The Bake Off Bake Along: Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Biscuits

How are we all doing? Are we all settled in to the new season of Bake Off yet? What do we think? Everyone up for some chocolate peanut butter sandwich biscuits for today’s bake off bake along?

I am definitely enjoying the show, and I will keep watching, but I have to say I don’t think it’s quite where it used to be. I caught a bit of a old season four episode when I was channel-flicking the other day, and the show was really in its prime then. Although I do like Sandi and Noel, and think they’re doing a great job, they obviously haven’t got the same chemistry as Mel and Sue, who worked together for so many years before Bake Off. I am also finding the ad breaks more and more annoying. There are so many of them! I rarely watch stuff on live TV, so I’m not really used to the constant interruptions, and it’s a pain. Also, for some reason, I haven’t quite gotten attached to any of this year’s bakers yet. I’m having trouble remembering all their names, which I haven’t done in previous seasons, and I haven’t particularly picked out any front-runners.

Anyway, enough of all that. You don’t need to hear my rambling opinions about the show. Let’s get on to the baking.


One of my friends, who also does the bake off bake along, messaged me a couple of days ago, telling me she had had hours of trials and tribulations trying to do the technical this week, only to come out with some funny looking fortune cookies and burnt fingers. I am totally not even attempting fortune cookies. She is far braver than I. The technical challenges are really hard this year, and we’re only in the second week! Also, obviously I am not making a biscuit board game. Remember last week, when I said I was going to be taking the path of least resistance with these bakes? That definitely rules out biscuit board games.

So, sandwich biscuits it was.


Chocolate peanut butter sandwich biscuits just sound like a win, don’t they? Unfortunately, not so much. I mean, don’t get me wrong. They tasted fine. But they were such a surprising hassle to make. Sandwich biscuits, usually, shouldn’t be. For these, though, everything kind of went wrong early on. I pulled it back, but I did almost chuck the biscuit dough in the bin at one point. I know a bad workman blames their tools, but for this, I am definitely blaming the recipe.


So where is this recipe?

There isn’t one. I mean, there was one. But the base recipe I was working from was so flawed that I’m not going to share it here, because I don’t want anyone going through the same amount of hassle that I did. The biscuit dough was entirely the wrong texture and literally impossible to shape into a log and slice as directed. I ended up rolling it out and stamping out rounds, and even that was tricky. The biscuits are therefore overworked and completely the wrong texture. Still perfectly edible with a peanut butter filling (which I also ended up improvising because the quantities in the given recipe were way off), a drizzle of chocolate, and a pinch of salt. But not as they should be.

Normally, I’d keep tinkering with the recipe and try out new versions until I got it right. Unfortunately for these chocolate peanut sandwich biscuits, I did not have the time to do that this week. Working and commuting full time has made my baking sessions pretty much non-existent. Making batches and batches of biscuits in a quest for perfection simply wasn’t happening.

So, a pretty poor attempt at the bake off bake along from me this week! Sorry gang. Hopefully I’ll be back on form next time. And if anyone has a good recipe for chocolate peanut butter sandwich biscuits, give me a shout.


The Bake Off Bake Along: Pear, Chocolate, & Almond Cake

The Great British Bake Off is back. I, for one, couldn’t be happier. Yes, all things being equal, I would have preferred for the show to remain on the BBC, but at least in part for fussy logistical reasons. I don’t like advert breaks, and I don’t like All 4 as much as iPlayer. But I still think everything’s going to be okay. I love Mel and Sue, and I love Mary, but I can hardly go complaining about Prue Leith as a replacement (having somewhat of a Leiths connection…), and I think Sandi and Noel stepped admirably into large shoes. They kept the music. I’m happy. So, here we are again, for the Bake Off Bake Along. And here’s my pear, chocolate, and almond cake. Really, any excuse to make a chocolate cake.


I’ve got a rather busy couple of months coming up, as I’ll be commuting to London and working full time for a while. Unfortunately, this busy period coincides exactly with the time to Great British Bake Off is airing. so while I’m going to try to have a stab at the Bake Along, I’ll be taking the path of least resistance every time. This week, that means a fruity cake.

