Week six arrived in the Bake Off tent, bringing with it, a new category, ‘Botanical Week’.
The 3 bakes were
Signature: Citrus Meringue Pie
Technical: Fougasse (Leaf Shaped Bread)
Showstopper: 3 Tier Floral Cake
Part of me thought about making the bread as it would have been the easiest option but after being rubbish last week, I thought I had better make an effort and so I went for the showstopper.
3 tiers was one tier too many though. I thought that I would just make 2 large cakes, slice both in half and make one very tall cake, but it didn’t go to plan. That’s what happens when you experiment.
I was looking for inspiration for a botanical flavour and I happened upon these tea bags from Tesco. Tom had used Camomile tea in his cake and so I could do similar couldn’t I? Yes I could. Doesn’t mean it will taste good though.
One thing that surprised me was that there was no honey on the Bake Off program and so I decided that I would incorporate that too.
So, I started with my failsafe Victoria Sponge recipe (which is actually Mary Berry’s recipe) and made it in slightly smaller tins than usual so that I would have big fat cakes that I could slice in half.
I used half the amount of sugar that was required and then substituted honey for the other half. Apparently you need less honey than sugar when you are converting and so as the recipe called for 225g of sugar, this equates to one cup. So I used half a cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of honey.
I opened 3 tea bags, took out the bigger twigs and added a little bit of hot water – just enough to wet all the ‘tea’ and set it aside.
I made the rest of the cake as normal and then added the wet tea bag contents, mixed it and put them to bake.
I wanted a type of jam to go in the middle and so when I spied the two old cooking apples I had on the side, I naturally decided to chuck them in the cake too. I chopped them and softened them in a pan with a teeny splash of water and then reduced it down to a thick paste.
Now I began to make some honey frosting. I made this with 225g soft butter, 115g honey and 3 cups os icing sugar. When it was really thick and at the stage where I would usually add some milk, I took a big ‘blob’ and mixed it with the cooled apple. I decided to use this apple buttercream to sandwich the slices of cake together.
They came out of the oven looking lovely and as the original recipe usual looks. However, 10 minutes later and they had deflated (no doubt down to the water that was in the tea) and were certainly not going to cope with being cut in half. Oh balls!
I quickly made a half batch of the normal cake and made two small cakes to make a tier on top (and some cupcakes).
When all was cooked and cooled, it was time to ice. I sandwiched the two big cakes together with the apple buttercream and the smaller with some plain buttercream and a little raspberry jam. I then crumb coated both of them with the plain buttercream.
Time to decorate. The fun bit. Last week, when trying to source edible flowers, I came across Herbs and Flowers, a company selling beautiful Borage flowers. I looked for their number as I wanted to check that they had them as I didn’t know if they were in season or not and low and behold, they were a local company, just around the corner. I got some Borgae flowers, Viola’s, Cornflowers, Dianthus and a herb called Sweet Cicely. I chose this as it has lovely fern like leaves. It has a mild aniseed taste which for someone that doesn’t like aniseed, was perfectly acceptable.
I first wanted to try a ‘naked’ cake. They are all the rage and indeed Benjamina made one in the tent.
This was simply a case of scarping off some of the crumb coat carefully and then decorating with the Borgae flowers. They are simply stunning little flowers and I think make a really nice classic look.
Next, I wanted to use the green from the sweet cicely. I added more buttercream, chilled and added another thin layer until I got the smoothest look I could.
Finally, I went for the full on floral look for a fun cake.
This is the first time that I’ve ever decorated with edible flowers and I think I will always choose to in the future as it’s such a simply yet stunning way to decorate.
Now it came down to the taste. All I can say is that it is ‘interesting’! It’s nice, just different. I think I like it, I’m just not sure! My little boy certainly liked it though. I think the ‘tea’ flavour is just a little too strong. In hindsight, I think just one or two tea bags would have been enough to add a gentle flavour.
To recap the botanical elements in this cake:
- Honey in the cake and Icing
- Apple, Elderflower & Pear Tea containing Apple, Apple Pomace, Elderberry Flower, Sweet Blackberry Leaves, Chicory Root, Sunflower Petals and Pear Pomace.
- Fresh Apple in the Buttercream
- Fresh, edible flowers
If you want to see my other Bake Off bakes:
Week 2: 3d Gingerbread Story (I won star baker!)