The Great British Bake Off episode 4 is upon us; and it’s all about desserts!
The nine who remain will battle to the last… that’s what’s happening in the Great British Bake Off tent as nine amateur bakers get down with the desserts.
It was all sweet delights, with a quick crème brulee kicking off the Signature Challenge. And it proved quite the challenge for many of the contestants with a mixture of scrambled egg and soup offerings which mostly failed to impress the judges.
Except for Ian. His were perfect!
A bad start then so it was on to the technical – which required the creation of two different kinds of meringue containing tasty Eton Mess. Not easy again and some people had trouble with the instructions, including Sandy’s awkwardly angled lid.
Flora comes third, Ugne second and Paul comes first. He’s massively surprised and we kind of were to.
So to the Showstopper. It was time to make a ridiculously complicated three-tier baked cheesecake in four and a half hours. The baking is a chore and the stacking looks very precarious indeed but the results looked amazing and mostly tasted just as good.
It was all too much for Sandy though, who is going home after a trio of minor dessert disasters. It was always fun trying to guess what random thing she was going to say next. And Ian is star baker again. For the third week. Show off.
Check out some of the top recipes from Week 4 below, including Spanische Windtorte (lots of meringue and cream) from Mary Berry and Nadiya’s surprisingly succulent Fizzy pop cheesecake.
By Mary Berry
Gloriously billowy and wildly retro, to say this complex meringue dessert decorated with fondant violets will be a talking point is an understatement!
Equipment and preparation: you will need a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm/⅝in plain nozzle, a piping bag filled with a large star nozzle, a clean small paintbrush, a sugar thermometer and a 30cm/12in heatproof (to 120C) serving plate for this recipe.
For the French meringue shell:
8 large free-range egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
475g/1lb 1oz caster sugar
For the fondant violets:
25g/1oz dusky lavender ready-to-roll icing
25g/1oz deep purple ready-to-roll icing
10g/¼oz yellow ready-to-roll icing
For the Swiss meringue decoration:
4 large free-range egg whites
250g/9oz caster sugar
For the filling:
600ml/20fl oz double cream
50g/1¾oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp orange blossom water
400g/14oz strawberries, roughly chopped
Line 3 large baking trays with baking parchment. Draw 2 x 20cm/8in circles on 2 of the trays and 1 x 20cm/8in circle on 1 of the trays. (You should end up with 5 x 20cm/8in circles). Preheat the oven to 120C/100C Fan/Gas ½.
For the meringue shell, tip the egg whites and cream of tartar into a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously to make a thick, glossy meringue.
Spoon two-thirds of the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm/⅝in plain nozzle. Pipe a thick ring inside one of the circles on the baking tray and continue spiraling until the entire circle is filled. Repeat with a second circle. These create the base and the top of the meringue cake.
Repeat the process with the 3 remaining circles, except don’t fill in the circles, so that you have three hoops of meringue – these create the sides of the meringue shell. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the fondant violets. For each fondant violet, roll 2 little pieces of dusky lavender fondant and 3 small pieces of deep purple lavender into small balls (about the size of an orange pip). Dust 2 pieces of greaseproof paper with icing sugar and place the balls of fondant between the sheets of greaseproof and flatten each ball out with your fingers, to a thin circle, approximately 1cm/½in in diameter – these form the petals. Roll a tiny piece of yellow fondant into 3 tiny balls, to form the stamens.
Using a small paintbrush and a tiny amount of water, stick the petals and stamens together to form a violet, with the 2 dusky lavender petals at the top, 2 dark purple petals below them and the remaining dark purple petal on the bottom, in the middle. Press the yellow stamens into the centre. Repeat to make 13 violets. Leave to dry on greaseproof paper for at least 1 hour.
When the meringues are dry, gently slide 1 of the cooked, filled meringues onto a 30cm/12in heatproof (to 120C) serving plate. Spoon the remaining meringue into the piping bag and pipe 8 blobs of meringue, evenly spaced around the edge of the circle. Place 1 of the meringue hoops on top and press down very gently to stick the hoop to the base.
Repeat the process with the remaining 2 hoops of meringue. Roughly pipe the remaining one-third of meringue around the sides to disguise the hoops. Using a spatula smooth out the meringue so that the sides are smooth and straight and look like a cake. Bake on the serving plate for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the Swiss meringue decoration, set a large mixing bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Tip the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue reaches 70C on a sugar thermometer.
Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool and stiff. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe a pretty border around the base, the middle and the top edge of the meringue shell. Pipe a border around the outside edge and the middle of the filled meringue circle that will become the lid. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Whisk in the orange blossom water and gently fold in the strawberries and raspberries. Spoon into the cooled meringue cake shell. Top with the meringue lid.
