And GBBO is back! Despite the migration from the Beeb to channel 4 resulting in the loss of Mary, Mel and Sue, the introduction of adverts, and new hosts for our nation's favourite baking show, the new series of Great British Bake Off is still rich in all that we love: baking!
As with the past two series of GBBO I shall endeavour to bake along with the competition, sharing my interpretation of some of the challenges here on Only Crumbs Remain.
Just like in previous years, week 1 was cake week and saw the 12 bakers face 3 challenges. The signature bake asked the bakers to make a fruit cake (made with fresh fruit rather than the dried stuff), the technical bake set by Prue challenged the bakers to make a dozen Chocolate Mini Rolls and the showstopper challenge was an illusion cake, which saw cakes look like anything but cake. There was a rather inventive BLT, a handbag, and a champagne bottle in a bucket - all made out of cake!
In recent months I've become a huge fan Zoe's Fancy Cakes and her YouTube channel. As her name suggests, she's a whizz at making fancy cakes (do check out her channel if you've ever wondered how they're made!) It was through watching her helpful videos that I learnt how to make some fondant Christmas cake character toppers, like a penguin, choir boy and Santa. But until now I'd not tackled anything more intricate. The GBBO challenge was the perfect excuse to push myself a little more and attempt an illusion cake.
Wanting to keep things relatively simple we decided to harness the square shape of our cake and fashion it into a box of chocolates, complete with a selection of handmade chocolate truffles (and lid!). After all, who doesn't love a box of chocolates!
Using two square vanilla cakes, one was sliced in half and sandwiched together with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream. The second cake was also sliced in half, one half fashioned as the lid and the remaining part cut into strips to create the built-up sides of the chocolate box, resulting in a space for the chocolates to sit. Once covered in a firm white chocolate ganache it was covered in a purple fondant (though the 'inside' of the box where the chocolates sat was lined with white fondant because the inside of chocolate boxes always seem quite plain) and then simply decorated with fondant circles, which happily detracted the eye from any lumpy bumps! Drinking straws were cut to size to act as dowels to support the chocolate box 'lid'.
Although this is relatively simple as far as cake decorating goes, it still took an age. I think Mr E had almost forgotten what I looked like until I finally re-appeared from the kitchen some hours later!
Overall I was pretty happy with how it turned out, though next time I'll be sure to measure the cake board which the lid sits on more carefully before purchasing!
So, here's how to make a Box of Chocolates Cake.
to look just like a box of chocolates! It's made with a simple vanilla
flavoured batter, sandwiched together with raspberry jam and
buttercream and covered with white chocolate ganache and fondant before
being filled with the all important homemade chocolate truffles!
Prep time: 4+ hours Bake time: 35 - 40 mins Yield: 1 x 20cm square cake, providing at least 20 servings
18cm Brownie Tin
2 x Cake Boards (You may want the one for the main cake to be slightly larger than the cake to aid transportation)
6 - 8 unused Drinking Straws
Small Paper Cases for truffles
Piping Bag fitted with small plain writing nozzle
For the Cake Batter (see note a below)
- 115g + 115g Butter, unsalted & softened
- 60g + 60g Caster Sugar
- 55g + 55g Golden Caster Sugar
- 2 + 2 Eggs (see notes b & c below)
- small pinch of Salt
- 1 tsp + 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 115g + 115g SR Flour
- 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp Milk
For the White Chocolate Ganache
- 250ml Double Cream
- 400g White Chocolate
For Sandwiching the Cake
- 1 tbsp Raspberry Jam (ideally seedless)
- 65g Butter, unsalted & softened
- 130g Icing Sugar
- ¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp Milk
To Decorate the Cake
- 500g Coloured Fondant (see note e below)
- 250g White Fondant
- Royal Icing Sugar
For the Chocolate Truffles
- 200g Double Cream
- 200g Dark Chocolate
- 3 Digestive Biscuits, finely crumbled
- ½ - 1 tsp Kirsch
- Cocoa Powder
Notes: a) This recipe requires two square cakes. If you only have one cake tin or room in the oven for just one cake to bake make the two cake batters separately. If you are able to bake both cakes together make the batter in one go and divide the mixture equally between both tins. b) When making the cupcake batter, consider weighing the cracked eggs first to ensure the batter has equal weight of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Simply weigh the butter, sugar and flour to the same weight as the eggs. Of course the value may be slightly different to the 120g listed in the ingredients above. c) Consider warming your lightly beaten eggs over a bain marie especially if they feel particularly cold. Warm them until they feel lukewarm. This should help prevent the batter from curdling and produce a better cupcake sponge. d) The dark chocolate ganache mixture will make more than 9 chocolate truffles. Why not serve the excess to guests with the slice of cake. e) Either buy the coloured fondant ready coloured, or buy a white fondant and knead in a small amount of colour paste. This will allow you to get the shade you want. We used Sugarflair's Paste, in the colour purple. f) Use a light dusting of corn flour to prevent the fondant becoming sticky. 'Sweep' away any cornflour on the cake with a dry brush.