Sunday, 10 August 2014

Great British Bake Along: Matcha Green Tea and Peach Swiss Roll

The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is back on our televisions again!  The nation rejoices with much tea (apparently there was a power surge equal to 260,000 kettles during Wednesday's episode) and, of course, baking!  As an avid watcher and baking blogger I thought it might be fun to join in.  So the blog is engaging in a bake along!  

The GBBO has a theme every week and thus, if all goes to plan, I will be posting a new recipe each week based on the theme.  Ideally, I'll be doing my own take on the signature bake challenge, though none of my recipes are going to be signature because, like I said, I'll be posting something new.  This blog doesn't do repeat posts after all.  I'll also be giving my thoughts on that week's episode.  Thus, tentative schedule will be: 
  • Wednesday - A new Great British Bake Off episode airs on BBC1 at 8pm.
  • Saturday - Becca bakes along (because she starts her first full-time job in a week and so Monday to Friday are taken up with the teaching of children).
  • Sunday/Monday - Becca posts her Bake Along recipe and thoughts on the episode.
So hopefully that means there'll be a new post every week for the next 10 weeks.  Let's see if I can stick to it!

And with that introduction out of the way, we dive straight into episode 1 and the first theme: Cake!   

So it's a brand new series and we have 12 new bakers!  And they all seem so lovely!  Admittedly, that's par for the course with GBBO.  Everyone is always lovely on this show.  It's a little early to pick definite favourites yet but usually if I can remember a name by the end of episode 1 that usually means they've made an impression.  By that logic, bakers that currently stand out are Chetna, Luis, Nancy, Norman, Jordan and Martha.  I must confess though, Martha sticks in my head for completely petty reasons.  I am sorry Martha but I'm afraid I am going to harbour slight dislike for you because I am a jealous person.  I have a tendency to automatically resent anyone who does something I love to an amazing degree who is younger than me.  I had the same issue with Ruby last year.  And you are 8 years younger than me!  You make me feel old!  Especially as you are clearly very talented.  It's nothing personal.  Like I said, I'm petty.

Actually, everyone seems to be ridiculously talented and creative.  There were some seriously beautiful bakes and it is only episode one!  Kate's Swiss roll looked gorgeous, as did Chetna's.  And the minature cakes Nancy and Luis made for the showstopper looked amazing.  I also thought Iain's looked rather lovely, despite being a bit big.  Maybe if they'd had one less layer they'd have looked better.  Admittedly though I was looking at some of the showstopper cakes and wondering what British classic they were supposed to be.  And despite what Mary Berry thinks, I believe lemon and blueberry are a fantastic combination of flavours that compliment each other (they are the Hubby's favourite after all) and I couldn't see how one drowned out the other in Jordan's bake.  As for the technical, I thought it looked okay for a first challenge.  I knew the flour trick and had been explaining it when Nancy mentioned it.  I felt so pleased with myself.  Maybe I'll try to make that cherry cake at some point.

I also want to say I am seriously coveting the gadgets that appeared this week.  I am so jealous of these bakers who can make (or have spouses to make) cool little kitchen tools.  I want Nancy's guillotine, and Norman's...I'm not sure what to call it actually.  But it removed 12 cakes from a loose bottomed muffin tin all at once.  It was amazing.  I want it!  I wonder if anything else will crop up as the series goes on.

Overall it was a really enjoyable episode but as will be the case every week, there was the inevitable sadness that comes when they have to announce who is leaving.  I have to say, it was pretty clear who was going though it was such a shame.  I thought Claire was so adorable!  It would have been nice to see more of her but everything just seemed to go wrong for her.  And she asks the question about why is she crying over cake but it's obvious!  It's the GBBO!  Anyone and everyone will cry over cake.  I know I would.  So it was sad to see Claire go but I found her blog Bake Therapy so I'll be keeping an eye on that.

Okay, now I have told you my all important thoughts on the first episode of the series, I can now get onto talking about this week's bake.  So I decided I would do the signature challenge and make a Swiss roll in two and a half hours.  The basic plan for it was developed in discussion with the Hubby's sister, since it was her I was watching the episode with.  I honestly cannot remember exactly whose idea it was but we decided green tea would be interesting.  Since it was Wednesday I was pretty sure I would be able to get the matcha powder before the weekend (thank you eBay).  Deciding what to fill it with took a little longer as we were not sure what would go with it.  So we hit up Google and there were a few suggestions.  I did consider adzuki beans as red bean is a popular Japanese flavour.  Strawberry was a popular suggestion and blackcurrant also came up.  However, I decided peach would make for an interesting accompaniment.  So matcha tea and peach it was.

