Drizzling my lemon
This week has been a little crazy. Right off the heels of the Thanksgiving holiday...and traveling… I have half a head cold, trying to figure out my workout schedule since I am baking so much I am puffing up more than a well-laminated puff pastry. I rushed off to auditions, shot a commercial, practiced piano, looked for Waitress the Musical tickets (hoping that they would do the #piebaking contest) and did laundry (it’s the little things, right?). All this to say, even though it gets hectic I am very effing grateful for my life.
After my announcement that I am baking my way through GBBO, I had an outpouring of support from friends and excited acquaintances about my journey. But now it’s finally here. And the preparation beforehand came in handy but now I have to keep up with the journey. Research, baking, preparation and blogging/posting is a little crazy town but hopefully I am up to the challenge...since it is my own personal, self-imposed challenge.
Ok- so my first practice cake for #cakeweek was a Victoria Sandwich Cake. Which I think turned out pretty well, despite some ramen wannabe buttercream piping. I feel like that particular sponge will come in handy for different recipes but for GBBO, different construction of cakes in the future. I couldn’t practice as much as I wanted due to the Thanksgiving holiday, but I was able to get some recipes from my mother-in-law’s Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book and research things for #biscuitweek (I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with Pogwarts).
So next up on the list to practice bake was the infamous Lemon Drizzle Cake. Now, I didn’t really know what to expect. I assumed a lemony piece of cake... but not sure if it was more of a pound cake or like a fluffy, yellow cake consistency. I looked at a bunch of different recipes to compare. And I settled on this one:
Full recipe here: https://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk/recipes/cakes/double-lemon-drizzle-cake
Now if you notice, just like in the Victoria Sandwich recipe, this also calls for self raising flour… I don’t know why, but I find that interesting. If anyone has backstory on this, please tell me why. I know that raising agents didn’t really come into fashion because it hadn’t been invented until the early 1900s (am I getting that date wrong?) and it’s pretty easy to make your own self raising flour… I’ve done it once but sometimes it just feels easier to get a bag at the store. The other lemon drizzle recipes that I researched called for 3-4 tablespoons of milk. This one didn’t. Since I had large eggs in my fridge, I changed the recipe to 3 eggs instead of 4. The quantity of batter was less than I thought it should be- I was afraid that it wouldn’t rise…oh and this is after my #bakefail -- I creamed butter and eggs together...NOT butter and sugar … what is this? Amateur hour?! Oh wait…
And my second goof was the lemon puree… which I was excited to learn about making a lemon puree… because I had really thought about it before. I chose to pierce a lemon a few times and then simmer in water on the stove top for about 20 minutes...but this is a reminder to you beginning bakers out there: READ THE FREAKING RECIPE, so I didn’t quarter my hot, boiled lemon afterwards and remove the seeds and the pith...so I put it in the blender whole as is… I got all the seeds out BUT the pith was still there… another #bakefail. I fail so you don’t have to :)
I baked my first lemon drizzle- I noticed a crack or an uneven rise to the cake. A crack is good in a Madeira cake but I don’t know about a lemon drizzle. You be the judge. Pics below of the lemon drizzle.
It had a great lemony flavor, despite my goof of leaving the pith on for the lemon puree, but I found it a little dry and too crumbly. When I make my next lemon drizzle cake I will definitely go with a the recipes that call for milk (about 3-4 tablespoons or so) and perhaps add a little extra lemon puree-- that is done correctly to counteract the dryness of this cake. As a practice bake - I figure that it’s about grade C - I always feel like I can do better and WANT to do better, but I am learning despite all the goofs and not always being able to execute well… and if you don’t try then you will never know.
Do the Swiss Roll (or just a panda rolling)
Ok so if you don’t know Season 1, episode 1 (on the Netflix in America) is the start of Cake Week and the first bake is the swiss roll. I have never made a swiss roll and I have barely thought of attempting it. The swiss rolls on the show look so fluffy and delicious… and it seems easy enough to roll sponge into a shape after slathering it with jelly, cream, or whatever filling you call for. Right? Easy, right?
