Lilly Higgins’s Bake Off Diary: Caffeine highs and dramatic lows
In keeping with Halloween, Week Two of TV3's Great Irish Bake Off had tricks and treats
I was delighted to have presented the bakers with my first technical challenge, a coffee cake. I love taking a classic traditional recipe and giving a nice modern twist. The ombre graduation of colour inside, the liqueur and the chocolate dipped beans were nice touches that would not only add to the overall cake but challenge our bakers.
Clare’s’ cake was absolutely perfect and exactly how this cake should be made. There’s a fantastic moment when you cut into a cake like this, it’s so visual with it’s different shades of sponge. For me the showstoppers were a little disappointing. This was an ideal opportunity for them to show us just how creative they could be. Unfortunately, I was under-awed by the little coffin made by Neil Reid, (who is actually a colleague at The Irish Times) especially after seeing just how much work he had gone to with the reverse spherification of his raspberry coulis. Molecular gastronomy always sounds so promising but sometimes it’s better to focus on doing a good bake. You can check out the recipe for Neil's coffin cake on irishtimes.com on Monday 2nd November.
I was very worried for Damien when we walked around the tent during the bake. But somehow he pulled it off with a charming Daliesque cake that seemed to melt into itself. Of course the appearance of the cake is one thing, he could only have gotten away with presenting a cake like that at Halloween week. The cake inside not only looked great with it’s fantastic marbling but it tasted great too. The carrot cake was a little dry but overall it really showed his creativity and reflected his personality. It was definitely a real showstopper.
Chocolate Spider Web Pumpkin Pie
240g plain flour
150g cold butter, diced
425g tin pumpkin puree
235ml evaporated milk
220g caster sugar
2 cloves, finely ground
1 pinch salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp flour
70g dark chocolate, chopped
Preheat oven to 170°C .
First make the pastry. Place the flour and butter into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the whole egg and pulse until it comes together to form a dough. Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to rest.
Once rested roll the pastry out on a floured surface. Line a 23cm tart tin. Leave to rest in the fridge again whilst you make the filling.
Melt the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once smooth set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg with the evaporated milk. Stir in the pumpkin puree and add the sugar, spices and flour. Once the mixture is smooth reserve 250ml in a jug. Pour the remainder into the pre lined tart tin. Blend the melted chocolate with the reserved pumpkin mix. Pour the dark chocolatey batter into a strong plastic sandwich bag and snip the corner to form a piping bag (or use a piping bag with a wide nozzle.)
Carefully pipe a swirl starting from the outside of the pie working your way in to the centre. Pipe a larger amount into the centre. Place a skewer into the centre of the mix and quickly drag it to the outside to create a spider web effect. Do this as many times as you see fit but I found it marks the portions perfectly if you do ten lines.
Be very careful lifting the tart to the oven, especially if you are using a loose bottomed tin.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is set firm. Leave to cool at room temperature and serve with Greek yogurt or softly whipped cream.
Watch Lilly Higgins on The Great Irish Bake Off on TV3, every Sunday at 9pm.