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5 of our most challenging baking showstoppers

5 of our most challenging baking showstoppers

by Great British Chefs 31 October 2017

A batch of cupcakes might look pretty, but for serious bakers a true work of art often takes hours of work, dozens of ingredients and a professional kitchen’s worth of equipment. Take a look at some of our toughest baking recipes and see if you’re up to the task.

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Whoever thought that the world of competitive baking could take the UK by such storm? The Great British Bake Off seems like part of our national identity these days, and whenever we post a picture of something we’ve baked online there’s always a slight air of outdoing one another. While some are bursting with pride over their first ever loaf of soda bread, others are putting the finishing touches to gargantuan gateaux, intricately decorated with piped creams and homemade praline dust.

Whether you just like looking at beautiful pictures of pâtisserie and marvelling at the amount of work required or feel confident enough to give them a go yourself, the following five recipes will test the skills of even the professional baker or pastry chef. If you do happen to give them a go, please send us a picture on social media!

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1. Campfire and marshmallows

This is one of those desserts that doesn’t really let on what it actually is until you take a bite. It certainly looks like a campfire, with its edible chocolate kindling and toasted marshmallows, but there’s much more than meets the eye. Crisp sticks of meringue dotted with freeze-dried strawberries, a raspberry compote and a vanilla cream – which is set alight in a glass thanks to a generous spray of 98% ABV alcohol – complete the picture. It may take four hours to prepare (although if you’re clever you can create some elements in advance), but the result is truly astonishing – and perfect for autumn.

2. Galette of Cox’s apple and mint opaline, black butter ice cream

You can leave your apple crumble and custard to the local bake sale – we’re way beyond that with Mark Jordan’s exquisite take on the classic. Ice cream flavoured with black butter – a preserve from Jersey made of local apples – sits alongside perfect sphered of poached spiced apple, a crisp opaline made from caramel and mint, a calvados-spiked cream, apple jelly and an apple crisp. All those incredible elements come together to create a beautiful dessert that’s crisp, creamy, flavourful and very indulgent.

3. Rose and almond tansy pudding with butternut squash ice cream

The wild herb tansy is rarely used these days, but Simon Hulstone loves its floral flavour in desserts. He uses it in his rose and almond bread pudding, which is gently baked with plenty of cream for a rich finish. On the side, there’s a scoop of butternut squash and vanilla ice cream, which might sound strange – but the flavour complements the sweet, creamy pudding perfectly.

4. Pistachio and olive oil cake with apricot

The cake in this recipe might look relatively simple, but it’s actually quite involved – the base is a sabayon, to which olive oil, citrus juice, pistachios, polenta and flour are added. This results in a particularly light and airy crumb with a rich flavour that contrasts with the accompanying poached apricots beautifully. The quenelle of apricot sorbet adds a refreshing finish, while the sorrel leaves don’t just make the plate look pretty – they bring a welcome herby flavour to the whole dish.

5. Raspberry and custard cruffin

Cronuts are so last year – something Daniel Fletcher proves with his own take on hybrid pâtisserie, the ‘cruffin’. Combining the flaky, buttery texture of a croissant with the shape of a muffin, the resulting bake is something dreams are made of. What’s more, the inside is filled with homemade raspberry jam and vanilla custard, which fills the pillowy cruffins with plenty of flavour. The downside? It’s incredibly tricky to make, involving laminated pastry, sixteen hours resting time and various bits of specialist equipment. But if you’re looking to impress, you can’t do better.

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