Sunday, 31 August 2014

Baked Alaska #GBBO Bake Along

Baked Alaska #GBBO Bake Along

Can't believe that a few days ago I was complaining that the Great British Bake Off has been too dull and tame this year. Lo and behold... DRAMA. Controversy. Twitter goes wild. Over 800 complaints to the BBC. And all over a Baked Alaska.

It has to be said that Baked Alaska is kind of a (evil) genius baking challenge. While this retrofabulous dessert  is not super complicated in itself, it requires a few different components and a lot of time. I don't think 4 1/2 hours is sufficient time for the ice cream to set properly especially on a really hot day, especially if you are sharing freezer space. In that respect the episode was designed to bring out the tension but I don't think the producers had any inkling it would create such a furore.

In the end we may never know whether the sensational bingate was due to sabotage (sincerely doubt it!), oversight or clever editing. I do think that Iain deserved some apology for having his ice cream taken out of the freezer. And if it were me I would have probably binned my spoiled bake and stormed out in much the same way (probably with a few choice expletives thrown in). Goodbye Iain, you and your magnificent beard will be missed.

Making Baked Alaska at home, even with all the freezer space to myself, was no walk in the park. I really didn't enjoy it, mostly because photographing an ice cream dessert is incredibly challenging. Oh and because I realised at the 11th hour that my blow torch was empty and so I had to literally bake my Alaska in the oven. As you will see by the time I snapped the sliced Alaska the meringue had started sliding off like a slow motion face melting in a horror film.

Supergolden Bakes: Baked Alaska

For the cake portion of this dessert I used my Berry Delight cake recipe.  Making this in the Magimix was a revelation actually. Never has this cake been quite as fluffy and cloud soft – I was very impressed! If you follow this recipe you only need about half for the Baked Alaska. You can make 12 cupcakes with the rest of the batter or halve the recipe. Bake the sponge in a swiss roll tin and cut to size to fit your bowl or bake in a size-appropriate cake tin. You can use store-bought cake as well.

I made buttermilk and blackberry ice cream to fill this - the first time I made ice cream ever! I used my new ice cream maker - review to follow soon. Store-bought ice cream or any flavour homemade ice cream can be used here.

buttermilk and blackberry ice cream

Buttermilk and blackberry ice cream
500ml | 2 cups whole milk or double cream*
*I used double cream but I think it is a bit too rich
125ml | 1 cup buttermilk
150g | 6oz sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tbsp vanilla paste

150g | 6oz frozen blackberries, partly defrosted
75g | 3oz sugar
Juice 1 lemon

Method
  1. Put the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer, wrapped in a plastic bag, for 8 hours or overnight before you make the ice cream.
  2. Cook the blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until the berries start to burst and sugar is dissolved.
  3. Blitz in the Magimix until puréed then strain into a bowl, pressing down with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice. Cool completely (this can be made a couple of days ahead).
  4. Combine the milk (or double cream), sugar and vanilla in a pan and bring almost to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
  5. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl and then very gradually add the hot milk whisking the entire time so the eggs don't curdle.
  6. Return the mix to the pan and cook over very low heat, stirring continuously, until the mix is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  7. Cool completely - you can set the bowl over a lager bowl filled with ice or put in the fridge, covered, overnight.
  8. Pour the mix into the ice cream maker and mix until mostly firm. Transfer to another container and swirl the blackberry in to create a marbled effect. Either use immediately or put in the freezer.
To make the Baked Alaska
  1. Line a small glass bowl with cling film, letting the cling film hang out over the sides. Fill with the ice cream about 4/5 of the way up. Leave enough space for the cake to be added.
  2. Brush the top of the cake with the blackberry mix then firmly push it into the bowl to create a lid for the ice cream. Return to the freezer while you prepare the meringue.
  3. For the meringue: You can use SwissItalian or French meringue here. I find that making more than you think you might need is a safe bet - better than not having enough! I used the leftover 4 egg whites and 150 (6oz) sugar.
  4. Use the cling film to pull the ice cream out of the bowl then invert on a plate of cake stand.
  5. Use a spatula to cover the entire dessert with a thin layer of meringue. Use a piping bag fitted with a large closed star nozzle to pipe meringue over the entire dessert.
  6. Brown with a blow torch and serve immediately.
To bake in the oven
  1. Preheat the oven to as hot as possible and set the self on the bottom.
  2. Transfer the sponge and ice cream to a tray lined with baking paper before icing with the meringue.
  3. Bake for around 2 minutes until meringue browns. Carefully transfer onto a plate or cake stand (this was NOT fun!) and serve immediately.
Supergolden Bakes: Baked Alaska

What did everyone think of the latest episode of #GBBO? Are you sad to see Iain go? Do you think he should have stayed? Would you ever attempt a Baked Alaska? Please link your recipes below and sound off in the comment section.


Saturday, 30 August 2014

Cocktail Friday: Cucumber Lemongrass Caipirinha

Supergolden Bakes: Cucumber Lemongrass Caipirinha

Supergolden Bakes: Cucumber Lemongrass Caipirinha

I have neglected my Cocktail Friday feature for what feels like months (in reality it has been two weeks I think) and I feel really bad about that. I hope I can bring it back starting with this Cucumber and Lemongrass Caipirinha. Lets just ignore the fact that today is Saturday, shall we? I have a very good excuse after all - yesterday was my 12th wedding anniversary and my husband and I went out.  To a restaurant. As a couple. A very rare occurrence.

Historically on our anniversary things usually go wrong. We argue. Public transport grinds to a halt. One of us falls ill. The restaurant can't find our booking, the babysitter is an hour late, you name it. Yesterday was surprisingly uneventful in that we actually managed to go out and enjoy ourselves. But it does mean that this post is a day late.

Caipirinha is one of my absolute favourite cocktails duking it out with Margaritas for the top spot in my affections. Traditionally it's made with Cachaça, lime and sugar - this recipe adds cucumber and lemongrass for a really refreshing twist. You can either muddle the cucumber, lime, lemongrass and sugar by hand and serve with crushed ice or use a powerful blender such as the Vitamix to do all the work for you.

Ingredients
Serves 2
2 limes
1/4 medium cucumber, cubed
1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed and soft centre finely diced
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp Cachaça (or up to 6 if you prefer a stronger drink)
20 ice cubes or crushed ice to serve

Vitamix method
  1. Peel and quarter the limes and add them together with the lemongrass, sugar and cucumber into the Vitamix.
  2. Pulse on low speed for a few seconds. 
  3. Add the ice and alcohol and then pulse until the ice is crushed and the drink has the consistency of a slushie. You can use the 'frozen' setting for this or increase the dial speed gradually.
  4. Serve in rocks glasses with straws. 

By hand
  1. Cut each lime into quarters then eights. Put the limes, lemongrass, cucumber and sugar in a cocktail shaker and muddle with the end of a rolling pin trying to extract as much juice as you can.
  2. Divide the juice and pulp between two rocks glasses and top with the Cachaça (either 2 or 3 tbsp per glass).
  3. Fill the glasses with plenty of crushed ice and serve with straws.
Supergolden Bakes: Cucumber Lemongrass Caipirinha
Supergolden Bakes: Cucumber Lemongrass Caipirinha