Baking, Cakes

Week 2: Le Gâteau Vert

This weeks bake off challenge was set by Prue Leith. To have such an intricate and highly skilled bake for the second week is both bonkers yet brave I think! I would love to say this is my cake, on this picture… but at this moment in time, I am sat watching Jumanji, waiting for Sainsbury’s to open, so I can get my Spinach! Of all things that I have brought for this cake, I did not think it would be the Spinach I don’t currently have. This cake has pistachio essence in (which I didn’t even realise existed!). I panic texted Jen to ask where she had brought her ingredients from (like I did last week too) but I managed to find some on Amazon, and also in Lakeland. Also Kirsch was something I have never heard of. It’s a clear colourless fruit brandy, and I just had to take a sip when it arrived…. never again!

This bake is definitely going to be a challenge, especially because I have never made Marzipan before, nor a cake with nuts in, or a Genoise sponge, which is named after the Italian city of Genoa. This cake was also the French artist Claude Monet’s favourite cake which he had on his birthday every year. With that, as they say.. on your marks, get set… bake!

Ready to bake

After my trip to Sainsbury’s and battling the families who shop on a Sunday, I have got my Spinach! Rather disappointed that Sainsbury’s don’t appear to sell edible flowers anymore, and I have left it far too late to order any! So, I have picked up a bouquet of flowers to use purely for decoration and photo.

So, to start, I had to open the pistachio shells, to get 300g worth of Pistachio kernels. This was incredible tedious! But I got there in the end. It was really hard not to eat them either, as I definitely prefer savoury foods to sweet, and pistachios have to be one of my favourite!

The marzipan was a challenge. Earlier on I said I had never made marzipan. It was very tempting to buy some, but I persisted… whether the consistency is correct or not, I wrapped it up and thought I’d forget about it until I need it.

Next is the genoise sponge. Again, I had never made this before… is it meant to be so runny?! I quickly Googled “what is a genoise mixture meant to look like” and “is a genoise meant to be so runny?”. I didn’t have much luck finding answers, so again, I put it in the oven and thought I’d forget about till I need it!

So I guess I have cheated slightly… as you can see by the pans in the oven, I haven’t gone for one large circular baking tin. I have gone for four individual, smaller tins instead. This picture was taken before I put the other two tins in. This is because I’m absolutely awful at cutting cakes, and I would hate to put so much effort into something, and not be able to cut it, all because I apparently can’t use a knife. So far so good! It appears to be rising in the oven. A genoise is a tricky one, because you don’t use baking powder or bicarbonate soda or self raising flower. A genoise rise is purely natural, and comes from the air you beat into it when starting the mixture. If you knock the air out while folding in the other ingredients, you might as well look to start again. (Which I did.. twice)

Next was the créme au beurre. The spinach did wilt very quickly, although I was expecting it to I guess? I’ve only just come around to idea of Spinach over all. I used to hate this gross green vegetable, but I guess my grown up taste buds quite like it now? Spinach is used as a natural food colouring, which is why it is used in so many components of the cake.

I quite enjoyed squeezing my spinach purée through the Muslin cloth. Is was quite therapeutic one might say? I had just about finished squeezing the spinach to get the juice out… when my hands slipped. Spinach juice. Everywhere. At this point I had been cooking/baking for a few hours as I had decided to make the roast dinner today too. In need of a sleep, and to start cooking the rest of the Sunday roast, I decided to abandon ship and salvage what I could of the spinach juice.

I managed to get enough to finish off the créme au beurre. This is ultimately, the filling between the genoise sponges.

Feeling thoroughly fed up by this point, I decided to start piecing this weeks technical challenge together. Oh god I wish I had stopped here! Putting on the marzipan turned into an absolute disaster. Remember when I said I spilt the spinach juice everywhere too? Well it turned out I needed that for the fondant icing at the end, but I honestly had just given up at this point. So the end product? Well, I decided to use the flowers I brought to hide a multitude of sins and now I understand where the saying “you can’t polish a turd” comes from… I had to use food colouring for my fondant icing (I’m so disappointed in myself!) as I just couldn’t make more spinach juice… mainly because I didn’t have any spinach left. Now my cake looks like The Hulk got a little too “excited” and spaffed all over the cake. Still, I didn’t give up! Here’s the photo:

All I can say is… at least it tastes nice? I’d give this Bake a 2/10. Mainly because I enjoyed learning to make a genoise sponge… but I definitely wouldn’t bake it again, it’s far too challenging!

Next week is bread week, something I know I’m okay at. So hopefully that turns out better than this weeks, and I’m not left feeling like the Wagon Wheels in week one were a fluke?

Here’s the recipe should you want to try it yourself:

Have a lovely week!

Chelsea x

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