Or at least, I’ve tried to make the technical challenge! I was lucky enough to be sent a GBBO mystery baking box from Stork in order to bake this week’s technical challenge – the hamper included all ingredients I should need, the instructions for the bake and even utensils and a cake tin! Just like the contestants on The Great British Bake Off, I had no idea what I would be baking until the hamper arrived on Wednesday, so there was no chance to practice in advance or perfect my technique but I’ve tried my very best to turn some butter, eggs and flour into an amazing-tasting dessert.
Up to now, I’ve been baking along with the theme each week as part of #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff and it’s been great fun to choose my favourite recipes. I’ve been a little bit sneaky at times, choosing banana bread for bread week, and a yeast-free doughnut for advanced dough week, therefore carefully avoiding using any kind of yeast in my baking! So this week it’s been really interesting to bake along with the GBBO technical challenge because I couldn’t pick-and-choose which recipe I wanted to make – okay, okay, it’s usually the easy recipes! – I had to do it all and complete the challenge without any knowledge of the bake.
When the Stork hamper arrived I was both delighted and terrified. Delighted because all of the ingredients were included (yes, even the eggs!) and Stork had kindly sent me a spring-form cake tin (without which the cake would have been very difficult to turn out), whisk, wooden spoon, tea-towel and even a huge mixing bowl – essential for whisking those egg whites. Terrified because I finally set eyes on the recipe and found out that it was one of the most difficult I’d ever come across. There were so many processes involved and I needed to watch my cake cooking at every stage rather than bunging it in the oven and leaving it for 20 minutes like I normally do. This cake is made up of layers of grilled sponge mix, which gives it a lovely striped centre (that’s the theory, anyway) but it also means that it needs to be grilled 20 times for 1-2 minutes each – that’s a lot of standing around in the kitchen. I decided to make good use of the grilling time by having a little dance around while it baked and as a result I’ve perfected my Charleston kicks now!
Anyway, without further waffling (because it’s not a waffle, it’s a schichttorte…) here are the ingredients and the recipe that I followed, along with some ramblings about how I got on with the recipe:
Ingredients for the cake batters: 8 eggs, separated, 150g Stork tub, 150g caster sugar, 125g plain flour, 80g cornflour, 2 tbsps. Amaretto, 2 tbsps. cocoa powder
Cream together the Stork tub and caster sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks for 5 minutes until pale and thick. Yes, the whisk in this picture is for illustration purposes only – I used a hand-mixer to whisk for 5 minutes, because I didn’t want my arm to fall off! Add the egg yolks to the creamed sugar-and-butter mixture and combine well. Add the plain flour and cornflour and mix well. So far, so good.
In a large bowl whisk the egg whites to soft peaks – again this called for an electric whisk in my case! – then fold into the cake mixture in thirds. Do this slowly until combined then divide the cake batter in half. I did this by weighing the mixture and pouring half into a different bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into one batter and stir 2 tablespoons of amaretto into the other. I found that the amaretto kept separating and sinking to the bottom of the batter so I needed to stir this before each layer was added to the cake to make sure it was mixed through.
Preheat the grill. Similar to the GBBO contestants I didn’t have instructions for the temperature or grill setting so I just put it on the highest setting and when the batter layers started cooking through a bit quickly, I turned it down a touch. Grease an 8 inch cake tin and add 2 tablespoons of batter mix to the base of the cake tin, spreading it out evenly. Place the tin under the grill and allow the batter to cook for 1-2 minutes until just cooked through. When the first layer was finished it looked just like a pancake.
Add two tablespoons of the second batter and grill again to cook through. Repeat the process alternating the batters to create the layers. This recipe should easily do 12 layers, but I managed 19/20 layers using up all the batter. After the first couple of layers, I noticed that they were cooking more quickly so each layer from then on only took a minute each to cook. I also found that the cake was coming away from the edges a little as the layers stacked up, so sometimes the batter ran down the sides – you can see this effect from my photo below – so I was pleased that these wavy edges would be covered up by the glaze.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make the glaze I melted the dark chocolate with the Stork block, golden syrup and amaretto. I melted the whole lot in a pan on the hob and I had it on a high temperature to start with but panicked when it started bubbling and turned it down. I’m glad that I did because the slower melting meant that I could stir our all the lumps and bubbles to make a smooth glaze – which hardly ever happens when I’m melting chocolate!
I let it cool for about 5 minutes before spreading onto the top and sides of the cake. A tip to make this process easier is to put the cake on top of an upturned bowl, which is placed on a plate. When you are spreading on the glaze it can run down the sides and off the cake without making a mess on your work surface or your cake stand. Plus you can eat the excess glaze off the plate and bowl when you’re feeling peckish later 😉
I decorated the top with a little white icing which I drizzled on in a swirl pattern then I used a cocktail stick to pull it out from the centre to create a web pattern. I thought this would be good practice for Halloween, but it actually looked rather classy too! Interestingly enough the glaze doesn’t set, it’s like a soft chocolate fudge sauce and it really makes the cake, which would be a little dry or too pancakey without it.
Ta da! What do you think of my first ever attempt at making schichttorte? I’m actually surprised at how professional it looks and I think that Paul Hollywood would enjoy counting my layers. Even though I’d lost count during the baking process, I think there are 20 layers, or maybe I’m counting the glaze (can’t tell at the top because it’s soaked in a little) and it’s 19. Either way I’m just chuffed that the layers are fairly even and that the colours are in the right order! I think it turned out well because I was being careful and concentrating hard because it was a new technique for me. I’ll definitely be baking it again but I worry that I might be a little more haphazard the second-time around, feeling over-confident because now ‘I can do it’, so I’ll try to remember what a difficult bake it actually is! Let me know if you’ve ever tried making a schichttorte yourself and how it turned out. I’m so grateful to Stork for helping me to try out this bake, because without them I would have come up with some lame recipe for GBBO’s patisserie week rather than take on a technical challenge like this – and then I wouldn’t have learnt anything, would I? I’m so pleased to be able to add another recipe to my repertoire and I am already planning to make another schichttorte for a special holiday with my friends in November, so wish me luck!