Christmas Delight Cake

I can’t believe this is the last challenge.  Although it didn’t feel like it, it flew by so quickly.

For this challenge, we were asked to make a 3 tiered holiday cake with 2 flavors, a filling and a crunch element.  I chose to make a Christmas cake with each tier representing my favorite Christmas song.

The top tier is “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas”.  There is a line in that song that says, “From now on your troubles will be out of sight”.  So, I’ve always envisioned a window where all your troubles are outside and you’re safe and cozy inside.

The middle tier is “The Christmas Song” and it opens with “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” which is why I created a replica of a fireplace and actual chestnuts (mini chestnut praline) “roasting” on a rustic pan.

The bottom tier is “White Christmas” and that song opens with “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” which is why everything is covered in snow and exceedingly white.

The cake flavors are inspired by my little girl and also Paul Hollywood.  My little girl loves Reeses chocolates so I made a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.  This cake also has banana slices in it because my other cake is a banana cake with cream cheese frosting and for the crunch element, I’ve added some walnut praline and banana chips.  I chose banana cake as one of my flavors because I know Paul Hollywood likes banana flavored desserts and I really wanted him to try my banana cake recipe.

The chocolate cake is covered with a white chocolate ganache, the banana cake is covered with a dark chocolate ganache and both cakes are covered with marshmallow fondant.

Before I left for England, my little boy decided to name my holiday cake, “Christmas Delight” because he said it was “Delightful”.  Hence the name, Christmas Delight Cake.

I am so relieved I was able to share these ideas and recipes I created for the Bake off because I was devastated when I had to drop out.  Rest assured, they did not go to waste.

Thank you all so very much for being with me throughout this journey but now it’s time to close this chapter of my life and look forward to the future.  I am really going to miss making these videos.

Florentine Cannoli

I’ve never had a cannoli before I had to make my own recipe so it wasn’t the easiest thing to do.  However, I was able to achieve those classic bubbles and crispy shell.  I’ve experimented with vinegar and other liquids but marsala wine was the winner in the end.

I sound like a broken record but I adore Mary Berry and everything about her so I just had to incorporate her into my baking for this one.  I frequently make her florentine biscuits so I took the cranberries and candied orange peel from her florentine recipe and added them to my cannoli recipe.  Born was the florentine cannoli.  I don’t know what sicilian cannoli taste like but this is my take on a classic cannoli with a twist.  It has the refreshing taste of lemon and orange along with cranberries, dark chocolate and almonds.  In Mary Berry’s words, “What could be better?”.

Oh how I would love to be adopted by Mary Berry.

Home for Christmas Gingerbread Train

Wow! I can’t believe after this, it’s the finals.  Where has the time gone?  I’m so excited to share with you my interlocking gingerbread train.  We were told to make a holiday gingerbread sculpture that was at least 10″ in height.  I didn’t want to do the standard house or church so I came up with a train.  Does anyone correlate trains with Christmas or the Holidays? Maybe it’s because of Harry Potter? Nobody does Christmas like Hogwarts.  Maybe it’s because trains bring people home for the Holidays? I’m not sure but whatever the reason, I thought a train would be appropriate for this challenge.  We were only given a certain amount of hours so I didn’t want to be stuck standing there holding the pieces together and waiting for the royal icing to dry so I created interlocking templates.  There’s cotton candy steam/smoke and stained glass windows along with eager passengers inside, waiting to get home.  I didn’t forget the hard working conductor and the cargo in the back with all the luggage.  It’s almost spring but the smell of gingerbread makes it feels like winter in my house!

Lavender Honey Pot de crème

Pot de crème is a beautifully elegant dessert.  It’s basically a crème brûlée without the brûlée.  Yes, I know, what’s the point in that you ask because the brûlée is the best part, right?  Well, with pot de crème, you actually have the opportunity to appreciate the silky smooth custard instead of looking for the caramelized sugar on top.  Also, this pot de crème recipe is really something special.  The flavors are lavender, honey, blueberries and lemon.  One single bite of this can take you on a roller coaster from a warm and cozy cottage to a flowery meadow.  It’s so wonderfully different and unbelievably delicious.

Tudor Rose Bread Sculpture

This is such a special recipe to me for it contains a lot of the things I love.  I love bread, I love history and I especially love a good story.

The story behind my bread sculpture lies within each part of the flower which represents the six wives of Henry VIII.

Beginning with the first wife, Catherine of Aragon, whose badge was the pomegranate.  I’ve placed six pomegranate seeds in the middle – one for each wife.

The next is Anne Boleyn, the passionfruit curd is to represent the passionate relationship she had with Henry VIII.

The third wife was Jane Seymour who was nicknamed “plain Jane” who was also known as the sweet and kind one.  I used a sweet and plain bread and the white cream cheese filling represents her fair complexion.

The cornets are for Anne of Cleves who was German.  I filled it with the flavors of a german cake – black Forest gâteau or black forest cake.

The breadsticks represents Katherine Howard. Her badge was the Tudor Rose with a stem and Henry VIII called her his rose without a thorn.  The cinnamon sugar is for the spicy nature of her personality and the scandal that lead to her demise.

