Kouign-amann (pronounced queen ah-mon) is, IMHO, the “queen” of pastries. A cross between a croissant and a morning bun, this laminated little-piece-of-heaven-on-earth hails from Brittany, in northwest France. The main difference between kouign-amanns and croissants is a layer of sweet, crispy caramelized sugar on the outer edges of the pastry.
A favorite of three Swedish princesses in the early 20th century, the prinsesstårta has become a modern classic. Delicate layers of sponge cake, raspberry jam and cream are covered by pastel green marzipan and crowned with a single fondant rose. This is the technical challenge that inspired me to Bake Through the Bake Off.
These mini pear pies remind me of apple dumplings, but with a twist! Instead of being wrapped in a sheet of pastry, poached pears are surrounded by a long thin spiral of rough puff, which makes the texture light and delicate. Serve them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and your guests will sing your praises!
Although it may not qualify as an authentic tiramisu, Mary Berry's version of this iconic Italian dessert still features sumptuous layers of creamy mascarpone, a tender sponge soaked in coffee and brandy, and a generous sprinkling of grated dark chocolate. Now that's amore!
Ciabatta is Italian for slipper, which these long, flat loaves resemble. The recipe for this technical challenge is, of course, Paul Hollywood’s. He specified that he was looking for a strong crust with a crisp, floury surface and an irregular crumb structure with big, visible air holes. Designed as a sandwich bread, ciabatta will hold up to the hardiest fillings as well as the heat of a panini press.
This delicate, lacy cookie is traditionally made with almonds and orange flavors, reminiscent of Italian baking, but the use of butter and cream is evidence of its French origins. Mary Berry's version uses a variety of dried fruits and nuts and then, after baking, is brushed with a decadent layer of dark chocolate.
Mary Berry’s cherry cake uses ground almonds and glacé cherries, a classic flavor combination that makes the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea!
This technical challenge uses Paul Hollywood’s recipe for six sweet and six savory pretzels. The savory pretzels are made with traditional pretzel dough sprinkled with coarse salt and sesame seeds before baking. The sweet variety has poppy seeds and orange zest mixed into the dough. After baking, it’s brushed with orange syrup and garnished with candied orange peel.
Charlottes are related to trifles in that they are unbaked and made in a glass dish or mold. The two most well-known types are charlotte russe and charlotte royale. This technical challenge, set by Mary Berry, has a lot of steps but is not difficult. The end result is a showstopper dessert that is light, fruity and perfect for summer!
The nuts in this particular dacquoise, obviously, are hazelnuts, but that’s just the start of the flavor profile here. The delicately chewy meringue layers are sandwiched with a coffee custard, topped with swirls of chocolate ganache and caramelized hazelnuts, and surrounded by even more chopped hazelnuts to give it a beautiful finish.