If, like me, you love baking, have a T.V. and live in the UK, you would undoubtedly have come across ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Series 6 started last week after much excitement and build up. Along with thousands of others I couldn’t wait to start watching and meet this year’s bakers. The first programme of the series didn’t disappoint. It was packed full of baking talent; smiles and tears; baking innuendo and of course, the most popular judges on T.V., Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. It’s a winning formula that has encouraged many of us to take to our ovens and challenge ourselves. I’m always inspired by the intrepid bakers who have such an incredible journey through baking triumphs and disasters, taking on many bakes that I’ve never tried and some I’ve never even heard of.
I’m once again following The Great British Bake Off by challenging myself to try a bake a week along with the programme. I don’t have the time to do all the bakes or indeed the ability to eat them all (though I’d probably give that a good try!) so I’m going to try just one thing a week and see if I can learn something new. In the first week the bakers were asked to bake a perfect Madeira Cake, Mary’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake and a Black Forest Gateaux which was the final challenge and could be the baker’s own version. I initially wanted to try the Technical Challenge which was Mary’s Frosted Walnut Layer Cake (Recipe here). However, after finding a bowlful of beautiful cherries on my cherry tree (the first I’ve had) I decided I would have to bake a Black Forest Cake.
The recipe for the two chocolate sponges was taken from the new Bake Off book ‘The Great British Bake Off – Celebrations’. They are fatless, whisked eggs and caster sugar with sifted self-raising flour and cocoa powder folded in. (This makes a very light sponge). I then added a layer of cherry preserve between the two sponge layers (made with my cherries), and white chocolate cream cheese frosting (recipe below). The frosting was also added to the top and sides. The cake is ‘semi-naked’ – with only a very fine layer of frosting on the side, to cut down on sweetness.
Finally, I used some of the same frosting to pipe some swirls all over the cake and added some little cherry blossoms made with flower sugar-paste and a tiny round chocolate ball for the centre. The decoration was really simple as it’s very random but I was pleased with the result and the effect would look lovely on a Wedding or Celebration Cake with fresh fruit and flowers added.
This week also happens to be Afternoon Tea Week (10th – 16th August) and this cake looks beautiful served on a cake stand with a pot of tea at the ready!
Afternoon Tea Week celebrates the great heritage and tradition of Afternoon Tea in the UK. Here is more information and events
In case, you missed the first Great British Bake Off, here’s a recap of some of the best bits!
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
100g Butter, softened
100g Cream Cheese
100g White Chocolate, melted and allowed to cool a little
300g Icing Sugar
Add all the ingredients together and beat well for a few minutes until well combined, soft and light. If it is too wet, add more icing sugar and beat well. The consistency needs to be soft but firm enough to spread on the cake.