Desserts, Great British Bake Off Challenge: Season 8

Great British Bake Off Challenge – Week Nine Technical: Les Miserable (Take 2)


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: 1 hour and 30 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!

Okay, so I’m doing something a little different this week… I decided to stay on the technical for week nine because I wasn’t completely happy with how the cakes turned out from last week. Like they still are good, don’t get me wrong, but I thought I could do better. And the perfectionist inside of me would not be held back.

Now that I had some idea of how the cake was supposed to turn out, I put my own spin on it to make it easier. Jaconde is a difficult cake to pull off so I’m going to cheat a little because I prefer that my cakes are consistent. I also used raspberry instead of cherry this time because it was closer to the original recipe. And, let me tell you, this cake turned out so good. I might even convert to liking the pistachio flavor.



Ingredients

The ingredients used for the cake this week are very similar to the ones used for last week. So what’s the biggest difference? I’m using raising agents! Instead of relying solely on the eggs, I also added in a little baking powder and baking soda. This is just a more consistent method for me to use.

I also used raspberries this time because that is the more traditional flavor for making Les Miserable than cherry. One quick substitution I had to make was using lemon juice instead of lemon zest. This happened because I’m an idiot and forgot to buy lemons. While this worked to give a hint of lemon flavor, it was a lot more subtle than I wanted. Lemon zest really is the way to go.

Process

01

Making the Jaconde Sponge – Batch Batter

The first step in this process is making the jaconde sponges. There are two different flavors of jaconde sponges, but I started off by making a giant batch of cake batter before separating the two different flavors.

The giant batch included multiple different mixtures. The first mix was a combination of almond flour, eggs, and sugar. I whisked this mixture hard to create a thick and ribbon like trail when the whisk was removed. The mixture was then put to the side to create a quick meringue.

When making meringue, I like to start with just the egg whites in my mixing bowl. I like getting my eggs a little frothy before adding in any sugar. The sugar is added slowly and a little a time. Adding the sugar slowly helps it incorporate and break down into the egg’s whites. It also makes the meringue less grainy after is comes together. The meringue should create firm peaks when the whisk is removed.

Then, it’s time to start folding. So much folding. I folded the meringue into the almond/egg mixture first. For the best results, I like to fold until I no longer see flecks of white because then I know it’s fully incorporated. I also try to get down to the bottom of the bowl, so nothing gets stuck. Being gentle while doing all this movement is tough.

But that’s not the end of the folding! Next is folding in a mixture of flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Again, I wanted this to be spread evenly among the batter. The batter should stiff be fluffy and no powders should be visible. I did my best to have the whole batter be one consistent color.

02

Making the Jaconde Sponge – Adding Flavors

And the big batch of batter is finished! I divided the batter into two bowls for the two different flavorings. In one bowl, I added the pistachio paste, almond extract, and the green food coloring. I continued to use a folding technique to make sure that the egg whites weren’t knocked out of the batter. The pistachio paste did put up a good fight as it really wanted to sink to the bottom of the bowl.

In the other bowl, the ¼ cup of lemon juice was added for flavor. Again, I would recommend using lemon zest instead of juice but I made due with what I could.

Each batter was then put into their own separate sheet trays. I like using sheet trays as the baking tins when making cakes like this. I cooked the jaconde sponges for about thirteens minutes. They were firm but springy to the touch.

These sponges came out much light and fluffier than the last version. I couldn’t have been happier with the results. They also did not break apart as easily when being turned out of the tin which allows for full sheets in the final step.

03

Whisking up Some Buttercream

For the next step, I went complete rogue and created some strange mixture between French and American buttercream. I typically don’t like frosting as I find it too sweet, and I find the butter flavor to be overpowering. So, I decided to come up with my own buttercream-like creation.

I started this process by copying the foundation of French Buttercream. The first step in making the buttercream was whisking up some egg yolks. I wanted them to be pale and creamy, so I beat them for a relatively long period of time.

Then I made a simple sugar syrup over the stove. I did this by dissolving the sugar in water over a low heat before bringing it up to temperature. The temperature I was aiming for was 240 degrees Fahrenheit which is right between the soft and the firm sugar stages.

Then it was time to mix the syrup into the eggs. I wanted to whisk continuously during this step because I did not want the eggs to cook. Well… I want them to cook a little bit but not a lot. Not like an egg on a stove. I don’t want scrambled egg frosting! I used the stand mixer because that helps me greatly. If you don’t have a stand mixer, I believe this to be a two-person job with one person pouring and the other one mixing.

Once the mixture has come together and cooled down a bit, it was time to go rogue. I added in a combination of butter and vegetable shortening to thicken up the buttercream. This helped reduce the butter flavor while keeping the proper consistency.  

I whisked the buttercream for a while until it was the right consistency. I also added a tablespoon or so of powdered sugar to help firm everything up. I told you, I don’t know what I just made but I enjoyed making it. I couldn’t keep myself from licking the whisk on this recipe. It was too good.

I added in vanilla extract for the flavoring and whisked that into the entire batch. Then I took out about 1/3 of the buttercream and placed it in a separate bowl. I mixed fresh raspberries into the buttercream. I didn’t want the raspberries to go mushy, so I did this with a hand whisk instead of using a machine.

04

Layering the Cake

Layering the cake was the still the best part of this whole recipe! I used a square cake tin because I felt it would be easier to create the cakes be making one large cake and cutting it than make several mini cakes. Because the cakes were thicker this time, the finished cake was taller than the tin.

