What an incredible 10 weeks it has been. We've loved watching the highs and lows of the bake off tent this year culminating in last nights final. I blubbed my way through the programme not really understanding why I felt SO emotional about it.
I think it was the point where they showed the footage from Nadiya's home life and I think it was her husband that pointed out this was the first thing she had done for herself since she had kids. And that's when the tears started to flow. It just resonated with me so much as I'm sure it did with many mums who make sacrifice after sacrifice for the sake of their families. I wouldn't have it any other way but just occasionally it's nice to do something for myself.
And baking has become that thing. Even when life is manic without a moment to spare, I know I have to make time to get in the kitchen and bake something in order to save my sanity!
More often than not, my baking would end in disaster and the fear of the baking disasters used to prevent me from stepping into the kitchen too often. But this has been the year that I have finally overcome my baking fears. Whatever the outcome, I've not been afraid to have a go and bake along each week.
Last week I had even decided before the show that I would attempt the bake that I considered most challenging and so I spent an entire day making white chocolate cardamom shortbread eggs and chocolate peacock feathers.
This week I knew that time would not be on my side as we've had 5 hospital and doctors appointments to fit in. And yet I was determined to get my GBBO bake done. Miss T was at preschool this morning so I seized my chance before her physio appointment in the afternoon.
I think all the bakes this week were challenging but again I was most inspired by Nadiya and her wedding cake. When I got married a whopping 16 years ago I had never even baked a cake, not even cupcakes, so I would never have even considered baking a wedding cake. We made do with those pre-iced cakes from M&S which we added a few ready made decorations to.
So I decided I wanted to make a wedding cake this week. To give our waistlines a chance to recover after 10 weeks of baking, I opted for a miniature version of a wedding cake.
And thinking of a theme was easy. After hearing the news that my favourite brand, Pink Lining won the Brand of the Year award at the #LittleLondonAwards2015, I decided to use their amazing prints as inspiration for my cake. You see, in the same way that baking has helped me gradually regain a little confidence and make a bit of time for myself, my Pink Lining bags have also been there every step of the way helping me on this journey called parenthood. You can hear more about that in our blogpost and video here.
Back to the baking. I decided to use a reliable chocolate cake recipe. Chocolate cake is a cake I think of as a classic British cake - it's what we choose whenever we visit a National Trust or English Heritage coffee shop. And I wanted to attempt three tiers. As I don't have the right number and size of baking tins to do big tiers, I made a large fairly thin cake that I then cut into circles of three sizes. Three circles of each of those three sizes. (The cake is a really easy mix of 140g self-raising flour, 1 egg, 40g cocoa powder, 200g caster sugar, 125ml groundnut oil, vanilla and 175 ml milk baked at 190C for 15-18 minutes)
Love and Macarons where it is described as a Fluffy vanilla bean buttercream filling. I love this recipe because it can be made with ingredients you'd generally have at home without having to make sure you have huge amounts of cream cheese (as you would with cream cheese frosting) or chocolate and cream (as you would with ganache).
I added a bit more of the 'buttercream' to the top and sides and then covered each tier with fondant icing. In my mind I envisioned a perfectly smooth cake like you see in the bridal magazines but bearing in mind I don't own any special equipment like cake smoothers, it still had a few lumps and bumps.
Then taking inspiration from the Pink Lining prints I set to work creating the little flowers - tiny sunflowers, tulips and forget-me-nots. I only had a flower-punch in the shape of the ones I've used as sunflowers, but by cutting the flowers or squeezing pairs of petals together in different combinations I was able to make the forget-me-nots, the tulips and the green leaves for the tulips all using that same flower cutter.
Then it was time to assemble!
Pink Lining 'Tulips and Forget-me-nots' print (forget-me-nots are my all time favourite flower so HAD to include them).
The middle layer is inspired by the Pink Lining 'Sunflower' print.
And the top layer is the Pink Lining butterflies print which I love so much on my Henrietta tote bag (you can read more about how much I adore this bag here).
So that's it for this year. I've been so encouraged and inspired by both watching GBBO and seeing everyone's bakes on the #GBBOBloggers2015 linky.
Joining in for one last time with Mummy Mishaps #GBBOBloggers2015 linky, this week hosted at The Boy who cooked.
Just so that I have them all in one place for referring back to them myself, here are the GBBO bakes I have done this year:
Week 1 Madeira Cake - On your Marks, Get Set, Bake Madeira cake!
Week 2 Biscuit Week - Naan Berenji Persian Rice Flour Shortbread
Week 5 Free From Week - Sugar Free and gluten free orange and maple polenta cake with candied carrot
Week 6 Pastry Week - Blackberry Bakewell Tart
Week 7 Victorian Week - Hot water crust 'fesen joon' inspired pie
Week 8 Patisserie Week - Choux Pastry Raspberry Profiteroles
Week 9 Chocolate Week - Cardamom and White chocolate 'eggs' with chocolate peacock feathers