The seventh week of this year’s Great British Bake Off and we’ve all gone back in time to Victorian Week, apparently. Because everyone is just super excited to enter the tent and find all the power-boost ovens and pastel Kitchenaid mixers replaced by ovens with fire and an old wooden spoon. Okay, they didn’t go quite that far, but there was an antique pie tin! There was also a signature challenge of a game pie (no thank you) and a showstopper that sounds amazing but requires five and a half hours of bake off time, which translates to five and a half years of normal kitchen time, leaving the technical challenge: Victorian Tennis Cake.
Nope, I’d never heard of it either.
I haven’t attempted a technical challenge yet, so off I went with Mary Berry’s recipe, which has an ingredient list so long I could take a photo of it pre-cooking because not only could I not get it all in the shot at once, I couldn’t get it all on my kitchen counter at once. It takes basically all the things no one buys in the grocery store (like glycerin and liquid glucose) plus a farm worth of eggs and a wheelbarrow of sugar and an orchard of fruit. At first I thought if this is roughly authentic to a Victorian recipe, surely it must have been the reserve of the esteemed upper class or something, then I noticed Mary’s timing requirements. She reckons you can prep this cake in thirty minutes, cook it for two hours, and then be done. I can assure you Mary Berry is not a muggle and just guessed at how long it would take a muggle to make this in a muggle kitchen and her guess is not accurate in any way. Therefore, there was no other way forward but to embrace the real Victorian roots of this cake, and shun all things tennis in favour of the far more obvious choice: Quidditch.
Should you wish to make this cake, I assure you the rest of Berry’s Muggle instructions work perfectly well. It took me closer to an hour just to chop all the fruit and nuts for a cake that is essentially fruit held together by some flour and egg rather than cake dotted with some fruit. I imagine Mary has quicker ways for this than such simple tools as a chef’s knife and a chopping board.
I changed out her self-raising flour for something I could eat without losing my own magic powers, and subbed 100g oat flour, 100g sorghum flour, 50g rice flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder for her 250g self-raising flour.
I made both the marzipan and the fondant. I’d never made marzipan and had no idea it was made with raw egg, but this explains why I could eat it in the same way as cookie dough. Be impressed there is still some left on the cake, frankly. It’s also dangerous knowledge that it was ridiculously easy to make. Hilariously, the recipe calls for the marzipan to be made with that well-known Victorian kitchen gadget, the silicon baking sheet. I used a spatula and it was fine, I swear.
Fondant I had made once before, for a three tier Christmas cake last year that I hoped would look like something out of a magazine and unfortunately I didn’t specify in my hopes that the magazine not be entitled ‘Play-Doh Creations by Toddlers’. This time, the fondant was a huge success and smooth and even! Take that, Tiny Muggle Kitchen!
Then the decoration was royal icing, which I don’t think I’ve made since I whipped up one of these amazing creations for the Johnson County Fair in the summer of 1989. MORE EGGS. Seriously, Mary Berry is keeping chickens in that bake off tent. (Or dare we think there is some sort of chicken animagus possibility?) Anyway, having gone this far with the recipe without resulting to any sort of
cheating magic, I embraced the full Muggle experience of piping placing the goal hoops while balancing a curious child with one hand, so they are wonky but not as wonky as some of those tennis courts on this week’s episode. Random trivia: Quidditch hoops became a regulation size during the Victorian Era. Mine may not be to scale.
I’ve sent the Quidditch cake off to the city today but made this tiny loaf with a bit of the mix so I could still try it and have a verdict. It works as gluten-free, though it needs a fork! It was strange to make an entire cake without vanilla extract in anything. And also… in a country that celebrates fruitcake, I’m a little confused at the idea of fruitcake without booze. Not that it’s not a nice cake without it, just that the two seem to go together here on so many occasions that it is almost a little unfinished without. This could definitely work for a wedding or Christmas cake with the sheer amount of fruit. But most definitely Mary Berry is completely out of her tree on the timings. Plan for an entire weekend unless you have earned Exceeds Expectations in Potions, I’m telling you.
|Great Bloggers Bake Off is organised by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps. See more bloggers’ bakes this week at participating blog, An Organised Mess. |
Please no spoilers from the actual show in the comments, for those who watch later than the original broadcast! Thanks.