I prepped the sponge by cutting out two sheets of each flavor in the size of the tin. I also used a piping bag (with no dedicated tip) to spread out the buttercream in a more even fashion. The cake stayed together this time and the buttercream was also well behaved.

I made my cake inverse of the result so the first layer (which is the top) is a lemon sponge layer. This was followed by a layer of vanilla buttercream. Then a layer of the pistachio sponge. The next layer, which ends up being the center, was a layer of raspberry buttercream.

And now we’re working out way back out so a layer of pistachio sponge, a layer of vanilla buttercream, and a layer of lemon jaconde sponge. **Do not use all the buttercream! You want to save some for decorations. I definitely forgot to do this**

The final touch involves chocolate. I melted down some of my chocolate and created a thin layer of chocolate along the top of the sponge. I let this layer cool down to room temperature before putting the entire tin to set in the fridge. I wanted the buttercream to be relatively firm. The chocolate was great at making a protective layer for the sponge.  

05

Adding Decorations

While the cake was setting, I got to work making the decorations that would go on the top of each cake. For this, I’m using more chocolate. I melted down the chocolate again and this time spread it into a thin layer on acetate paper.

I waited a minute or two before scoring the chocolate so the shards would make 9 triangles. I then curved the acetate and let the chocolate cure in that curved state. This allowed for some great chocolate curls for decoration.

I took out the cake and inversed it, releasing it from the tin. I then carefully cut the cake into 9 pieces (a 3 by 3 grid). For the decorations on top, each cake was given a chocolate curl and a raspberry. Delicious!

Reflections

I felt a lot more confident about this cake since this was my second go around at completing this challenge. But still, this cake was quite the dessert and quite the challenge. And I really enjoyed every second of it.

Funnily enough, doing this challenge a second time was way more of a confidence boost than I had first anticipated but it worked out wonderfully.

Am I ready for bake-off? Well, besides cheating on the jaconde recipe, I think I can hold my own! It looks decent (if I do say so myself) and the taste was out of this world. I’m very excited for the next challenge.

Lessons

Repetition and Recreation

I’m very much the type of person who will do something once and then be done and ready to move on. But I don’t necessarily think this is the best approach even if it is my standard way of doing things.

But repeating a recipe, you can really get to know the ingredients and how they’ll interact when put through various scenarios. And then it’s easier to create your own spin because I’m able to learn what is and isn’t important.

recipe

Les Miserable

These Les Miserable cakes and individually portioned layers of sponge and buttercream with decedent flavors running through every layer.  
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Resting Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 9 Mini Cakes

Ingredients
  

Jaconde Sponge

  • 2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar divided ¾ and ¼
  • 5 Eggs
  • 5 Egg Whites
  • ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Teapsoon Baking Soda
  • 2 Lemons finely zested
  • 2 Tablespoon Pistachio Paste
  • ½ Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • Green Food Coloring
  • ¼ Cup Dark Chocolate melted

French Buttercream

  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Shortening
  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Powdered Sugar Optional, for thickening
  • 10 Raspberries

Decorations

  • ¼ Cup Dark Chocolate melted
  • 9 Raspberry

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking tray with parchment paper and lightly grease.

The Jaconde (Sponge)

  • Whisk together almond flour, eggs, and ¾ Cup sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs whites until foamy. Slowly add in the remaining sugar (¼ cup) until a stiff meringue is formed.
  • Fold the into the almond mixture over multiple batches. Add in the All-Purpose Flour and fold it in until everything is incorporated. Add in the melted butter and, again, gently fold.
  • Divide the mixture into two bowls (for the two different flavors).
  • In one bowl, add green food colors, pistachio paste, and almond extract
  • In the other bowl, add lemon zest.
  • Pour each mixture into a prepared baking tray and level out.
  • Bake the sponges for 13 to 15 minutes or until firm and springy to the touch

French Buttercream

  • Whisk the egg yolks until pales and fluffy.
  • In a medium pan, combine sugar and ¼ Cup water. Heat on low until sugar is dissolved and then turn the heat up to medium until the mixture reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and let cool until warm.
  • While whisking constantly, slowly add the sugar mixture into the eggs. Whisk until the mixture is fully combined and cool.
  • Add butter in chunks until the mixture had become thick and creamy.
  • Divide the Buttercream into two bowls with¾ in one bowl and ¼ in the other.
  • In the bowl with ¾ Buttercream, add in vanilla extract.
  • In the bowl with ¼ Buttercream, whisk in cherries until they are broken up but not mushy.

Layering

  • Cut each cake into two squares, the size of the cake tin.
  • For the layering, place a layer of lemon jaconde sponge, a layer of vanilla buttercream, a layer of pistachio jaconde sponge, a layer of cherry buttercream, a layer of pistachio jaconde sponge, a layer of vanilla buttercream, and a layer of lemon jaconde sponge.
  • Melt ¼ cup chocolate and spread a thin layer of chocolate across the top of the lemon jaconde sponge. Allow to cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge to set.

Decorations

  • Temper the remaining dark chocolate (see lessons for more details on tempering) and spread a thin layer across a sheet of acetate.
  • Allow to cool slightly and score into triangles. Curl the acetate and place into a setting to keep the triangles in a curled shape. Allow to cool completely at room temperature. (This can be done in the fridge if you are rushed for time).
  • Demold cake from the tin and cut into 9 even, square mini cakes.
  • Pipe a ribbon of buttercream across the top of each mini cake.
  • Decorate each cake with one chocolate triangle, one cherry, and a sprinkle of freeze-dried cherries (or strawberry)crumbs.
  • Enjoy!!
Keyword Lemon, Les Miserable, Pistachio

Leave a Reply