Well, my TV debut has finally aired and now I can scream at the top of my voice “I WON, I WON!!!” I still can’t quite believe it. Yes, I went there with every intention of winning but I had no idea what my competition was going to be like or how things were going to turn out on the day.
I made so many cheesecakes in the week leading up the show and I really felt that I went on a cheesecake journey during that time. Going from sheer panic to refining my ideas and feeling confident in what I was doing and looking forward to the day.
When I heard we were making cheesecake I was initially quite pleased…until my first cheesecake ended up looking like a cow pat. I kid you not! Making a large cheesecake in 2 hours I came to realise was not possible for me. My hat goes off to Christine who did manage it on the day. I tried her raspberry cheesecake and it was superb. The problem is it takes 50 mins to cook a large cheesecake and in an ordinary situation you are meant to leave it to completely cool in the fridge overnight before taking it out of its tin. When practicing at home, removal of the tin after a mere 15 mins of cooling, (due to the time constraints) made my large cheesecake efforts crack and dip in the middle. It looked a bit more presentable covered in chocolate ganache but there was no way I could give it to Eric on national TV.
Then the lightbulb moment came. I would make a little cheesecake. It would cook and cool quicker and because I could not decide on what flavour I was going to do, I came up with my next lightbulb idea of cooking 3 complimentary flavoured cheesecakes, each one with a different base and bespoke decorations. The first time I tried to cook them, they came out perfectly and the relief was massive. At least I there was a chance that I would cook something which had a chance of winning.
When the day came, I was up at the crack of dawn as we had to be at Cake Boy (Eric’s cake shop and cafe) by 8.30. Once I got there I soon felt relaxed with a coffee and it was lovely to get to know my fellow contestants Christine and Hannah a little bit.
Cake Boy is gorgeous. It has the most amazing selection of cakes which Eric bakes himself every morning and the comfy seating next to a wall of fairy lights is inspired and gave a magical feel to the place. All of the production crew were extremely friendly too and talked us through what was going to happen during the day. Considering we were the second to last episode to be filmed and there are 20 episodes in total, I think the team did so well. They must have been exhausted from it all.
Just before we were about to start and as I was finishing my coffee, I looked up to see none other than Nigella Lawson sitting opposite me chatting to Eric about cakes (of course). She had popped in with a couple of friends who were getting married and who wanted to order one of Eric’s spectacular wedding cakes. I almost choked on my coffee. What a fab start to the day to see Eric for the first time along with Nigella. Star struck? Quite possibly!
We then got to work filming some sound bites about why we wanted to take part in the show and what we were cooking. Then we had to get our ingredients ready and the bake off began. I thought I was feeling calm and collected and things were going well. Then I took my cheesecakes out of the oven and with two cameras filming, all the production crew and the two other contestants watching I had to take all three out of their tins. Possibly the hardest part as the tins are small and I had to push the cheesecake up and out. So much could have gone wrong especially as they are still a bit soft when they first come out of the oven. I was shaking like a leaf and could hardly cooridnate my fingers, but I managed all three and took a big sigh of relief. Once out, I could relax a bit and start to decorate them. I over whipped my cream which made it a bit hard to pipe, but other than that I was really pleased with the end results.
We had to wait for ages to take our creations into Eric, and when I did, he really gave nothing away. Then we had to wait for even longer whilst they filmed Eric’s reactions to the cakes, but finally the time came for him to announce the winner. I had come to realise by this point that in order to make a TV show, there needs to be lots of re-takes to get it just perfect. This was indeed the case as well when announcing the winner. Eric must have said, “and the winner is….” about 6 times, before he finally said, “…Fleur”. At which point I actually almost cried. It meant so much to me to have Eric pick me. I knew I could bake, but to have a master cake maker pick me was such an amazing feeling. I was so worried that I may have over done my flavours and he would not like them, but he told me afterwards that it was my flavours that made him pick me in the end and he liked the fact that I took a risk with something different.
I have to say though that Christine’s raspberry cheesecake,
Needless to say the masterclass was brilliant. I got to know Eric a bit better, and there was plenty of banter so it was a real laugh. We made a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake covered in gold leaf and it was absolutely stunning.
