I was fortunate enough to have my bake highlighted on the TV program ‘Extra Slice’ last week – its the spin off show from ‘The Great British Bake Off’.
We went to watch the show being filmed last year too with Sunday Bake Club and this year a smaller group of us managed to be allowed back to show off our bakes. You are told the theme to the show in advance with some clues to the bakes that will feature but in a very cryptic way so I watched the previous weeks show with interest to see if I could work out what the bakes would be for the show we were seeing. Luckily I managed to guess that being patisserie week the technical challenge which had been described as a yeast based cake with fruit was a savarin.
The way it all works is that you are encouraged to bring along a bake which fits the theme but perhaps has an amusing or unusual flavour twist. So what to do?
I thought about a savarin as I thought it would travel well but how to give it that twist? Going all guns I opted for a chocolate, blackberry and liquorice flavour, inspired by a couple of John Whaite recipes who loves the chocolate and liquorice combination and using a seasonal fruit too. Savarins are also traditionally soaked in an alcoholic syrup and as Mary Berry is known to enjoy the boozy bakes on the show I thought I would go for model of Mary enjoying a tipple under the cake to give an extra comedy factor. Finally the bake just had to have a wow appeal so I found a ‘how to’ in the Bake off Creme De La Creme book to make some curved chocolate chards.
You bake it all ready to take along to the ITV Studios in London. I went by train and although the cake was fairly stable I was pretty nervous about the shards breaking en-route. My cake had its own seat all the way there! I took spares but luckily didn’t need them.
The production team take you through to an area where you describe your bake and inspiration. You then leave for a couple of hours and return later for filming. We also had to sign confidentiality forms to make sure we didn’t disclose any information prior to the program going out on air. Filming of Extra Slice is done on a Sunday prior to the Great British Bake Off program going out on the Wednesday so we would know who had left the tent before anyone else. I went with six baking friends and we all were excited and nervous to bring our bakes along, everyone had done such a fabulous job and other people were also there with their bakes.
Debbies Sable and Rubys mini Victoria sponges
Karens bacon topped cream horns!
Debbie and her mum describing her sable biscuits.
Joyces afternoon tea selection
My bake made it in one piece hurrah!
With a couple of hours to kill we naturally went to the pub over the road for lunch and maybe a calming glass of wine too!
Finally time to return to the studio, we were shown to a room where we were told how the show would work and ushered off to the studio.
We get to watch that weeks Great British Bake Off first so we know what the Extra Slice will be all about, its great fun being in such a big room with other baking fans watching the program and everyone was sad when Selasi was eliminated from the competition, but excited knowing he would be in the studio with us really soon.
When we arrived at the studio a few off us were called to sit at particular tables and miked up I couldn’t believe it when they said I would be one of them. Joyce was chosen too and we both hit new heights of nervousness! After watching the show we had a quick comfort break and when I came back they found a stand for my cake and told me they would be tasting my bake but would I mind taking Mary off! I was a bit disappointed as she had taken ages but understood that my bake had been chosen as it was the same as that weeks technical bake and they seemed to like the liquorice twist in the ingredients.
Finally filming starts and we get to be up close with Nadiya Hussain, last years winner, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish conservative party and Tom Allen a comedian
Filming lasts a couple of hours and it gradually gets colder and colder in the studio. You are encouraged to smile all the time and they film a few early shots and sounds of clapping and cheering too! It does seem to go on forever to be honest and I was getting pretty nervous about what to say when they came to taste my bake.
Finally they highlighted a few really good novelty bakes and then got round to the tasting part.
It all felt a bit chaotic at the time, Nadiya couldn’t taste my cake as she doesn’t drink but both Ruth and Tom tasted it and kind of understood what I was trying to achieve but I’m not convinced they really liked the flavours. Nadiya however said some lovely things and complimented me on my chocolate tempering which I was so delighted with. In the final cut they didn’t show my bake being tasted, but I was lucky to get on at all as one other vegetable based bake that they tried wasn’t shown at all.
Jo Brand the host asked if I had my own show which was hilarious too!
