Sorry for the radio silence recently fellow bakers – I have been moving house!
I’ve been dying to try out my beautiful new kitchen (so much space!!) and I need to fill the massive void that has appeared in my life now that I no longer have Paul, Mary and co to entertain me on a Wednesday evening so I have decided to recreate some of the bakes attempted by the Great British Bake Off 2015 contestants. I have decided to start with the Mokatines which were the Technical Challenge in Week 8. You can find the recipe here, as well as the recipes for lots of the other bakes attempted in the Bake Off tent.
I decided on this challenge because it has a lot of technical skills involved, including creme au beurre moka, piping and genoise sponge which *lowers voice and looks over shoulder* I have never made before! Shh…don’t tell Mary or Paul!
I was quite nervous about attempting the genoise. I don’t know about you but I’ve heard so many things about how hard a genoise sponge is that I feel like mastering it is key to being able to call myself a baker! Anyway, it turns out the genoise was fine but I struggled with the icing! More on that later….
Given the tricky nature of a genoise I decided that I would use the ingredients set out in the GBBO recipe but I followed the technique suggested by James Morton in his book “How Baking Works” because it provides a lot more detail and explanation as to why each step is important. I can’t recommend it enough, it has such fabulous explanations!.
As explained by James you need to make sure you get masses of air into the mixture because there is no raising agent to help it rise so you need to whisk it like mad before you put it in the oven. James recommends to whisk the egg and sugar mix for 10 minutes before adding the butter and flour. When I first read this I thought it was crazy – 10 minutes?! But it is necessary; you cannot get enough air into the mix at this stage because adding the butter and flour will knock a lot out.
When adding the butter and flour make sure you are very gentle. The key is to “fold” the flour in rather than beat or whisk it. Folding just means gently mixing everything together. It is best to use a large metal spoon as the thin edge cuts through the mixture easily without knocking out air. Make sure you scoop right to the bottom to get all the flour mixed in. Try not to fold it too many times, just enough to incorporate all of the flour.
The Great British Bake off recipe says that the sponge should be baked for 35-40 minutes but this seemed like far too long for most sponges, let alone a delicate genoise so I baked my sponge for 20 minutes before checking it and it was perfect. The best way to tell if a sponge is done is to give it a little prod on top, when it is done it will spring back (don’t poke too hard though or you will put your finger through it!).
I was very pleased with how the sponge came out (even if I did nearly drop the tin when I was turning it out! So clumsy!).
Next I turned my attention to the decorating. I seem to find that this is the stage where it all goes a bit wrong for me so I was a bit apprehensive. It didn’t start well when the coffee icing was so dry it was more like a choux pastry mix! I added some water to the mixture (about a teaspoonful) which helped to loosen it and it didn’t affect the flavour at all so disaster averted thankfully!
Right. So far so good. Genoise sponge safely out of the tin (and not on the floor!) and small icing disaster averted. However…this is where it went really wrong and I ended up free-styling! The creme au beurre moka did not work for me AT ALL. The end mixture was extremely runny and I knew I would not be able to pipe it. I tried to salvage it by putting it in the fridge to firm up but this just caused it to separate and harden. I ended up making a coffee buttercream. Admittedly not quite the same but it works well and seems to have passed the taste test with my friends and family.
So next was the fun (and messy!!) bit. I decided to cut the cakes first and then fill them rather than fill then slice as the recipe suggests because I was worried that the coffee icing would just squidge out of the side when I cut into the sponge. Rather than spreading the icing onto the cakes I piped it in. This meant that I didn’t risk tearing the delicate sponge apart and allowed me to make sure each had the same amount of filling.
The next stage was quite messy – covering the cakes in the almond nibs! I found that I needed way more apricot jam than the recipe called for to ensure that the sides were covered sufficiently. I would estimate that I used at least 6 tablespoons and if I had had anymore I would have used it. It is important to make sure that the sides are totally covered in apricot jam because otherwise there will be gaps in the almond nibs.
I struggled to pipe the rosettes round the bottom as the almond nibs prevented the icing from sticking to the sponge. In the end I gave up and just piped the rosettes round the top.
The final stage is the fondant icing glaze on top. I found the recipe for this really weird. It calls for ready rolled fondant icing and says to beat this until it is smooth before adding water to make a glaze. My glaze ended up being lumpy as I couldn’t get the fondant to be completely smooth. I ended up sieving the glaze so that the lumps of fondant were removed and this worked well. I think that perhaps some royal icing would have worked better or perhaps even melted chocolate to add a different flavour.
I really enjoyed the challenges of this recipe but I have no idea how the bakers managed it in such a short time, I take my hat off to them all!
If any of you have any top tips or golden rules for creme au beurre moka then I would love you to comment below!