Forget the start of the new football season. Forget that The X Factor returns to screens next weekend. Forget the release date of that big summer blockbuster. Because, in our community, there is only one date that matters - the launch of this years series of The Great British Bake Off.
On Tuesday of this week the show kicked off in spectacular style, as we all expected it to. This year, I will be blogging my thoughts along with the show for By Book Or By Cook, the marketing department for Orion Books cookery department. You can read my review of the first episode here. Check back every week to for the latest episode review.
Meanwhile over on this site, each week I will be tackling the technical challenge from the show. This is the section of the show where the contestants are given a bake that they haven't prepared for, with a half completed recipe to test their technical knowledge in piecing it together.
|Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake|
This week, the technical challenge is Angel Food Cake. This is a type of cake made from just egg whites, sugar and flour, to form a fat free, light, fluffy cake that almost melts in the mouth. The version that Mary Berry challenged the bakers with was flavoured with lemon zest, and drizzled in a lemon curd with passion-fruit seeds. I think the inspiration for the lemon curd topping comes from the fact that the cake recipe calls for 10 egg whites, that's a lot of egg, and a lot of leftover yolk. You can find Mary Berry's exact recipe from the show is here on the BBC Food website.
I already had a couple of jars of lemon curd, and didn't really fancy making more, but I really didn't fancy wasting the 10 egg yolks. The solution that I found came in the shape of this amazing product - Two Chick Liquid Egg Whites. I found mine in the ready-rolled pastry section of my local supermarket, next to the butters, and it comes in a 500ml carton, which is the equivalent of 15 medium egg whites. Perfect!
|Two Chicks Liquid Egg White|
Thanks to the show, and the mishaps that befell some of the contestants, I had a good idea of the pitfalls in making this cake, and combined with the fact that I had Mary's full recipe to hand, I felt pretty confident. The only area for concern was that I don't own a specialist Angel Food Cake tin, with the little feet. The tin is really important for the cake, for two reasons. One, because the egg white is the only raising agent in the cake, the tin cannot be greased, and shouldn't be non-stick, to allow the cake to stick to the sides of the tin in order to rise. And secondly, the cake has to be cooled upside down in the tin, to prevent it sinking back into itself! The closest I had was this 12" springform tin, with a bundt style insert. It'd have to do!
As I decided against the lemon curd version of the recipe, I had a look at what was in the house, and settled on a punnet of blueberries that was in the freezer. So here is my Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake, adapted from Mary Berry's recipe from the Great British Bake Off.
|Vanilla and Blueberry Angel Food Cake|
333 ml liquid egg white, or 10 medium egg whites
300 grams white caster sugar
125 grams plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
300 ml double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
200 grams blueberries
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tbsp water
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Sift the plain flour into a mixing bowl, and add 200 grams of the caster sugar and set aside. Put the egg whites in a large mixing bowl, and whisk with a hand whisk for around 30 seconds, or until frothy...
Add the salt, cream of tartar and the vanilla extract, and whisk again to soft peaks. You can tell the whites are at soft peak when you remove the whisk, and the whites form a little peak that doesn't quite hold its shape...
Next, add the remaining 100 grams of caster sugar a spoonful at a time, and stir into the whites by hand. Once all of the sugar has been added in, use the whisk to whip the eggs up to a firm peak, but not stiff. The mixture will turn glossy...
Sprinkle around a third of the flour and sugar mix over the top of the whipped whites, and fold in gently, making sure not to knock any of the air out of the eggs. Add the remaining flour mix, and fold through again until combined...
Transfer the mixture to the tin. Gently shake the tin to make sure that the mixture is evenly distributed and there are no air pockets. Put the tin in the oven, and bake for around 40 minutes...
Check the cake after around 30 minutes, it is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven, and then it needs to be cooled upside down to prevent it from sinking. Although my tin wasn't the right Angel Food Cake tin, the insert that converts it to a bundt tin is taller on the inside than the edges of the cake, so when I turned it upside down, the cake was suspended above the cooling rack...
|Angel Food Cake cooling suspended upside down|
Whilst the cake is cooling, prepare the blueberry compote. Place the blueberries, vanilla sugar and water in a pan, and cook over a gentle heat until the blueberries have broken down, and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Transfer to a dish and set aside to cool.
Once the cake has cooled, slide a knife around the inner and outer edges to release the sides. Use a pallet knife to release the top of the cake from the base. This was the only problem I encountered with my tin, as the scalloped design was a little tricky to release without the tin being greased, therefore some of the top of the cake cake away, but not in any great catastrophe...
Whisk the double cream and icing sugar together until thickened to soft peaks, the coat the top and sides of the cake, smoothing over with a pallet knife...
Spoon the cooled blueberry compote over the top of the cake, and refrigerate until set...
This cake is so light and fluffy, Paul described it as tasting like marshmallow on Tuesday's show and he was absolutely right! I've never eaten an Angel Food Cake before, and this is like no cake I've ever tasted, but my goodness is it good! Because it's so light, you can have a good hearty slice and it doesn't sit heavy at all. The vanilla and blueberry combination is always good, and the tartness of the blueberry compote here is the perfect balance to the sweet cream and fluffy vanilla cake. I will definitely be experimenting with Angel Food Cake more in the future!