Great British Baking - Week One

Good morning everyone! Today I'm going to be starting a really fun series on my blog- one that I've been wanting to do for a long, long time. One of my very favorite shows is the Great British Bake Off (or the Great British Baking Show as it's called in the US). If you haven't watched the show, it is a baking competition, but has the most pleasant and sweet contestants who are more stressed about avoiding a soggy bottom on their pies than starting drama with their other competitors. It is very different than most cut-throat reality shows and just makes me feel warm and gooey inside.

Each week in the competition there are three baking challenges around a central theme (things like cakes, bread, pastry, etc.)- a signature bake, a technical bake, and a show stopper. While the bakers can plan for the signature and show stopper bakes, the technical is a mystery. All the bakers are given the same recipe and ingredients and are judged blindly on the finished product. At the end of a show, a Star Baker is crowned and someone is eliminated.

Although the show is broadcast in England, it also airs here on Netflix (there are a ton of old seasons if you want to watch!). This year, we're getting weekly shows just days after they're aired abroad which is really exciting! Since the recipes for the technical bakes are being shared on Instagram, I decided it would be so fun to try them out each week. I love to bake, and they always do such challenging recipes and use techniques that I've never tried, so I thought it would be a fun way to get out of my comfort zone!

For the first week, the theme was Cakes. For the signature challenge, the bakers had to make a Battenberg cake (which is a checkered cake held together with jam and covered in marzipan). The showstopper was making a 3D cake bust depicting the bakers' personal heroes. And my challenge- the technical- was 6 miniature pineapple upside down cakes! While this is a pretty common dessert here, it's one that I've never made and have only tried maybe once or twice.

After I gathered all my ingredients, I set off to make the recipe, following the directions as closely as possible. One challenge I'm going to have during this entire "competition" is my tools- I don't have a ton of baking equipment and don't plan on buying a bunch of stuff, so I'll have to improvise. For this challenge it kind of bit me in the butt...I used a muffin tin  for the cakes instead of a pudding mold, and ended up filling them too much since they were much smaller. When the cakes came out, they were spilled over the top and looked a bit messy once I turned them out.

For my presentation, I trimmed off the excess around the sides, and added my fresh whipped cream. I topped with a cherry and was finished with plenty of time to spare! Here's my finished product:

I watched the episode after attempting the bake (which I'll do each week of my challenge), and learned some things that I did wrong and can improve for next time, but also did great in some areas-

The Good

  • Cake sponge was really nice and fluffy and had a nice rise. It also stayed moist and wasn't dry.
  • Even though I didn't spray down the muffin tin, the cake came out easily and in one piece!
  • The taste was AMAZING. Maybe I've had a bad pineapple upside cake or maybe miniature is the way to go, but I don't remember liking this in the past but LOVED this dessert. Even Dan, who originally said "I don't like pineapple or maraschino cherries" ended up eating half of them (pineapple and cherries and all).

The "Needs Improvement"

  • The caramel wasn't dark enough- you can tell this when looking at my picture compared to the Instagram post. I panicked and kept stirring when I think you're supposed to leave it be to darken up.
  • As I mentioned above- I overfilled the tin. In the future, I'll just have to adapt the recipe to suit my equipment. In this case, I probably should have made 8-10 miniature cakes with my ingredients rather than 6.
  • Plating can definitely use some work! While the taste was good, Paul and Prue would take one look at my dessert and say "What a disaster" and put me somewhere in the middle.

Week one is done- not Star Baker yet but I think I'm showing promise! Can't wait to see what the judges have in store for all of us next week.. (ps- if you want to follow along, I share the baking process on my Instagram! I'm going to try to do it every Saturday or Sunday, and will make a highlight in my stories.)

Are you a GBBO Fan?
What is a "classic dessert" that you've never tried?


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