Food | Baking: Schichttorte

So, I was actually deliberating on whether I was going to share my latest bit of baking with you lot because I was actually very disappointed by the results (as I am a bit of a perfectionist) but hey ho, here is my attempt at trying out a schichttorte (yes, that 20-layered German cake from The Great British Bake Off).

This recipe is from Paul Hollywood and can be found on the BBC – Food Website.

Recipe

Cake

10 large eggs, separated

100g/3½oz unsalted butter

150g/5½oz caster sugar

1 large lemon, zest only

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

150g/5½oz plain flour, sifted

65g/2¼oz cornflour, sifted

oil, for greasing

6 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate Glaze

50g/1¾oz unsalted butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp rum

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

75g/2½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), finely chopped

Vanilla Glaze

250g/9oz icing sugar

1 tbsp rum

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

1-2 tbsp milk

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  • After I managed to separate all 10 eggs after a little bit of difficulty, I then whisked the egg yolks using a hand-held whisk on high speed until the mixture became pale, thick and creamy.

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  • In another bowl, I creamed together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy.  I then added the zest of one lemon and 1 tsp of vanilla extract (but you can use vanilla bean paste if you have it) and mixed well.

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  • I added the whisked egg yolks and mixed well.  I then added the flour and cornflour (which I sifted together beforehand) in installments to make it a little easier to mix.

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  • In yet another bowl, I whisked the egg whites until soft peaks formed.

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  • I stirred one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen it a little and then I gently folded the rest of the egg whites into the batter.

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(I do have to apologise for the poor lighting in most of these pictures, it started to get dark outside when I started this and so struggled to get enough natural light in order to take nicer photos!)

  • I preheated the grill to high and then greased a 20cm/8in round springform tin with a little oil and lined the base with greaseproof paper.  I then spooned a little bit of the batter into the tin and spread it across the bottom evenly.

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  • I then placed the tin under the grill and kept a watchful eye over it for a couple of minutes until it was a light brown colour.  (As you can see, it went slightly darker than I wanted it to as my high grill setting was just TOO high so I had to turn it down).

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  • I kept this up over the next couple of hours and noting down which layer I was grilling by marking 1L, 2D, 3L, 4D etc. (L = Light; D = Dark of course!)
(At this point, I was knackered and boiling hot from standing in front of the grill 99% of the time and some of my timings started to slip a little – I will say however, that I had enough batter for 20 layers, HURRAH!).
  • After I finished grilling all my layers, I absolutely started to hate this cake but I left it for a little while to cool down before turning it out on to a wire rack.

(At this point I was wondering what the heck happened to my 20 layers).

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  • Nevertheless, I continued!  I melted the apricot jam in a pan and then pushed it through a sieve (I actually think 6tbsp seemed a bit much so I lessened the amount).  Using a pastry brush, I brushed the jam all over the top and sides of the cake.

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  • For the chocolate glaze, I began by melting the butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract in a pan (didn’t use any rum of course!).
  • IMG_4437After the mixture incorporated together, I finely chopped the chocolate (I couldn’t find chocolate that was 36% cocoa solids and so went with 70%, but in hindsight, maybe I should have used milk chocolate!) and after the syrup mixture cooled a little I added the chocolate and stirred until it had melted.  I then left the glaze to cool to a coating consistency.
  • I made sure to place some parchment underneath the wire rack holding the cake before pouring the glaze over the cake.

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  • For the vanilla glaze, I started by sifting the icing sugar into the bowl to which I added the vanilla extract and milk (no rum) and began stirring until smooth.  (For some reason I couldn’t get the glaze to thicken enough and in the end I was so hot, bothered and tired that I gave up and just used it.)

  • I then went a bit nuts with the drizzle, and because it hadn’t thickened enough, it sort of spread a bit too much…

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So, all in all I was quite disappointed by the end result, especially when I finally tasted it.  IT WAS SO DRY.  Oh, I wanted to cry, all that effort!  No need to eat your heart out just yet Paul Hollywood!  I think next time, I’ll stick to something a little less ambitious!

Have you ever tried something as ambitious as this cake and how did it turn out?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time! x

Food | Baking: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Before I begin, I did some research into copyright laws about me posting recipes/methods from cookbooks (I don’t really fancy getting into trouble!) – from what I have read and have understood on a common sense basis, it’s ok for me to write about the recipe/method as long as I don’t copy the cookbook word for word.  Additionally, I will always make a mention of where the original recipe came from (with links if I can find them) as I have done so below.

Red Velvet is one of those classic cake recipes that I’ve always wanted to try making.  The recipe I used was from The Hummingbird Bakery‘s Cake Days cookbook.  What I like about this cookbook is that the quantities are for muffin-sized cakes rather than cupcakes (which are smaller) – so essentially these recipes allowed me to make bigger cakes, which is always a good thing!

