of that. The recipe then says to spoon a quarter of your coffee-brandy mixture over the cake.

(I poured the mixture into a measuring cup and it turned out to be exactly a cup of liquid, so I just put a 1/4 cup on each layer of cake.) Then, as Mary advised, I put a quarter of my mascarpone cheese mixture on that and then I was supposed to put a third of my chocolate shavings on top of that.

(At this point, I realized I hadn’t grated my chocolate. Since yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year the chocolate grating was well, grating my nerves. As Mary so often says on Masterclass “Chocolate doesn’t need much heat to melt, it will melt in a child’s pocket.” It also melted all over my hands. It was a mess but a delicious mess.)

My chocolate now grated though, I finished my first layer.

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This is some of the small amount of grated chocolate that didn’t just melt all over my hands.

You continue your layers until your fourth and final layer ends on a layer of mascarpone cheese (because you divided the grated chocolate into thirds not quarters). Then put your layered tiramisu cake back in the fridge. For.At.Least.An.Hour.

Here’s the thing: I totally did not realize I had to chill this for an hour, because, I didn’t read the directions that thoroughly before I started. Heads up, you should read the directions thoroughly before you start. Had I done this, I might not have started baking this so late at night, but, eh, honestly, I probably would have anyway. Either way though, now I had some waiting to do. Which sucked.

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On the plus side, this gave me time to work on my next step: the chocolate decorations that are supposed to go on top. First, you have to melt half your dark chocolate you reserved for this and get it to a specific temperature: 127 F. Then you stir in the other half of your chocolate and melt it. From here, let it cool down to at least 88 F or until it’s cool enough to pipe. Mine was around 75 F. Then pour your melted chocolate into a piping bag.

From here, the recipe suggests you lay out a parchment paper to do your designs on. In the Masterclass episode, Mary sketches her designs on paper she places below her parchment paper so she can pipe over them. I did that too. But then I just kind of free-handed my designs anyway, because it was more fun. It wasn’t prettier, but it was more fun.

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As you can seeing drawing (even with chocolate) is not my strong suit.

Then you have to let your chocolate designs cool and set.

Now, it was time for the part I was most scared of, I had to try to remove the cake from the square pan I made it in and move it on to a nearby cake stand. To do this, I brought all four ends of my parchment paper toward the middle of my cake and pulled up on them, placing my hand under my makeshift tinfoil cake base as I did it. Then I put the base on the cake stand and slid the parchment paper out from underneath the base.

(P.S. I would have taken a picture of this step, but I was really focused on the whole, not dropping the cake I spent hours on thing, and there weren’t enough hands for left to take a pic.)

But it totally, absolutely worked, guys!

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Victory!!!!!

Then I sprinkled a bit of cocoa powder on top of my totally-not-ruined cake and, once my chocolate decorations had set, I put those on top too. My cake didn’t look too bad really:

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My not-that-bad-looking tiramisu cake.

And then, finally came the part that I was waiting for. After hours of work and time and energy, I cut myself a piece.

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This is literally a piece of cake.

And, I…didn’t like it.

At first bite, I wasn’t that crazy about this tiramisu cake, which stinks because I am crazy about tiramisu. But, as it happens, I’m not crazy about brandy. Turns out, I’m only a fan of brandy if it’s by Looking Glass or if it’s paired with Monica. (Yeah, those references might not make sense unless you click on the links.)

If I had to make this cake again, which actually I might, because it wasn’t really that hard, I’d make sure to add all of the mascarpone cheese, which would probably help mellow out the taste of the brandy. I also might use a bit less brandy, at least a quarter of a cup less I think and I may add double the amount of powered sugar to the mascarpone cheese just to make it a bit sweeter.

But, the good news is, after a night in the fridge, the tiramisu cake was a lot better this morning after the brandy had had a chance to mellow out. (Yes, I ate tiramisu cake for breakfast. This is a totally normal thing to do.)

So, all’s well that ends well.

And for the record, I’m definitely counting this as an “ends well”.  I didn’t massively screw up a single step this week. So, yay! I’m just going to slink out (or dance out) of here while I’m ahead.