Mini rolls are lovely and all, but fiddly and hard to make look pretty. And the showstopper was never going to happen. One of the things I am most terrible at, baking-wise, is making cakes look like other stuff. If it’s tasty and looks like a cake, I’m all for it.

And this pear, chocolate, and almond cake is tasty. And it looks like a cake. A chocolate cake, at that.


If you want to know what this Bake Off Bake Along shindig is all about, check out this post by Amanda over at Rhyme and Ribbons here. It’s just an excuse to watch TV and bake cake, really.



Loosely adapted from this recipe.


This lovely chocolate cake just so happens to be gluten free, but doesn’t use any fancy special flours or ingredients. It’s moist, soft, and keeps well. You could, of course, try it with other fruit. The fruit will sink into the cake quite a bit as it bakes, but don’t worry, you’re going for a rustic look.


100g butter, plus a little extra to grease
100g 70% dark chocolate
2 tbsp rum (you can skip this if you want)
100g caster sugar, plus a little extra for the tin
3 eggs, separated
100g ground almonds
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and quartered
100g raspberries
icing sugar to dust and cream or ice cream to serve, if you like


  1. Heat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. Put your butter and dark chocolate in a glass bowl above a pan of simmering water to melt together. Butter a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin, line the base, butter everything again, and then pop a couple of tbsp caster sugar into the tin and roll it round to coat the base and sides.
  2. Remove your melted butter and chocolate from the heat, stir in the rum if using, and leave to cool. Pop your caster sugar in a bowl with your egg yolks and whisk with an electric whisk until thick and mousse-like. Fold this into the chocolate mixture, then add the ground almonds and fold those in too.
  3. In a separate bowl with clean beaters, whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks. Beat a big spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen, then fold the rest in carefully. Gently pour your mixture into your cake tin, then arrange your pear slices and raspberries on top of the batter. Bake for around half an hour, or until risen and firm. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes before trying to remove it, as it’s quite delicate. Serve with icing sugar, cream, or ice cream, if you like.

Raspberry and Passion Fruit Iced Buns – Bake Off Bake Along Week 10

So here we are. The Great British Bake Off 2015 has finished, and I am limping along into Week 10 of this bake along. I have had triumphs and disasters – thankfully more of the former than the latter – and I am proud to say that I baked every single week.

Did anyone else get a bit teary when they announced that Nadiya was the winner? Incredibly well-deserved, I think. When the final started I initially thought it could go any way, but it wasn’t long before it became clear that she had it in the bag. It’s always so gratifying to see someone really progress and change and grow in confidence: compare Nadiya of the final to Nadiya of Week 1. A metamorphosis.


I’ll miss having the show to watch but, although I’ve enjoyed doing it, I’m glad to be at the end of the bake along. I really don’t have time to do it any more, and although I pushed myself to finish this week it would have been the last one even if it hadn’t been the end of the show.

So, here we are. Raspberry and passion fruit iced buns. They aren’t perfect, and they look pretty messy, but they tasted delicious, and that’s all I really wanted. If anyone else made iced buns this week, I’d be interested to know how you found it. My dough was very, very wet and incredibly difficult to work with, almost impossible to knead. Part of the reason that these buns are chubby and misshapen instead of long, elegant fingers is because the dough was too wet to shape in any meaningful way. But the buns came out light and soft, and I think that’s because it was such a wet dough, so perhaps that’s the price you pay.


Here’s the recipe I used for the dough: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/iced_fingers_34133

I added my own home-made passion fruit curd, and crushed some raspberries to fold through the cream, then finished off the icing with some freeze-dried raspberries.

Thank you so much to Amanda and Ala for running this bake along and inspiring me to get involved. I’ve loved seeing all the other incredible bakes everyone else has made, and it’s been a pleasure to discover lots of new blogs over the course of the last ten weeks.

Until next year, my darlings. À bientôt, j’espère.


Chocolate Soufflés – Bake Off Bake Along Week 9

Ah, chocolate week. They really made us wait for that one, didn’t they? I feel that, after eight weeks of doing this bake along, I really earned the right to enjoy chocolate week. Also, remember back in the first week when I predicted Marie, Tamal, and Flora for the final? In a way, I didn’t do too badly. Yes, Marie had a shock early exit, but Tamal made it through and Flora was almost there. I am so glad Nadiya is in the final though – I adore her.

