Spanische Windtorte, the precursor to Pavlova, Schaum Torte and Eton mess, consists of an intricately decorated meringue shell filled with whipped cream and berries. Even Sigmund Freud's fiancée called it "the fanciest cake ever created in Vienna."
In my quest to make a perfect crème brûlée, I tried different ratios of cream to milk and egg yolks to liquid until I came up with the ideal combination. I wanted to find out why my first batch failed, and, if possible, come up with a foolproof method, so I could share it with you.
These iconic loaves are synonymous with France. Tearing into the crisp, golden crust to reveal the chewy open-textured interior is an almost sensual experience.
This Rye & Stout Soda Bread is an homage to Irish foods and flavors. A thick slice of one of these rustic loaves goes just as easily slathered with butter and preserves with a mug of tea as it does with a bowl of Irish stew.
These delicate, crispy, wafer-thin cookies, sometimes called elephant ears, beavertails or shoe soles, are made with laminated dough using a technique called "inverse puff pastry." It creates even lighter, flakier results than regular laminated dough.
Biscotti, meaning "twice-baked," are crunchy biscuits ideal for dunking in coffee, tea, or if you want to be even more authentic, Vin Santo. Mine are studded with candied ginger and flavored with orange zest and cardamom, with chopped almonds for added crunch.
Black Forest cherry cake is made of multiple layers of chocolate cake filled with cherries and whipped cream and garnished with additional cream, cherries and chocolate. My retro interpretation incorporates a chocolate chiffon cake and dark sweet cherries with the traditional German flavor of kirschwasser.
Mary Berry's walnut layer cake features three layers of light, moist sponge with bits of walnut throughout, filled with vanilla buttercream and covered with what she calls "boiled icing" but what I recall from my childhood as "seven-minute frosting."
Madeira cake is lighter than a pound cake but denser than a Victoria sponge. Traditionally flavored with lemon zest, I've chosen to use blood oranges and jasmine green tea for a bright, slightly floral and not too sweet accompaniment to afternoon tea.
Scones, Victoria sandwiches and lemon tarts are all historically British bakes. While this "back to basics" challenge may seem simple enough, it takes a lot of time management skills to juggle all three at once. Mine didn't turn out perfect (bubbles in the custard, scones too pale?), but I was proud of the results. Judge for yourself how well I did!