Soggy Bottoms: A Bookish Journey Through GBBO’s Technical Bakes

Soggy Bottoms - a Bookish Journey through Technical Bakes with a floury spoon, a rolling pin, and eggshells on a slate backgroundLike many, I have a deep love for The Great British Bake Off (or as it’s known in the States, The Great British Baking Show). There’s something so soothing about watching a group of Brits be incredibly supportive of one another during a baking competition. I often cross-stitch to it or just simply lie in bed at night with it playing on my computer.

Currently, there are seven completed series (or if, again, you’re in the States, seven seasons). I refuse to acknowledge the current series after the departure of the shows beloved hosts, Mel & Sue, along with Queen Judge Mary Berry.

In terms of my baking expertise, I’m what would you call a “stress baker,” meaning that I find baking to be a meditative activity to do while I’m very stressed. However, the extent of my baking skills is mainly just cakes, pies, and cookies. I’ve never made anything needing yeast and it’s always sweet, never savory.

Because I’m clearly off my rocker and have seen every episode of GBBO more than once, I’ve decided it would be a fun challenge to try and do all of the technical bakes from the show.

If you’re unfamiliar, technical bakes are supposed to be a blind test (the judges don’t know who made what). Each home baker makes the same item according to a very vague recipe. It’s mainly used to test one’s technique and baking knowledge.

I will note there are some differences between me and the GBBO’s contestants:

  • I will know the recipe ahead of time. (Point 1 for me)
  • I do not have an amazing standing mixer. (Point 1 for GBBO)

I am giving myself the same time constraints used for the specific bake. I will also freely admit that the contestants have much more experience than I do (see above re: yeast). However, I want to expand my baking repertoire and I think this is quite a fun albeit challenging way to do it.

In each post, there will always be the same breakdown:

  • Name of bake
  • Episode it’s from, since I won’t be going in order
  • Whose recipe it is: Paul Hollywood vs. Mary Berry
  • Time given to complete the bake
  • Link to recipe I’m using
  • Of course, thoughts on the process and final bake
  • Lastly and most importantly, a book recommendation! Maybe it’s an audiobook I’m listening to while getting my mise en place situated or whatever I’m cracking open while a cake is in the oven.

Below is a list of all the technical bakes featured in series one through seven. There are some repeats, which I won’t duplicate. Once a bake is finished, I’ll hyperlink to the post and include the book recommendation, so feel free to bookmark this post, or bookmark the Soggy Bottoms tag.

Series 1

  1. Victoria Sponge
  2. Scones
  3. Cobs (Bread Roll)
  4. Hot Lemon Souffle
  5. Cornish Pasties

Series 2

  1. Coffee and Walnut Battenberg
  2. Tarte au Citron
  3. Focaccia
  4. Brandy Snaps
  5. Miniature Pork Pie
  6. Chocolate Roulade
  7. Iced Fingers
  8. Sachertorte

Series 3

  1. Rum Baba
  2. Plaited Loaf
  3. Treacle Tart
  4. Creme Caramel
  5. Hand-Raised Pie
  6. Queen of Puddings
  7. Jam Doughnut
  8. Chocolate Teacakes
  9. Fraisier Cake
  10. Fondant Fancies

Series 4

  1. Angel Food Cake with Lemon Curd
  2. English Muffin
  3. Floating Islands
  4. Egg Custard Tarts
  5. Tuiles with Chocolate Mousse
  6. Apricot Couronne
  7. Religieuses
  8. Hazelnut Dacquoise
  9. Charlotte Royale
  10. Pretzels

Series 5

  1. Cherry Cake
  2. Florentines
  3. Ciabatta
  4. Tiramisu Cake
  5. Mini Pear Pies
  6. Prinsesstårta (Princess Cake)
  7. Kouign-Aman
  8. Povitica
  9. Schichttorte
  10. Victoria Sandwiches, Tarte au Citron, Scones

Series 6

  1. Frosted Walnut Layer Cake
  2. Arlettes
  3. Baguettes
  4. Spanische Windtorte
  5. Gluten-Free Pita Bread
  6. Flaounes
  7. Tennis Cake
  8. Mokatines
  9. Chocolate Souffle
  10. Mille-Feuille

Series 7

  1. Jaffa Cakes
  2. Viennese Whirl
  3. Dampfnudel
  4. Heart-Shaped Lace Pancakes
  5. Bakewell Tart
  6. Herb Fougasse
  7. Marjolaine
  8. Jumbles
  9. Savarin
  10. Victoria Sandwich

All the recipes sound and look delicious, but there are some bakes that intimidate the hell out of me, such as the Charlotte Royale, the Tennis Cake, & every instance of a souffle.

Ideally, I’d like to ease into this little project, so which bake do you think I should attempt first? Have you attempted or made any of these, and can you offer any words of wisdom?

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