A British classic, coffee and walnut cake has an irresistible flavor combination of dark, rich coffee and nutty, slightly bitter walnuts offset with sweet buttercream. This three-tiered wonder was made for the 2015 Great British Bake Off final showstopper as I continue Baking Through the Bake Off.
Religieuse a l’ancienne
Translated “old-fashioned nun,” the religieuse a l’ancienne is a towering feat of patisserie consisting of three tiers of éclairs stacked vertically, with disks of shortcrust pastry supporting each tier. On top are two cream puffs, one atop the other, representing the head of the ancient nun. Mine looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
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.
A Filled Centerpiece Loaf
This showstopper challenge was to make a filled loaf. It could be stuffed, rolled, twisted, braided—you name it. But it had to look good as a centerpiece, too. I settled on a tear-and-share featuring the Mediterranean flavors of my favorite pizza — pesto, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers — with a side of roasted tomatoes, feta cheese and balsamic reduction.
Sweet European Buns
Two different types of sweet European buns. That was the brief for this technical challenge. I chose saffron-infused St. Lucia buns and poppy seed snails, known as Mohnschnecken.
A Biscuit Tower
I really wanted to capture the essence of a treasure box with this biscuit (i.e., cookie) tower, or the delight a young child gets upon opening her mother’s jewelry box — all those glittering beads and sparkly jewels! And now that it’s done, I just can’t get enough of it!
The challenge seemed simple enough: Bake a chiffon cake. My plan was to create a yin-yang cake, contrasting the traditional flavors of a black forest gâteau (dark chocolate and cherries) with a lighter version featuring amaretto and almond flavors: a black-and-white forest gâteau. This is a cautionary tale of the cake that almost wasn't.
A Choux Pastry Gâteau
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.
A Gingerbread Structure
Free template! I made this gingerbread Eiffel Tower as part of my challenge to bake through the Great British Bake Off. This was my gingerbread structure for the showstopper challenge in series 3 (The Beginnings on Netflix, season 5 on PBS in the U.S.).
An Enriched Celebratory Loaf
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.