So I decided that I would be catch up on the bakes and just bake my first swiss roll without a practice. How hard can sponge be? I did get some new hardware for my swiss journey. I got a jelly roll pan (10”x15”) and read up on some recipes… now to decide on a flavor. I got some GREAT ideas from people on Facebook and such… and even though my friend, Kürt, insisted that I turn my awesome (if I do say so myself) prosciutto and gruyere biscuits into a swiss roll, I decided to go with some different flavors.
I opted for a Cherry sponge and almond cream filling - for my high school friend Liz. She lives in an Iowan town that is heavily influenced by all things Dutch, so cherry and almond has been speaking to her. Plus, since I have to bake a Classic cherry cake next… I might as well get going with those cherries. On my crusade to find glacé cherries to make the #maryberry recipe of Classic Cherry Cake, I found Amarena cherries (at your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s). These delicious little cherries hail from Italy and slightly darker and have a bold, bitter taste. They are used in desserts and cocktails and such. I decided that I could incorporate it into my cherry sponge for my inaugural swiss roll. Since, I did not find glacé cherries ANYWHERE except on the internet, I decided to make my own… which I will discuss in a future post- but basically you take maraschino cherries and simmer them in their own juice cocktail and sugar to candy them. I saved the excess maraschino cherry juice and added some to my sponge mixture -- I was hoping that it would give it some extra cherry color as well… it did give it a tinge but NOT a cherry color- next time I will have to bolster it with some food coloring. I chopped up the Amarena cherries and folded them into the batter before spreading it out on the jelly roll pan.
Recipes and pics below.
There is no rising agent in this recipe… so therefore my sponge did stay pretty flat… but I was going into this “Signature” challenge pretty blind, since I have never made a swiss roll before. I was really watching for the sponge to begin to pull away from the sides of the tin before taking it out of the oven… I do think that maybe my sponge was slightly overbaked by 30 sec or so… so I think pulling it out of the oven BEFORE the sides begin pulling away is perfectly fine. I tipped the sponge onto parchment paper dusted with sugar as called for in the recipe… came out easily and was still warm. Now I used my knowledge of the GBBO and tried to pre-roll the sponge so it could more easily roll and retain some of that “muscle memory.” I started getting a small crack as I pre-rolled. So I backed off and did not pre-roll the whole sponge.
I made the almond cream when the sponge was in the oven and during the short cooling time… I realized that to make the filling first probably the way to go - #bakegoof - since the sponge has a short bake time and the cooling time isn’t too terribly long. And this way whatever filling you make has time to “set.” I opted to do a cream filling since I didn’t want to try my hand at getting a jelly set for my first challenge…..
So then I slathered my almond cream onto the sponge - note to self- use more of it next time and began rolling - note to self (notice a pattern here?)- try to do the smallest roll possible to get a tighter roll next time.
All in all- I felt disappointed in the look of this swiss roll. I guess I didn’t really know what to expect. But I felt like it looked small and not stately enough to be swiss roll… I had that weird straight roll thing on the inside and not the nice “snail” shape...and there was a gap with the filling. My sponge was a little dry, like I mentioned earlier, and seemed to be slightly closed textured. Ok but...the flavor… the almond cream...ugh! I couldn’t stop licking the bowl or my fingers. So. There’s that… and I felt that sponge had a good flavor and when you got a bit of Amarena cherry in a bite- it really popped. Not overly sweet...and a great combination. Thanks for the suggestion, Liz! But since I am not satisfied and I felt like I was stuck in #amateurhour (again, duh!) I decided that I had to try another one. Guess, I get to my #snickerdoodle flavor anyways.
Until next time, bake on. And bake with love.
RECIPE from Food Network:
4 1/2 ounces caster sugar (superfine), plus 3 tablespoons for sprinkling or use icing sugar (confectioners'), for dusting
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
For the filling6 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jam
8 ounces heavy cream, whipped
FULL Recipe and directions:
I sit at my computer with my iPad constantly streaming GBBO in order to start breaking down all the bakes. Then I have to pause and breathe into a paper bag after looking at the list, because I think I’ve made a mistake and I might poop my pants. Don’t worry I haven’t actually pooped my pants...yet. (I’ll let you know). After a few deep, yogic breaths I start looking at the list again and realize how much I am going to learn after research and baking… an inkling of excitement starts to bubble up. Then, the enormity of the ingredients and the actual sheer amount of things I have to make starts to hit me-- will this be the time I actually poop my pants?
