Finally, here’s a reality competition tv show for those of us who have been dreaming of branching out beyond white sugar and flour.
There are no monetary rewards for the winner, only bragging rights. That’s the premise of The Great British Bake Off which premiered last Sunday on LiTV.
This Bafta award-winning series pits 10 amateur bakers against each other in three different sets of themed – and very tricky - challenges.
The first episode is all about a confection once banned by the Puritans because it was believed to have pagan connections. While that’s untrue, it did contribute towards women’s liberation (and we know how gender equality riles some people up!). We’re talking about none other than cake!
Watch – and drool – as the show puts the cake-making prowess of these bakers to the test. They start with their signature bake – the cake they love that says something about them. Then comes the technical challenge, a blind recipe for Victoria sandwich. Finally, they tackle the ingredient that strikes fear even in the hearts of professionals – chocolate. Who will watch their dreams crumble like a ten-pound cake and who will be crowned Best Amateur Baker?
You might just be surprised.
Here is a recipe from Season 1 of The Great British Bake Off. Ready? Set? Bake!
For the cake batter
350g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
350g caster sugar
4 lemons, zest only, plus juice of 2 lemons
3 large pieces candied lemon peel, finely chopped
6 free-range eggs
3 tsp baking powder
300g self-raising flour
For the lemon curd
225g caster sugar
3 lemons, juice and zest
2 free-range eggs
For the filling
300ml double cream
200g icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line three 20cm sandwich tins. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and candied peel. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is well combined. Sift the baking powder, self raising flour and cornflour together in a bowl and fold into the cake mixture.
Divide the cake batter among the sandwich tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until risen and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside edge of the tins to loosen the cakes. Remove the cakes from the tins and set aside to cool completely on a rack.
While the cakes are cooking, make the lemon curd. Heat the butter, sugar and lemon juice and zest in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. (Do not allow the base of the bowl to touch the surface of the water.) Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk the melted butter mixture into the beaten eggs until well combined. Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Sieve the lemon curd into a clean bowl, then cover with cling film and set aside to cool.
For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
Place one of the cakes onto a serving plate and spread with the lemon curd. Spread over some of the whipped cream and sandwich with another cake. Repeat the process with the remaining lemon curd, whipped cream and cake tiers. Dust with icing sugar.
The Great British Bake Off airs on Sundays, 10pm on LiTV, Astro HD channel 728.
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