Each year the Eden Shopping centre hosts a food festival and there is a Big Bucks Bake Off which is judged by a celebrity chef/baker. The first year I entered it was Mary Berry but I wasn’t a winner with my lemon and coconut cake. Last year it was Jean Christophe Novelli and again I was unsuccessful with my lemon and blueberry cake. Although I did get some positive feedback from him so that was good enough for me.
For the competition this year the judge was Gregg Wallace and I decided to give it another go. Trying to come up with a cake was easy, after watching a few episodes on Masterchef it was clear that Gregg has an incredibly sweet tooth. I combined a few recipes and came up with a Sticky Toffee Cake with homemade Salted Caramel buttercream. That however was the easy part as I then had to perfect the cake and caramel, both of which I have never made before!
I did a practice run and it went well apart from the cake burning around the edge, and this could not happen to my actual entry as all you could taste was the burnt bits!
I managed to get the flavours right and apart from the burnt edge, I was happy with the cake itself so on Thursday it was time to bite the bullet and make the one that would become my entry for the competition. I have never really used this method of making a cake before, working with date ‘pulp’ and melted butter but the recipe itself did come together quite easily and the raw mixture was rather tasty.
To ensure that the cakes baked evenly I put a tray of steaming water at the bottom of the oven which worked and I was really happy with the sponges as they came out level and not burnt!! After a little rest and a coffee I had to make the Salted Caramel which was another challenge as the method was not one that I have heard of before. I always believed that when making caramel, the one thing that you shouldn’t do is stir the sugar as it will crystalise but the recipe I was following stated that you had to stir the sugar constantly until it eventually becomes an amber liquid. After about an hour and with help from James the sugar finally melted and kind of resembled caramel, so in went the butter, cream and the all important salt.
The easiest part of the recipe was to make the buttercream as it was a basic mixture until I added the salted caramel. This turned it into something so delicious that I could have easily eaten it all but sadly I had to put it on the cake. I decided to pipe the buttercream in the middle of the cake and on the top just to make it look a little fancy, using my large plain piping nozzle. I managed to keep a little of the salted caramel so I piped little droplets between the peaks and finished the cake off with some Thorntons vanilla fudge which I cut up into little squares.
The entries this year were really good and when I dropped my cake off I didn’t think I would have any chance of getting a place. So I was really happy when I managed to get 3rd Place, I was so surprised and Gregg said lovely things about my cake.
The winner of the competition was a lovely lady from Cake Club which was also good, although Alison should have won a trophy as her mint humbug cake looked amazing and I know it would have tasted lovely!!
We are going for a clean sweep next year – Fellow Bucks bakers look out!!