The inspiration for my opera cake came from the popular ‘70s dessert, the Watergate cake. My interpretation of the Watergate cake in operatic form was to make a pistachio joconde sponge brushed with a pistachio syrup and layer it with coconut Swiss meringue buttercream and pineapple filling studded with pecans. I finished it off with a thin chocolate glaze.
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!
Because of their small stature, canapés often feature stronger flavors and richer ingredients than you’d be able to eat in larger quantities. This Signature Challenge called for 12 each of three different kinds of savory canapés. I made smoked salmon-stuffed choux puffs with fresh dill, caprese tartlets with homemade pesto, and parmesan-and-black-sesame crackers with fig-and-goat-cheese spread.
Only the French would name a pastry after a bicycle race, but I messed with their tradition a bit. Originally, the Paris-Brest was filled with praline cream. I decided to mix it up and make a fruity variation, with mango curd as the base layer, followed by mascarpone cream and blueberries.
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.
The challenge—to create three different kinds of petits fours (like the canapés of desserts) using different baking techniques—seemed like a test of all that the bakers on The Great British Baking Show had learned so far. For my petits fours, I made chocolate macarons with mocha ganache filling; lime, mint & white chocolate mousse tartlets; and raspberry–chocolate mousse in chocolate cups.