It’s Bake Off time again, and the battle lines were drawn between the weary five who remain and the massed ranks of the patisserie. It’s the quarter finals, things are getting tense.
As the contestants fall by the wayside, we’re getting to hear more and more from Mel and Sue. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing…
Challenge numero one; cream horns. No one seems overly optimistic about this round, except Nadiya who gets more fierce every week. And the results are… mixed. Paul didn’t include enough banana (more on this later), Flora’s got dribbly and even Ian got a talking to. Nadiya’s were excellent though.
Technical time and our five heroes have to make nine identical mokatines. Most of them look like they’ve been kicked in the face, except Nadiya who saw a picture of one once. Paul has a terrible round here with a flat sponge and many sad expressions. Nadiya wins out, she’s on terrific form.
Finally it was the time of the religieuse à l’ancienne – which is a ridiculous name for a tower of choux pastry in the shape of a nun. Which is a fairly ridiculous thing.
It has to be a sturdy build, so most folks are using strong flour. Except Paul, who seems like he’s already given up. Tangles tastes include mango, bubble gum and banana – with Paul putting in extra just to spite other Paul. Some nuns topple to the floor, while Ian and Tamal’s are tops.
Star baker is Nadiya, which was pretty much a given. And just as obvious was the fact that prison-fellow Paul is going home. He seems a lovely and helpful chap but had three disasters this week, though Flora is just in by the skin of her teeth at this stage.
Next week there are only four left and it’s the semi-final, focussing on the delightful world of chocolate. But before all that, immerse yourself in some recipes the likes of Mary Berry and star baker Nadiya.
By Mary Berry
A masterclass in how to turn a simple genoise sponge into something really special. Decorated with chopped nuts and coffee buttercream these individual cakes are packed with flavour.
For this recipe you will need a shallow 18cm/7in square cake tin and a piping bag fitted with a number 7 star nozzle.
For the genoise sponge
3 large free-range eggs
75g/2½oz caster sugar
65g/2¼oz self-raising flour
1 tbsp cornflour
For the coffee icing
1 tbsp instant coffee
225g/8oz icing sugar, sifted
For the crème beurre au moka
40g/1½oz caster sugar
1 large free-range egg yolk
75g/2½oz softened butter
2 tsp coffee essense
4 tbsp apricot jam
100g/3½oz chopped almonds, toasted
For the fondant icing
100g/3½oz white ready-to-roll fondant icing
gel food colouring in dark brown
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a shallow 18cm/7in square cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
For the genoise, gently melt the butter in a pan, then set to one side to cool slightly. Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk at full speed until the mixture is pale, mousse-like and thick enough to leave a trail when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.
Sift the flours together into a bowl. Carefully fold half the flour into the egg mixture, then gently pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
To make the coffee icing, measure the butter into a small pan and gently heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee powder until dissolved. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and glossy. Set aside to thicken.
For the crème au beurre moka, measure the sugar and 2 tablespoons water into a small heavy-based pan. Heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then boil steadily for 2-3 minutes or until the syrup is clear and forms a slim thread when pulled apart between 2 teaspoons. (CAUTION: melted sugar is very hot. Take care not to burn yourself).
Put the egg yolks into a small bowl and give them a quick whisk to break them up. Add the syrup in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking all the time until all the syrup is incorporated and the mixture is thick and cold (it’s easiest to do this in a freestanding mixer).
In another bowl, cream the butter until very soft and gradually beat in the egg yolk mixture. Stir in the coffee essence to flavour. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a number 7 star nozzle.
To assemble, cut the cold cake in half horizontally and sandwich the slices together with the coffee icing. Trim the edges and cut the cake into 9 equal squares.
Heat the apricot jam in a pan, then pass through a sieve into a small bowl. Brush the sides of the cakes with apricot jam and press the chopped almonds around the sides.
Pipe tiny rosettes of crème au beurre moka very close together around the top edge of the cakes (they should create a solid outline that can be filled with icing). Pipe tiny rosettes of crème au beurre moka around bottom edge of the cakes.
For the fondant icing, knead the fondant icing until soft (if it’s really hard heat it in a microwave for a few seconds). Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth (alternatively you can do this in a food processor). Gradually beat in 4 tablespoons water and enough food colouring to make a coffee coloured glaze. Carefully spoon the glaze into the centre of the top of the cakes and leave to set.
Mocha Hazlenut Cream Horns
Show off your pastry skills with these puff pastry horns lined with dark chocolate and filled with a coffee-flavoured mascarpone cream.
For this recipe you will need 12 cream horn moulds, a silicone mat and a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
For the puff pastry
250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
250g/9oz very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 free-range egg, beaten for egg wash
1 tbsp demerara sugar, for sprinkling
For the cream filling
25g/1oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
200ml/7fl oz double cream
2 tbsp instant coffee, mixed with 1 tbsp boiling water to make a paste
For the topping
100g/3½oz dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
50g/1¾oz roasted hazelnuts, chopped
For the puff pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to break up the bits of butter so they form flakes throughout the flour. Add 125ml/4fl oz ice-cold water and mix using a spatula until the dough comes together. Briefly knead then cover and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 4mm thick. With a short side nearest, fold down the top third into the middle, then fold the bottom third up over. Turn the pastry by 90 degrees (a quarter turn). Roll out into a rectangle again and repeat the folding process. Wrap in cling film and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Roll out the chilled pastry again and repeat the folding process. Give it another quarter turn and roll and fold as before. Chill in the freezer for another 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
On a lightly floured work surface roll the dough out to about 3mm thick. Cut out 12 long strips, about 2cm/¾in wide and 30cm/12in long. Wrap the moulds in the strips of pastry starting at the tip (do not cover the tip as the pastry will expand as it cooks) and working upwards, half overlapping. Place the horns seam-side down on a baking tray lined with a silicone mat. Place the tray in the freezer for 5 minutes.
Brush the chilled horns with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes before removing the moulds and placing the horns on a wire rack to cool completely.
For the cream filling, put the mascarpone in a bowl and beat it using a wooden spoon until softened. Sift in the icing sugar, mix through thoroughly.
In a separate bowl whip the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone using a metal spoon. Gently stir in the cooled coffee mixture. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
For the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Place the chopped nuts in a bowl.
Once the pastry horns have cooled, brush the inside of each one with melted chocolate and tip upside down to drain out any excess. Dip the tops of the horns into the chocolate and then dip in the nuts. Chill until the chocolate is set.
Fill the horns with the cream mixture and dust with icing sugar. Serve immediately