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Next week, I take on the dreaded Baked Alaska, which even in the GBBS world, turned out to be a pretty big deal. And, because I have to, I’ll also delve into the #Bingate controversy. #JusticeforIain.

Until then, I’ll be obsessively re-watching the fourth season of GBBS to get more Val, or I’ll re-watch Sleepless in Seattle, which was what introduced me to tiramisu in the first place.

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Thanks for asking Tom. It’s a delicious dessert. You should make some. It’s easy. But use less brandy. Just trust me on this, Tom.

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 10: Self-Saucing Pudding

I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).

***

So, I’ve been slacking.

Ordinarily, I try to do a bake a week, but this time it took me closer to two weeks, because it’s the first bake I well and truly botched. I mean, I really messed up. Things went…badly.

Like, they were not okay. They were bad.

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Things went as badly as things can go when you’re talking about salted caramel and chocolate, which is exactly what I’m talking about because this week (and well, last week) I attempted to make Chocolate and Salted Caramel Molten Puddings.

I know, they sound amazing, right? But sounds can be deceiving. (Why isn’t that a saying? It should be saying.)

Anyway, this challenge was the first one on Season 1 Episode 4’s Desserts episode. Contestants were supposed to make “saucy puds” which are cakes which have filling or sauce at the bottom.

Turns out, my saucy puds would not be saucy at the bottom.

But, as it happens, that was the least of my puds’ problems. Their problems started with the caramel.

Sweet, sweet caramel. Which used to be one of my favorite things, just as Kate, the creator of this recipe, used to be one of my favorite contestants on GBBS Season 1. (Reminder: I’m using the seasons of GBBS available on Netflix in America, so they won’t sync up with what was shown in Britain, homeland of the bakes.)

Just kidding, I still love caramel and Kate’s still one of my favorite GBBS bakers. (Because I mean, just watch this amazing dramatic sigh, she does here in her introduction video.)

But for awhile there, I was a little mad at both of them: caramel and Kate, that is.

Because for me at least, following Kate’s instructions on making the molten caramel did not work. Like, at all.

Here’s what Kate’s recipe told me to do: “For the salted caramel, place the golden syrup, caster sugar and four tablespoons of water in a small pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves.Using a sugar thermometer, check the temperature of the caramel. When it reaches 160C (320F) remove from the heat and stir in the cream and salt. Carefully pour the caramel into an ice cube tray. Allow to cool and then place in the freezer for about 30 minutes.”

First off, I can’t find golden syrup, so I went all Nebraskan-land-of-corn with it, and used light corn syrup instead. Also, I used regular granulated sugar instead of caster.

Both of these substitutions could have been part of my problem. But the bigger problem, the first two times at least, was my thermometer. I didn’t have a candy or sugar thermometer. I just had a fiddly little meat thermometer that I couldn’t leave in the whole time, so I had to keep taking it out of the mixture every few minutes and putting it back in. This, umm didn’t work out.

(No pans or spoons were harmed in the making of this caramel, at least not irreversibly. It just took me awhile to clean them. Obviously.)

The first time I attempted caramel, my impatience got the best of me, and I jacked up the heat way higher than I should have and well, you see the pan on the left. Basically the caramel got super-crazy, amazingly burnt on. I’d already cleaned it a bit when I took that first photo.

In my second attempt, I got all the way to the adding in the cream and salt part, but as soon as I put in the cold cream, my caramel hardened up like nobody’s business. There is probably a very obvious sciency reason that happened, but I’m not going to explain that reason here. Instead I’m going to share this gif of how I felt at the moment this photograph was taken:

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Except replace the “murder someone” with something slightly less insane and violent, though I really could have gone for a soft pretzel at that moment.

Anyhoo… I put the recipe away for a few days, because well, I was mad at it, but then, I resolved to try again, mostly because I’d already bought all the ingredients, as well as a new sugar/candy thermometer.