Saturday rolled around and the tea finally arrived in the post.  The other ingredients had come in the grocery delivery the day before.  I had found a couple of recipes to adapt to my needs and was set.  At 1:30pm my challenge started and I had until 4pm to complete it.

Now if this had been the actual GBBO I would have practised and perfected this recipe beforehand.  However, this was a brand new bake and I was going in blind.  The recipe I'll be writing below will not take 2.5 hours.  The only reason I was working down to the last second was because I kept changing my mind about some things and others just went wrong and had to be altered.  The mind changing was mainly to do with the visual aspect of the thing.  Everyone on GBBO goes all out in their presentation.  As Sue pointed out, a traditional Swiss roll is not decorated but most of the bakers had chosen to ignore that.  As I previously mentioned, there were some stunning bakes.  So I thought I should try and add a little something to my own bake.  Originally I tried colouring some of the batter to pipe a decorative pattern (similar to how I decorated my first ever roulade).  However it was too runny for my first idea of making flowers.  Instead I did wavy lines but after I baked and turned the roll out I decided they looked silly, so they're on the inside of the roll.  Then I thought I might try and make little blossom flowers out of chocolate.  That just ended up looking ugly so I scrapped that too.  The icing sugar decoration was a last minute decision.  I knew I had stencils and figured I could at least make a pretty pattern.  Turns out I had an ideal looking blossom stencil and it did add a nice visual to the finished roll.

But the thing that ate up most of my time was the filling.  Oh the filling.  Originally I was attempting this mousse thing with gelatin.  I figured it would hold its shape better.  However, when I added the peach purée to it, it ended up too runny.  This was about an hour before my time limit was up so I figured I would put it in the fridge for about half an hour and see if it would firm up.  It didn't.  So I tried whisking it a bit more to see if that would help.  Nope.  It turned to butter and buttermilk, as cream does when you overwhip it.  So that was ruined and I only had 20 minutes.  There was no time to attempt this version again so I hit Google to see if I could find something similar but far simpler.  The one I found could be made in 5 minutes.  Perfect.  And it worked thankfully.  So in it went and I was able to finish it in time.  Hooray!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I presented it to the Hubby, and later his family.  I didn't know if it was going to work, if the flavours would go, if the textures would be okay.  I was dreading that it would be 'dry' because that is something no GBBO contestant wants to be told (poor Kate).  It was a big hit.  The Hubby said it was 'refreshing' and his sister thinks it would work really well as a palette cleanser.  The flavours are there but are maybe a little subtle and it's not particularly sweet.  Still yummy though.  I think I would have definitely lost points for the roll.  It probably wasn't as tight as it could have been.  It looked better once it was cut into though.  I don't know if Paul and Mary would have enjoyed the flavours but my personal judges certainly did so that makes me very happy.

Recipe - makes one Swiss roll:

Sponge - inspired by James Martin via BBC Food
  • 4 eggs
  • 115g/4oz caster sugar
  • 75g/2.5oz self-raising flour
  • 1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
  • Icing sugar for decorating (optional)
Peach Cream - inspired by Gino D'Acampo via BBC Food
  • 1 peach
  • 150ml/5fl.oz double cream
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and grease and line a 23x33cm/9x13inch swiss roll pan with baking parchment.
  2. Put the eggs and caster sugar into a large bowl and beat together until they are pale in colour, fluffy and have thickened.  
  3. Sift in the flour and the matcha green tea powder and gently fold into the egg mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tray and tip around to ensure the mixture is evenly spread.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sponge is only just cooked.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the sponge out onto a sheet of baking parchment.  Remove the parchment used during baking.
  7. Score a line along one of the short sides about 1cm in from the edge.  Do not cut all the way through.
  8. Roll the sponge up tightly into a spiral with the baking parchment (parchment will be inside the roll) and then leave to cool completely.
  9. Peel, de-seed and chop up the peach.
  10. Put into a blender and reduce to a purée.
  11. Whip the cream with the icing sugar until it reaches the soft peak stage.
  12. Gently fold in the peach purée until the mixture is smooth and of a spreadable consistency.
  13. When the sponge has cooled, unroll it.
  14. Spread the peach cream evenly across the cooled sponge, leaving a 1inch gap from the far short side.
  15. Roll the sponge back up tightly, finishing with the end at the base.
  16. Cut off the end on each side with a serrated knife for an even finish.
  17. If desired, dust with icing sugar.  I used a cake stencil to create the pattern on top of mine. 

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