Whisks at the ready. Ovens on. The Great British Bake Off is back for a fifth series. Over ten, tense weeks, twelve contestants will pipe, glaze and of course bake, all under the icy-blue gaze of Paul Hollywood. To keep yourself busy until tonight, why not have a go at some of the best recipes from last year, away from the stress of the Bake Off tent?
Millionaire’s Shortbread Banoffee Traybake – Frances Quinn
A great recipe from last year’s winner, Frances Quinn. Treat the whole family with this tasty traybake.
- 200g/7oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 100g/3½oz golden caster sugar
- 300g/10½oz plain flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 100g/3½oz hard banana chips
- 150g/5½oz unsalted butter
- 150g/5½oz golden caster sugar
- 50g/1¾oz golden syrup
- 1x 397g/14oz tin condensed milk
- 1 large slightly ripe banana, mashed until smooth
- 100g/3½oz chewy banana chips, cut up with scissors
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 250g/9oz dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/350F/Gas 4 and lightly grease a 20x33cm/8x13in square-cornered Swiss roll tin.
- Place all the ingredients for the shortbread in a food processor and pulse to form a smooth dough.
- Press the mixture firmly into the base of the tin to create a flat surface and clean edge. Prick all over with a fork and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown and firm.
- For the topping, grind the hard banana chips in a food processor to a coarse powder. Set aside.
- To make the caramel, place the butter, sugar, syrup and condensed milk into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted, stirring all the time. Boil the mixture gently for 10 minutes, stirring all the time until deep golden-brown and thickened, stirring in the mashed banana a few minutes before the end.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring through the banana chips and reserved banana powder. Pour over the baked shortbread base and sprinkle over the sea salt flakes. Allow to cool slightly while preparing the chocolate topping.
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Pour the chocolate over the banana salted caramel layer and leave to set in the fridge.
- Cut into bars with a very sharp, heavy knife and stack up on a serving plate.
Apple, Cherry and Marzipan Pie – Ruby Tandoh
A pimped-out pie from 2013 runner-up, Ruby Tadoh. A perfect combination of tart and sweet, suitable for the upcoming autumn.
- 225g/8oz unsalted butter, in pieces
- 430g/15oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1 lemon, zest only
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
- 60g/2¼oz caster sugar
- 4 tbsp cornflour
- 3 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/½in thick slices
- 3 Cox apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm/½in thick slices
- 200g/7oz marzipan, cut into small cubes
- 150g/5½oz dried sour cherries
- 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt
- Place the butter and flour in a large bowl and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Measure five tablespoons of water in a jug and slowly add it to the mixture until it comes together to form a dough that is firm but not crumbly.
- Work the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly just to combine. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/fan oven 170C/375F/Gas 5.
- In a large bowl combine the lemon zest, cinnamon, caster sugar and cornflour. Add the apples and toss to coat.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and set aside one-third for the pie lid. Roll out the remaining pastry until it is big enough to generously fit the pie dish. Use the rolling pin to help you lift the pastry into the pie dish and gently press it into the sides, leaving any excess pastry overhanging the sides. Place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.
- Roll out the remaining pastry to form the pastry lid. Use any excess to form shapes to decorate the pie.
- Arrange a layer of apple slices in the pie dish and scatter with marzipan cubes and cherries. Repeat in layers until the dish is nearly full at the edges and heaped in the centre.
- Place the pastry lid on top and crimp the edges to seal. Make a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Place any decorative shapes on top and then glaze with beaten egg.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp. Check after 25 minutes and, if necessary, cover with foil to prevent the pastry edges from burning.
Egg Custard Tarts – Paul Hollywood
A technical challenge set by the blue-eyed beast himself. A light and tasty tart, perfect to enjoy with tonight’s opening episode.
For the sweet pastry
- 165g/5¾oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g/1oz ground almonds
- 120g/4¼oz chilled unsalted butter, cubed
- 55g/2oz caster sugar
- 1 free-range egg
For the custard filling
- 700ml/1¼ pint full-fat milk
- 7 free-range egg yolks
- 90g/3¼oz caster sugar
- freshly ground nutmeg
- Stir the flour and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then add the butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
- Break in the egg and work into the mixture with your fingers, forming soft dough.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball. Flatten with your fingers to a disc and wrap in cling film. Leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Roll out the sweet pastry on a lightly floured surface.
- Using an 11cm/4½in fluted cutter, cut out twelve discs and line the muffin tray moulds with the pastry circle.
- For the custard filling, warm the milk in a saucepan, and beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and creamy. Pour the milk onto the egg yolk mixture and stir well, creating little bubbles.
- Transfer the custard mixture into a pouring jug with a lip, then fill each of the tart cases.
- Sprinkle a small pinch of ground nutmeg into the middle of each tart.
- Bake the tarts in the oven for about 25 minutes – you may need to turn the temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4 for the final 10 minutes. You are looking for a very slight dome on the custard, indicating that it is baked. If the custard domes too much this indicates that you have over-cooked the custard.
- Cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then carefully remove from the moulds. The base of the tarts should be perfectly baked through, without having over-cooked the custard filling.
When the bake off champion is crowned in 2014, we will all feel as hollow as an unfilled profiterole. The only way to fill the space is to bake, so start developing your cake craft skills now.
Image property of BBC