GBBO Challenge with a Twist #3: Apple, Rhubarb & Raspberry Princess Cakes
To celebrate The Great British Bake Off starting again next week (FINALLY!), welcome to the third instalment of my blog feature 'Great British Bake Off (GBBO) Challenges with a Twist'. In this instalment, I attempted to put my own spin on Mary Berry's Prinsesstårta recipe. If you missed the first instalment (Blackberry and Pistachio Mille-Feuille) and want to start from the beginning, CLICK HERE. If you want to read the second instalment (Coffee-Caramel Almond & Hazelnut Dacquoise), CLICK HERE.
The original GGBO challenge from series 5 episode 6 required contestants to recreate Mary Berry's Prinsesstårta. This Swedish layer cake consists of alternating layers of airy sponge cake, jam and pastry cream, and is finished with a thick-domed layer of whipped cream, a thin layer of green marzipan and a delicate fondant rose. You can find Mary's original recipe HERE.
For my version, I decided to change things up by making an apple and rhubarb compote and flavouring the whipped cream with it. I also decided to make smaller heart-shaped cakes rather than one large cake.
Whilst I was pretty pleased with the overall result, I soon came to regret my decision to make heart-shaped cakes. It was SO fiddly. And FRUSTRATING. Trying to shape the marzipan on top of the whipped cream into hearts without it all breaking into pieces and looking squashed was quite frankly, incredibly stressful (I do like to learn my lesson the hard way...).The next time I make this recipe I think I'll be making round cakes instead! I think it probably would have helped if I'd also made the cakes smaller in size. This would have led to less marzipan breakages. So if you do decide to go for heart-shaped, I recommend using a smaller cutter size.
Because I chose to make heart-shaped cakes, I also ended up with quite a few leftovers. This, however, was not a dilemma because the components of this cake make an outstanding trifle. Layer up the leftovers and there you have it, 2 desserts in one. And with the effort that these cakes take to make, getting 2 desserts out of one load of effort can only be a good thing.
Utensils: Saucepan, large mixing bowl, hand whisk, wooden spoon, sugar thermometer (not essential), food processor or stick blender, 2 baking trays (33cm x 25cm in size), baking paper, electric hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, sieve, large metal spoon, wire cooling rack(s), dough hook, cocktail stick, rolling pin, small piping tip, heart-shaped or round cookie cutter (I used a 9.5cm heart cutter but would recommend using a smaller cutter, e.g. 7.5cm, instead), small palette knife, piping bag with small plain nozzle.
Top Tip: This recipe is quite time-consuming and can get confusing, especially if you're in a rush to get things finished. If you want to save yourself some time and stress on the day of serving, make the custard, jam, apple and rhubarb compote, fondant roses, marzipan and sponge cake the day before. Then, all you need to do on the day is whip some cream up and assemble the cakes.
600ml whole milk
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod (split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out)
6 free-range egg yolks
100g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
175g jam sugar
Apple & Rhubarb Cream
1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, cored and diced
540g tin of rhubarb in syrup (or you could use 245g fresh rhubarb cut into 1 inch chunks)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cornflour
600ml double cream
4 large free-range eggs
150g caster sugar
75g plain flour (ensure gluten-free if required)
1 teaspoon baking powder (ensure gluten-free if required)
50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Marzipan & Fondant Roses
400g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
250g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
Small amount green food colouring paste (do not use liquid food colouring)
100g pink ready-to-roll icing
Icing sugar, for dusting
Makes: 5 - 10 round or heart-shaped princess cakes, dependent on the size of your cutter.
1. Make the vanilla custard: Pour the milk into a pan with the vanilla seeds and vanilla pod or vanilla extract and place over a low heat until just simmering. Remove from the heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together until pale and creamy. If using, remove the vanilla pod from the warm milk. Whisk the warm milk slowly into the egg mixture. Then pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a low heat for 4-5 minutes, whisking until the mixture thickens (it should be very thick).
3. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the butter until melted and incorporated. Transfer to a bowl, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool. Once cool enough, place in the fridge until ready to use.
4. Make the raspberry jam: For the jam, tip the raspberries into a deep saucepan with the jam sugar and two tablespoons of water. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Then, bring the mixture to the boil and boil vigorously for about four minutes (or until the temperature reaches 104°C on a sugar thermometer. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool completely.
