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.
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!
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.
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.
“A naughty treat that’s unbeatable when eaten warm and covered in sugar.” That’s the description for Paul Hollywood’s jam doughnuts on the BBC website. And it’s true.
For such a noble name, the queen of puddings is a rather humble combination of custard fortified with breadcrumbs, topped with a layer of jam and crowned with peaks of meringue (another theory on the origins of its name).
Hand-raised pies use a hot water crust pastry, which is made with boiling water and lard. As for the fillings, this recipe uses chicken, bacon and dried apricots seasoned with fresh thyme. They are hearty and sturdy, as long as you can get the pastry to cooperate.
What’s the difference between crème caramel and flan? Apparently nothing, when you’re talking about the dessert baked with a golden caramel sauce that tops a creamy, light yellow custard base when it's turned upside down and popped out of its ramekin. But this technical challenge is for crème caramel, and since I have pledged to tackle every challenge set before the bakers in the Great White Tent, I will do my best to create the best crème caramel I possibly can.
Harry Potter loves treacle tart so much that he smells it when he is in the presence of the love potion Amortentia. Treacle tart is also so quintessentially British that its main ingredient, golden syrup, originated in the U.K. and is still sold under the original brand name—Tate & Lyle. When I opened the bottle it smelled a lot like pancake syrup, but when I tasted it…Mmmmm! It had a sweet buttery flavor unlike anything I’d ever tried before. I can see why British expats pine for it here in the U.S.
This technical challenge proved difficult (See what I did there?) for many of the contestants on The Great British Baking Show. But it was the plaiting that had them tied up in knots. Outside of that, it’s a pretty basic dough, and if you understand the pattern, you should be able to create a decent loaf.