Friday, 19 April 2013

The Ups and the Downs of my Favourite Creations.

As I  mentioned in my first post, I love baking. My love for it began when I was little, as my Mum gave me so many opportunities to cook. From baking shortbread with her at Christmas time, to making kiss biscuits with my Nan, my love for it has never waned.

I have always been a bit of a sweet tooth, so I tend to sway towards sugar-based recipes. I am always up for a challenge, and in the past year, have attempted some desserts I have avoided for many years. And whilst the end product may look pretty, the process wasn't necessarily as attractive.

Blueberry and Custard Pies

As you can see above, I tried two different types of toppings for this specific filling. I was unsure whether the blueberry would make the pastry soggy, hence the meringue topping. However, what I found was that after the pies had cooled down slightly, the meringue began to pull away from the sides. This not only looks unattractive, but also causes difficulty when cutting the pie.

TPB TIP: To deal with this issue, make sure you spread the meringue mixture right out to the edge, covering the crust, anchoring it there. This should ensure that the meringue does not pull away after cooking.

Strawberry and Cream Spongecake

The infamous sponge. I had avoided this recipe for the entirety of my baking life, and after constant pleading from my Dad, I decided to give in. If I was going to fail, I might as well get it out of the way. After taking immense care with the sponge mixture, I ran into my first roadblock. The recipe asked for two tins of the same size, but I only had one. I made the decision that I would have to bake one cake at a time, and I had no idea what affect this would have on the end result.
My first cake came out beautifully, and I was so happy. I then looked at the mixture sadly waiting in the bowl, and it looked miserable. The airiness of the batter had disappeared, and it was flat and lifeless. I decided to try it out anyway. What a waste of 40 minutes that was. The cake came out of the oven looking worse for wear. It was dense and wet, and I was not a happy camper. I refused to give in, and made a second batch of mixture, which turned out perfectly!

TPB Tip: If you are making a spongecake which requires two cake tins, don't think you can defy the odds. Put the cakes in at the same time, or if you only have one tin like I did, make two half batches. It will save you a heap of stress and disappointment!

Also, be careful when leaving hot spongecakes on cooling racks. The mixture is generally very sticky, and will quite often stick to the wire. Recipes will call for the use of baking paper on top of the racks, but as I discovered, that does not prevent sticking either. My suggestion is that you monitor your cakes, transferring them from tray to tray every couple of minutes.

                                                                                    Chocolate Eclairs

And at last, we reach the eclair. A delicious treat, but one which does not come trouble-free. Over the past couple of years, I have attempted the croquembouche, and have been semi-successful. The one element which trips me up every time is the choux pastry. Either it doesn't rise like it should, and is dense and doughy, or it cracks.

For Christmas, my brother gave me a book dedicated to eclairs, so I decided I would attempt the tricky dessert one more time. I followed the recipe step by step ,with so much care, I thought nothing could go wrong. I was wrong wasn't I? The pastry was the right consistency, and looked great when I piped it onto the tray, but as soon as it entered the oven, it turned into a deep-fried mess. The butter oozed out of the eclairs, and ruined the pastry completely. I felt deflated and disappointed. But as I said before, I love a challenge, and was determined to beat this recipe.

I found another recipe online, and decided to give it a go, and voilà, it worked! The eclairs looked perfect!

Below is the recipe I used, to save you from any eclair disasters! (Taken from

Basic Choux Recipe

©   2/3 cup cold water
©   60g butter, chopped
©   2/3 cup plain flour
©   3 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Combine butter and 2/3 cup cold water in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until butter has melted and mixture just starts to boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture comes away from side of pan and forms a ball. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  3. Reserve 2 teaspoons egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually beat in remaining egg until well combined and mixture forms a glossy dough (mixture should drop from the spoon).

Until next time, happy baking.


1 comment:

  1. That sponge cake is perfect! Love your blog, Coby :)