It's been a bit since my last post, but I promise I'm still baking away! I've just been on a baking kick with some more American style desserts rather than GBBO desserts of late. But you know I'll always find my way back - especially with news that the newest season of GBBO has finished filming!
This week on Bake the GBBO is dedicated to CARROT CAKE.
I have never been a particularly huge fan of carrot cake. Miranda, you may wonder, why the hell did you bake one then?
Because I received a carrot the size of my forearm through the grocery delivery service I like to use: Imperfect Foods. The link is my referral link - and I will get the standard "refer-a-friend" bonuses if you use it to sign up for the service. I'm not affiliated with Imperfect in any way - I just really enjoy the service they provide and the products.
Anyway. Back to the cake. I had a giant carrot. I needed to make use of it. I had no good ideas for incorporating that much carrot into dinner - so carrot cake seemed the best option. And it's probably for the best I chose to make carrot cake. This carrot was so big that I was able to make two full size carrot cakes with it.
I also wound up making two types of frosting, so lots of adventures!
Carrot cake is one of those cakes that has come up on GBBO not because it's a specific feature for episodes, but because it wound up working with a baker's Showstopper Theme.
When I was making this recipe I realized that it fit somewhat with the "Fresh Fruit" cake signature challenge from series 8 (Netflix 5), episode 1. It also fit well for series 6 (Netflix 3), episode 10's showstopper challenge - Classic British Cake. Carrot cake was also part of some other showstoppers throughout the series - but I didn't really follow the theme for those bakes...sooo we're going to stick with these two episodes.
I started with a base recipe for carrot cake - and then I tweaked it a little bit after noticing that Paul Hollywood included orange in his carrot cake recipe. That sounded good, but I wanted to do something different from a Hollywood recipe...so I wound up experimenting and going off on my own flavor adventure.
I think it came out well. So did some of my taste testers. ;)
My base recipe started with this recipe from Inspired Taste. Because carrots are a sweeter vegetable, I cut the sugar down in the recipe. Then I added some extra spices and the orange that I mentioned reading about in Paul Hollywood's carrot cake recipe. Below is my modified recipe.
For the Cake
For the Creamy Frosting
For Traditional Cream Cheese Frosting
This is pretty much the method from Inspired Taste, with minor adjustments on my part. I also had to grate my own carrot, which was...a hell of an arm workout, to be quite honest.
1) Pre-heat the oven to 350F (176C). Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper then grease the top of the paper. Or, grease and flour the bottom and sides of both pans.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices until well blended.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, sugars, vanilla, orange zest, and orange juice. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined.
4) Switch to a rubber spatula or metal spoon. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl then fold the dry ingredients into the batter in 3 parts. Stir in the carrots and nuts. And raisins if you must.
5) Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until the tops of the cake layers are springy when touched and when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
6) Cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks.
7) In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with a handheld mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
8) For creamy frosting:
9) When the cake layers are completely cool, frost the top of one cake layer, place the other cake layer on top. Decoratively swirl the top of the cake with remaining frosting if using the creamy frosting, leaving the sides unfrosted. Scatter nuts on top. If using the traditional cream cheese frosting, fully frost the cake like you would a regular layer cake. Decorate with nuts or without, as you prefer.
Carrot cake is a pretty easy cake, honestly. And this recipe is very straightforward. With or without my modifications to it. The Inspired Taste recipe came out nice and moist, and I enjoyed it a lot.
I routinely struggle with decoration, so my decorations are generally pretty simple - or I don't do them at all - but this cake is pretty easy if you just do a decorative swirl and a sprinkling of nuts.
I really don't think you can go wrong with this recipe as long as you follow the instructions!
I am planning to bake some bread soon. And attempt number 3 at English muffins. I'm not sure when my next post will go up, but it is in the works! ;)
This fucking cake.
Actually, attempt number...3...4? I've lost track....came out correctly. Fraisier cake is still a fiddly fucking cake, and I'm not sure that I was impressed enough with the final result to want to fuck with it in the future.
But it DID give me some useful skills for tackling future GBBO bakes.
As you may well remember, my first real "fail blog post" was about this cake. And I still stand by that post. Fuck this cake.
But maybe it's not as bad as I originally thought it was.
What is more American than apple pie, I ask you?
Well, a lot of things, really. Many of them NOT GOOD. But apple pie is one of those gold standard things that gets thrown around all the time in feel good shows and speeches. "Baseball and apple pie" are go-tos for the "ideal American simplicity" of the 50s.
But apple pie really isn't an American construct. Just one that we have somewhat perfected.
So is it un-American to say that I don't like apple pie that much? Now don't get me wrong - I will never ever turn my nose up at a fresh, still warm slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But if I'm given a choice of pies, apple is generally going to be mid to bottom of the list of which one I want.
Why, you might be wondering, did I decide that my double crusted fruit pie should be an apple pie, then? Because I had a ton of apples that needed to get used up!
Have you ever tried to make a gooey caramel center for millionaire shortbreads when it's 90+ degrees and humid out?
I have. Pro-tip: Don't fucking do it.
To be fair, the millionaires came out fucking delicious. But getting the caramel to set took far longer than it had any business taking.
If you are unfamiliar with millionaires, they are a shortbread crust topped with a layer of caramel and then a layer of tempered chocolate. Devilishly simple, extremely tasty - and this recipe is one of the first ones that inspired me to try out some GBBO bakes.
It's been a little longer than usual between posts. I promise I'm not quitting this blog! Not yet, at the very least. Between Memorial Day weekend and life generally trending back toward a semblance of normal, I just haven't had any time to sit down and write a post. But here I am and here it is, the next post! BURGER BAPS.
Burger baps - or buns - are one of those things that I didn't really think of as a major technical challenge. And admittedly I still don't, necessarily. But I always have the benefit of looking at these technical challenges from the perspective of someone with limitless time.
Paul's floury burger baps with veggie burgers appeared on series 10 (Netflix Collection 7), episode 3 - Bread Week. As the technical challenge of the week, bakers were given Paul's pared down recipe and a limited amount of time to put it all together.
Molten Puddings. I don't hate this as much as I currently hate fraisier cake but...ugh.
You know. This recipe isn't complicated. But it has given me hell. I have made this...well okay not this recipe exactly...but a variant of this recipe four times now.
The first time I made the recipe, I made it as written. I changed the flavors and fillings because the recipe as written is very rich, to the point that I knew if I was going to make it multiple times I really needed to have something a little lighter.
Anyway. I have made, essentially, this recipe four times. I've gotten a little closer EVERY time, but I still haven't really mastered it. At this point I suspect I need to use a different type of baking dish to get the bake to work.
Today's bake feels like forbidden knowledge.
No really. It's the sort of thing I feel like I shouldn't know how to make. Because if I can make croissants any time I want - with a TEENSY bit of pre-planning (12 to 17 hours of it) - then I'm fucked.
Kidding. Mostly. But it is still dangerous to know that if I want croissants, I can have croissants.
They didn't turn out looking pretty or especially croissant-like, but the texture was correct and they were fucking delicious. I also made pain au chocolat. Which is effectively a croissant with chocolate in it. Yeah. It was incredible.
Andrew said one of his coworkers made the comment that "Even a mediocre homemade croissant is still sublime." I have to agree.