With chocolate ladyfingers enfolding a mango Bavarian cream, topped with a layer of passionfruit jelly, this Charlotte Russe would have been my entry for the showstopper challenge in Victorian Week on the 2015 season of The Great British Bake Off.
Tennis cakes were a big hit in the late 1800s, when lawn tennis became a popular sport that men and women could play together. The cakes were elaborately decorated with candied fruit or royal icing in the shape of tennis balls and racquets. This was the technical challenge for Victorian week in The Great British Bake Off 2015.
My elk and ale pie is inspired by the classic British steak and ale pie. In Victorian times, raised game pies made for elaborate feasts for aristocracy, but the invention of the sprung metal pie mold made them available to the middle class.
The bakers in the Great White Tent were given the challenge of making 24 éclairs — 12 each of two different flavors. I chose to make Key lime éclairs topped with toasted Swiss meringue and chocolate éclairs filled with a stracciatella cannoli filling.
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.
Almost every culture has its own version of a hand-held savory pie. One such hand pie is the empanada. These are filled with caramelized onions, figs, bacon and goat cheese. Served hot or cold, these pocket-sized pies make an excellent main course for a picnic or an easy snack on a road trip.
Because the week I made these fell toward the end of Wisconsin strawberry season, I wanted to celebrate this short but oh-so-flavorful season with strawberry-themed pastries: strawberry mille-feuilles with basil-infused mascarpone cream, strawberry Nutella turnovers and chocolate pecan palmier "butterflies" with strawberry hearts.
Its name means “nun” in French, and this popular pastry is found in patisseries and boulangeries all over France. Made of pâte à choux and filled with pastry cream, two buns, like little cream puffs, are stacked on top of each other and decorated to look like nuns dressed in their habits.
Roly-poly puddings are rolled up like a Swiss roll and filled with jam, dried fruits, or treacle and breadcrumbs. At one time, because roly-poly was often steamed in an old shirt sleeve, it was also called shirt-sleeve pudding, dead man’s arm or dead man’s leg. My roly-poly is filled with an apricot-walnut filling and decorated with candied walnuts.
For my “enriched celebratory loaf,” I chose to make a king cake. I used a babka-like dough, and my filling was inspired by the colors traditionally found on top of a king cake: green for faith, purple for justice and gold for power. Combining lemon, lavender and pistachios with a poppyseed filling gave it an almost Middle Eastern quality.