5. Make the apple and rhubarb compote: For the compote, tip the apple, rhubarb, caster sugar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water into a deep saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Then, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure the compote doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan.
6. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornflour with water to form a smooth paste and tip this into the compote, stirring vigorously to ensure the cornflour is fully incorporated. Cook for 1 more minute before removing from the heat. If you'd like to make a really smooth compote, transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor or use a stick blender to whizz the mixture until it is smooth.
7. Make the sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line the base of 2 baking trays (33cm x 25cm in size) with baking paper. Melt and cool the unsalted butter.
8. Put the eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl and using an electric hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whisk together until the mixture is very pale and thick and the whisk leaves a trail on the surface when lifted. This will take about five minutes with a stand mixer and a little longer with a hand mixer.
9. Sift the cornflour, flour and baking powder over the egg mixture and carefully fold in using a large metal spoon. Fold in the melted butter, taking care not to over mix. Split the cake mixture evenly between your two baking trays and bake for about 15 minutes until the sponge is golden-brown and has just started to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
10. Make the marzipan: While the sponge cake is cooling, mix the ground almonds and sugars in a mixer fitted with a dough hook, before adding the eggs and almond extract. Knead the mixture in the bowl until it forms a stiff dough. Then, turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Using a cocktail stick, add a tiny amount of green food colouring and knead the dough to an even pastel green colour. Wrap tightly in cling film and set to one side until needed later on.
11. Cut the cake hearts / circles: Using a heart-shaped or round cookie cutter (I'd recommend around 7.5cm in size) cut as many hearts / circles as you can out of your sponges. Arrange your hearts / circles in groups of three and then count how many groups you have. This will tell you how many fondant roses you need to make. Set your cakes aside until you're ready to assemble.
12. Make the fondant roses: Roll out a small amount of the fondant at a time (this ensures the fondant doesn't dry up too much as you work) on a non-stick surface (if possible) or on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Use the large end of your small piping tip to cut 10 small rounds out of the fondant. Move the rest of the fondant out of the way and then lightly roll over your 10 rounds in one direction to elongate them.
13. Pick up one round of fondant and roll it up like a sausage to form a bud. Wrap the remaining nine rounds of fondant around the bud to make a rose. Bend and curl the edges of the petals as you add them to make them look more realistic. You may need to keep a little cup of water next to you as you do this to dip your fingers in to help the fondant rounds to stick together, though try to use only a very small amount of water at a time (otherwise you will end up with a sticky mess).
14. Assemble the cakes: Spread a very thin layer of custard over the base of each bottom sponge. Then, spoon a quarter of the custard into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a border around the edge of each bottom sponge – this is to contain the jam. Spoon the jam over each bottom sponge, and spread evenly within the border.
15. In a large mixing bowl, whip 600ml double cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the remaining custard and set aside the other half of the whipped cream for now.
16. Spread a small amount of the custard cream mixture over the jam on each bottom sponge. Place the middle sponge on top and spread the remaining custard cream over each middle sponge. Place the third sponge on top.
17. Add half of the apple and rhubarb compote to the remaining whipped cream and re-whip to firm peaks. If the mixture looks a bit runny, chill the cream for half an hour before use and / or add some additional cream and re-whip to thicken the mixture. Spoon the whipped cream over each of the cakes, covering the sides and smoothing the top into a small dome shape. Set aside in the fridge for an hour.
18. Divide the marzipan into evenly sized balls according to the number of cakes you're making. Roll each marzipan ball out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until is large enough to cover each cake.
19. Lift the marzipan up over the cakes and using your hands, shape the marzipan around the sides of the cake to get a smooth and, if applicable, heart-shaped finish. Trim any excess, leaving a small border at the bottom of each cake if desired. Lightly dust each cake with icing sugar then top with a fondant rose.
20. Give yourself a gigantic pat on the back for soldiering on through this recipe. Freeze any leftover marzipan tightly wrapped in cling film and layer up any leftover cake, jam, compote, custard and cream in a big bowl to create an absolutely outstanding trifle. Two desserts in one, voila!
Storage: Store any leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Best consumer on the day of assembling as the marzipan can go a bit soggy in the fridge.