The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 60 minutes
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
The first week is cake week!! Cake week is always the classic opening for Bake Off because nothing says baker like a cake. The first signature challenge is a fruity cake. This is a cake that is supposed to have fresh (not dried) fruit in it in some form. I originally was inspired by Flo’s citrus cake from the show but quickly found myself overwhelmed so I decided to scale the project back to a lemon cake.
Baking a cake from scratch takes a lot of ingredients. There are the old baking standbys (flour, sugar, butter, eggs) but there are also a lot of ingredients to punch up the cake (milk, lemons, salt). And this cake calls for three ingredients in the leavening process: baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar. The baking soda will be particularly reactive in this recipe because the acid from the cream of tartar and the acid from the lemons. Yay science!
Not going to lie, the cake baking process was simpler than I thought it would be and the cake decorating process was a lot more complex than I expected. The dry ingredients are whisked together and then set aside. As per normal, the picture I have for the dry ingredients that is super boring and I’m still not sure why I’m so committed to taking them. Then it’s time for the wet ingredients. Now, I don’t believe I have ever truly understood creaming the ingredients together before or the amount of effort that takes for a stand mixer. The butter should first be whipped alone to become smooth and then the sugar is added.
The butter and sugar should be mixed on high for a good 3 to 5 minutes to combine everything completely. The mixture was still a bit grainy from the granulated sugar, but it will have a creamy consistency. The eggs and vanilla are also added while the mixer is on a high speed (it’s okay to warm up the speed of the mixer to avoid splashing the wetter ingredients everywhere). The consistency of the mix it going to be a lot smoother after a few minutes. This step also takes about 3 to 5 minutes and you’re likely to see some bubbling in the eggs because of the air that is whipped into the batter.
The mixer should then be reduced to a low speed while adding the dry ingredient into the bowl. The batter should be just combined and will be thick. Thicker than you might expect for a cake batter. To loosen up the mixture, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest are added (also on low speed). Everything is then mixed until just combined. For cake, you can overmix the batter so this step should be watched carefully to avoid that from happening.
Then it’s time to pour the batter into the tins! I used two 8-inch cake pans to get a thick cake, for thinner cakes (and faster baking time), I would recommend using three cake pans. To ensure the cake removes smoothly, the cake pans were lined with butter and the coated lightly in flour. If you stick with using two tins, then the cakes should take somewhere between 35-40 minutes to bake. If you decide to go with three pans, the cakes will cook around 25-30 minutes due to the reduce amount in each pan. A toothpick will come out cleanly from the center of the cake when it’s fully cooked. I have started to listen to my cakes to see when they are ready and I feel like a crazy person but I’m starting to learn how cakes sounds when properly baked.
The cake needs to completely cool before even considering decorating! Hot cakes will melt frosting so it’s something to be extremely careful of. I decided to go simple in the decorations for this cake and only used a Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting. I added a layer of frosting between the layers of cake and smoothed around the side and top.
I wanted to add some extra flare on the top of the cake so I decided to pipe an interpretation of buttercream rosettes on the top of the cake. I was curious to see if I could add stripes of color so I painted lines on the inside of the piping bag before filling the bag with frosting. I don’t think I painted enough on the bag because the color was very faint and almost unnoticeable when I was piping. But it was fun to try and I’m excited to improve my piping skill!!
Am I ready for bake off?? I don’t think I’m at that level yet but let’s see how I grow with the next few challenges!
The pictures in this post were not the first attempt at this cake. And the cakes before this bake became a mess for a multitude of reasons, including collapsing in the center. Cakes collapse if there are too many leavening agents inside because they will build up air too quickly and cause the cake to right too high. The gas escapes before the cake is baked through instead of being dispersed throughout the cake. The collapse happens because the missing air.
Lemon Citrus Cake
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 ½ Tsp Baking Powder
- ½ Tsp Baking Soda
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 1 ¾ Tsp Cream of Tartar
- 3 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Milk
- Lemon Zest of 3 Lemons
- Lemon Juice of 3 Lemons
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 8-inch cake pans with butter and flour.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
- Using the paddle on a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on high speed (about 3 minutes).
- Add in eggs and vanilla extract on high speed until light and creamy (about 3-5 minutes).
- On low speeds, slowly add in the dry ingredient until the mixture is just combined.
- With the mixer running on low speeds, add in milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest until batter is smooth.
- Pour batter evenly into the cake pans.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick can cleanly come out of the center of the cake.
- Give cakes 5 to 10 minutes to cook before removing them from the pans.
- The cake should be completely cooled before assembling and decorating as desired.