There may be the meteorological and astronomical definitions for autumn, but there’s also a host of seasonal TV signposts too - X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and that ratings juggernaut The Great British Bake Off. Just as much a reminder that autumn is upon us as the crisp dewy mornings and the drawing in of the evenings.
The Great British Bake Off, so much a part of our viewing landscape that it can be identified as just Bake Off or #GBBO. Hard to believe it is six year ago, but it started life on BBC2 in 2010, moving to BBC 1 last year. However news just in is that the “beeb” have lost the rights to the show, made by Love Productions and this year will be its last with them. It is destined to move to Channel 4 next year – I’m in shock. It remains to be seen whether the format changes to accommodate the commercial breaks, we will have to wait and see. So I will treasure this last season of Bake Off on BBC1 for I adore it; it is my happy place and woe betides anyone who rings me up between 8pm or 9pm on a Wednesday night. On the surface it is all fluffy baking camaraderie with the mini dramas (who could forget “bingate” last year), the tears and not so subtle double entendre’s . However under its diddly dee surface is the steely competitiveness of each year’s freshly baked batch of contestants. The stakes are high, the winner may only get presented with a bunch of flowers and a trophy, but this is a lucrative stepping stone. Being the winner or indeed one of the leaders of the pack is a gateway to a life changing career – the inevitable books, demos, TV appearances and even your own TV show. Such is our insatiable demand for Bake Off, Jo Brands spinoff show An Extra Slice, is aired on a Friday night and just about tides us over until the next episode. It remains to be seen if this will be lost in the move to Channel 4. This isn’t the only spinoff, the Great British Bake Off brand is big business. There are Bake Off cookbooks, bake ware, stationery, jam jar labels, cupcake cases ….!
Social media “bakealongs” have also sprung up to run alongside the show. #GBBOTwitterBakeAlong is one that I like to join in with. Bakers are invited to bake and post a photo of that week’s chosen challenge, which follows the theme of the show. Week one was Jaffa Cakes, week two Viennese Whirls but I can’t even pronounce bread week’s challenge, let alone spell it! It’s a fun and inclusive way to engage with fellow bakers and the show. It is the first week’s challenge that has inspired my recipe for you this month. It is for my Choccy Jaffa Tray Bake. I did feel that on the Jaffa Cake challenge that the effort to reward ratio was pretty poor, getting only 12 commercially sized jaffa cakes out of it. In our house you may as well have just bought a packet, as they would have lasted about 30 seconds.
My recipe for you offers the delicious tried and tested combo of chocolate and orange; you also get a good yield too. The chocolate sponge layer is adapted from my trusted Be-Ro milk chocolate cake recipe, with the addition of grated orange zest and juice, but leaving out the vanilla. Christine Hewerdine of Sibsey Mother’s Union gave me the idea of making the cake as a tray bake, when I was their guest speaker. So thank you Christine, it has been hovering around the back of brain until such time as a recipe came together. I top the cake with orange marmalade to replicate the jelly layer, as it gives a slightly bitter note and does the same job without the “clatting” about! To build add another layer of orange flavour; I melted a Terrys Chocolate Oranges with double cream for the icing. Finally the tray bake is decorated with halved chocolate orange segments. You should get about 40 small squares out of this recipe, it’s very rich, and so you don’t really want to cut them too big. Conveniently there are 20 segments in a Terrys Chocolate Orange, so halving them gives you your 40 portions. To keep the cost down on this recipe it’s best to try and get the Choc’ Oranges when they are on offer. At the time of writing this I bought mine from Lincolnshire Coop, on offer at £1.
• 200g/7oz Self Raising Flour
• 225g/8oz Caster Sugar
• ½ tsp Salt
• 25g/1oz Cocoa Powder
• 100g/4oz Stork Margarine in a tub
• 2 Local Free Range Eggs
• 5 Tbsp evaporated milk
• 1 Orange
• 3 Tbsp Orange Marmalade
• 2 Chocolate Oranges
• Small pot Double Cream
• Grease and line a baking tin with baking parchment,
• I used a 30cm/12” long x 26cm/10”wide x 4cm/1 ½ “ deep
• Preheat fan oven to 180c fan
• Sieve together the Flour, Sugar, Salt and Cocoa Powder
• Zest orange and squeeze juice into a jug, put to one side
• Rub in the Margarine, I used paddle attachment of freestanding mixer
• Mix together the two eggs, evaporated milk, 5 tbsp of the orange juice and zest and then mix in to the dry ingredients making sure it is all incorporated and you don’t have pockets of flour hiding.
• Pour in to your tin, smooth to the edges and bake centre shelf for 25 – 30 mins, keeping a close eye on it. It’s done when it has shrunk away from the sides of the tin slightly and is springy to the touch
• Whilst cake is baking melt the marmalade with a splash of water to make a thick syrup. I don’t like the bits in it, so I sieve them out, but it’s up to you.
• When cake done, cool on a rack keeping in the tin for five minutes
• Take cake out of tin, but leave in the paper. Brush all over with your marmalade syrup
• Melt the chocolate orange very slowly with 5 Tbsp of double cream. Leave to cool a little to thicken and keep beating it so it is fully melted and glossy.
• Chop the segments of the other chocolate orange in half
• When cake is completely cold, spread your icing over the top.
• Decorate with the segments, trying to keep them in lines so you can portion it easily when it has set.
• Leave to set at room temperature. Then cut in to squares.
• Perfect with a coffee whilst watching Bake Off tonight – Enjoy!
Sadie Hirst is a member of Select Lincolnshire and the British Society of Baking. She is an avid collector of historic recipes, antiquarian and vintage cookbooks. Sadie is passionate about preserving our culinary heritage and is often invited to local community organisations with her talk “Off the Beeton Track”. If you would like to contact Sadie, you can email her firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter Sadie Hirst@RJHirstbutcher www.rjhirstfamilybutchers.co.uk