Episode 8, GBBO 2013, technical challenge

Hazelnut Dacquoise

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.

Episode 6, GBBO 2013, technical challenge

Apricot Couronne

The couronne is similar to the king cake, or Roscón de Reyes, which was traditionally served on Epiphany to celebrate the coming of the Magi to meet the infant Jesus. This version uses an enriched dough with a sweet, fruity filling that is shaped into a circle like a crown, or, in French, couronne. A warm apricot glaze gives it a golden sheen, followed by a thick drizzle of rich, white icing and a generous sprinkle of sliced almonds for a rich, royal teatime treat!

Episode 5, GBBO 2013, technical challenge

Tuiles

Tuile is the French word for tile, and these thin, delicate cookies are often curved in the shape of a French roof tile. They can be either sweet or savory and are usually served as a garnish, or tuiles can be molded into serving dishes for ice cream or other desserts.

Episode 3, GBBO 2013, technical challenge

Floating Islands

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).

Episode 2, GBBO 2013, technical challenge

English Muffins

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.

Episode 10, GBBO 2012, technical challenge

Fondant Fancies

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!

Episode 9, GBBO 2012, technical challenge

Fraisier Cake

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.

Episode 8, GBBO 2012, technical challenge

Chocolate Tea Cakes

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.

Episode 7, GBBO 2012, technical challenge

Jam Doughnuts

“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.

Episode 6, GBBO 2012, technical challenge

Queen of Puddings

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).