IMG 20150827 184748
Too busy eating to take a proper picture

This week was dessert week on #GBBO. This time last year no one could have a conversation without first clarifying their position on Bingate. Had Diana sabotaged Iain’s Baked Alaska, and was it right that he was sent home because he threw his melted pud in the bin? These are questions we still seek answers to. I fully expect the morality and ethics of the situation to occupy me for at least 30 minutes when I’m on my deathbed.

No one threw anything in the bin this time. Instead, we had the spectacle of the technical challenge: a Spanische Windtorte, an Austrian dessert so obscure I doubt anyone in Vienna has heard of it.

And I don’t for one second believe Mary has previously published a recipe for Spanish Wind Cake. Why would she? Why would anyone want to make one, when you can have pavlova or Eton mess, saving yourself hours of labour and still ending up with the same dessert. Next year, I want to see profiteroles back in play.

The signature bake was much more reasonable: crème brûlée. The obscure rules contestants had to follow included not using a blow torch (even though using a blow torch is easier and you get a better result) and not letting any fruit layers bleed into the custard. I don’t understand why this is a bad thing. Little veins of syrupy fruit juices running through golden wobbly custard looks pretty. I like the blooming colours and sugary marbling.

I dislike neatness, especially in desserts, which should be lurid with indulgence. Consequently, the cherries in this crème brûlée are free to roam all over the place if they like.

Cherry & Star Anise Crème Brûlées
Serves 4

300g cherries
2 tbsp demerara sugar
1 star anise
400ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
40g caster sugar plus a couple of teaspoons for the topping

1 Stone the cherries and roughly chop them. Tip them into a pan with the demerera star and star anise. Cover and gently bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the cherries are syrupy and a little pulpy. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Fish out the star anise. Divide between 4 x 200ml ovenproof ramekins. Pop them in a roasting tin and put to one side.

2 Preheat the oven to 150°C/Fan 130°C/Gas Mark 2. Pour the cream into a small pan. Halve the vanilla pod and scrape in the seeds. Chuck the pod in, too. Bring the cream to the boil over a medium heat, stirring often. Once it’s boiling, take off the heat. Leave it for 15 minutes to cool a little. Lift out the vanilla pod halves (as a food writer, I’m obliged to remind you here that you can wash the vanilla pod halves, dry them and then put them in a bag to make vanilla sugar. Waste not, want not and all that).

Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Slowly whisk the warm cream into the egg yolks and sugar until it’s thick and combined.

5 Pour the custard into the ramekins. Pour enough cold water into the tin so it comes 2/3s of the way up the ramekins. Bake for around 45 minutes until the custards are just set with a little wobble when you shake them. Cool them, then chill till you’re ready to brûlée them.

6 Scatter 1 tsp sugar over each pot of creme brûlée and use a blow torch to caramelise them, or slide them under a hot grill. Let them cool down so the topping is set before serving them.

Tagged with: BakingDessertFrenchGBBOGreat British Bake OffPudding