Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard – My Story and Cheesecake Recipe

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,

and Hannah’s mini chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake,

were both AMAZING too!

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:

Base
50g ginger nut, bourbon and hobnob biscuits
3 x 20g unsalted butter

Cheesecake
300g cream cheese
90g caster sugar
142ml sour cream
1 large egg and egg yolk

Flavourings
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

Ganache
70ml double cream
50g plain chocolate

Toppings
Crème fraiche
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

Bakers notes

  • 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
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26/03/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Bake Off, Party, Sweet Baking. 18 comments.

Shallot, Fig and Blue Cheese Tart Mixed With a Little Trip to London!

Only a quick post for you this week folks.  For those of you that don’t know I and heading down to London on Monday to take part in Channel 4’s programme, ‘Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard‘.  Filming is going to take place in Eric’s cake shop, Cake Boy and  I will be competing with two other bakers in a mini bake off to win a masterclass with Eric afterwards.  The theme is cheesecake, so as you can imagine I have cheesecake coming out of my ears at the moment with all of the practicing I have been doing.  I have finally decided on what sort of cheesecake I am going to bake and am now concentrating on the decoration.  I’m very excited and nervous all rolled into one!

I will be blogging the chosen cheesecake recipe in a few weeks, but today the recipe is for a fig, shallot and blue cheese tart.  I made this tart a week ago as we were hosting a family party at my house and although I was not catering completely (everyone was bringing something) I was keen to try out something new.  The other thing to say is that I LOVE figs, LOVE blue cheese and LOVE sweetly cooked onion so I was confident that this would get the big thumbs up from me.  These flavours just go so well together. Sweet fig and shallot, against the salty blue cheese brought together with cream and eggs. Superb!  But before I give you the recipe I wanted to list why I think savoury tarts are so special and definitely worth making from time to time.

  • They are a great winter supper cooked with a jacket potato and your choice of veg
  • Fantastic summer lunch served with salad and garlic bread
  • Versatile – eaten all year round
  • You can make double and freeze one (very handy mid week)
  • Great party food (mine did not last 2 mins)
  • Perfect for experimentation depending on what is in season and what your preferences are
  • Easy to make, especially if you use shop brought pastry which is perfectly acceptable and totally allowed

Now that you are all convinced that savoury tarts are a good thing to make, have a go at this.  You wont be disappointed.

This recipe was inspired from one I found on the BBC Good Food website, but I have made a few subtle but noticeable changes.

What you will need:

Pastry

175g plain flour

75g wholemeal flour

150g unsalted butter cut into small cubes

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

Filling

400g shallots, peeled and finely chopped

few springs of fresh thyme

dash of olive and a small knob of butter

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 eggs

200ml crème fraiche

200ml double cream

140g blue cheese (your choice)

3-4 fresh figs, cut in half

A 20-23cm tart tin, greased

How to make:

I’m going to explain how I make my pastry in the food processor.  You can of course make it by hand, (or buy it) but this is so easy.  In fact, I would argue that it is much less effort than getting out the house and going to the shop…or maybe that is just me with 3 kids in tow.

1. Put the flour, salt and butter into the food processor and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the egg and mix until a soft smooth dough is formed.  Wrap in cling film and put into the fridge for at least half an hour.  This pastry can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen so a good one to make in advance.

2. Put the butter and olive oil in the saucepan, then add the shallots and thyme and start cooking on a low heat.  After about 5 mins add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 10 mins stirring regularly until soft

3. Preheat you oven to 200c/400f/gas 6.  Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface, transfer to the tart tin, gently press the sides of the pastry into the tin, (to prevent it folding over in the oven) prick the base with a fork and blind bake with baking balls on top of greaseproof paper for 15 mins

4. Mix the eggs and cream in a large bowl, season and add the blue cheese.  Once cooled add your shallot mixture and stir together.

5. Once pastry is blind baked, take out of the oven and turn oven down to 170c/325f/gas 3.  Remove baking balls and greaseproof paper, then pour in your filling.  Place your cut figs, inside up around the tart.  Cook in the oven for about 50 mins – 1 hour until it as started to brown.  It should still have a bit of a wobble when you take it out.  It will continue to set as it cools.

PS:  I also did a review of some Valentines Chocs this week. Worth a read if you fancy putting some chocolates on your wish list for 14th Feb.

26/01/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Party, Savory Baking. 2 comments.