Week 9 of the Great British Bake Off was also the week I started commuting to culinary school in London, full time. During the week, I have zero spare minutes, and on the weekend it happened to be my lovely Dad’s birthday, so back down to London we went so that I could get a break from school by, er, cooking dinner for twelve. I thought I might have to give up on the bake along this week simply due to lack of time, but luckily soufflés were my saviour.

I know they are notoriously tricky, but for me, soufflés were a godsend. Fifteen minutes to make the batter, ten minutes in the oven, two minutes to photograph them before they fell and boom, job’s done. You literally have no choice but to make these quickly. I fear that next week I might not be so lucky, as I doubt the final will involve any recipes that you can knock up in half an hour.


I mean, I made these in half an hour, but it was a terrifying half hour. I’ve not made soufflés before, I only had the ingredients for one batch, and I knew that I’d have to get the photographs done within two minutes if I wanted to catch the rise. It was frantic. But I was actually really happy with them in the end. Quick, effective, and delicious. It was basically the exact opposite of the mokatine challenge last week.

The first photo sort of shows the rise I got, although not quite as it was taken about three minutes after I got the soufflés out of the oven and they had started to sink. They were great though. See that bottom photo? That was me ‘digging into the soufflé for photographic effect’ but then I just ate it all. And, um, maybe another one after that. To be thorough.


Once again, I am not going to write out the recipe, partly because I have no time and partly because I didn’t change the recipe one jot. I usually try to put a twist on these bakes, but not for the technical, and certainly not for the first time I made souffles. Here is the recipe I used, although I didn’t even bother with the sauce.

We made it, team! Bring on the final.


Mokatines – Bake Off Bake Along Week 8

Bloody hell. When I started this bake along, I sort of forgot how tricky The Great British Bake Off gets near the end. At the beginning, it was all ‘Madeira cake!’ and ‘Biscotti!’ and everything was happy and the world was a just and lovely place. Now it’s all ‘Cream horns!’ and ‘Bloody massive éclair sculpture!’ and… yeah. Shall I start on the excuses now? I don’t have any metal horn shapes to make cream horns (I mean, obviously. Who the hell has those?!), and while I love éclairs I have no desire to give myself a panic attack and/ or heart attack by trying to make a tower out of them. Mokatines are basically cake. I mean, incredibly fiddly cake. With three types of icing. And I have never made a genoise before. But I still thought it was the ‘easy’ option.

I’m an idiot.

I hated this bake from start to finish. I have enjoyed this bake along immensely so far, but this week was dire. The mokatines were fiddly and had absolutely loads of processes, which is to be expected from patisserie, but they were unrewarding too. Not only did mine come out looking terrible – which, I admit, is partly because I was angry with them by the end and thus ended up rushing – they actually didn’t taste good. See that mokatine in the foreground of my pictures? That was seriously my best-looking one. If I make something that looks a mess but tastes delicious then I can live with that, because at least I don’t feel like I have wasted my time. But this week, I made something that looked dreadful and didn’t even taste all that nice and was no fun at all. Ugh.


You may notice that I haven’t piped the little rosettes around the bottom of the mokatines. That is because a) I was completely fed up by that point and couldn’t be arsed and b) the recipe for the crème beurre au moka only made just about enough to pipe the rosettes on the top, and there was no bloody way I was making that thing again. I had to rush the piping because the crème beurre au moka was too thin, and even though I put it in the fridge to firm up, the heat of my hands around the piping bag made it go all runny again. So I did the piping very fast, hence the messiness.

I also did the photos in a rush, so they are dreadful too, and I didn’t have time to wait for the fondant to set (as you can see), so I made the situation even worse. I suppose the lesson I can take from this is ‘take your time, stay calm, don’t rush’, but to be honest, I already know all that. I just ignored my own advice while I was doing this because I was in a huff.

On the plus side, I picked up that plate in the pictures at Sainsburys this week for about £3. Isn’t it pretty?