Joyces bakes were also tasted and shown on the program, they loved her savoury twist on the patisserie theme
Once again Nadiya said some lovely things about her bakes and Jo Brand was highly amusing when she tried Joyces pork scratching caramel shards!
it felt like we had been there forever but eventually we saw Selasi, a very popular contestant as he came on for his interview.
He came across every bit as laid back as he had in the tent and all too soon it was time to go home and wait to see if we had made the final program.
Its the final tonight and I feel the best bakers have made the top three. Nadiya stressed that its always about your performance on the day so who do you think will be crowned Great British Bake off winner 2016? Andrew, Candice or Jane?
I also managed to recycle Mary in another bake later that week for the GBBOTwitterBakeAlong run by Rob and Jacqui which has just come to end and on Twitter. they have done an amazing job throughout the entire series and we will miss Bake along as much as we miss Bake Off!
Give us a wave Mary – pointing the way to my fondant fancies!
If you want to give my savarin a try here is the recipe.
Chocolate, Blackberry and Liquorice Savarin.
As a quick note before I start – the savarins o the program were cooked in Nordicware bundt tins, mine was cooked in a more classic savarin ring (22cm). This recipe will work in a bundt tin but wouldn’t fill a 10 cup tin, although perhaps would fill a 6 cup tin – you may need to adjust the cook times.
Ingredients – cake
40g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
40g unsalted butter
225g strong white flour
7g (one packet) dried instant yeast
1/2 tsp salt
45g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder (use a good quality one such as Food Thoughts )
2 large eggs
100ml full fat milk
50g dark chocolate chips
50g soft black liquorice.
Ingredients – syrup
150g caster sugar
6 liquorice lozenges
I use these ones available online
but if you cant get hold of these Foodie Flavours do a good liquorice natural flavouring, but you need to add this when you add the liqueur.
6 tbsp creme de mure liqueur
275 ml water
Ingredients to finish
Shards – 200g good quality dark chocolate.
30g white chocolate
Warm the milk in a jug to tepid temperature (neither hot nor cold to the touch). Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 mins in a warm place.
Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave in shorts bursts. Add the butter, stir to melt and mix and put to one side to cool slightly.
Combine the flour, salt, caster sugar and cocoa in a large bowl and whisk together.
Once the yeast has started to form a slight foam over the milk add to the flour and stir in (you can use a dough hook on a mixer if you have one).
Beat the eggs and add to the flour mixture and combine.
Add the melted chocolate and continue to combine, it will be hard to knead as its a very sloppy batter by the point but a dough hook on a mixer or wooden spoon by hand will do the job.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to prove for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Prepare the savarin tin by greasing well with butter, if using a bundt tin then flour the tin as well.
Chop the soft liquorice into small chunks about the same size as the chocolate chips.
After the first prove work in the chocolate chips and liquorice pieces into the mixture.
Turn into the prepared tin, cover wth cling film and leave to prove for about 50 minutes or until doubled in size, mine reached the top of my tin.
Meanwhile pre heat the oven to 180C (fan), bake for about 25minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean (try a few spots incase you hit a chocolate chip!).
Whilst the cake is cooking make the syrup.
Combine the water and sugar and liquorice lozenges if you are using them, warm until the sugar and lozenges are dissolved then boil for about 3/5mins to make a light syrup. Add the liqueur (and liquorice flavouring drops to taste if using these) and simmer for a further minute. Keep warm. The syrup will be a very light runny consistency.
When the cake is cooked leave to cool for 5mins then turn out. Pour half the syrup into the cake tin and replace the cake. Allow the syrup to be completely absorbed for about 15 minutes. Place the rest of the syrup into a lipped dinner plate then turn the cake out flat side down to absorb the rest of the syrup. I trimmed my cake prior to this stage in the tin to give a totally flat surface to sit on. Leave to cool completely.
I finished my cake by drizzling some melted white chocolate over the top of the cake, I added curved, tempered chocolate shards which I stuck inside the centre of the cake with some meted chocolate then filled the centre with fresh blackberries which I then drizzled with more white chocolate. I followed the instructions to make the shards in the Bake Off Creme de la Creme book.
I loved the flavours, the mixture of the fruit and liquorice reminded me of the pink or blue sweets in Bassetts Allsorts but must admit it wasn’t a huge hit with my kids, so only give this one a try if you are truly a liquorice fan!