And I was like, I got this:

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This time around, things went slightly, every so slightly better, because I basically just went rogue. Rather than using Kate’s caramel instructions, which as demonstrated, totally did not work for me for some reason, I just followed the instructions on making caramel that came with my new thermometer:

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The temp for caramel on here is 248. Kate told me to go to 320. Yes, I remembered to look for the Fahrenheit. (P.S. Just double-checked to make sure I had used her Fahrenheit temp. I had. Phew, that was almost embarrassing.)

So, using my new, handy-dandy thermometer, I took the caramel mixture to the “firm ball” temperature of 248 instead. This kept it from burning on to the pan.

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Totally not burning on to the pan. BOO-yah!

Unfortunately, keeping the caramel at this low of a temperature, also prevented it from getting more browned – or, you know, caramel-colored. Once I had added in the cream, slowly this time to try to prevent my caramel hardening, my caramel looked, it has to be said, decidedly pale.

Ugly caramel
Embarrassingly pale caramel.  Get some sun, caramel. You’re embarrassing yourself.

I’m sure actually having golden syrup, rather than light corn syrup, would have helped the coloring. But like, I said, I couldn’t find that, so light corn syrup, and embarrassingly-pale caramel, it is.

The caramel somewhat accomplished, I put it in the freezer and started on the cake-like portion of this dessert.

For this, I just had to melt butter in a large saucepan and put chocolate in it. Then I just removed it from the heat and waited until the chocolate melted. Then, once the chocolate was melted, but still liquid, I mixed in the sieved flour until it was nice and smooth.

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Smoooooooooooooooooth.

Then, this part got a bit trickier. I had to break three eggs into a large heatproof bowl which I then had to put over a pan of “gently simmering water”. It’s important that you don’t allow the water to touch the bottom of the pan. Then, using a hand mixer, I whisked the eggs in the bowl, while I gradually added in the sugars.

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Just mixing eggs, in bowl, over a pan, which is a totally normal thing to do.

This takes about seven minutes, which in my opinion is a long time to hold a hand-held mixer over a pan of simmering water.

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But I persevered, because I eventually wanted to eat this stuff and food is a great motivator.

Eventually the eggs are supposed to get “pale, light and fluffy”.

EggFluffy
Appropriately-pale eggs. Though, I’m not sure if they’re that fluffy. But hey, nobody’s perfect.

Then you add your melted chocolate into your allegedly fluffy eggs, along with a pinch of salt (which I’m just now realizing I totally forgot to do. Whoops.)

Now you need your pudding molds which you prepare by spraying with cake release spray. (I used a cake release paste from Wilton that worked great.)

Kate’s recipe called for you to use four individual, 6 oz. pudding (or dessert in America) molds. I used a flexible silicon muffin tray instead. It seemed to work just fine.

Anyway, once your individual molds or muffin trays are prepared with the cake release, you line them with toasted, flaked almonds and dust the inside of the molds with cocoa powder. Then you set them in the freezer, which I totally forgot to tell you to do until now. Shhh…pretend they were already in the freezer.

Take them out of the freezer (because they were totally already in there) and pour in your chocolate-eggy mixture.

FilledContainers
This is sort of messy. Just ignore the cocoa powder I got everywhere.

Then, place your filled molds in the fridge to chill.

Leslie.Chill.gif

 

They don’t have to be “super chill all the time”. They just need to chill for at least 30 minutes.

While they’re chillin’, you can make the vanilla cream which has: 100 ml (or 3.5 fl oz in American) of double cream (or heavy whipping cream in American), 50 g. of icing sugar (or powdered sugar in American) and the seeds from one vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise.

I’ve never in my life used the seeds out of a vanilla pod, which is weird, because vanilla bean is my favorite ice cream. (I do not care how boring that sounds. I love vanilla bean.)

But since I had no idea, what I was doing, I followed this video I found online on how to split and seed vanilla beans. It was really helpful.

So I did what he said in the video, just in a way messier way, and, it turns out, vanilla seeds look sort of gross:

VanillaBeanDirt
Vanilla bean seeds look like dirt. Again, to reiterate, this is not dirt. It’s vanilla bean seeds. I wouldn’t put dirt on a plate. I’m not an animal.

