The Great British Bake Off is back on our screens! This time last year we were lucky enough to have acquired some very sought after tickets to the GBBO Extra Slice. Although contractually I cannot talk about the proceedings of the program I can share with you the cake I baked and took along.
I wanted to make something that represented the season and to me there isn’t a better combination than embracing the warm spicy notes of Autumn with the sweetness of pumpkin.
Prue Leith’s famous quote on GBBO is pretty much how I live my life: “Is it worth the calories?”
I wanted to incorporate this into the design of the pumpkin spiced cake and spent many hours brainstorming on how I would’ve done this. I found it was much easier to do on the computer as you could manipulate the text and images until it looked right and then invert the whole design before printing.
As mentioned above I wanted to capture Autumn on a cake board. I’ve chosen a variety of leaves that was easy to replicate in batter and a font that will be easy to trace and still be clearly legible after it had baked. It took two tries before I got the measurements spot on after printing to ensure it fitted inside the Swiss roll pan and will still look good after the cake has been trimmed.
To make the batter for the design, use equal amounts of egg white, plain flour, icing sugar and unsalted butter. The easiest way to do this is to crack an egg open and separate it before placing the whites onto your kitchen scales to weigh it (don’t use volume as this will not work). The egg white I used (large free range egg) came to be around 30 grams which turned out to be exactly how much I needed for the design. Then weigh out the same weight of plain flour, icing sugar and softened unsalted butter each. Combine using a small whisk or a fork. Divide into ramekins and colour with some food colouring according to your design. For the brown colour I ended up using a bit of cocoa powder.
Spoon the batter into some clingfilm before placing into piping bags – you can even blend some colours together to get an ombre feel to it. I ended up only snipping the corner off the piping bags as the piping tip I have is way too big.
Place the printed design flat in your Swiss roll cake tin. Put some baking parchment on top of the paper and secure in the corners with a bit of cake batter.
First pipe the outlines of your shapes then let it dry for ten or so minutes before piping in the colours. Slide the paper out from underneath the parchment paper before placing in a moderate oven (160 degrees Celsius) for two minutes to just let it set. Once it is set you can pour the cake batter over and bake as normal.
Since this was the very first time I’ve made a cake using pumpkin puree, I didn’t really have a reliable recipe that I could readily use – especially not one that could potentially land on the telly! So I reverted to my trusty cookbooks and found a pumpkin spiced cupcake recipe from the Hummingbird bakery’s book called Cake Days. I doubled this recipe and also made the cream cheese frosting as described in the book.
I made a couple of fondant pumpkins to decorate the (way too big) cake board. Using ready-coloured orange, brown and green fondant, divide to make around six pumpkins of various sizes (2 large, 2 medium and 2 small). First roll the orange fondant into round balls before flattening the top and bottom a bit. Use the length of a toothpick to make the indents of the pumpkin. Take the brown fondant and roll into a fat sausage. Cut into six pieces in proportion to the pumpkins you’ve made. These will be the stems. Roll one side of the sausage piece between your thumb and forefinger to taper slightly to form the tip. Stick to the pumpkin either using edible glue or just a tiny dab of water. With the green fondant, I only made two leaves by rolling the fondant into a ball then flattening it with the palm of my hand. I then used my thumb and forefinger to shape the leave and a toothpick to give it detail. I stuck the pumpkins onto the board with a dab of edible glue – you can also use a bit of icing sugar.
The moment the swiss roll comes out of the oven take it out of the pan and peel off the baked in parchment. Place a kitchen towel over the top and roll it up so that the design is where you would like it. Leave to cool completely whilst rolled up. This will ensure that your swiss roll will not crack once you put the cream cheese inside.
Once the pumpkin spiced Swiss roll is completely cooled, carefully unroll but leave the cake on the kitchen towel. Cover the inside with cream cheese and roll using the kitchen towel as lever. If you don’t leave the cake to cool completely, the cream cheese frosting will just melt and run out of the centre.
Trim the edges to reveal the beautiful swirl. Serve at room temperature with a mug of hot tea.