I’m certainly not going to bother to write up this recipe, as I definitely won’t be making these again, but here it is in case any of you are far braver and more skilled than I. That would not be hard.

Next week is chocolate week. THANK GOD. At least if I make something that’s a complete mess it still has a good chance of tasting good because, you know, chocolate. Did you hear that bit in the teaser about staggered start times for the technical? I think that must be soufflés, or something else that has to be eaten pretty much immediately. Obviously something horrifically complicated, because that’s the way things are now.

Now I have to go and make two batches of cupcakes in two hours. Argh.


Game Pie – Bake Off Bake Along Week 7

It has come to something when a game pie is the easy way out. The tennis cake didn’t look horribly difficult- if you had the time to do it slowly and carefully and had some proper instructions then I am sure it would be doable – but fruit cake is my least favourite cake. I mean, it’s still cake, but I didn’t want to put a huge amount of time and effort into making one. I only know what a Charlotte Russe is because of Jacqueline Wilson’s book, The Lottie Project, and I had neither the time nor the freezer space to attempt it this week.

But game pie? Delicious. I love this sort of thing.


So, here’s my… well, I won’t call it a masterpiece. There are lots of things I would do differently if I was making it again. I probably won’t make this exact pie next time because game is so expensive, but I will definitely attempt to make something else using hot water crust pastry in the future.

I was irrationally scared of hot water crust, mostly because it’s such an odd pastry and I’ve never made it before. The recipe I was working from said that you had to shape it as quickly as you could before it dried out and started to crumble. I actually think I went too quickly and rushed it, and the pastry would have been fine if I had taken an extra five minutes to make sure it was more even.


It’s certainly not the prettiest thing in the world, but it did taste great, and considering it was a first attempt with a few new techniques, I am pretty happy with it. I know that Mary and Paul specified that the pie needed to be elaborately decorated, but I am not at all artistic and was also rushing so much with the pastry that I didn’t want to do anything too fancy. So, I just thought… game pie… game… playing cards… playing card symbols… game pie. I know, I know. I will show myself out.

This week, for once, I am simply going to link to the recipe I used rather than writing out my edited version. This is just because I felt so unsure about this challenge that I didn’t feel confident free-styling and putting my own twist on the recipe, and instead followed it to the the letter and the gram. I chose to use rabbit, venison, and pigeon in my pie, along with the pork belly and bacon, purely because it was what I could get my hands on. I would be such a rubbish vegetarian.

So, here is Master Hollywood’s Raised Game Pie. The things we do for this show, eh?


Raspberry and Nectarine Frangipane Tart – Bake Off Bake Along Week 6

So, flaounes. What a random pick for a pastry technical, no? I suppose that now that they’re on Season 6 of Bake Off they are running out of obvious things to pick. Mastic? Mahlepi? If I had infinite time and resources then I would probably be more inclined to hunt for obscure ingredients to make the technical challenge recipe but, you know, we don’t live in a perfect world. The full list of ingredients for the flaounes is pretty extensive. Plus I was rather put off by the bakers smelling the mastic and retching. Pretty much the minimum I expect from baking is for the process not to make me sick.

Every week I adore Tamal more. Just putting it out there. Quote of the week is surely ‘This is basically inspired by a sandwich that I had a few years ago. It was in the top two sandwiches of my life… I think about that sandwich quite a lot.’ Also Nadiya is great and hilarious.


So, I made a frangipane tart. Even I am not very excited by this, to be honest, because I’ve made them before. But I’ve already said why flaounes weren’t going to happen, and I have no idea what I would do with 48 vol-au-vents either. Giving away cheesecakes was one thing, but for some reason giving friends armfuls of vol-au-vents seems a bit odd. They will probably all chime in now and say I’ve given them weirder things in the past.

Anyway, I love nectarines and I don’t think I have used them in a dessert before, so here we go. I thought raspberries would be a good accompaniment both taste and colour wise. And they were. This tart was nice. Not particularly exciting, or groundbreaking, or challenging. But quite nice.

Things could definitely be worse.


Source: I took the basic frangipane tart recipe from Leiths: How to Cook, but have adapted it and added my own fruits and flavourings.