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This is actually my second attempt at making Red Velvet; the first time I made a cake and it didn’t go as planned.  After using 40ml of red food colouring (which is more or a less a whole bottle) into my cake batter, after adding the cocoa powder, I found that it totally ruined the brilliant red colour I managed to achieve in my batter and it turned it…well, brown!  So that really disappointed me.

This time, I stuck to making cupcakes.  I made a few changes here and there as I went along due to how the first attempt turned out, but also because I am one of those people who will taste as they cook – if something doesn’t taste, smell or look right to me (regardless of what a recipe/method tells me) then I will use my initiative and change it up a little.

Cookbook Recipe:

Sponge

120g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened

300g (10 1/2oz) caster sugar

2 large eggs

20g (3/4oz) cocoa powder

40ml (1 1/2fl oz) red food colouring

1tsp vanilla essence

300g (10 1/2oz) plain flour

1tsp salt

240ml (8 1/2fl oz) buttermilk

1tbsp white wine vinegar

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Frosting

100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened

600g (1lb 5oz) icing sugar

250g (9oz) full-fat cream cheese

Coloured sprinkles to decorate (optional)

I won’t be mentioning any specific brand of ingredient as it will feel like I’m favouring; I just used whatever I had in the house!  On another note, there must be some kind of nation-wide shortage on red food colouring these days as I must have gone to five different shops and they had diddly-squat!  Eventually I did end up finding some food colour gel which was labelled ‘bright red’ – it was the only choice I had so I went for it!

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Often, most recipes require you to preheat the oven right at the beginning but I waited until a little later to do that as we recently got a new cooker and as the ovens are fan-assisted they work quite quickly.  I like to start off by weighing out all my ingredients so I have them ready and I also lined a muffin tin with muffin cases.

  • With a hand-held electric whisk I creamed the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.  I cut the butter into small cubes to help the process along a little quicker.

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  •  I then added one egg at a time and mixed it thoroughly, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Here is where I start to make a few changes to the method:

  • I added 1tsp of vanilla essence to the cake batter and mixed it in well.

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  • I added the red food colour straight into the batter and kept mixing until I achieved the right colour – however I was a little disappointed with the result, I think it turned the cake batter more pink than red.
  • Here is where I added a very small pinch of cocoa powder to the cake batter to help deepen the red colour.
  • I sifted the flour and salt into a separate bowl; I then added half of the flour/salt to the cake batter and folded it in with a spatula (I was too scared to use the electric whisk for fear of covering the kitchen in flour).
  • I poured in half of the buttermilk to the cake batter and mixed it well.
  • I added the other half of the flour/salt mix to the cake batter and made sure to fold it in well.
  • Finally I added the rest of the buttermilk to the mixture and mixed that in (the buttermilk I bought was 250ml, which I used it all rather than leave a measly 10ml behind).

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As I don’t imbibe in alcohol I am always looking for ways to substitute alcohol ingredients for non-alcoholic ones and sometimes it proves a little difficult.  This recipe calls for white wine vinegar (of which I didn’t have) and I spent hours trawling the web for a suitable substitute and in the end I settled for using white vinegar instead.

  • Finally, in another bowl I mixed together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda but I also added about 1/2tsp of sugar to the mixture to combat the very sour taste a little.  I then added this mixture to the cake batter and made sure to incorporate it all.

Because I have a fan-assisted oven, I actually lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius rather than 190 degrees celsius.

  • While the oven preheated, I spooned the cake batter into the muffin cases in the muffin tray using two spoons (or you could use an ice-cream scoop) until they were two-thirds full.  I then popped them into the oven and after 20 minutes they were done.

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After letting them cool in the tin I transferred the cakes onto a wire rack to cool while I made the frosting.

  • Using the electric whisk I beat together the butter with only 200g of the icing sugar as I didn’t want my frosting too sweet (this is an American style recipe after all) until the mixture was sandy.
  • I then added the cream cheese and mixed it slowly until it was incorporated into the mixture well enough before I increased the speed on the whisk and beat the frosting until it became soft and fluffy.
  • Once the cupcakes had completely cooled, I added the frosting to all but one and swirled it with the back of a spoon, until it achieved the desired effect I wanted.

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  • With the last remaining un-frosted cupcake, I popped it into the food processor and blitzed it into crumbs (alternatively you can do this by hand) and then sprinkled them over my frosted cupcakes as decoration.

Processed with RookieSo there we have it, my second attempt at making Red Velvet cupcakes and all in all, I don’t think I did a bad job.  You know what they say, practice makes perfect!

I look far too happy about this midnight cupcake feast…

IMG_3809Are there any recipes that you love using or struggle to get right?  Do you have a better Red Velvet recipe that you use?  Don’t forget to leave a comment below 🙂 x