Îles flottante, eggs in snow, floating islands … a rose by any other name … would still be a dessert consisting of poached meringues floating on a sea of crème anglaise, a vanilla-scented custard thin enough to pour (also called pouring custard).
Despite its humble beginnings, the trifle has become quite an elaborate affair. Nothing to be trifled with, really. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate — with layers of sponge or biscuits, fruit and custard, and either jam or fruit-flavored gelatin, all topped with whipped cream or meringue and decorated with fruit or nuts or crumbled biscuits.
While English muffins are fairly simple to make, they do take time. The key to a good flavor and lots of little holes inside is a long, slow rise. Unlike most yeast breads, English muffins are "baked" on the stove, usually on a hot griddle or cast iron frying pan. This makes them nice and toasty on each side, but still slightly squidgy in the middle.
The popularity of grissini spread throughout Italy and even as far away as France, where Napoleon, in the early 1800s, established a stagecoach courier service between Turin and Paris to provide him with a regular supply of what he dubbed “les petits bâtons de Turin” (the small sticks of Turin). For my grissini, I chose a basic recipe, adding my own touch by using a homemade “everything bagel” seasoning mix to flavor the breadsticks.
Orange and cranberry is a classic combination, and the spices make the whole cake smell and taste very Christmasy. Having just discovered cranberry curd this holiday season, I wanted one more excuse to incorporate it into my baking repertoire.
Fondant fancies are little cakes, often layered with jam or marzipan, covered with a thin coating of fondant and usually adorned with icing or sugar paste flowers or other intricate decorations. Watching The Great British Bake Off bakers making their fondant fancies was quite entertaining, until I had to do it myself. Trying to create 25 identically sized, uniformly coated miniature cakes can be extremely frustrating, not to mention messy!
For this signature challenge, Paul and Mary specified a pithivier with a savory filling. It being the end of summer, I had plenty of tomatoes, a few sweet peppers and a freshly made batch of pesto on hand. I love how roasting vegetables brings out the sweetness by caramelizing their naturally occurring sugars. It does the same to garlic, mellowing its flavor.
The fraisier gets its name from the French word for strawberry, la fraise. Visually stunning, the fraisier is distinctive because of the layer of strawberry halves arranged so that the cut sides line the outside of the cake. The result is an elegant confectionary creation that would make an exquisite ending to a festive dinner party or a stunning addition to a dessert table at any large celebration.
The challenge—to create three different kinds of petits fours (like the canapés of desserts) using different baking techniques—seemed like a test of all that the bakers on The Great British Baking Show had learned so far. For my petits fours, I made chocolate macarons with mocha ganache filling; lime, mint & white chocolate mousse tartlets; and raspberry–chocolate mousse in chocolate cups.
It’s biscuit week in the Great White Tent, and Paul Hollywood’s technical challenge is a chocolate tea cake, whose only connection to biscuits is a thin, wafer-like cookie at the base of a meringue-filled chocolate dome, the whole effect of which seems more like a candy bar than a biscuit.