A British classic, coffee and walnut cake has an irresistible flavor combination of dark, rich coffee and nutty, slightly bitter walnuts offset with sweet buttercream. This three-tiered wonder was made for the 2015 Great British Bake Off final showstopper as I continue Baking Through the Bake Off.
“A thousand leaves.” That’s the literal translation of mille-feuille. While its elements seem relatively simple, this delicate pastry is greater than the sum of its parts. The beauty of a mille-feuille is in the perfection of each layer, from the crispy, flaky pastry to the silky smooth cream. This technical challenge uses Paul Hollywood's recipe, which utilizes rough puff pastry, raspberry jam, Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries.
For my iced buns, I made a nutmeg-scented roll filled with raspberry jam and almond diplomat cream and frosted with amaretto icing, and a cardamom-scented bun filled with walnut frangipane and Chantilly cream and frosted with maple icing.
A Chocolate Centerpiece
Moby Dick’s Bubble Bath, my chocolate centerpiece, consists of a white chocolate whale sitting in a chocolate gingerbread bathtub, surrounded by towers of dark chocolate bubbles.
The texture of a soufflé is hard to describe. It’s much more cake-like than I imagined it would be — soft and moist, yet light as air, it almost melts in the mouth. Every bite was like a soft pillow of rich, creamy chocolatey heaven.
What can be more sumptuous, more elegant than a rich, decadent chocolate tart? In this one, the contrast of dense, dark chocolate custard with a light mousse layer of salted caramel makes your tongue dance for joy. It makes a perfect ending to a fancy dinner party or an intimate gathering — wherever food is the centerpiece for laughter and conviviality.
Religieuse a l’ancienne
Translated “old-fashioned nun,” the religieuse a l’ancienne is a towering feat of patisserie consisting of three tiers of éclairs stacked vertically, with disks of shortcrust pastry supporting each tier. On top are two cream puffs, one atop the other, representing the head of the ancient nun. Mine looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
Mary Berry’s mokatines feature a genoise sponge sandwiching a layer of coffee buttercream, surrounded by almonds and decorated with coffee-flavored crème au beurre, then topped with fondant icing. These tiny cakes pack quite a punch with coffee flavor. But for a coffee lover like me, that's not a problem!
Cream horns are so reminiscent of ice cream cones that I wanted these to reflect my childhood memories of licking ice cream, trying to catch every last drip before it slid down the side of the cone. My first flavor is a classic, Neapolitan. My second flavor is a personal favorite, peaches & cream, which we would make in an old-fashioned ice cream churn on special occasions in the summertime.
With chocolate ladyfingers enfolding a mango Bavarian cream, topped with a layer of passionfruit jelly, this Charlotte Russe would have been my entry for the showstopper challenge in Victorian Week on the 2015 season of The Great British Bake Off.