Halloween and the final of the great british bake off all within one week of each other doesn’t happen all that often, but last year it did, so it felt like it would be rude not to combine the two. The final of GBBO last year was royal themed, with pavlova crowns, Victoria sponges and picnic tea fit for a queen. The most halloween appropriate queen I could think of was the Evil Queen from snow white and the seven dwarfs, both the disney version and the american series Once Upon a Time, which I really really like. I decided to combine the picnic tea and pavlova signature bake into an afternoon tea she would appreciate, (I’m not sure she actually “loves” anything except that mirror of hers).
Including the pavlova style meringue crown was perfect as it’s my favourite dessert which I usually only make at Christmas. I thought a crown with lots of teeth dripping with blood would be her kind of thing so I made an italian meringue (80g of egg white to 215g castor sugar, heated with a little water to 113.5c) which holds it’s shape when piped and then baked it in the oven at 150c to crisp it up. It was made of two 9 inch discs and a smaller top to make the crown. Whipped cream, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries made the filling along with a thick raspberry “jelly” (according to Mary Berry this week it isn’t jam if the seeds are sieved out), made with less sugar than traditional jam to keep it tart enough to offset the sweet meringue.
The rest of my afternoon tea had to adapted slightly to appeal to the majority of my audience – i.e. a five year old and a seven year old, so instead of savoury scones and sausage rolls we had baked ham and cheese bread rolls shaped like snails and cherry scones, baked chocolate custard tarts with white chocolate custard spider web decorations, a ganache covered chocolate cake shaped like the Evil Queen’s box for Snow White’s heart and candy apples (not poisonous). The snail buns are made by rolling out the bread dough between the first and 2nd prove and filling with parma ham and grated mozzarella cheese in a similar method to my savoury corone. The dough is then rolled up into a spiral and cut into sections, the last part of the roll makes the snails heads and the rolls are stood on a greased and floured baking tray for their 2nd prove before baking. The chocolate tarts are mini versions of the chocolate tart I made last year – the same recipie made seven small tarts. The candy apples are made by heating castor sugar, red food colouring and a little water to 150c (the hard crack stage) and pouring over the apples – if they are on sticks you get better coverage by dipping the apples into the sugar syrup. Finally the chocolate cake recipe is an adaptation of an easy sponge cake with some flower paste decorations.
- For the cake;
- 250g Castor sugar
- 250g Unsalted butter
- 4 Large eggs - beaten
- 2 tsp Vanilla essence
- 200g Self raising flour
- 50g Cocoa powder
- 50 to 100ml of whole milk
- For the ganache;
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200ml double cream (room temperature)
- For the cake;
- Grease and line a loaf tin
- preheat the oven to 160c
- Soften the butter
- Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
- Mix in the beaten eggs and vanilla essence
- Mix together the flour and cocoa powder
- Fold the flour and cocoa powder mix into the egg mixture
- Mix in the whole milk a little at a time until the mixture falls easily from a spoon
- Place the mixture in the greased and lined loaf tin
- Bake at 160c for 1hour and 10 minutes or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean.
- Cool the cake on a rack then cut off the top to make a flat top for the box and if needed cut off the ends of the cake to make the box look the right length.
- For the ganache;
- Melt the dark chocolate 30 seconds at a time in the mircowave, stirring between each time until no lumps remain
- Make sure the chocolate is liquid but not hot.
- Stir continually and pour in the double cream - the mixture will thicken.
- Use a palate knife to spread the ganache over the cake.
- Use flower paste if you have it - it will hold it's shape better than normal fondant. I used a chocolate mould to make the heart shape and made the dagger by hand. blue and green coloured flower paste or fondant make the side panels of the box - a pizza wheel works well to cut the straight edges. Attach to the cake before the ganache sets.
This post is being linked to the great blogger’s bake off final competition kindly hosted by the lovely Jenny Paulin at Mummy Mishaps. She is working with Tesco who are sponsoring the competition and have some fabulous prizes on offer.