How time flies when you're having fun! That certainly has been the case this past ten weeks whilst baking along with GBBO and the Great Bloggers Bake Off with Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps.
As we know, the theme for the final was 'Fit for a Queen', marking Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday year. The three finalists were challenged with making a three tiered meringue crown in the signature, a classic Victoria Sponge in the technical and a massive 49 item bake suitable for a royal picnic in the showstopper consisting of a chocolate celebration cake, puff pastry sausage rolls, mini quiche, savoury scones and fruit & custard tarts.
Now, although I love meringue and would be the first in the queue for a slice of a meringue crown, Mr E doesn't care for the sugary bake and I somehow doubt our dentist would approve of me eating all of that sugar! The technical bake of Victoria Sponge was also ruled out because, although I'm also partial to the classic cake, I was looking for something a little more challenging. Enter the 49 piece picnic showstopper!
OK, the mammoth 49 item bake would have lingered on-and-on-and-on in our household and would have proved to have been a massive waste of food. We therefore chose to bake for a smaller, more intimate, picnic with 18 bakes consisting of three different items which I'd like to think would be welcomed as part of a summery picnic, with or without royalty! In fact all three of these bakes would be great as part of a family buffet for celebratory events like Christmas, New Year, birthdays and anniversaries, or even as part of an afternoon tea party, or simply ..... just because!
I'm sure you're already wondering why our GBBO inspired picnic is presented as afternoon tea.....well, call me soft, but it's late October and quite frankly it's becoming a wee bit too cold to sit on a picnic blanket whilst the gold and russet leaves fall to the ground. So out came the afternoon tea crockery, along with a freshly brewed Assam tea!
So, our homemade picnic afternoon tea bakes, 'fit for a queen', consisted of Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes filled with Chantilly Cream & Raspberry Jam, Mini Red Currant & White Chocolate Tarts with Creme Patisserie, and a batch of Leek & Caerphilly Vegetarian Sausage Rolls complete with homemade puff pastry.
Mini Victoria Sponge Cakes.
These mini Victoria Sponge Cakes were easy to make and being small they needed only a few short minutes in the oven. They were perfectly dainty being the ideal size for an individual portion. The baked cakes were sliced in half and filled with scrumptious raspberry jam and piped balls of Chantilly cream which, in my humble opinion, look fantastic when the cake is re-sandwiched together.
Red Currant & White Chocolate Fruit Tarts with Creme Patisserie.
The redcurrant and white chocolate fruit tarts looked amazing when they sat alongside the classic Victoria sponges. The red elements and round shapes in both bakes (of the red berries and piped Chantilly cream) seemed to compliment each other beautifully. It was such a happy accident!
The red currants in this petite bake looked so pretty having been arranged simply, like a Christmas wreath, and dusted with icing sugar. They looked just like little gems! Surely perfect for a royal picnic or afternoon tea with their individual size and rich red colours! These small individual fruit tarts were amazingly delicious with the creamy creme patisserie countering the sharp taste of the beautiful red currants. The white chocolate brought a little extra sweetness and flavour to the bake, and was used in three ways. Not only did it adorn the top of the tarts, it was also added to the creme patisserie and, finally, was painted to the inside of the baked pastry tart before being filled to create a barrier between the creme patisserie and pastry to prevent that dreaded soggy bottom!
Caerphilly and Leek Vegetarian Sausage Rolls.
Now, although I'm pretty sure our Queen is a fully fledged meat lover, I'd like to think that she would try some vegetarian fair. Although these vegetarian sausage rolls didn't fall into the 'dainty' category, they'd be perfect for a fun picnic or even a buffet over the festive period with loved ones. They were made from scratch with homemade puff pastry and contained a fabulously tasty Caerphilly cheese and leek filling. Of course you could make these vegetarian sausage rolls a lot quicker and easier with ready made shop bought puff pastry. The filling itself is easy to make, and can in fact be used to make regular vegetarian sausages when coated with breadcrumbs and pan fried. They're absolutely amazing served with onion chutney!