Then once you’ve seeded your bean, (That sounded weird, didn’t it?) you need to whisk the cream until it begins to thicken and then fold in the powdered sugar and your vanilla seeds that are totally not dirt.

VanillaWhippedCream
This looks like ranch dressing. It did not taste like ranch dressing. It was delicious. And yeah…I can tell I didn’t get it thick enough. Whoops.

Then, back to your pudding molds. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which I totally did but my oven totally didn’t preheat because it likes to drive me insane.

angrymichael
Me talking to my oven.

Then once your oven is sufficiently-preheated, and is not just messing with you, put your muffin tray or your individual pudding molds onto a baking tray and grab that long-forgotten caramel out of the freezer.

Here’s what Kate tells you to do: “Working quickly, remove the moulds from the fridge and place on the baking tray. Remove the salted caramel from the freezer and scoop out the contents with a teaspoon and push into the pudding mixture, ensuring the caramels are encased in the pudding mixture.”

Which is what I tried to do. I had a hard time ensuring that the caramel was completely encased in the pudding:

CaramelinChocContainers
It’s hard to see in this pic, but the caramel is totally escaping. It’s resisting being encased. I mean, I get it, freedom and everything. But for the sake of the bake, it sucked.

Then bake your caramel-filled, chocolate puds for 12 minutes or until, as Kate says “the sides looked cooked but the middle is still a little wobbly.”

Don’t know what wobbly looks like: check out this stellar demonstration from GBBS Season 3 contestant, Sandy, who is, it has to be said, the freaking best:

anigif_enhanced-7286-1440620094-2.gif
This is a wobble. I think Sandy was demonstrating a tart wobble here, but I figure, it translates to puds. I think she’d agree.

But, because of my infinite distrust of my oven, and my paranoia about under-baking things (because germs, guys),  I baked my puds way longer than 12 minutes, like closer to 30 minutes. Because, yeah, my oven and I have a history.

idonttrustyou.gif
Me talking to my oven again.

But eventually, even I had to take my puds out (that sentence sounded odd), and they looked like this:

CookedPuds
This is as wobbly as I was willing to get them.

Then, once your puds are out, let them sit in their molds for three minutes and, using a small palette knife, go around the inside edges of the molds and carefully slide them out.

Mine looked like this:

FinishedPuds
It’s sort of hard to tell in this pic, because of my “awesome” photography skills but a few of these bad boys are burnt on top where the “caramel” escaped and burnt on.

Now, on the show this is where the moment of truth came in. When the venerable judges, Paul and Mary, cut into the pudding, caramel was supposed to come out.

And Kate’s puds on the show totally did that. But mine, well, didn’t. I think I’d cooked it so long, all of the caramel escaped out of my bad encasement and was cooked off, which was a bit disappointing.

So I coated my sad cake in my vanilla cream instead, which, immediately got all melty and sad-looking too:

CutPud
Sad looking cake and cream. Again, this is not ranch dressing. It is vanilla cream.

All in all, this bake went, well, not well.

But, in the end, the cake tasted okay (more like a dense, fudgey brownie that was way too complicated to make) and the vanilla cream, though a bit runny and sad, tasted delicious.

So that’s good enough for me.

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Next week, I’ll be attempting Season 1 Episode 4’s technical challenge: Mary Berry’s own Tiramisu Cake. And since tiramisu is my favorite dessert of all time, I’m really, really hoping it goes better than this time around.

P.S. If you’re liking these blogs, please consider subscribing. There’s two ways to do that. You can follow the blog by email, by clicking on the handy “Follow” button on the right-hand side of this page and you’ll receive an email each time I write a new post. Or if you’re a fellow WordPresser (if that’s a word), you can follow that way too.

If you do, it’d make me really happy, like this sort of happy:

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This is joy.

P.P.S. I am in no way still mad at caramel in general or Kate in particular. Any problem with the recipe was surely mine (or my dang oven’s). It’s not you. It’s me. Yay caramel! Yay Kate! On to tiramisu!