In case you are wondering, I didn’t. But there are few things that I actually did do:
I’ve ordered a couple of books that I thought could give me some insight. Of course, I had to order at least one book by the “King of Bread” himself, Paul Hollywood. I chose “How to Bake.” I’ve read through the “Introduction” and “Getting Started with Bread,” to glean helpful tidbits especially when I get to all the crazy bread parts (can you say lion bread sculpture anyone?). I can’t wait to start practicing my eight braid plait.
I stumbled up on a book when I went to visit the empire of Chip & Joanna Gaines (@magnolia) in Waco one afternoon called “Crusts: The Ultimate Baker’s Book.” It is big and beautiful with a hardcover and built in bookmarks. What’s not to love? It has a great intro and forward, and if you are a little bit of a nerd, the section “A Brief History of Breadmaking” will make you turn pages with glee. I know that this recipe bible will be useful as I research from week to week.
My neighbors have been really supportive (I love walking across the street to share bakes with them), which is amazing since we have only lived in the neighborhood for five short months. As I was delivering a bake the other week (custard tart), my neighbor, Anne, insists that I take from her collection of cookbooks, since she doesn’t cook or bake anymore. Kevin, her husband, loves (LOVES) sweet things, especially sweet baked things. You can imagine, I am grateful to have a place test my bakes. They have lived all over the world so their cookbook collection is eclectic. She gave me the cookbook “A Sterling Collection: Recipes from Britain.” Apparently, it was written by a group Anne used to belong to across the pond “The Kensington Chelsea Women’s Club.” Sounds classy. There were a lot of a recipes for main courses and things like that but I was able to copy recipes for: Creme Anglaise, Wafer Biscuits, Creme Brulee, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Tarte Au Citron. All of these will be useful for my baking adventure. I also copied Steak Pie and Treacle Tart recipe because I love me steak pie (especially with some stout) and Harry Potter’s favorite tart is treacle so obviously….(#hufflepuffforlife). Oh, come on...you know I am nerd.
Due to the heart stopping amount of British cakes that I have to make in my first “Showstopper,” I figured I’d better bake a British cake. Since I am born and raised in America, many of these British cakes I have never tasted before. I decided to start with the classic: Victoria Sandwich Cake. I chose this first because I know that I have do this as a technical in one of the seasons (it’s not cheating! It’s being smart) and I know that the sponge can be featured in a variety of different bakes. Overall, I think it went over quite well! It seemed delicious to me. The sponge was light and springy and a good texture. However, I did modify the jam recipe (gasp!)...since I baked a Mary Berry recipe. I was nervous about doing that, but I make my own jam often in order to control the amount of sugar that goes into the jam. This recipe required a lot of sugar (in the sponge and jam), at least, to me. It was a little to cloying for me so I amped it up with juice from one large lemon. Actually, looking back on it I was surprised that the recipe for jam didn’t require any lemon juice. Gotta have that acidity! I didn’t modify the amount of berries or sugar… just added the lemon juice and adjusted the cooking time. Like I have said before, I feel comfortable cooking so I don’t get too frazzled with messing with something on top of the stove - hopefully, that plays into my favor when I have to make some stuff not in the oven.
Everything I have heard about a Victoria sponge is not to overmix. So I was careful to heed that advice. But in fact, I think I almost undermixed the batter. The butter didn’t seem to have incorporated smoothly into the mixture, so I am glad that I decided to turn on the mixture a few more minutes. I think I got that “soft dropping texture” that the sponge calls for. My baked sponges were pulling away from the tin and springing back to touch. These sponges are lighter than I had expected. The buttercream recipe was simple and straightforward. Again, I modified the amount of sugar in the frosting since I personally don’t like super sugary frosting (that’s why I love Asian cakes so much, it’s not as sweet as an “American” cake).
Disclaimer: No, that isn’t ramen noodles... I just didn’t know what the eff I was doing. #bakepractice