Notes: It sounds weird, but I think the thing that makes this tart is adding almond extract. In with the almonds. It seems a bit belt and braces, but since I was using ready-ground almonds rather than toasting and grinding my own, I think they needed a bit of a flavour boost. I mean, really you should toast and grind your own, but it was what I had in the cupboard.


for the pastry

250g plain flour
20g caster sugar
pinch of salt
140g chilled butter, cut into small cubes
2 egg yolks
3-4 tbsp cold water

for the frangipane

1 egg and 2 egg yolks
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
40g plain flour

1 large ripe nectarine (or 2 small ones)
handful of raspberries
raspberry jam (optional)
apricot jam (optional)


  1. First, make your pastry. Put your flour, sugar, salt, and butter into the food processor and pulse until they reach breadcrumb stage. Whisk your egg yolks with your cold water and slowly drizzle the liquid into the breadcrumb mixture with the food processor running until it starts to come together. Stop when it starts to come into a ball. It should not feel wet or sticky. Gently and briefly knead the pastry together (I normally tip it into a bowl to do this) and then wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  2. While it’s chilling, make your frangipane. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and egg yolks together, then beat them into the butter and sugar. Stir in the almonds, almond extract, and the flour.
  3. Take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to around a 3mm thickness. Line your tart tin – mine is 22cm. Ideally, you should now cover it with cling film and pop it back in the fridge for another half an hour to chill but I never have time for this. You could also pop it in the freezer for ten minutes. While you’re waiting, you could prepare your fruit – stone your nectarine(s) and cut them however you want to present them.
  4. Heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Pop your tart case on a baking tray, line it with baking parchment and baking beans, and bake for fifteen minutes. Remove the parchment and beans and bake for five more minutes.. Take it out of the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4. If you’re using jam, spread this over the base of the pastry case. Cover with the frangipane. Arrange your fruit as you wish, and push this down gently into the frangipane.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the frangipane is well-risen, golden, and set. Remove from the oven. If you want to glaze it, do so while it is still warm. Sieve around 5 tbsp apricot jam and gently warm it in a pan until runny, then brush it over the tart.

Sugar Free Rhubarb, Strawberry, and Hazelnut Cake – Bake Off Bake Along Week 5

Okay, so I realise I am essentially begging the universe to smite me down now, but when I saw last week’s episode, I thought ‘Well, that’s doable!’. I mean, not the dairy free Arctic roll, because I don’t have an ice cream maker. And I wasn’t hugely keen on making the gluten free pitta breads, because they didn’t look massively thrilling and any gluten free pitta I made would be immeasurably worse than one I could buy. But sugar free cakes? No problem. Anyway, I did the technical challenge last week, so I figure that gets me off the hook for a little while.


They were actually playing it pretty fast and loose with their definition of ‘sugar free’, I reckon. I mean, just because a cake doesn’t have actual granules of caster sugar or muscovado sugar or whatever in it, it doesn’t necessarily make it sugar free. Agave is still a processed, refined sweetener. Fruit has sugar in it (annoyingly). By the show’s definition, I actually make sugar free cake fairly regularly. The very first recipe I posted on this blog is sugar free. I bake sugar free banana bread for James every couple of weeks. I mean, you basically just substitute sugar for an equal weight of maple syrup or honey and go along with a regular cake recipe.

Wasn’t it great to see Nadiya win star baker? She really deserved it, and it obviously meant a huge amount to her. Plus, you know, it was boring seeing Ian win it every week.


I’ve wanted to make a cake with roasted rhubarb for a while, and I know we’re just about out of the season now but I couldn’t quite resist it. Strawberry and rhubarb is a classic pairing – very American, I believe – as sharp rhubarb is rounded out well by something very sweet. The vanilla goes well with both and provides a complementary background note, while the hazelnuts are a strong and textured base.

I have to say, I am loving this bake along. Not only is it great getting to see what everyone has made each week, but it’s also wonderful being challenged to make new things. I find I am watching the programme in a different – more involved – way, because I am planning what on earth I am going to scrape together every time. Thanks so much to Amanda and Ala for setting it all up.

Source: This recipe is adapted from Amber Rose’s Love Bake Nourish, which is an excellent place to go if you are looking for more sugar free cake ideas.

