The Great Gemmish Bakeoff

My initial tumble into the world of baking coincided with the opening series of the Great British Bake Off (give or take 6 months or so) and I’ve loved it ever since- It’s so cute- British-ly humerous-  the presenters (the lovely Mel and Sue) are encouraging in a slightly piss-takey way, there’s always a bit of an excuse for double entendre (soggy bottoms anyone) or some general smuttiness (a squirrel with massive balls ended up in a cut-away shot in the last series) and there’s always some kind of comedy minor drama be it someone dropping their cake or mistaking sugar for salt, but at the end of the day, nobody gets shouted at or told their rubbish and the judges always find something positive to say about whats on display.

I always come away from watching it thinking ‘ooh, I really want to try x, y, z technique’, but until now, abject laziness got in the way, and I never quite got round to it. The most recent series started last week however, and after watching the contestants tackle challenge number 1- layer cakes, I decided to bite the bullet and start my own Gem version of the bake off challenges.

I’d had an idea in my head for ages to make a rich chocolate cake with a rose buttercream filling, but hadn’t gotten around to it, but I realised I’d faffed enough and took to the recipe books to find what I thought would be the perfect chocolate cake recipe, before deciding that this one would be pretty good- It says ‘ultimate’ in the title- what’s not to like?!
imageUnfortunately, I didn’t quite have all the ingredients, so had to improvise and ended up putting in a little less chocolate, a little more cocoa powder (plus some baking powder to compensate), three, count em, three types of sugar (dark muscavado, soft brown and bog standard caster) in the quantities I had, oh and I didn’t bother with buttermilk- who has that knocking about, honestly?!

I baked the whole lot in three eight inch sandwich tins, which fitted perfectly, rose nicely, but, disaster of disasters, didn’t actually come out of the tin in one piece. I think the additional sugar stuffed the proportions because everything sort of turned into a big brownie- Proof if proof were needed that when it comes to baking you DON’T MESS WITH THE RECIPE!

Unperturbed, I made up some buttercream, coloured it rose pink and added a teaspoon of rosewater and salvaged some of the cake to make one almost perfect slice for a picture. The rest of it I took to the pub in unceremonious lumps, with a pot of the buttercream and some plastic knives and let everyone get stuck in, in a less elegant way.

There wasn’t a bad word said about it, although I think if Mary Berry had been judging I would have been marked down considerably for baking a brownie rather than a sponge. Good job I wasn’t on the telly in that case!


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