Friday, July 19, 2013

Challenge accepted

So you may have seen on Twitter that I have a new guilty pleasure of late - The Great Australian Bake-Off. I'm not usually a fan of reality shows (with the exception of Farmer Wants a Wife, because it's hilariously awful and kind of adorable), but one that's exclusively about baking? YES PLEASE. In the first week of the show, the contestants had to make a chequerboard cake. And for many of them, it was something of a disaster.

Obviously, I immediately tweeted Deidre to say that we should try and make a chequerboard cake. Yesterday, on our tenth Dessert Day (eleven, if you include our macaron making course), we did just that. It was equal parts terrifying and incredible.

We didn't use the recipe listed on the Great Australian Bake-Off website, because it requires you to make four cakes, and that seemed like way too much effort. Instead, we used this recipe, with a few minor changes. Instead of making it green and gold, we added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa to one half of the cake batter, and the zest of two oranges and a little bit of food colouring to the other. We made two cakes and split them in half instead of the four individual cakes the recipe suggests. And we made a truckload of dark chocolate ganache instead of the white chocolate and Milo ganaches recommended in the recipe.

But who cares about the baking part? It's the assembly that's where the fun/terror starts!!

I think we were most impressed about the fact that we managed to cut the cakes and get the outer most layer in place without breaking it! 

 Layer one? Complete.

Layer two? Complete. Not pictured: smothering the top of layer one in ganache to hold them together.

Apparently I neglected to photograph layer 3, so here's the finished cake. Things got a little dicey in places towards the end - we had to do some cutting to make the top layer sit properly, and then use the cut bits to plug a gap, as you may be able to see.

The real fun came with smothering it in a million layers of ganache:

Mmmmmm, chocolatey goodness...

Finally, we got to the real test - would it hold together when we cut it, or would it all fall apart in a heap?
IT HELD!!!


There may have been some dancing around the kitchen when it actually worked. Sure, our layers may not be perfectly lined up in all cases, and they're not exactly even. But considering it was our first attempt at such a thing, I think we did a pretty good job of it!

AND it was completely delicious. The chocolate cake wasn't particularly chocolate-y tasting (we didn't add as much cocoa as would normally be in a chocolate cake because we were afraid of the mixture being too thick), but the mountains of ganache involved meant that it didn't really make a difference! The orange flavour really shone through though.

We also hit up the savoury side of baking, with this cauliflower pizza crust. And it was actually not as weird/gross as I would have thought. Although there is a terrifying amount of cheese in it. We cut right back on both the cheeses, so it was more like 1/3 cup of each rather than 1/2 cup. And we decided in the end that you could probably use two cups of cauliflower to the same amount of cheese and end up with much the same result.



In summary: it was tasty, but I'm not sure I'd call it pizza crust. It was more like some kind of quiche-y, frittata-y thing, and I think it was only the herbs (we didn't have Italian seasoning, so used a mixture of basil, oregano and mixed herbs instead) that made it seem pizza-y.

That said, it was naturally gluten free, and really easy to make, so I'm still putting it in the win column!

What challenges have you accepted lately?

K xx

14 comments:

  1. Seriously, what an adventure. I think everyone should try and make one. EVERYONE I SAY

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    1. YES. ALSO. At dinner tonight, Little Miss A and her parents were all "That's so cool!! How'd you do that???", and Dad went "It's really very simple." And I was like "OH REALLY? You go ahead and make one and let me know how you get on. Mmmkay??".

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  2. Pretty awesome :) I might have to try it one day!

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    1. It helps to have two people there, because the outer rings are pretty fragile, and having four hands to lift them was definitely beneficial!!

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  3. Oh. My. God. I want to reach into my screen and grab a piece of that cake!!! It looks amazing!!!

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    1. High praise indeed! :) It was pretty incredible.

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  4. The best thing about Dessert Day is that I get to see two lots of photos of utterly delicious desserts. Too much dessert is never a bad thing.

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    1. It's funny, every time I see Deidre's Dessert Day photos, I get all "Oh man, I should have changed my lens and taken wider shots rather than focusing on the detail". And yet, I never do. Fail...

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  5. Nice work on the cake! I'm totally intrigued by the idea of cauliflower pizza crust too!

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    1. Thanks! The cauliflower pizza crust was pretty good, although definitely not the "eat with your fingers" type of pizza. And having now done some experimenting, I can report that you can cut the quantity of cheese in half - 1/4 cup of each works perfectly well!

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  6. You guys have such good recipe-choosing skills. Everything you make looks like something I'd want to eat!

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    1. Clearly you missed out on seeing the sad attempt at gluten free crumpets from a couple of Dessert Days ago. Those were a total disaster!! ;)

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  7. Yum that cake looks amazing! Great work guys :)

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  8. You guys are such freakin' champs with the Dessert Days! Love it! Looks deeeliiiiiish. And who cares if it's not perfectly aligned! Looks awesome all the same. xox

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