Notes: I don’t know whether to blame my oven or my inattentiveness, but these cakes browned incredibly fast: I admit, I wasn’t watching them like a hawk. I don’t know if the honey or even maybe the nuts make the cakes prone to catching, but I had to cover them with foil for the last ten minutes of the bake. They came out fine; just a little darker than I would have liked.


115g blanched hazelnuts
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
260g butter, soft
4 eggs
130g honey
130g maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

to decorate

350ml double cream
3-4 tbsp honey
100g strawberries, hulled and halved
100g rhubarb


  1. Preheat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas mark 4, and grease and line two 20cm cake tins. If your hazelnuts aren’t toasted already, do that now. Whack them in the oven on a baking tray for about 5 minutes, until they are just starting to change colour and are smelling delicious and nutty. Then, using a food processor, grind them into a fine meal. Watch you don’t blend them for too long and make hazelnut butter.
  2. This is an all-in-one cake, so sift your flour and baking powder into a large bowl and then beat in your hazelnuts, butter, eggs, honey, vanilla, and maple syrup until everything is evenly incorporated. Divide the mixture between your tins and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven.
  3. When your cakes are well risen, golden, and pass the skewer test, take them out and leave them to cool. Leave the oven on. Cut your rhubarb into even pieces an inch or two long, and place them in a baking tray. Toss them around with 1-2 tbsp of honey, and then cover the baking tray with foil and pop it in the oven. Roast your rhubarb for 10-15 minutes, or until soft but still able to maintain its shape.
  4. When the cakes and rhubarb are completely cool, assemble your confection. Whip the cream into peaks, and the whip in the remaining honey. Add more if you prefer a sweeter cream. Spread half of the cream onto your base cake, and top it with half of the strawberries and rhubarb. Pop your other cake on top and finish with the rest of the cream and fruit.

Trio of Chocolate Cheesecakes – Bake Off Bake Along Week 4

Confession: before this week, I had never made a baked cheesecake. It was one of my page-turners. Everyone must have page-turners, right? You know when you’re flicking through a recipe book (or, in this day and age, more likely a blog or online magazine), and you see a certain ingredient or instruction and automatically think ‘No, thank you!’, turn to the next page, and move swiftly along? Well, every time I see instructions to wrap a springform tin in cling film, then in foil, then fill it with cheesecake mix, then sit it in a water bath, then bake the cheesecake, then leave it to cool with the oven door oven, then let it sit overnight… well, I tend to think ‘Sod that’, and go and make a fridge-set cheesecake instead. It’s a combination of fear and laziness, really.


So, I thought this week would be a good opportunity to finally get over my baked cheesecake prejudice and make one. Well, make three. I don’t have enough ramekins for crème brûlée, and I’m certainly not going out to buy them. And although I do like meringue, I don’t think anyone could really like meringue enough to get through a whole Spanische Windtorte. Also, it would leave me with a dozen egg yolks that I wouldn’t know what to do with. Somehow, making three cheesecakes started to seem like the most sensible option.

Spoiler alert: it was definitely not the most sensible option. It was actually a huge hassle, and all of our friends will be eating cheesecake for days.


Nonetheless, I made three baked cheesecakes and managed to stack them into a tower that didn’t collapse, so I am definitely calling this a win, despite the fact I had to literally buy a kilogram of cream cheese to make this and nobody should ever really be doing that.

I’ll be really interested to see what everyone else tries to make this week, because I imagine lots of you will have the same problems and reservations that I did regarding crème brûlée and Spanische Windtorte, but making three tiers of cheesecake doesn’t exactly feel like the easy way out. Oh, how I miss cake week. Next week is free-from baking – you know, sugar free and gluten free and such – and I can’t imagine that will be any easier.


Can we also just take a moment to mourn the departure of Sandy from the tent? She was never one of my picks for the final, but she was definitely one of my favourite bakers. Some of the things she said literally made me laugh out loud.

Also, Ian winning star baker is now getting boring. Three weeks in a row?!