To decorate, use tiny blobs of meringue to stick 6 violets around the middle piped border on the sides of the cake, 6 violets around the top of the cake and 1 violet in the centre of the top of the cake. Serve immediately.
FIZZY POP CHEESECAKE
Three baked cheesecakes are flavoured with childhood favourite fizzy drinks and extravagantly decorated with Italian meringue.
You will need 3 springform cake tins (1 x 20cm/8in, 1 x 18cm/7in tin and 1 x 15cm/6in), plus cake boards of the same same size and straws or cake dowels to support the tiers.
For the cheesecake pastry base:
750g/1lb 10oz plain flour
375g/13oz unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
150g/5½oz icing sugar
3 medium free-range eggs
1 tbsp full-fat milk
For the cream cheese filling:
675g/1lb 7oz full-fat cream cheese
150g/5½oz caster sugar
150ml/5fl oz soured cream
3 medium free-range eggs and 1 free-range egg yolk
3 tbsp plain flour
2 balls stem ginger in syrup, ginger chopped
1 large unwaxed lemon, zest only
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the ginger beer topping:
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
100g/3½oz dark chocolate buttons (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
4 tbsp stem ginger syrup (reserved from the stem ginger jar)
For the lemonade topping:
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
100g/3½oz good-quality white chocolate buttons
2 tsp Sicillian lemon extract
yellow gel food colouring
For the cream soda topping:
100ml/3½fl oz double cream
100g/3½oz white chocolate
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the Italian meringue fizz:
2 medium egg whites
110g/4oz caster sugar
100g/3½oz good-quality white chocolate buttons
50g/1¾oz popping candy
3 cubes crystallised ginger, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
For the pastry base, rub the flour into the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the icing sugar.
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a separate bowl and add to the flour mixture. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Wrap in cling film and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry as thinly as possible (ideally 3mm thick).
Line the 3 tins with the pastry, making sure to leave some extra in case it shrinks (leave any excess pastry upright not hanging over the sides as it could be difficult to trim later). Prick the bases with a fork and chill the filled tins for 15 minutes in the fridge.
Line the inside of the tins with baking paper and fill each tin with baking beans. Place the tins on baking trays. Blind bake the pastry shells for 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and leave the pastry to cool in the tins.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.
For the cream cheese filling, mix the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until incorporated. Add the soured cream, eggs, egg yold and flour. Mix gently to avoid incorporating excess air and pour the mixture into the pastry cases leaving a small lip at the top which will be filled with sauce later.
Scatter the stem ginger over the surface of the 20cm/8in cheesecake, the lemon zest on the 18cm/7in cheesecake and swirl the vanilla bean paste on the 15cm/6in cheesecake. Place all the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake the 15cm/6in cheesecake for 30 minutes and the 2 larger ones for 45 minutes, or until each cheesecake is set with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave them to cool in the tin.
For the ginger beer topping, heat the cream until just boiling then pour it over the chocolate. When melted, stir in the stem ginger syrup. Once it has cooled a little, pour over the 20cm/8in cheesecake. Cool in the fridge or freezer.
For the lemonade topping, heat the cream until just boiling then pour it over the chocolate. When melted, stir in the lemon extract and food colouring. Once it has cooled a little, pour over the 18cm/7in cheesecake. Cool in the fridge or freezer.
For the cream soda topping, heat the cream until just boiling then pour it over the chocolate. When melted, stir in the vanilla paste. Once it has cooled a little, pour over the 15cm/6in cheesecake. Cool in the fridge or freezer.
For the Italian meringue, set up a freestanding mixer with the whisk attachment. Add the egg whites and whisk until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Meanwhile, heat the sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a pan until it reaches 120C on a sugar thermometer.
As soon as the sugar reaches 120C, slowly drizzle it into the egg whites with the motor running (take care not to pour the syrup onto the beaters as it might splash). When all the syrup is incorporated the mixture should be shiny and smooth. Continue to whisk until the bowl feels cold. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle.
To assemble, pipe a few dots of meringue onto each cake board. Carefully trim away any excess pastry and remove the cheesecakes from their tins. Place each cheesecake on the corresponding cake board.
Starting with the largest cheesecake, insert 3 drinking straws in a triangle formation about 5cm/2in apart (these will support the weight of the next layer of cheesecake). Carefully trim the straws to the same height as the cheesecake. Repeat the process with the 18cm/7in cheesecake.
Stack the cheesecakes from large to small and pipe the Italian meringue around the edge of each of the bottom 2 cheesecakes and over the top of the smallest one. Decorate the cheesecakes with white chocolate on the top layer, popping candy on the middle and crystallised ginger on the bottom.
The Great British Bake Off airs on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC One.