A truly amazing day and a wonderful experience. Something I won’t ever forget, and it has given me more confidence to continue with my baking and blogging. Who knows what will be my next adventure but I’m looking forward to it already, and open to offers😉
Here’s the link to the show. I’m in episode 16 http://www.channel4.com/programmes/baking-mad-with-eric-lanlard/4od
Trio of mini cheesecakes, chocolate and chilli, cinnamon and ginger, and cardamom, vanilla and pistachio
What you will need:
50g ginger nut, bourbon and hobnob biscuits
3 x 20g unsalted butter
300g cream cheese
90g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
1 large egg and egg yolk
7-8 cardamom pods deseeded then seeds crushed in a pester and mortar
1 tsp of vanilla paste
20g pistachios finely chopped
2 tsp cocoa powder
4-5 drops of homemade chilli oil or chilli power to taste
20g crystallised ginger finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
70ml double cream
50g plain chocolate
50 ml double cream whipped
30g white chocolate melted
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
Sprinkling of ground cinnamon, vanilla sugar and icing sugar
Sprig of fresh mint
3 3″ round tins
How to do it
1. Grease and line the bottom of 3 3″ round tins with parchment paper
2. Turn the oven onto 160c
3. Either separately whizz your 3 different types of biscuit in the food processor or put the biscuits in 3 separate freezer bags and bash with a rolling pin until the consistency of breadcrumbs
4. Melt 3 x 20g butter separately and mix each with the crushed biscuits in separate bowls
5. Add the biscuit and butter mixture to each of the tins and press into the bottom with the back of a spoon. Put in the fridge
6. In a large mixing bowl mix the cream cheese and sugar together on a low speed
7. Add the egg and then egg yolk and continue to mix slowly
8. Add the sour cream and mix
9. Divide the mixture evenly into 3 bowls
10. In the first bowl add the cocoa powder and chilli oil and stir in with a spoon
11. In the second bowl add the crushed cardamom, vanilla paste and pistachios and stir in with a spoon
12. In the 3 bowl add the chopped ginger and cinnamon and stir in with a spoon
13. Get the 3 cake tins from the fridge and pour the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake mix into the tin with the ginger nut base, the chilli and chocolate cheesecake mix into the tin with a bourbon base and the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake mix into the tin with the hobnob base
14. Boil the kettle, cover the bottom of the cake tins with foil (to make the tins more watertight) then place the 3 tins in a deep baking dish and pour in the boiling water until about half way up the sides of the tins
15. Place in the oven for 30
16. Once out leave in the tin to cool for 20 with a bowl over the top of the top (keeps the air moist whilst cooling so helping to prevent any cracks)
17. Once completely cool take out of tins
18. Now melt your cream and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
19. Once melted pour over the chocolate cheesecake and down the sides. Work quickly and then wipe away any excess at the bottom to neaten up
21. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, place in a freezer bag, snip the end off and decorate the cheesecake with white chocolate stripes
20. Whip the cream and vanilla paste together, until stiff. Place in a piping bag with a icing nozzle and pipe a cream decoration on the top of the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake and sprinkle with vanilla sugar
21. Use a palette knife to smooth over a layer of crème fraiche on top of the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and icing sugar and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint
- I used whole pistachios which I covered in gold leaf to decorate the cardamom, vanilla and pistachio cheesecake
- I made simple sugar corkscrews for the ginger and cinnamon cheesecake out of melted sugar which I wrapped around the end of an oiled plastic fork
I’ve had such a busy couple of weeks and as a result I have lots of juicy blog posts to write. So much in fact that I was not sure where to start. However, the arrival of some photos and the coolest little video of my day taking part in Katie Fforde’s Recipe for Love bake off competition helped me to make my mind up.
I only actually heard about the competition a couple of days before it was due to close, but as soon as I did I knew that I just had to enter my mini cupcakes. They seemed to fit the brief perfectly and I was thrilled to get an email telling me I was one of the five finalists.
The day itself was an incredible experience. I won’t forget the excitement, adrenalin and fun for a long time. In fact, there is so much ‘bake off’ chat happening in our house at the moment that my children have even started to make ‘sand cakes’ (instead of sand castles) for their own pretend bake offs. My four year old pulled me outside to show me her latest creation today and announced, “This is my winning cake!”
Taking part also gave me the added bonus of a day out in London on my own, which may not seem like much to some but for a mum of 3 this was actually amazing.
I had practiced my mini cupcakes until we could eat no more, and as you can see from this video and the pictures, a great time was had by all, and I was very pleased with the way my cupcakes turned out.
I did not win, but I can honestly say that I was thrilled for Fatema (picture below). Her reaction when Katie said her name was lovely to watch and I was just so thankful to have been given the opportunity to take part.
Katie was a complete professional and so complimentary of all our cakes. I could tell that she really enjoyed the day. I’m guessing that might have something to do with the tasting and judging part at the end as well as spending the day with 5 very excited bakers. The team from Random House Publishing who had organised the event, did an amazing job too. I’m sure that something like that takes a lot of hard work. I went home with a fantastic bag of goodies including a copy of Katie’s new book Recipe of Love (all about a bake off competition) and the lovely bonus of more baking pals which is such a delight. I’m sure that we will be supporting each other’s baking efforts for a long time to come.
The only problem now is that having competed in two bake offs, (details of my first bake off below) I want to do more! I will be keeping my eye out for the next opportunity and if you see one, be sure to let me know. In the mean time, I think I will be getting my fix from Katie’s book.*Exciting News* You can look forward to more of my bake off action on Channel 4 this Monday (26th March) at 12.05pm when you can catch me taking part in Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. I’ll be putting up a blog post about that early next week too with photos and gossip from the day.