On your marks…
Friends. Dear friends, bakers, food lovers all, a beautiful thing has returned. The Great British Bake Off is back! Yes, August 24th we saw 12 new heroes march into a large (adorable) tent in the English countryside and make stupendous cakes on television. Oh man, it’s glorious.
So, just in case you haven’t heard of The Great British Bake Off, I’m here to enlighten you and give you the gift of the best hour of television you’ve ever seen! Okay. Well, at least I think it’s the best. It’s an award winning British competition television show where 12 amateur home bakers make delicious and stunning baked goods to be evaluated every week by delightful English judges. According to http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/ (the official website of the show),
“The Great British Bake Off is the ultimate baking battle where passionate amateur baking fans compete to be crowned the UK’s Best Amateur Baker. Over the course of 10 hour-long episodes, the series follows the trials and tribulations of the competitors, young and old, from every background and every corner of Britain, as they attempt to prove their baking prowess. Each week the bakers tackle a different baking skill, which become progressively more difficult as the competition unfolds.”
Yup. Fantastic! So I watched the first episode this past week and I had this great idea to try and bake one thing from the show each week! I’m not sure if this is a realistic idea or goal, but I decided to try it. It will hopefully inspire me to make new and exciting things more often and you’ll be seeing more yummy things more often. (And who can complain about that?) This first episode featured cakes, which made me doubly excited because 1. I love making cakes! and 2. Mr. Nifty and I had a party we were going to this week and the host asked me to bring a dessert.
The truth is, I rarely make cakes because it’s just me and Mr. Nifty here and it’s really hard to eat a whole cake between the two of us before it starts going stale. One of the saddest things in the world is throwing out a perfectly good cake because it went stale. 🙁 My bottom lip quivers just thinking about it. Therefore, having the fortuitous opportunity to feed lots of young people with cake made me pretty enthusiastic.
There are three components to a Bake Off episode: the signature challenge, the technical challenge, and the show stopper. The idea of the signature is to let the bakers kinda give their own take on a traditional recipe. The technical challenge is usually something really difficult and rare and the bakers are given a very sparse set of instructions and limited time to show how well they know how their technique. The show stopper is meant to wow the judges and be spectacular. It’s usually hard and stressful and everyone is flipping out at the end. It’s so great, I love it.
I decided to try the signature challenge to replicate in my own little kitchen this week. The contestants (and me!) were tasked with making a moist drizzle cake. Traditionally, lemon drizzle cake is the most common and a few contestants made lemon cakes that looked so good. I could probably eat lemon cake forever and never get tired of it. #noshame I also noticed one baker, Benjamina, made a pistachio cardamom lemon drizzle loaf. The idea of citrus with pistachio nuts sounded delicious. Boom! Pistachio cake it was.
And so I present to you:
Pistachio lime drizzle cake with raspberries! This is the first time I made a pistachio cake from scratch and it was so delicious. There is actually a whole cup of ground up pistachios in the batter and it gives it a really unique crunchy light crumb when you bite into the cake. With the lime syrup drizzled into the cake layers, it is so soft and moist. MMmm! I made three 8 inch cakes with just a little spread of vanilla buttercream and crushed raspberries between each layer. And of course decked out with plenty of pistachio nuts and berries on top so that everyone who saw the uncut cake could get a little excited about eating it. 😉 It was a hit at the party we went to and it will definitely be joining the ranks as a tried and true favorite in my recipe box. Happy baking!
- 1 cup shelled pistachios, plus extra for decoration
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1½ cup milk
- 3 egg whites
- juice of two limes
- ½ cup sugar
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare three 8 inch baking pans by spraying with cooking oil or greasing with butter and flouring.
- In a food processor, pulse the pistachio nuts until very finely chopped. You want them to be almost powdery in texture.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and ground pistachio nuts.
- In another mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with sugar and vanilla for three to five minutes until fluffy and pale. Add the egg and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and transfer the butter mixture to the dry ingredients with the milk and stir until just combined.
- Clean out your stand mixer bowl and wipe down your whisk and mixing bowl with lemon juice to get rid of any grease from the butter. You'll be whisking egg whites and you want your bowl to be free of grease so that they can properly whip.
- Whisk the egg whites on high for about 5 minutes until hard peaks form. Gently fold these egg whites into the batter until just combined.
- Divide the batter into your three prepared pans, smoothing the batter on top so that it's even. Bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for about 15 minutes before turning them out of the pans.
- For the lime drizzle syrup combine the juice of 2-3 limes plus enough water to make ½ cup liquid with ½ cup sugar in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and remove from heat just at it is beginning to boil.
- To assemble your cake you will need lime syrup and vanilla buttercream as well as fresh raspberries.
- If needed, trim the domes off of your cakes to make them level with a serrated knife. Lay down your first cake layer and brush the lime syrup generously over the top. Frost a thin layer of vanilla buttercream (you can use a piping bag around the edges to make it look a little prettier) and tear a handful of berries, dotting the vanilla buttercream.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the first. Again, brush generously with syrup, frost, and add berries. Repeat with the last layer, but instead of tearing the berries, leave them whole and decorate the top. Sprinkle the top of the cake with roughly chopped pistachio nuts.