I had expected something really challenging for the last technical challenge of the Great British Bake Off 2016... An extravagant gateau, an elegant pandoro or a towering croquembouche... especially a croquembouche because I want an excuse to make one... so I was quite taken aback when it was announced that the bakers had to make a simple Victoria Sponge.
Surely any half decent baker can make a Victoria sponge even without instructions? And this is the final challenge! But then I remembered my experience with the "Spongy sponge" and thought perhaps I was being too blase and so I challenged myself to make the best Victoria Sponge I possibly could, without instructions just like the three finalists in the show.
And it was then that I started to realise how many decisions there were to be made and the controversy surrounding such a simple bake. I know Mary Berry prefers the all in one method, which also requires adding extra baking powder to the mix, and she is not adverse to using margarine which I cannot abide (the list of ingredients on the side of any margarine tub is so off putting and it tastes revolting), although she claims it gives a lighter bake. I opted for the creaming method and butter. I weighed my eggs in their shells (four of them) and then used equal quantities of butter, white caster sugar and sifted self raising flour plus a couple of tablespoons of milk. I also like to add half a teaspoon of vanilla to my sponge. This mixture was baked in two 8" tins at 180 deg C for 25 mins.
Then there is the filling... apparently the W.I. says absolutely nothing other than raspberry jam, definitely no fresh cream or buttercream, but that does sound rather frugal, so I went with challenge on the show to add buttercream. Other times I might be tempted to add fresh cream and even some fresh fruit. First of all I made my raspberry jam using 120g raspberries and 135g jam sugar which made just the right quantity for a good thick coating. I would usually reach for a good jar of ready made jam but it did taste lovely and fresh and not too much effort to make my own.
The buttercream was made with 100g butter, 200g icing sugar and a splash of milk and vanilla... and I went to the trouble of piping it, which I wouldn't normally do. I thought it looked quite pretty until a friend on Facebook said it looked like a grinning set of dentures! She's not wrong!
But I was actually really pleased with the result and as my Mum and two of my boys joined us for lunch today it disappeared rapidly with second helpings for some! It tasted quite delicious and I declared it was probably not such a bad technical challenge after all. And although buttercream might not be for the Victoria Sponge purists, it certain makes it taste rather scrummy!
So that is all ten technical challenges from this year's show tackled... and another sixty by sixty challenge crossed off my list!
Joining in with Jenny from Mummy Mishaps who has very kindly hosted this blog link up over the past ten weeks for the Great Bloggers Bake Off 2016