So, on to the cheesecakes. I will admit that these are not going to be winning any beauty contests. By the time it got to the decorating stage, I was short on time and very stressed, so it was all a bit of a rush job and I am terrible at tempering and piping chocolate, so I basically threw things on top of them and hoped for the best. I also had to move the delicate cheesecakes around so much – first to stack them and then to separate them – that they started to crack a bit. Nonetheless, they were really delicious. Once I have gotten over the trauma of this, I might actually make a baked cheesecake again.

On the show, Paul and Mary kept complaining about fruit bleeding into cheesecake, but what’s wrong with that!? I actually like that, and purposefully mashed up my fruit a bit in the cheesecake batter to encourage the pretty colours rippling into the smooth, pale cheesecake.


Source: I started with a plain baked cheesecake recipe from Leiths How To Cook and then adapted it. A lot.

Notes: I very much doubt that anyone wants to be as insane as me and make this whole recipe start to finish, so I am not going to give any instructions for stacking or decorating, which is all common sense in any case. The method is exactly the same for all three cakes, only with different quantities and some variations on ingredients, so I am going to provide the ingredients for each cake and only write out the method once.

One of the reasons I went for this particular base recipe was that it didn’t ask you to mess around with a water bath or wrapping the tin, and I am inherently lazy. It seemed to work out fine just bunged in the oven like a regular cake.

This would have looked far better if I’d had a smaller top tin, but I didn’t, and didn’t want to buy a new one just for this, so such is life.


for the little white chocolate, blackberry, almond, and ginger cheesecake (16cm)

for the base
50g butter
65g ginger biscuits
20g ground almonds

for the cheesecake mixture
3 tbsp caster
10g cornflour
240g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium eggs
90ml cream
100g white chocolate
100g blackberries

for the medium milk chocolate, hazelnut, and raspberry cheesecake (20cm)

for the base
85 butter
125g oat biscuits
25g chopped skinned hazelnuts

for the cheesecake mixture
5 tbsp caster
15g cornflour
415g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
100ml cream
200g milk chocolate
150g raspberries

for the massive dark chocolate, apricot, and pistachio cheesecake (23cm)

for the base
100g butter
150g digestives
30g roughly chopped pistachios

for the cheesecake mixture
6 tbsp caster
20g cornflour
500g cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
200ml cream
150g dark chocolate
4 apricots, stoned and chopped


  1. Preheat your oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6, and grease and line your tin. Melt the butter for the base. Crush the biscuits, either by beating them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or whizzing them in the food processor. Put them in a bowl and mix in your nuts. Add the butter, mix, and then press the mixture evenly into the base of your tin. Bake the base in the oven for ten minutes, then remove and leave it to cool. Lower the oven temperature to 150C/ 130C fan/ gas 2.
  2. For the topping, set aside 2 tbsp of the sugar. Put the rest in a large bowl with the cornflour and beat with the cream cheese and vanilla to combine. Separate the eggs, and then beat the yolks into the cream cheese along with the cream.
  3. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to medium peaks, and then whisk in the saved 2 tbsp of caster sugar. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Gently fold it into the cheesecake mixture, along with the fruit.
  5. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until just set with a slight wobble. Leave it to cool in the tin. Chill in the fridge.

Date, Hazelnut, Chilli, and Chocolate Biscotti – Bake Off Bake Along Week 2

So, um, remember last week when I predicted that Marie would be in the final three? My prophetess skills clearly leave a lot to be desired. No one’s going to be starting a religion in my name any time soon.

Ah well. Goodbye, Marie. You will be missed. I very much enjoyed your warm, Scottish, grandmotherly vibe.

Cake week was always going to be my best week for this bake along; it’s a shame it came first, in a way, because it’s all downhill from here. I make a lot of cake. Really, too much cake. There is indeed such a thing and you can find it on my kitchen counter. And in my fridge. And the freezer. I am now realising that I almost never make biscuits, and next week is bread week, which will be… interesting. Not good interesting. Interesting in the way that it’s interesting to watch a drunken friend flirting with an inappropriate crush: you feel like you should stop it, but a small, mischievous part of you wants to sit back and watch the fun when someone does something ill-advised.