And the verdict?
Well, as already mentioned I was pretty pleased with how aesthetically pleasing the mini Victoria Sponge Cakes and the batch of Red Currant & White Chocolate Fruit Tarts were especially when they sat alongside each other. I really couldn't have planned that better! They both tasted absolutely amazing. The classic sponge was....classic, and the sharpness of the fruit in the tart was balanced with the creaminess of the creme patisserie and white chocolate. As for the vegetarian sausage rolls, well Mary would probably describe them as 'rustic', and to be honest she wouldn't be wrong. They were a little chunky compared to the neighbouring patisserie style bakes, but despite that they were still delicious with the flaky buttery pastry and tasty filling. They'd be great either on a picnic or buffet spread.
As for the challenge, it certainly was that! By the end of the bake I was certainly ready for a sit down and pot of tea. At least I had some cake to enjoy alongside my brew!
So let's get to it and baaaake!
This classic cake is easy to make and is filled with raspberry jam and Chantilly cream, though if you prefer you could substitute that for a butter cream frosting. Their dainty size makes them a quick and pretty bake.
Hands on time: about 25 mins Cook time: 15 mins Yield: 4 Individual Cakes
4 Mini cake tins, ours measured 4.5cm x 7cm x 3cm
For the sponge batter
- 60g Butter, unsalted & softened + extra for preparing the tins
- 60g Golden Caster Sugar
- 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp Milk
- 60g SR Flour + extra for preparing the tins
For the filling
- 3 - 4 tsp Raspberry or Strawberry Jam
- 100ml Double Cream
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- ½ tbsp Icing Sugar + extra for dusting
creamy creme patisserie countering the sharp taste of the beautiful red
currants. Perfect for the festive season.
Hands on time: about 1 hour Cook time: about 30 mins Yield: 6 small tarts
Mini Tart Tins (ours were fluted and measured 6cm x 2cm)
For the Pate Sucree (Sweet Pastry)
- 136g Plain Flour + extra for rolling
- 50g Butter, unsalted & chilled
- 50g Icing Sugar + extra for dusting
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
For the Creme Patisserie
- 150ml Full Fat Milk
- 1 capful Vanilla Extract
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 25g Caster Sugar
- 10g Cornflour
- 5g Butter, unsalted
- 2 or 3 White Chocolate squares
For Lining the Pastry Cases
- 6 White Chocolate squares
For completing the Fruit Tarts
- 6 Red Currant Stems, washed
- Block White Chocolate
a) Consider buying ready made pastry cases for this bake. b) If making your own pastry, you will have some left over from this bake (due to the size of the tins uses). Consider wrapping it and freezing it for another day, or making a few jam tarts, for instance. c) Likewise, you will have a some creme patisserie left over. This could be considered 'chef's perks' or used to make a few more (or larger) fruit tarts. d) Use a block of white chocolate which is quite thick for creating your chocolate curls / shavings. This will be less likely to snap as you create the curls / shavings. Alternatively consider grating the chocolate.
over the festive period with loved ones.
Hands on time: about 1 hour Cook time: 15-20 mins Yield: 8 medium sized sausage rolls
For the Puff Pastry
- 250g Plain Flour + extra for rolling
- ½ tsp Salt
- 50g + 200g Butter, unsalted & chilled
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- Cold Water
For the Caerphilly and Leek Filling
- 25g Butter
- 100g Leeks (prepared weight, trimmed & finely sliced) (Approx 1 medium leek)
- 100g Fresh White Breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
- 1 tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
- 150g Caerphilly Cheese, grated
- 2 or 3 Egg Yolks
- 1 tsp English Mustard
- ½ tsp Salt
- Freshly grated pepper
To Seal & Glaze the Sausage Rolls
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
a) The ingredients for the pastry makes double the quantity needed (as making a small amount of puff pastry is quite difficult). The surplus pastry can be stored in the fridge wrapped for upto 4 days, or placed into the freezer for another day. b) Shop bought puff pastry would be equally great.