Desserts, Great British Bake Off Challenge: Season 8

Great British Bake Off Challenge – Week Nine Showstopper: Meringue Sculpture (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: Two and a half hours

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!

It’s been a second! I didn’t expect to take a long break but covid knocked me out for longer than I anticipated. The last time I posted, it was the meringue sculpture, and I was not thrilled with the way it turned out. Sure, I could have tried it again and cooked the meringue at the right thickness. Or, what if I try a totally different approach for the fun of it?

So, this is my recipe for a meringue sculpture. I decided to make the sculpture into a shape between a flower and an exploding firework. This felt like a beautiful approach. I still wanted to keep the rainbow effect, so I made up five different flavors of meringue. Most of the coloring here came from the ingredients as well! Although I did have to use a few drops of dye here and there.



Ingredients

There are two major parts to this recipe; meringue and the royal icing that holds everything together. Meringue is mainly egg white and sugar but for flavorings, I used a combination of freeze-dried fruit and flavor powders. The freeze-dried fruit it absolutely the way to go for a delicious and irresistible meringue.

Royal icing is just as simple as meringue. Egg whites, powdered sugar, a little vanilla extract? That’s all I need! For creating a large structure, there are very few ingredients that go into the building materials.

Process

01

Making of Meringue

Before I started making the meringue, I wanted to prep the flavors that I was going to use. And that meant grinding up the freeze-dried fruit into a light a fluffy powder. My local grocery store limited by freeze dried fruits to strawberry, peach, and green apple. To round out the meringue and give more flavors, I also decided to use goji powder and acai powder. That wasn’t the best idea but more on that later.

With all the powders lined up, it was time to make an absolutely giant amount of meringue (again…). I started this endeavor by first whisking the egg whites until they reached a soft peak consistency. This is where a peak will emerge when the whisk is removed but it will quick dissipate back into the mixture. It shouldn’t hold.

The sugar was then added into the meringue in batches. I like to measure out the sugar into a separate bowl first before adding it into the egg whites, one spoonful at a time.  There is only spoon I love to use for doing additions like this, and that’s a Japanese soup spoon! It holds a more than a tablespoon and its design is perfect for scooping. I added the sugar slowly because I wanted it to be fully incorporated into the mixture. No one wants a grainy meringue. The meringue should be stiff and glossy when the whisking is done.

02

Divide and Conquer

I divided the giant merengue batch into five smaller batches before adding a flavoring powder into each of the smaller batches. For the peach and green apple, I did add in food coloring to get a more yellow and green color respectively. This is an optional step which can be passed if needed.

When whisking in the flavor (and color), I wanted to see everything fully incorporated with no chunks. I whisked for some time because I was trying very hard to avoid getting a different type of grainy flavor in the meringue.

03

Piping into shapes

I then put each batching to their own piping back and piped out loops that were shaped the rounded flower petals. When the piping bag was almost empty, I also piped out some smaller circular flowers. These small circles became crucial in construction later.

One thing I immediately noticed was that the flavor powders caused the meringue to go soft. It did not hold its shape which tell me that I lost the stiff peaks beat into the meringue. I believe this has something to do with how the composition of the powder interacted with the sugar in the meringue. This problem was not seen on the meringue batches that were flavored with the powdered freeze-dried fruit.

After piping, I ended up baking the meringue for about an hour and a half. Meringue likes to be baked low and slow. This allows the meringue to really dry out as it’s baking.

04

Making the Royal Icing

Royal Icing is extremely easy to make. It’s starts off fairly similar to a meringue with a whipping of the egg whites. I then added in some vanilla extract for flavoring and a ton of powdered sugar to make a stiff royal icing.

I wanted to make something that was quick drying. This will help create a solid structure in a small amount of time. Seemed like the best option. Royal Icing just involves a lot of whipping before I put it in an icing bag. And I was ready for icing!!

05

Creating the Structures

The last step of the process is putting all the meringue pieces to create a final structure. Using the royal icing, I created a mound in the middle to center the largest piece. I really wanted to have it standing up and going in all directions.

Then, using the royal icing and the disks, I added on more and more petals to create multiple layers and levels. Until I was out of petals or until I could find a good place to put the remaining petals. And it created an explosion of colored petals and royal icing.

Reflections

This was a much better attempt at the Meringue Sculpture Showstopper challenge than the last time. Everything was fully cooked through and the dish was something straight out of my imagination. The colors were a little duller than I had hoped for but that comes with using more natural colors rather than food coloring.

The biggest thing that I learned was that premade powders have something in it that causes the meringue to lose its shape. The purple and orange petals are a little flatter than the others. I definitely would use all powder from freeze-dried fruit if I were to make this again.

Am I ready for bake-off? I feel really good about the recipe. The flavors and colors being natural is a big plus. The only thing that felt off about the dish is I was missing a creamy and sweet texture. A fruit cream would have paired very well with this. Or a cream pie to act as a plinth would also have taken the dish up another notch.

Lessons

Why is my Meringue Runny?

A meringue usually goes runny when the eggs haven’t been whisked long enough. A meringue going soft is a result of the air being knocked out the meringue mixture. This can come from either added ingredients or the meringue sitting for a long period of time. The air will naturally escape if the meringue is left too long. The solution? Whisk more!!

recipe

Rainbow Meringue Sculpture

This rainbow meringue sculpture is a celebration of natural fruity flavors combined into a flower  firework like shape.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins

Ingredients
  

Meringue

  • ½ Cup Freeze-dried Peaches in powdered form
  • ½ Cup Freeze-dried Strawberries in powdered form
  • ½ Cup Freeze-dried Green Apple in powdered form
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 1 ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • ½ Tsp Cream of Tartar
  • A pinch of Salt
  • Food Coloring optional

Quick-Setting Royal Icing

  • 1 Egg
  • 1 ½ Cup Powdered Sugar
  • Tsp Vanilla
  • ¼ Tsp Cream of Tartarw

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meringue

  • In a large bowl, whisk egg whites on a medium speed until frothy.
  • Add in salt and cream of tartar on full speed until stiff peaks are formed.
  • Whisk in sugar in small batches until everything is fully incorporated and the meringue has become stiff and glossy.
  • Split the meringue into 3 even batches (or however many flavorings used). Whisk in a different powdered freeze-dried fruit into each batch food coloring as desired.
  • Put each batch into an individual piping bag and pipe the meringue onto a baking sheet line with parchment paper into the shape of petals. Create various sizes of petals for a more dynamic effect.
  • Bake for 1 ½ hours of until the outside is crispy. If the merengue starts browning, turn down the over for the remaining time. Allow the meringue to cool in the oven with the door closed to help prevent cracking.

Royal Icing

  • In a large bowl, whisk egg whites on a medium speed until frothy.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together powdered sugar and cream of tartar.
  • In batches, add the powdered sugar mix into the egg whites whisking until each batch is fully incorporated.
  • Add in vanilla extract and food coloring (as desired).

Construction

  • Place a base of petals that look like a flower flat on the plates surface. Place amount of royal icing in the center of the flower. Place one large petal in the center standing vertically.
  • Add in petals at various angles using the royal icing to set the petals in place.
  • Enjoy!!

Notes

There are also freeze-dried blueberry, banana, and mango flavors! This recipe should work with any freeze-dried fruit flavors!

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