Season 11 of The Great British Bake Off has finally begun and we could not be more excited it’s back. Alongside enjoying the banter between the contestants and co-hosts Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding, our favorite part of the show is all of the baking knowledge we are basically learning by osmosis. If, however, you were too busy being soothed by the show, we’re gathering the best tips we learn from each episode below.
Whether you’re the star baker in your home or can barely make a mug cake, hopefully these lessons help you on your way:
Episode 4: Chocolate Week
Don’t overcook your brownies
The key is a gooey center and a crackly, crispy top, which you’ll totally ruin if you leave them in the oven too long.
Don’t overdo it with brownie icings and fillings.
Brownies are sweet on their own so don’t overload them with other sweet toppings and fillings. Laura learned this the hard way with her Italian meringue and caramel-topped brownies.
Sometimes the basics are the toughest things to do.
The bakers all had a tough time with brownies. This is a reminder that you’re never too experienced to continue to master the basics.
Be precise when making chocolate babka.
You can’t make it too long or it’ll come out of the tin. It also must be crisp on outside and soft on inside. Very tough, but very delicious….so it’s worth it.
Follow your instincts when it comes to baking.
Linda had never even seen a babka before but she totally rocked the challenge, a good reminder that you if you trust your instincts and follow your recipe and you can make pretty much anything.
Timing is everything.
When thinking about making a certain bake, factor in time to cool and decorate. The bakers may be short on time in the tent, but you don’t have to be in real life.
Consider the outside factors.
The bakers struggled as the heat from the tent melted their white chocolate, so make sure you do your best to make the conditions in your own kitchen favorable to whatever you’re making.
Episode 3: Bread Week
Soda bread starts rising almost immediately.
Get this in the oven quickly. If you’re making this for the first time, be sure to read the directions carefully so that you don’t lose your rise.
Be careful when opening up your ingredients.
Marc got heavy cream everywhere in a very funny moment, but if you have to clean up your own kitchen, be careful!!
Soda bread is soft and cakey so flavors have to complement it.
Think about the type of bread you’re making when considering any fillings or glazes.
Additional fat can mess with the bake time.
Baking is a science, and adding fat (cheese, meats, etc.) can make your bread go undercooked in spots.
Too much kneading makes loaves too dense.
Sharing is caring.
Spoiler here: In a very sweet moment, Linda showed honey she had gotten from Mak before he left the show and it made her soda bread and butter all the more special.
The second proof is all about texture.
Making things like bagels and cinnamon rolls that require multiple proofs, the second one will give you that smooth texture, so pay close attention.
Bread is VERY temperamental.
Even the slightest drop in temperature, cut slightly too deep, or topping slightly too heavy can mess up an otherwise lovely bread…which is exactly what makes Bread Week so thrilling!
Episode 2: Biscuit Week
Cookies are called biscuits in The U.K.
I know, I know! But I always forget!
Some cookies are all about the snap.
While some of us remain partial to soft and gooey cookies, some cookies, like Florentines, are all about the snap and crispiness. Make sure you look up how they’re typically served before pulling them out of the oven too quickly or too early.
Mind your fillings.
If you’re planning on using super-sweet fillings make sure your base or coatings aren’t super sweet as well. So if you’re planning on chopping up sweet fruits, make sure you use something a bit more bitter or savory, such as dark chocolate.
A food processor may be your secret weapon.
When chopping up nuts or dried fruits, you do want them fairly small to get a good flavor and texture, Linda pointed out. If you don’t wanna be chopping forever, break out the food processor or even get a smaller one specifically for tasks like these.
Macaroons are tougher than you think!
These cookies look tiny and cute, but as the judges pointed out (and the contestants learned!) this unassuming biscuit is tricky to get quite right.
Check the temperature of your butter.
This should be one of the first things you prep, either making sure your butter remains ice-cold or that it’s perfectly room temp. This can make or break your cookies/cakes/whatever, so pay attention!
Keep it simple!!
Contestant Rowan learned this when the judges slammed him trying to make his bakes way too elaborate. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with little details so much that you can’t finish…even if you’re not on a baking show.
Episode 1: Cake Week
Listen to your cake when you pull it out of the oven.
Contestant Peter shared a trick he learned from baker John Whaite from series three of the show, who at the time said his mom taught him to listen to a cake when you pull it out of the oven to see if it’s cooked. If it’s still wet, you’ll hear boiling, but if it’s done, it’ll sound “gentle.”
The tin makes all the difference.
Sura said she baked with a new pan for the first time and her batter overflowed. If you’re baking for something important, try not to use a new tin before giving it a whirl.
Use a ruler for super precise cake layers.
Get one just for the kitchen!
You need to get cake coverings and fillings rolled out just right.
Too thin, it’ll crack, too thick, it won’t taste very pleasant. They said this about marzipan, but it rings true for lots of things, such as fondant.
If the middle of your cake is raw, try to put it in the microwave.
Rowan tried this and it seemed to have worked for the most part? To be safe, if you have the time, pop it in the oven with some foil on top.
Use caramel carefully.
If you’re making something like a pineapple upside down cake and you use too little, your cake won’t get nice and crispy, but if you use too much, it’ll get soggy and sink to the bottom.
When swatting flies, make sure no cakes are in the way.
Sura learned this the hard way when she knocked fellow baker Dave’s cakes off his plate. Though she obviously felt bad, some of the cakes were able to be saved, and all’s well that ends well.
Trying to make a cake that’s shaped like something else can be daunting.
Prue noted how hard it is to make a cake that, say, looks like a person, because if it looks perfect but uses a ton of icing to make it happen, it might taste terrible.
Using mint is a bit risky.
Dave used mint alongside strawberry and cocoa in his bake, and the judges knocked him for it tasting like toothpaste. Be careful!
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