Last but not least, the sixth wife, the red petals represents Catherine Parr‘s favorite color which was crimson.

I’m sure a few of these amazing and brilliant queens would never have wanted to be associated with one another.  However, by being who they were and the person they were married to, they’re eternally connected in a very intimate way.

I could talk and learn for hours and hours about the Tudors and history but I know this isn’t a history blog!

 

 

 

Potato and Scallion Naan

Bread is one of my weaknesses.  Wait, I shouldn’t say that about myself.  I’m strong and I love bread and if there is a bread I can make in 1.5 hours, I love it even more.  This naan is chewy yet, ever so soft and tender.  You can absolutely dip this gorgeousness in a sea of curry but it’s equally scrumptious on its own.  Dare I say, anything that has potatoes on it should qualify as a meal.  Not only is the texture spot on, it has a wonderful flavor of sour cream and onion from the scallions that make you keep coming back for more.

Cookie Cream Tart

Cookie cream tarts are so versatile, you can make any shape or size you want.  I chose to make an apple tree because it reminds me of autumn and let’s face it, there’s something special about apple trees.  They stir up so many emotions of happiness and childhood like innocence.  What is it about apple trees? Maybe it’s the way they look in picture books and paintings? It makes you feel safe and it’s just so very comforting.

My cookie cream tart has a sweet layer of protection to keep the cream from making it soggy.  I also use a tiny trick to keep the french macarons from getting soggy as well.  I sometimes wonder if I would have had finished this on time in the tent.  There are so many components to this bake but it’s totally worth it!

Rugelach

I know it seems like I know absolutely nothing about baking because I keep starting off with the sentence, “I had no idea what this was until I was given the assignment”, but I can assure you, I simply live under a rock.  I don’t travel or watch regular television enough to know what’s out there in the world.  I just experiment in my kitchen and never leave the house unless I’m going to the grocery store or orchard.  Enter, rugelach.  Another thing I had never tried until I made it but now, I can’t go back.  Why would anyone ever want to make dough without cream cheese? I’m going to start putting cream cheese in everything I make from now on.

Rugelach is a sweet cookie/pastry (?!) I can’t.  I can’t call it a cookie.  Sorry, it just feels wrong.  It traditionally has dried fruits and nuts but I chose to go rogue and made a savory one.

To those of you who hate goat cheese, give it a chance! I can understand why people might be repelled by the mere thought of it but hey, I think beer is disgusting and repulsive, so to each his own.  Speaking of haters, if you don’t like Taylor Swift, we can’t be friends.  I don’t hate but I hate haters.

I don’t know why my rugelach video turned into a Taylor Swift rampage but there you have it.  I’m a crazy Mary Berry and Taylor Swift fanatic.  Furthermore, I love Ellen.  I first saw Ellen on her sitcom when I was a teenager and have been an Ellen maniac ever since.  I digress.  What is it about rugelach that makes me want to veer off topic?!

 

 

Éclairs

Having to come up with a recipe for something you’ve never even tried before is tough to do but when you have to perfect it so you can do it on national television under a time restraint, that’s a whole different ball game.  I had never even tried an éclair before creating these recipes but they’re actually quite simple to make.  My favorite part is making little cream puffs with the leftover choux.  Which I’ve never had before either until I made them!

The story behind these éclairs go back to my childhood.  My g-ma on my dad’s side was my bestest friend in the whole world.  I miss her dearly.  I started baking when I was 15 and back then, I didn’t know that you could make a cake from scratch.  I know.  How naive (or just plain stupid).  So, I used to make her these awful cakes and cookies out of bags and boxes but my poor grandmother, she ate them anyway and said they were delicious.  If I can give one advice to anyone reading this, take cookies out of the oven before they look well done! Cookies bake as they cool and if you think they’re still raw and leave them in, you’ll end up with teeth chippers.  That was a long time ago and I’ve made thousands of cookies ever since but I will never forget how confused I was back then.  Anyway, I really wish she were alive today so I could bake her things from scratch.  Her favorite fruits were grapefruits and pomegranates so it was only fitting to make grapefruit and pomegranate éclairs.

My g-ma on my mum’s side, wow.  What an incredible human being.  She is the most generous and loving person out there who feeds the homeless and absolute strangers.  She literally gives the clothes off her back (and my grandfathers for that matter).  I remember she used to drink coffee every evening after dinner and she gave me my first sip when I was 5.  I remember she used to tell me coffee was for adults and I shouldn’t drink it but she still let me finish her last sip occasionally.  She moved back to Korea a few years ago and I miss her so very much.  If I could send her a case of hazelnut coffee creamer, I totally would.  She always made food for us and fed us like we weren’t ever going to eat again.  I so wish I could make her something in return.  So, these hazelnut coffee éclairs are for her.

 

Peacock Pie

I’ve never even heard of a slab pie before I was given this assignment.  The explanation is in the name.  It’s just a slab of pie!  I think my goal was to come up with something unusual and interesting for the judges to taste.  This pie is wonderfully aromatic from the amount of fruits it contains.  The sweet caramelized filling is hit by a flavor of warmth coming from the bourbon and cocoa and leaves a hint of spice from the cayenne pepper.  It truly is one of a kind!