Hi friends! I’m back from Maine after a really fun long weekend.
I was there for my brother’s fiancee’s bachelorette festivities, which were Great British Bake Off themed in that we actually recreated our own version of the show – so creative, right?
I had some issues on Saturday morning with a last minute cancelled flight and a frantic rebook out of Baltimore, but thankfully I made it just in time for the baking festivities to begin – whew!
Here I am with the bride, Roxanne:
Roxanne’s maid of honor planned the event and booked a test kitchen for us to carry out the baking competition.
There were 7 competitors and 2 judges for the festivities.
For those who haven’t seen the show, one of the challenges is always a surprise technical – the bakers don’t know what it is until the challenge starts, and the instructions are famously vague.
Our surprise technical?
I was excited because I’ve made biscotti before (see also: Whole Wheat Pumpkin Goji Biscotti, Vegan Vanilla Almond Biscotti and Whole Wheat Wild Blueberry Biscotti) so I had a general idea of the process.
Biscotti instructions and Prosecco in hand, we all got right down to work!
I ran into an issue right away, though – the butter was really cold and hard!
I have no idea what everyone else did but I could not for the life of me get it to blend in with the rest of the ingredients! I finally ended up adding an extra egg and mixing it by hand and that seemed to help.
My butter drama meant I got my biscotti loaf into the oven significantly later (like 15 minutes) than everyone else – yikes!
We were using a convection oven, so that helped speed things up a bit, but we had a set time limit for the challenge so I knew I was in trouble…
I had to pull my loaf out of the oven earlier than I would have liked to slice it and put the pieces back in for another quick bake, but c’est la vie!
Everyone rushing around to plate their masterpieces:
All together now!
As per the show rules, we did a blind judging for the technical so the judges didn’t know whose was whose!
Mine is the pinwheel on the bottom. Not quite fully baked, but at least they came out relatively uniform!
The judges (Roxanne’s friends) rated all the biscotti on a variety of different criteria – taste, texture, uniformity, presentation, whether we had the 12 they asked for, etc.
The judge’s critiques were pretty hilarious – especially because the bride’s biscotti had a long piece of hair baked into it – LOL! Fail.
I ended up taking 3rd place which I was pretty pumped about. They deemed my performance “best come back” after getting such a late start. 😉
After the technical, we got right into the main event: our Showstopper!
If you watch the show, this is the last baking competition of the day, and the competitors are allowed to practice beforehand.
The ask: create a wedding cake, at least two tiers, that is themed for Roxanne and my brother in some way.
Since I have no idea how to bake cakes despite the fact that I have a food blog, I practiced last weekend with my mom (post title: “Cake Fail“), and this hilarious hot mess was the result of the practice sesh:
Ummmm yeah, so glad I practiced before the big day!
I went into the Showstopper older and wiser than last weekend – and I also brought my own small baking tins! Because… go big or go home.
After having timing issues for the biscotti, I got right to work when the time started – we had 2.5 hours and I wasn’t going to waste a minute!
My big idea: create a Starbucks-themed mocha cake that looked like a latte in a Starbucks cup! (My brother and Roxanne used to go to Starbucks together all the time in college, and it’s kind of their “place” so I thought it would be the perfect theme.)
To go with the coffee theme, I made a mocha cake that had actual coffee in it. Here’s the recipe I used: mocha cake recipe.
I have no idea if I measured something wrong or what, but for some reason my batter was SUPER runny. Last weekend it was much more creamy/thick (again, glad I practiced this first).
My mom (who is very into super precise baking) would have been horrified because I ended up just randomly adding spoonfuls of extra flour to the mix until it seemed like the right consistency. Ha!
I decided to make a 4 tier cake, and as I mentioned I ended up bringing my own tins. The problem I ran into last weekend was that I tried to slice the 8 inch cakes into smaller rounds so that they would look more like a coffee cup shape (taller and thinner), but I hadn’t thought about the fact that if I sliced the sides and then tried to ice them, they would be a crumbly mess.
So I found some cheap 4 inch tins online and bought 4 so that I wouldn’t have to worry about trying to cut the cake sides! #worthit
I kept a very close eye on my cakes because we were using a convection oven (which bakes faster), and the tins were much smaller than the ones I used last weekend so I knew they would cook more quickly.
The tops of the cakes got puffier than I thought they would, so I ended up slicing 3 of the cakes off at the top to create a flat surface so I could stack them.
Luckily it worked! And thanks to the small cake tins, I didn’t have to cut the sides, so the icing on the outside went on smoothly and cleanly.
(For my homemade frosting, I used this recipe and it was soooo good.)
I also made homemade whipped cream (<- recipe) to put on the top of the tower to make it look even more like a latte!
I piped it on which worked well.
My masterpiece is complete!
I was so pumped with how it came out.
To do the design on the side, I was originally going to dye part of my leftover frosting black and use a piping bag, but someone else had brought a pre-made black icing with a small tip so the judges said I was fine to use that instead.
I did my best effort with the logo on the front, and on the back I tried to make it look like their cup with an “L” for latte, and “soy” for the milk since that’s Roxanne’s fave.
I also spelled her name wrong, because, Starbucks. 😉
The competition was fierce – check out all these amazing cakes! (Only 5 because a couple people teamed up.)
Another Starbucks-themed cake:
“All’s fair in love and war” – that’s camouflage colors on the side because Steve and Roxanne were both in the Army – plus a tiny Starbucks cup on top:
America-themed strawberry cake (I loved the flavor of this one – it used freeze-dried strawberries in the batter and was so flavorful):
And this Army-themed cake, lol – I was really impressed with the camouflage colors baked in – it looked really cool when you cut it.
I won the showstopper challenge!
My cake got high marks for creativity of design, and for taste.
It was also baked through nicely (a couple of the others were a bit under-baked) and surprisingly held together when sliced into – I totally thought it would topple over!
For those who watch the show, I got the only “handshake” of the night. 😉 I was pumped!
Overall star baker went to Roxanne’s mom, who performed well in the biscotti challenge and made the beautiful other Starbucks cake! Well deserved.
Such a fun day!
I’ll be back on Friday to recap the rest of the weekend – stay tuned!