Week 4! Batter Week!
So following last week’s GBBO showstopper challenge of a savoury bread plait centrepiece (and my attempt to make a bloomin’ TREE out of bread!), this week’s episode saw the bakers completing challenges all to do with ‘batter’. Supposedly.
The first challenge was Yorkshire puddings – something I don’t think I’ve seen on GBBO before, and probably something I’ll have a go at in the future. Until then, Aunt Bessie’s got my back.
The second challenge, however, definitely piqued my interest a little bit more. Being somewhat arty, the idea of making ‘lacy hearts’ out of pancake batter seemed like something I couldn’t not try. You know, just to see if I could do it. So I did. (Two GBBO bakes in 1 weekend? Madness.)
The third challenge, and the showstopper, was to make 36 churros to the following criteria:
- must be sweet
- any shape/size
- can be filled/served with dipping sauce
- 3 hours
Now, unlike the previous two weeks where I instantly thought of an idea and insisted on seeing it through (no matter how ambitious!), this time I actually stopped to plan what I was going to make; possible flavour combinations, dipping sauces, churro recipes etc.
With GBBO being so Pinterest with the lacy heart pancake challenge, I figured I’d do something just as equally Pinterest… ‘Birthday Cake’ Flavoured Churros. Served as a Birthday Cake. You don’t get more Internet than that! From things likes Oreo’s, ice cream, M&M’s, and even vodka, the ‘Birthday Cake’ trend seems to be EVERYWHERE!
What is ‘Birthday Cake’ flavour I hear you ask? Good question! Surely birthday cakes can be any flavour, right? Wrong. Apparently someone somewhere decided that ‘Birthday Cake’ flavour is the simple combination of vanilla and rainbow sprinkles… and it’s stuck! People are throwing sprinkles into errrythaang! Not that I’m complaining, vanilla is a classic and rainbow sprinkles make me happy. 😀
However, for my ‘Birthday Cake’ flavouring I chose to amp up the flavour by using cream cheese in the filling, as well as adding a bit of almond flavouring too.
I then had a brainwave of stacking the churros together to make them look like an actual birthday cake to add to the Pinterest-ness of it all. And then I mentally high-fived myself.
Here’s how it went…
First I made the churro dough (yes, ‘dough’, not batter) by placing the water, butter and vanilla extract into a large saucepan and brought this to the boil.
Once bubbling, I removed this from the heat and made sure it was all mixed. I then added the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder.
I beat this together really quickly with a wooden spoon, removing all lumps of flour, until it became a thick, smooth, glossy dough.
I then spooned this into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle, and pipe lines of 15cm long onto a baking paper lined tray.
I left these in the freezer to firm up a little as I made the filling.
For the filling I beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract till thick and smooth. I set this aside in the fridge whilst I fried the churros. (I purposely didn’t add the sprinkles at this stage because the colours would have run!)
To fry the churros I half filled a saucepan with sunflower oil and heated this up on a medium heat. Once hot enough I began to fry the churros for a few minutes until golden brown and crisp. I had to do this in batches of 2 because I was using a dinky little saucepan to save using too much oil and it took AGES!
In between frying the churros I was poking holes into the cooked ones with a bamboo skewer…
…then rolling in caster sugar.
Once all the churros were fried, I added a generous amount of sprinkles to the cream cheese filling and mixed in.
I then spooned this into a piping bag and piped into each of the churros.
I then melted the white chocolate by microwaving it in a bowl in bursts of 30 seconds. I dipped the open end of the churros into the white chocolate and then into the rainbow sprinkles and ended up with the most questionable things I’ve ever made.
I left these to chill/set up on a foil lined tray.
To construct the ‘birthday cake’ I got a round springform cake tin to hold the churros up in a standing position. (The smallest tin I have was still to big for the amount of churros I had, so I added a ring of foil to make the circumference smaller.
I then tied a ribbon around the churros to hold in place before removing the cake tin and foil.
You could even add birthday candles and serve as an actual birthday cake for an actual birthday.
How long did it take? Altogether it took 3 hours 45 minutes, but when I factor in the photo/washing up time, and the fact that it took me almost 2 hours to just fry the darn things in my dinky little saucepan, then I reckon I definitely would have completed the challenge in under 3 hours with a proper deep fat fryer.
What worked? The whole ‘make it look like a birthday cake’ idea was a bit random but I’m pretty pleased with the result.
What didn’t work? I think I needed a thicker skewer to really make sure there was enough space in the churros to pipe the filling. I may or may not have had some churros only halfheartedly filled… but that’s a secret between you and me.
I also could have maybe waited a little longer for the white chocolate to completely set… but I may have got a bit too excited about constructing the birthday cake. (Though, this did mean that when it did eventually set it held the churros all stacked together in place.)
Things to improve if I were to take this recipe to the tent? Probably filling the churros. You know, to make sure I get ALL THE FILLING in each and every one.
- For the churros:
- 700ml water
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1tsp almond extract
- 400g plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 2tsp baking powder
- 1tsp salt
- sunflower oil, for frying
- caster sugar, for rolling the churros
- For the birthday cake filling & ‘icing’:
- 280g cream cheese
- 350g icing sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- rainbow sprinkles
- 200g white chocolate
- In a large saucepan, add the water, butter and flavourings and bring to the boil.
- Once bubbling, turn off the heat and add the flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder.
- Beat quickly with a spoon until you get a thick, smooth, glossy choux-like paste/dough.
- Leave to cool till you’re comfortable handling it.
- Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
- Pipe lines of dough onto a piece of baking paper about 15cm long until you run out of dough.
- Place in the freezer whilst you make the filling.
- For the filling beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use. (Do not add the rainbow sprinkles until just before spooning the filling into the piping bag to fill the churros, or the colours may run too much.)
- Fill a large, deep saucepan with the sunflower oil for frying and heat to a medium heat (roughly 180°C).
- Add 3 or 4 chilled churros at a time to the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. (You don’t want to add too many as it will lower the temperature of the oil and take longer to cook!)
- Remove from the oil and carefully pat off the excess oil with kitchen paper.
- Continue cooking the rest of the dough in batches, tossing them in caster sugar in between.
- Once all cooked and cool enough to handle, take a long skewer and poke a hole through one end of each churro.
- Fold the rainbow sprinkles into the cream cheese filling and spoon into a piping bag.
- Pipe the filling into each churro so it fills the entire churro.
- Break up the white chocolate and melt in a microwave in bursts of 30 seconds, stirring in between.
- Dip the open end of each churro into the white chocolate to seal, then dip into some rainbow sprinkles. Leave to set on a piece baking paper before serving.
- Optional: Take all the churros and stand them up, sprinkle side up, and tie together with a piece of ribbon to serve as a ‘cake’.