I thought the recipes on Bake Off this week were a bit odd, the Spanish Windtorte looked pretty complicated (and like it needed a LOT of eggs!), and the 3 tier baked cheesecake was a bit over the top – who would actually ever bake and eat a 3 tier cheesecake?! Nadiya’s cheesecakes did look absolutely amazing though, and I loved her decorations. Tamal’s also looked and sounded really yummy, and it was a shame he didn’t get star baker, especially after his crème brulees, which looked so good. I’m glad Mat managed to redeem himself with the cheesecakes and wasn’t eliminated, even after committing the cardinal sin of Bake Off and serving Mary Berry coconut, not once but twice!
Since nobody in my house likes baked cheesecake – it does have a weird texture, and I think baking cheese is just wrong! – I decided to make a fridge cheesecake with a lemon shortbread base. This means that apart from the base, it doesn’t need any baking, so you don’t have to test that wobble! The lemon in the base and centre means the whole thing isn’t too rich, and the blueberry swirl gives it a fruity tang all the way through.
This week’s bake off was such a good one! Although I do think Paul should have been given Star Baker for his amazing bread lion sculpture, but I do understand why Ian got it instead. It was easy deciding what to bake for this week’s Great Blogger’s Bake Off – I didn’t have the time or patience to attempt a bread sculpture (or enough people to feed it to!), and baguettes looked a bit boring, so soda bread it was! I really liked the idea of soda bread being something you could whip up in the minimum time – indeed my loaf took 45 minutes from start to finish – yet still look like an impressive loaf to serve.
This thyme, cheddar and walnut soda bread is so easy to make, you literally chuck all the ingredients into one bowl and mix them up into a dough. The thyme is supposed to be subtle, but to just set off the flavour of the cheese with a herby edge. The fig jam is, of course, optional, but we have a prolific fig tree in the garden which produces more fruit than we can eat, so this jam is perfect for using them up.
It always seems to be the case that we’re on holiday for biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. However, I’m not one to let a small matter such as a foreign country, untranslatable ingredients and a lack of recognisable baking equipment stop me from baking along! Last year we were in Jersey (admittedly much easier to find ingredients!) when I made these (https://elliespinkcakes.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/lemon-and-white-chocolate-biscuits/) lemon and white chocolate biscuits, and this year, in Croatia, I attempted biscotti.
I had already baked these and was sitting down to watch when Paul said that his (and Mary’s!) choice of biscotti recipe would involve hazelnuts, cranberries and dark chocolate…. the very combination I had chosen for mine! These biscotti really did have all the odds stacked against them: I was baking in 36 degree heat, with a very temperamental oven, no scales, and something I bought from the supermarket assuming it was plain flour…. in hindsight though, I’m really not sure it was! However, they actually turned out pretty well, they would definitely pass Paul’s ‘snap’ test, although admittedly do have a better texture once dunked in coffee!
This vegan ice-cream is perfect for hot summer days, as it has all the creaminess and texture of non-vegan ice-cream, thanks to the whipped coconut cream, but is also much lighter and more refreshing, as it doesn’t have any dairy in it. It tastes almost like a frozen strawberry smoothie, and is absolutely delicious! This ice-cream is also free from refined sugar, only using maple syrup as a sweetener, so it will set pretty hard in the freezer, which explains the addition of the vodka, and the necessity of removing it from the freezer 20 minutes before you want to eat. However, the lack of refined sugar isn’t all bad – because it only has (mainly!) healthy ingredients, it is entirely acceptable to eat for breakfast… which I have done…!
One of the best things about this ice-cream is that it’s so easily customisable; once you have the coconut and banana base you can add any flavours you want, maybe some mint extract and cacao nibs to make a healthy mint choc chip? Or how about adding peaches instead of strawberries to make a creamy peach ice-cream? Once you have churned the ice-cream you can either put it in a tub to freeze, or spoon it into ice-lolly moulds to make an exciting treat for the kids! The cacao and almond crumb is, of course, entirely optional, but I do find that it adds a lovely crunch of texture.