Carrot Cake Candles

Carrot cake candles textFinal week in the bake-off tent…FINALS WEEK!

We’ve made it all the way through to finals week – well done everyone. There has been laugher and tears, burnt and raw bakes, and most all, lots of cups of tea! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, the watching and the bake along!

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What a task to come up with a bake worthy of final week. Well I wasn’t very excited by the idea of making iced buns so soon after the éclairs, and I have had rather enough of dough. A rough puff technical also sounded pretty terrible so showstopper it is! A really tricky challenge for the contestants  to make something really marvellous but also a traditional English cake.

Basics done

My favourite cake is carrot cake so I shall follow in that part in Ian’s footsteps. I also like a challenge so have baked 4 mini tin cakes! Quads are always better than a trio! These cakes are then cut into various sizes to make 5 varying cake columns which are marvellously turned into a collection of candles. I will stick with the tradition cream cheese pairing, as this is also my favourite and finished with some caramel flames.

How to make a tin cake2

Evaluation? Oh okay then.

The cakes themselves are easy to make – it can be adapted to pretty much any recipe. Perfect for the non-baker as there are no tools needed! The tins cannot be pull top (no cat food tins this time) as the lip left at the top will cause issues. The flatter the base is also the better as easier to grease and get the cooked cakes out. I used margarine for greasing the tin but oil would work equally well, maybe even better. The most important thing here is to be thorough, getting into all the ridges, nooks and crannies. There is no need to be pretty in this part just slop the mixture into the tins and pop in the oven.

before and after

Oooo look how yummy they look!! I’m not very good with straight lines so the cutting the tops off was a little wonky! It is a little tricky. The icing is easy peasey too! Almost seems like a cheat for GBBO final week. To make delicious carrot cake icing all you need is cream cheese, double cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence. Whisk all the ingredients up until you get semi stiff peaks and then pipe or smear onto the cakes. Tops and sides. I think the loose crumbs add some character and not the other way around.Glowing

Fake flames anyone? Feel a little of hunger games inspiration coming along. I was also inspired by Tamal’s amazing sugar work and even without a sugar thermometer decided a give it a go. Tricky but not impossible. First lesson? The turn is very quick! My first half were great by the time I get to the second the caramel was a little burnt smelling but still looks good. I placed some toothpicks in the centre half way through pouring the caramel so that I can stick the flames into the top if the cakes. Work way better than I expected and pleasantly surprised. Unlike Tamal the weather was not on my side and oh my word does it make a difference! By the time I finished icing all the cakes the flames had turned sticky and bubbly – and this continue to deteriorate. Lesson learnt – when confident enough do the flames as close to the end/serving time so that they look and taste their best.Frm behind

There is no next week but visit again and see what other wonderful concoctions I have taken on.

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Chocolate Baileys Cheesecake with decorative chocolate leaves

Semi-final week in the bake off tent…CHOCOLATE WEEK!

Nuff said. Delicious. But, and there is always a but, as Mary Berry said, it is a tricky substance to bake with. My solution to this is ingenious! A no-bake cheesecake. Genius. Plus a rather large splash of Irish Cream makes me a super genius! Better thank all those on Facebook who helped me choose this week too – Thank you!cheesecake

My university friend Laura makes a wicked Baileys cheesecake, it was talk of the campus and people came from far and wide to eat a slice, even that time it turned into floor cake it was still delicious. And that time there was so much Irish cream in, and it didn’t set, that was still some sloppy deliciousness! I asked her for the recipe this morning and she pushed me over to here.

Chocolate leaves

Moving swiftly onto decorations! Chocolate leaves! They are so awesome, and patience testing. In concept they are super easy. Firstly pick (and wash!) your choice of leaves, making sure that they are quite veiny, I used a mix of mint leaves (the diddy ones), tomato leaves (medium white ones), the odd basil leaf and the large long ones were lily leaves. Melt your chocolate, temper it if you know how. I melted half and then allowed the rest to melt using the heat already in the bowl. Let cool slightly and paint the underside of the leaf and leave to cool. Leave a little of the stem unpainted. Use a chopstick type contraption to give the leaves some shape if desired.leaves creation

Once hardened things get more tricky. Holding onto the plain stem slowly and gently ease it away from the chocolate. When possible get your nail/finger in between the plant and edible layer and slowly edge it through making sure to not put any pressure on the chocolate or it will snap. It takes a while to get the hang of but the resulting detail is amazing.

piped chocolate collage

When my chocolate become a little too hard to paint I transferred it into a piping bag…haha no not really, I squished it into the corner of a sandwich bag! When all in cut the tip and begin drawing with the chocolate on a sheet of grease proof paper. Once cooled completely they should lift off the paper really easily to be put on the side/top of the cake. Because it’s cheesecake its already sticky around the outside otherwise you would have to frost a normal cake first.

Evaluation? Oh okay then.

I love making fridge cake because they are generally fool proof. Generally.

We did have one minor chocolate upset. The website I used does have some hunky men baking, which you know, is great BUT if you read their written recipe, they make a mistake!! A mistake which I willing followed. Ooops I’m not quite GBBO semi final material! Make sure you add the vanilla essence to the cream cheese and not the chocolate! On a brighter note I managed to use the failed chocolate substance to roll into balls for the centre decoration of the cake.Detail

If doing again I would use a smaller cake tin as the 8inch made the cake quite flat. It also meant that I needed to add a whole pack of bourbons to cover the base properly. I used the same amount of butter and the base set fine. If you like add more Baileys however this will compromise the structural integrity to the cake.

Onto decorations which is what this week’s bake along is really about. The leaves are simple until the very end step where you have to have a light touch! A lot broke. I loved the look of the white chocolate and blue leaves but these were definitely harder to do then the dark chocolate as the chocolate is a lot less stable. Best to paint thicker and not use freshly melted chocolate. Make lots more than you need because peeling the leaf from the hardened chocolate is difficult and a lot will break! I’d say I got half and half. The thicker the chocolate layer the better and finding a technique saves a lot of frustration. The piped chocolate shapes were surprisingly easy. I’m tempted to say that I just got lucky that the chocolate was the right consistency and the hole the right size that everything worked out.Finished cake

This week’s star taster goes the MacKenzie family, especially Iain, who doesn’t like cheesecake but likes my cheesecake! Thank the Lord for providing me with my creative flare, a situation where I have the materials to express it and an encouraging family who will paint leaves with me while watching the rugby.

Until next week for the FINALS!