Showstoppers

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! I used a different flavor in each of the three shortbread doughs: lavender, earl grey and jasmine green tea. (Read on…)

A Filo (or Phyllo) Pie

Is it filo or phyllo (or, even more esoteric, fillo)? No matter how you spell it, it’s still a light and crispy, flaky pastry that can encase any number of fillings— sweet, savory and anything in between. This showstopper challenge was for a filo pie, either freeform or baked in a tin, and could be either sweet or savory. My pie is based on the flavors in an Indian samosa. (Read on…)

Petits Fours (Take 2)

This challenge for the bakers in the Great White Tent was to make 24 petits fours: 12 sponge-based and 12 biscuit-based. I decided to make mini Bakewell tarts and tiny tiramisu cakes, using some components I already had on hand, since we’re in the middle of the 2020 coronavirus stay-at-home order and some ingredients are hard to come by. (Read on…)

A Decorative Loaf

The challenge for this episode of The Great British Bake Off was to make a decorative loaf of any shape or flavor. For my decorative loaf, I decided to make star bread. To twist things up a bit (pun intended), I chose to use two different fillings, raspberry jam and a chocolate almond cream cheese. (Read on…)

A Chocolate Cake

I guess I’m still in a Christmas mood. When I saw that this week’s challenge was a chocolate cake, all I could think of was a Bûche de Noël. I used a classic chocolate genoise sponge recipe as the basis for my showstopper, but I put my own take on the rest, with a coffee mousse filling and forest-floor-inspired decorations. (Read on…)

Chiffon Cake

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. (Read on…)

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. (Read on…)

A Gingerbread Structure

This challenge was the final test the bakers in the Great White Tent had to pass to get to the semifinals: a showstopper gingerbread structure. Paul Hollywood said he was looking for architectural genius, but it had to have a good flavor as well. I chose to make a gingerbread Eiffel Tower. (Read on…)

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. (Read on…)

Showstopper Strudel

When I think of the thin, flaky pastry surrounding a strudel filling, it reminds me of one of my favorite hors d’oeuvres served at fancy cocktail parties: spanakopita triangles! So I decided to make a strudel with a very similar filling—the fresh flavors of sautéed spinach, leeks and onions seasoned with lemon zest, nutmeg, fresh basil, thyme and a little bit of dill. I also used a combination of feta, parmesan and ricotta cheese. (Read on…)

An American Pie

Wanting to impress the Paul and Mary in my head, I sought to produce the “subtlety of flavors” that Paul was looking for and a pie that would achieve what Mary wanted—that “every single slice will look beautiful on the plate.” I decided to create a sweet crust pastry shell with crushed lavender, fill it with coconut cream, top that with a thin layer of lime curd and garnish it with lavender-infused mascarpone whipped cream. (Read on…)

Layered Meringue Dessert

This was a complicated challenge. The brief was to create a four-layer meringue dessert with “exciting fillings,” in the words of Mary Berry, “that will complement the meringue.” Once I had decided on the elements of my dessert, I laid out my plan: Two layers of dacquoise alternating with two layers of chocolate French meringue separated by coffee buttercream and fresh, whole raspberries. (Read on…)

Showstopper Fruit Tart

I decided to make the best fruit tart I could muster using the building blocks of some of the best pastries on the planet—pâte sucrée for the base, crème patissiere for the filling, and beautifully arranged and gorgeously glazed fresh fruits and berries on top. (Read on…)

Bagels

For my sweet bagels, I went with one of the more complicated recipes I found, but it gives very detailed instructions with lots of photos, so those of us who are novice bagel bakers can tell if we’re doing it right! I did alter the recipe from plain bagels into cranberry orange spice bagels, but I’ll note all the ingredients I added as “optional” so you can vary it to your own tastes. (Read on…)

Hidden Design Cake

I’ve been thinking about making this cake ever since I first watched this episode of the Great British Baking Show (2012 season, episode 1). You might even say it was my initial inspiration for this blogging adventure. I love a challenge, and figuring out how to embed a design inside a cake in such a way that it would be visible in every slice is something I’d never thought of before. What design could I make that would be unique but simple enough for me, an amateur baker, to pull off? I thought of the goose that laid the golden egg. (Read on…)