featured, Technical

Hand-Raised Pies

Hand-raised pies use a hot water crust pastry, which is made with boiling water and lard. As for the fillings, this recipe uses chicken, bacon and dried apricots seasoned with fresh thyme. They are hearty and sturdy, as long as you can get the pastry to cooperate.

featured, showstopper

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.

featured, Technical

Crème Caramel

What’s the difference between crème caramel and flan? Apparently nothing, when you’re talking about the dessert baked with a golden caramel sauce that tops a creamy, light yellow custard base when it's turned upside down and popped out of its ramekin. But this technical challenge is for crème caramel, and since I have pledged to tackle every challenge set before the bakers in the Great White Tent, I will do my best to create the best crème caramel I possibly can.

featured, Signature

Torte Cake

One of my favorite flavor combinations is chocolate and orange. So when the Great British Baking Show tasked its contestants with baking a torte cake with multiple layers of filling, it was more than intuition that prompted me to choose these two flavors. Wanting to infuse my orange filling with the essence of fresh oranges, I chose a recipe for orange curd. My complementary filling would be a simple chocolate mousse, and I planned to enrobe the entire torte in a chocolate ganache. To top it all off, and add even more intense orange flavor, I decided to make candied orange zest to use as a garnish.

featured, showstopper

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.

featured, Technical

Mary Berry’s Treacle Tart

Harry Potter loves treacle tart so much that he smells it when he is in the presence of the love potion Amortentia. Treacle tart is also so quintessentially British that its main ingredient, golden syrup, originated in the U.K. and is still sold under the original brand name—Tate & Lyle. When I opened the bottle it smelled a lot like pancake syrup, but when I tasted it…Mmmmm! It had a sweet buttery flavor unlike anything I’d ever tried before. I can see why British expats pine for it here in the U.S.

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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.

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The Eight-Strand Plaited Loaf

This technical challenge proved difficult (See what I did there?) for many of the contestants on The Great British Baking Show. But it was the plaiting that had them tied up in knots. Outside of that, it’s a pretty basic dough, and if you understand the pattern, you should be able to create a decent loaf.

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Flatbreads

I have so much more respect for the bakers in the tent after attempting this challenge! Not only did they have to make two different kinds of flatbreads (one with yeast and one without), they also had to make them both within 2½ hours! While I didn’t time myself, I did attempt to make both… Continue reading Flatbreads

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Hidden Design Cake

Showstopper Snow Day! That’s what I dubbed the day we got about six inches of snow and my office was closed. It worked out great, because I was just about to get started on my first showstopper challenge—the hidden design cake! I’ve been thinking about making this cake ever since I first watched this episode… Continue reading Hidden Design Cake