Well well well, Dessert Week was a little bit crazy wasn’t it?!?! Temperatures in the tent were definitely raised and one in particular couldn’t keep his cool! Well they do say “desserts” is “stressed” backwards! This week the challenges were:
Signature Bake: Sauce puddings
Technical Challenge: Tiramisu
Showstopper Challenge: Baked Alaska
I stayed at my mum and dad’s house this weekend so Mamma Sue and I decided to go with safety in numbers and tackle this weeks Challenge together (and clever mumsy decided to call herself my Sue-chef, geddit?!) We decided to go big and bold and make a Baked Alaska, crossing our fingers that we could get through it together…with nothing ending up in the bin!
I was looking forward to Dessert Week this year as it was definitely my weakest challenge last year. I’m not really a pudding person, and it felt a bit extravagant and wasteful to make a huge pud just for two (ok I lie, none would go to waste, I would probably eat it all and go into a cream induced coma!) This weekend I stayed at my mum and dad’s house and on Sunday my brother, his girlfriend and Tony were all coming over for a big family lunch, so Mamma Sue and I thought it was the perfect excuse to make up for last year’s non event and go large!
We’re both big fans of coffee, chocolate and almonds and thought these elements would go really nicely together in our Baked Alaska. We decided to make a chocolate and almond cake, topped with coffee and Tia Maria flavoured ice cream and encased in a standard meringue. As we didn’t have a blow torch we decided to whack it in the oven to brown, much to the amusement of my sceptical boyfriend who told us point blank we’d melt the ice cream and have to “pull an Iain!”
He needn’t have worried however, as somehow we pulled it off!
It was wickedly delicious – very rich and very naughty but so so tasty! The chocolate cake stayed nice and not dry (still can’t say the M word), the ice cream stayed solid – no need to chuck in the bin hurrah! – and the meringue on top went a nice bronzed colour with a light crisp. The layers (not lairs, Mary!) stayed nice and defined when cut too, which I was pleasantly surprised by as I was nervous it would collapse once cut into.
The ice cream was amazing – with a really strong flavour – and worked really well with the chocolate and almond taste of the sponge. Next time however I would add some crunchiness to the mix – probably in the ice cream layer – to make it a bit more interesting and lift the flavours even more. I think adding some chunks of hazelnut or almond would go nicely.
Mum and I were really pleased with how our Baked Alaska worked out and were surprised at how simple it was really. If you can give yourself enough time and bake the cake and put the ice cream to freeze the night before serving, it’s obviously a lot easier than the time restrictions given in the tent. It also gives the cake time to cool and the ice cream time to freeze fully. It’s then a case of putting it all together which is when it’s really handy to have a baking buddy as you need to work quickly to stop the ice cream melting. Mamma Sue spooned the meringue on top and I swooshed it all around to seal the pud quickly.
So here’s how we did it. We used a mix of recipes to come up with our own concoction, using and adapting Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake and One-Step No-Churn Ice Cream recipes, and Mamma Sue’s Meringue mix. I’ve split each element up below:
BEFORE YOU START:
Choose a bowl to freeze your ice cream in. Make sure your cake tin is larger than the rim of the bowl. Make sure your base platter is bigger than your cake tin.
PART 1: COFFEE AND TIA MARIA ICE CREAM
** 300ml Double cream
** 175g Condensed milk
** 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
** 2 tablespoons espresso liqueur (which we replaced with Tia Maria)
1) Line the bowl you will put in the freezer with cling film.
2) Put all of your ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk them all together until you get a thick mixture which forms soft peaks.
3) Pour the mixture into your lined bowl and cover. Pop in the freezer for at least 6 hours, or over night as Mamma Sue and I did.
Now time to make the sponge….
PART 2: CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE
** 150ml olive oil
** 50g cocoa powder, sieved
** 125ml boiling water
** 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
** 150g ground almonds
** 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
** pinch of salt
** 200g caster sugar
** 3 eggs
1) Preheat your oven to 170C / Gas Mark 3. Grease your cake tin lightly with oil oil and then line with baking parchment.
2) Mix the water and cocoa powder until you have a thick paste which is only just runny. Whisk in the vanilla essence and leave it to cool.
3) In another bowl combine the ground almond with the salt and bicarbonate of soda.
4) Place the sugar, olive oils and eggs into another bowl and beat together vigorously for 3 minutes until it has thickened up.
5) Turn the speed of the whisk down and add in the cocoa powder and vanilla mix. Then slowly add in the almond mixture.
6) Stir it all in using a spatula then pour it into the lined cake tin. Bake it for 40-45 minutes until the sides are set but the middle still looks slightly sticky. Give it a go with a cake tester, which should come out almost clean but with a few chocolate crumbs on it.
7) We left ours to cool completely in the tin overnight until we were ready to serve it, but you can always tip yours out on a cooling rack to cool after 10 minutes or so.
PART 3: MAMMA SUE’S MERINGUE
(Our dinner party had all got a little frantic – and wine fuelled – at this point and I forgot to take a picture whoops!)
** 4 egg whites
** 200g golden caster sugar
1) Whisk the egg whites until they expand and thicken up, and then slowly add the sugar.
2) Keep beating it together until it’s all incorporated and you have stiff peaks.
TOP TIP: A great way to see if the meringue is stiff enough is to hold it upside down over your head and not give you egg on yer face (as demonstrated by Mamma Sue here)
PART 4: HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER:
1) Position your cake onto a flat dish / platter.
2) Take your ice cream out the freezer and use the cling film to ease it out of the bowl.
TOP TIP: It might be a bit tricky to get out, and a good tip is to tip the bowl upside down, place a spatula in some boiling water and place it over the bowl to give it a little bit of help to slide out.
3) Place the ice cream dome in the middle of the cake and then swirl meringue over the top.
TOP TIP: Make sure you cover the entire ice cream and cake, right down to where the cake meets the dish. By fully encasing the cake and ice cream, the meringue will stop the ice cream from melting once it’s all put in the oven.
4) Turn the oven on high and put the Alaska in the oven ready to become Baked! Keep and eye on it and turn it regularly so that it goes golden on all sides but doesn’t burn. It probably shouldn’t take more than 4 minutes.
5) Serve immediately before the ice cream has any time to melt to stop you from pulling an Iain.
I had lots of fun making this week’s bake with my mum, especially as she’s my biggest baking inspiration and definitely knows her way around the kitchen! We were both really pleased with how our Baked Alaska turned out – it looked impressive for our big family lunch, and was really tasty with lots of different flavours, so something for everyone! If broken down into easy chunks as we did (and split over two days!) it’s actually not too tricky to make. It is quite a lot of effort to make 3 separate puddings in one however, so is not something I’d do too often, but I will definitely be whipping up some more of that deliciously simple ice cream again soon!
What flavours would you make in a Baked Alaska? What did you make of last weeks episode?!
You can check out my other posts in the 2014 GBBO Challenge series below:
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 3 – Bread (Ciabatta)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 2 – Biscuits (Florentines)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – Week 1 – Cake (Swiss Roll)
** 2014 GBBO Challenge – The Great British Bake Off is Back