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Cake week

This is the opening week of Season 14 of The Great British Baking Show ™ and focuses on the baking of cakes.

This page is all about the food that the show brings to our screens. The goal is to have a lasting memory of some of the flavors and taste combinations, to bring some creativity and ideas to your own cooking. I hope you find it fun and useful.

Signature Dish

Vertical Layer Cake

Thin layers of sponge, lined with a flavored cream then rolled, turned on the end and iced.

Facts of note from the show:

  • Tasha was the only cook not to use a swiss roll sponge. She instead used a Genoise sponge and it worked out well. (Swiss roll sponge uses no butter, unlike the Genoise.)

  • Prue Leith warned that the key with a swiss roll sponge is only to cook it for 15 minutes maximum, or it will crack on rolling. In this episode, Josh overcooked his sponge.

  • Saku used blueberries for her flavor. Prue Leith was nervous that the flavor would be too mild, but Saku reduced lots of the fruit and Prue was thrilled.

  • Matty curdled his buttercream. TWICE. He said "I'm not being patient enough". Eventually he gave up and used coffee mascarpone instead. HINT: Buttercream splits (curdles) when the butter is colder than the sugar and if this happens to you at home, then the solution is to warm it up by either wrapping a red-hot towel around your mixing bowl ... or blowing your hair-dryer at the outside of the bowl and re-mixing. 

  • HINT: The secret of success if you make this dish is to make sure that your sponges are EXACTLY even in depth and that the depth of your filling is also even and less deep than the sponge.

  • Dan uses a creme patisserie in place of buttercream, with great success.

  • Keith uses whipped cream, laced with orange liqueur, in place of buttercream and Prue Leith called it 'delicious'. Paul Hollywood agrees, with "oh my god ... the cream is so light, and against the density of the chocolate, and with the hint of orange liqueur - it is absolutely delicious".

  • Tasha uses yuzu. This fruit cannot be imported into the US, but is grown in California and can occasionally be found. A substitute is lemon juice, mixed with a little grapefruit and orange. 

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Flavors of vertical layer cake

Chocolate & Raspberry - Rowan 

Tropical - Josh 

Blood Orange & Dark Choc -Amos 

Lemon Meringue - Cristy

Orange and Lemon - Nicky

Wild Poppy Seed, Lemon & Blackcurrant - Abbi

Salted Caramel Latte - Dana

Lemon and Blueberry - Saku

Tiramisu - Matty

Rhubarb & Custard - Dan

Chocolate Orange - Keith

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Black Sesame and Yuzu - Tasha

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Technical Challenge

The technical challenge for Season 14 was to reproduce the iconic chocolate cake that is featured in the opening of every episode of The Great British Bake Off ™. 

Paul Hollywood's recipe for this dish is here

So, what did we learn in watching the contestants make their own version of this fudge cake, given only very basic instructions? Below, I'll list some results that you might want to know if you're planning to make this cake:

  • Dana used twice as much chocolate as instructed for the cake and it turned out to be too dense.

  • The ganache needs to cool quickly, but without losing that magical shine. The recommended method is to let it cool without using the refrigerator and definitely avoiding the freezer (Dana tried the freezer ... and then the microwave to unfreeze it!)

  • Several contestants had left one of their two sponges in the oven after the other was considered ready. This led to extra shrinkage on one sponge, and when the cake was complete it was possible to see the 'waistline'. 

  • For both Nicky and Abbi, the ganache curdled very suddenly. Adding a little more butter seemed to solve the problem although professional advice when ganache curdles is to warm it gently over a double boiler. If necessary, add a few drops of low-fat milk at room temperature and whisk in. 

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