Bake off is back and I’m so happy! I don’t watch a lot of actually on the telly telly, but this is one I just won’t miss. Baking has long been a passion of mine. My friends and I used to try making cakes by just chucking ingredients in a bowl and hoping it tasted alright. Usually it did, there’s only so wrong you can go with cake ingredients!
Here’s a selection of what fourteen year old me and Louise made. We invented “mountain cake” which was just a sponge cake that had broken in half while we were trying to prise it out of the tin.
In fact I got so peckish during Bake Off that I did some impromptu baking and made two little jam and coconut cakes for myself. Desperate times, eh!
I’m going to try the technical challenges this year, pushing my baking skills to the limit. I have tried this in previous years but usually find I don’t really have the time. This year I don’t have any magical extra time, but I am determined so I’m trying again.
Week 1 – Biscuit Week
Week one was biscuit week, which saw the bakers making 24 delicious signature biscuits, a showstopper selfie challenge, and for the technical challenge it was wagon wheels!
I don’t have a favourite yet, and to be honest I would have enjoyed eating every single last one of those biscuits so it wouldn’t be fair to choose yet. Maybe I’ll be wooed in cake week and come back with a firm fave? We shall see.
After last week’s episode I tried to make my very own wagon wheels just like they did. Actually, in the interest of transparency, I didn’t make my own jam. There was already jam in the cupboard and after making kilos of jam for Christmas gifts last year I just couldn’t be booothered.
My Wagon Wheels
Part 1 – biscuits
First of all I made the biscuits. Even though I’ve made biscuits hundreds of times before it’s always been with varying success. *Usually* they turn out great but I have had some absolute disasters.
They’re pretty standard as biscuits go, but you gotta be really careful not to let them spread in the oven. The recipe says to put them in the freezer before baking, but there was no way on this Earth my baking tray was fitting in my freezer. So I popped them in the fridge for half an hour and hoped for the best.
Part 2 – the marshmallow take 1
While the biscuits were chilling and baking I took a stab at the marshmallow. I have never made marshmallow before. I didn’t even know what marshmallows are made from, they could have been a sweet and delightful fruit for all I knew.
So I learnt A LOT about marshmallow. I learnt that it is made from sugar, egg white and glucose syrup. I learnt that glucose syrup is delicious and probably diabetes in a tube. And I learnt that if you don’t put the lid back on the tube properly it will make the cupboard very sticky.
My marshmallow took two attempts. I made a very silly error the first time round. At first I was worried because I used vege-gel instead of gelatine and I wasn’t sure how it was going to act in the mixture. So when my first batch didn’t look like it would ever set I thought I hadn’t boiled the vege-gel enough to activate it.
Turned out it was actually because I’m an idiot. You’ve gotta heat the sugar syrup to 120 degrees C. I had been looking at the F side of the thermometer which meant it barely got heated at all, therefore it was never ever going to set.
That’s not all though. The actual stupidest thing I did was put the mixture in the microwave in a last-ditch attempt to revive it. When you take the syrup off the heat you gotta stir it into whisked egg whites. I have already learnt the hard way once what happens to egg mixtures when you heat them wrong.
Flashback to when Louise and I made scrambled egg in a pastry case instead of custard tart.
So I knew before I put the mixture in the microwave exactly what was going to happen. No prizes for guessing I ended up with scrambled egg in syrup.
After much sighing and poking, I decided it would probably be best to start again. The marshmallow doesn’t really take long, so it was worth doing another one instead of having weird egg wagon wheels.
Part 3 – the marshmallow take 2
My second batch went fine. It took longer due to heating the syrup to the RIGHT temperature, and I swear my sugar thermometer never actually reaches the exact temperature you want to I gambled and took it off the heat a bit early.
Next I whisked for AGES to make a kinda foamy tasty mallowy thing, again getting impatient before it was *quite* thick enough, but I supposed it would probably set a bit more in the fridge. It did, phew.
Part 4 – the choccie
I melted my chocolate in the microwave, but you gotta be really careful not to burn it if you do that. For some reason (probably that I bought the cheapest chocolate) mine went a bit white as it cooked overnight. It’s still good when it does that though, I think in this case it was sugar bloom from being left to set overnight in a slightly moist atmosphere (I mean from steam in the kitchen).
The next morning I got up early to finish my wagon wheels off before work – that’s how you really know I’m serious.
They had the whole day to set and they turned out GREAT. Maybe not the neatest in the world, I’ve yet to master the art of spreading chocolate, but they tasted amazing any did not last long!
Part 5 – the eating
Om nom nom nom nom. Between myself and four housemates they were gone in an evening, even Rebecca who doesn’t like wagon wheels enjoyed one. Needless to say I’m feeling preeeeeetttty proud of myself.
I never would have thought to make wagon wheels if it weren’t for this challenge, especially with the mallow! I would have totally just used marshmallow fluff if it had been left up to me!
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