The pièce montée was the pièce de resistance for the 2014 season of the Great British Bake Off. I dubbed mine The Magic of Halloween. It features a dark chocolate cake with cherry filling topped with a pumpkin cake, which in turn is topped with a croquembouche. The profiteroles in the croquembouche are filled with orange pastry cream, drizzled with dark chocolate and spiraled with spun sugar. Spiced macarons and gingerbread black cats round out this tower of treats.
Scones, Victoria sandwiches and lemon tarts are all historically British bakes. While this "back to basics" challenge may seem simple enough, it takes a lot of time management skills to juggle all three at once. Mine didn't turn out perfect (bubbles in the custard, scones too pale?), but I was proud of the results. Judge for yourself how well I did!
Made with enriched yeast dough, viennoiserie are often eaten for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. I used puff pastry to create my Passion Fruit Curd and Cream Cheese Danish, and Spiced Plum and Frangipane Kites.
Entremets are desserts with multiple layers of different flavors, textures and colors meant to show off the pastry chef’s prowess. My Chocolate Cherry Bombes and "Twofer Tea" Blackberry Pistachio Entremets feature complementary flavors and bright colors that are a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
This German cake is "built" by baking 20 very thin layers, one on top of another, under a broiler. Finally, it's coated in chocolate and decorated with vanilla icing.
These two versions of baklava give a nod to the multicultural background of this ancient dessert. The pistachio-orange is a traditional combination, while the macadamia, coconut & lime baklava incorporates Hawaiian flavors. Just as every country that claims baklava as its own has added its own distinctions, I've incorporated both new and traditional flavors in mine.
Doughnuts — or donuts, as they're more popularly known in the U.S. — have strong ties to Americana, from the Donut Dollies of World War II to the invention of the automatic donut-making machine. So my doughnuts are inspired by another slice of Americana — the state fair. These are my maple-bacon doughnuts and sweet-corn doughnuts with spiced apple filling!
Povitica is a traditional Eastern European holiday bread. The key to its distinctive spirals is to roll the dough so thin it's practically see-through, then spread it with a thin layer of chocolate and walnut filling before rolling it into a sausage-like log that is folded into the pan. This rolling and folding also gives it a cake-like texture and delicate crumb that practically melts in your mouth.
A krantz, or kranz, is like a babka in that it is made of enriched dough swirled with chocolate, cinnamon or a fruity filling. Mine is filled with sweetened orange butter and fresh blueberries, with a hint of cardamom for a spicy warm glow.
The bakers in the Great White Tent were given the challenge of making 24 éclairs — 12 each of two different flavors. I chose to make Key lime éclairs topped with toasted Swiss meringue and chocolate éclairs filled with a stracciatella cannoli filling.