The biscotti were an obvious choice for me to bake this week, and I am betting that the majority of people taking part in the bake along will do the same. When I started this (er, last week), I wanted to try and bake the things from the Bake Off that I didn’t necessarily gravitate towards automatically, in an attempt to expand my repertoire a little. We’re a mere two weeks in, and I have already dropped those high and mighty ideals. I was short on time this week. The Arlette biscuits didn’t hugely appeal to me – they didn’t seem to be quite worth the faff, and there wasn’t much opportunity for creativity in the recipe. As for the biscuit box, it seemed to me like a bake focused far more on appearance than on taste, which is fair enough for a show-stopper. Don’t get me wrong: I like the things I make to look attractive, if at all possible, and I really was incredibly impressed by some of the bakers’ beautiful boxes. I don’t think anyone could have failed to be charmed by that fire engine. But I’d much rather something looked plain and tasted amazing than looked amazing and tasted plain. I just don’t think I’d particularly want to eat four walls and a roof’s worth of shortbread covered in icing. Anyway, any biscuit box I made would look rubbish.

So, I skipped Biscuitception (biscuit within a biscuit… no?), and more by process of elimination than anything, biscotti it was. In fairness, I’ve never made biscotti before, so you could argue it is expanding my baking horizons a bit. And it was actually trickier than I thought it would be, mostly because I am a massive idiot and initially added too much egg, turning the dough into delicious superglue. I then decided the best way to incorporate the egg would be to knead the dough with my hands. Spoiler alert: this was a bad idea. I ended up wearing huge, sticky, dough gloves. I mean, this wasn’t the worst thing in the world, because raw dough is delicious (come on, we all know it’s true), and it gave me a legitimate excuse to eat the spare scraps off my fingers, once I’d gotten most of the dough back together with a spatula. Anyway, I added a bit more flour and it all turned out okay in the end.


Source: It seemed only right and proper to start with a Paul Hollywood recipe but I went pretty off-piste after that.

Notes: I got a bit obsessed with the concept of a chilli and chocolate biscotti, but also wanted to include fruit and nuts in the recipe. I went for hazelnuts, as they go so well with chocolate, and dates for their deep – almost caramel – flavour. I thought I chocolate dough might be overkill with dates, so I decided to dip the baked biscuits in dark chocolate instead. As for the chilli, I simply added a teaspoon of hot chilli powder to the dry ingredients, with ginger as a slight accent. This gives these biscotti a lingering warmth in the mouth rather than a full on chilli kick, which was what I was going for. If you want them to scream ‘chilli!’ at you, then add an extra teaspoon of chilli powder.

250g plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
250g caster sugar
1 tsp hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
200g skinned hazelnuts
150g stoned dates
150g melted dark chocolate, for dipping
100g chopped toasted hazelnuts, for dipping


  1. Preheat your oven to 160C/ 140C fan/ gas 4. Line a baking tray – I have re-usable silicone mats, which I would really recommend. Get your largest bowl, and pop your dry ingredients in there: flour; baking powder; caster sugar; chilli powder; ginger powder; salt. Mix them all together so that everything is evenly distributed.
  2. Whisk your eggs in a small bowl, and then gradually add them to the dry mix. Really gradually. Far more gradually than I did. Make sure the egg is well mixed/ kneaded in after each addition. You are not going for a sticky dough here. If it does feel sticky, add a little more flour.
  3. Chop your hazelnuts roughly, leaving some of them whole. Knead them into the dough with your hands. Chop your dates and do the same – the dates will disintegrate and marble a little in the dough, which makes the biscotti all the better.
  4. Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for a moment, making sure it’s smooth and everything is incorporated. Divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 4cm wide and as long as you can fit on your tray. Space them apart, as the dough spreads in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Take your tray out of the oven and leave the biscotti to cool for ten minutes, to help prevent cracking when you cut them. Slice the logs on the diagonal into 2cm thick slices, and move them back to the tray, cut side up. Put the tray back in the oven. Paul Hollywood would disapprove of my biscotti, because I don’t like them completely dry – I prefer them with a little chewiness in the centre. I baked my biscotti for another 15 minutes. If you want them completely dry, bake for another 20-30 minutes. Remember, they firm up as they cool.
  6. Once the biscotti are completely cold, dip them in your melted dark chocolate and then sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts to decorate.