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.
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.
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 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.
For my crackers, I dug back into the recipe file where I keep most of my mom’s old recipes. I remembered a cracker she used to make—a wafer-thin pastry seasoned with cheese and dotted through with sesame seeds.
Because I love cinnamon rolls, and I grew up with my mom’s recipe for cinnamon rolls, I wanted to use her recipe. But I wanted to put my own spin on it. A couple spins really. I know it's not a revolutionary combination, by any means, but a maple-bacon cinnamon-cardamom roll sounded like a little bit of heaven to me, so I set out to create it!
For this Signature Challenge, the bakers had to make two kinds of sponge puddings. They could be baked, boiled or steamed, but they had to be individually portioned, and each had to be served with its own accompaniment (a sauce or other topping). I decided to make a traditional sticky toffee pudding, mostly because I’d never tried one before and I wanted to know how it tasted. For my other pudding, I chose a simple rhubarb steamed pudding in order to use some of the rhubarb that’s been growing like wildfire in my side yard.
For this challenge, Paul and Mary only specified that the Wellington be at least 8 inches long and be completely covered in pastry. They didn’t specify what the filling should be. I decided to use a turkey breast stuffed with cheese, wrapped in prosciutto and then pastry.
One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and orange. So when the Great British Baking Show tasked its contestants with baking a torte cake with multiple layers of filling, it was more than intuition that prompted me to choose these two flavors. Wanting to infuse my orange filling with the essence of fresh oranges, I chose a recipe for orange curd. My complementary filling would be a simple chocolate mousse, and I planned to enrobe the entire torte in a chocolate ganache. To top it all off, and add even more intense orange flavor, I decided to make candied orange zest to use as a garnish.