The final episode of The Great British Baking Show aired last week. I didn’t realize we were going to get two weeks in a row with back-to-back episodes. That makes me both happy and sad. On one hand, I had more new episodes to watch in a short amount of time. Four new episodes in seven days – it’s like Christmas came early. On the other hand, the show really is over and I will never watch another (new) episode with Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary. So sad. But, it was a great season and I would say they certainly ended on a high note. And, at least I get to see Mary Berry on The Great American Baking Show later this year!
Also coming to a close this past week, the official end of Summer Desserts 2017 in the Vannoni household. Quick reminder- every year we make a list of desserts (or baked goods) I have never made before. Each dessert gets a score of 1-10. We made the last dessert on the list this past Sunday. Here is what we made this summer (in order):
I must admit, Summer Desserts 2017 got off to a rocky start. One of my daughter’s (A) chose Plum Pie and so that is what we made first. In case you haven’t heard, I’m not a fan of pie. I do however love plums so I thought I would give it a shot. It looked promising going into the oven…
But, I’m going to have to say no to the plum pie. I could try again and I’m sure I would have better success but there are so many other things I would prefer to try first. We gave this a 4. I think that is the lowest rating we have ever given anything (and we were generous with the score). A is a sensitive child and her feelings were very hurt that the plum pie was not loved by all. I tried to explain it had nothing to do with her but it fell on deaf ears (they were probably clogged with tears).
Next, came the Victoria Sandwich. Needless to say, as I am fascinated with The Great British Baking Show, I couldn’t wait to try this one out! I had already decided to fill it with homemade raspberry jam and whipped cream. Both turned out beautifully. But the sponge itself wasn’t quite right. It was good but not great. We gave it a 6*. It got the “*” because of serious potential. I’m definitely making this again (probably this weekend) because I’m determined to get this one right!
Wedding Cake is my favorite dessert on Earth. White vanilla wedding cake that is. I am not a fan of almond flavor. Anyway, I had never made one myself. There were so many boxes I could check off just making this one dessert:
1. Make the perfect white cake
2. Make a tiered cake
3. Make Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4. Practice piping skills
If you follow me on Instagram you may already know that my power went out in the middle of making this cake (technically the icing). I wish I could blame the results on that but I can’t. The cake itself was good but not my favorite. It had a high sugar content to the point where the outside was actually almost crunchy. It had good flavor but not what I was going for. The Swiss meringue buttercream… dare I say… had too much butter. It feels like blasphemy but it’s true. I LOVE butter. I can really eat it all by itself but there was just waaaaayyy too much butter in this icing. And my piping still needs a lot of work. The cake with better icing may have received a higher score but this only got a 5.
Then things started to look up. I had made Bon Appetit’s Chocolate Cinnamon Babkallah a few years ago (click here for their recipe). It is a mix between a babka and challah bread. The original was good, made the house smell amazing and was delicious as French toast the next day. But, I wanted to change it a little bit. Finally, this summer, I did. I used Nutella to fill the bread and let me tell you, it was a WIN! Finally! I know it looks burned but it isn’t, it is supposed to get really dark in the oven. Phenomenal. This scored an 8½.
My all time favorite breakfast is a croissant with hot chocolate. I absolutely adore croissants. I knew they would be a challenge to make but I really wanted to give it a try. Well, it is very time consuming. Very. Time. Consuming. There is a lot of “inactive” time but still; I had to be at the house pretty much all day. Then the dough rests in the fridge over night (and because it is a yeast dough I thought it was going to explode in the fridge). Shape the croissants the next morning, let them rise again, then bake them… then you finally get to eat them.
In the middle of the first day I had already decided I would never make these again. Then, I ate a freshly baked croissant the next morning. HEAVEN! And I even made some of them into pain au chocolat… to die for! I will totally make them again! These were my personal favorite of all the “Summer Desserts” and scored a 9.
Last but certainly not least, the lemon soufflé. Last summer I tried to make a chocolate soufflé and it was… not awesome. It was pretty much a failure. I mean, we still ate it of course but it just was not right; too wet. I tried to combine a couple recipes, which was a mistake. This time I followed one recipe. I changed some flavors but still just one recipe. I was hopeful for redemption. And I was redeemed!
The pictures are terrible, I know. My dining room has low lighting and remember, I only use my phone. And I wasn’t willing to mess around with the soufflé for a picture; they are too delicate. But the taste was amazing! The other family members gave it their highest scores and said this was their favorite of all. I will admit I was quite pleased with myself. This also scored a 9.
(If you are wondering, we don’t give out 10’s or at least never have to date. There is always room for improvement.)
So, the first three desserts of the summer need some tweaking. The last three however were great. Odd actually because the first three are definitely more “beginner” recipes whereas the last three are at least for an “intermediate” baker, if not “advanced.”
I baked a lot this summer and it made me so happy! Even though they aren’t on the official list I made macarons, German chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie and fruit tarts all for the first time this summer too. Macarons are tough! I was about to completely give up and finally the last batch was divine. The cake and pie both turned out great and the fruit tart was spectacular (the second time I made it).
I know I went through a lot there and I’m not even including a recipe at the end. But, I thought I would put this to you. Which Summer Dessert of 2017 would you like to make? Let me know in the comments section below and I will put the recipe with the most requests on the blog in the coming weeks. I recommend anything other than plum pie.