The second week of The Great British Bake Off was Cake Week and there was drama galore! Apparently, it was a zillion degrees outside when they filmed this episode and the bakers had to temper chocolate inside the GBBO tent. Which of course went very badly.
Which made me wonder (and not for the first time)… Why on earth would you film a baking show inside a tent? There’s so much that can go wrong! It doesn’t make sense at all, but I have to admit I wouldn’t have it any other way. It makes for great television (and there’s your reason, I suspect).
Anyway! Back to Cake Week. The Signature Challenge for this week was to bake a tray bake and that had me excited straight away. Apart from the usual brownies and blondies, I don’t think I’ve ever baked a tray bake (do they count as tray bakes, anyway?) and I really wanted to give it a try!
I came up with my flavour combination during the episode already and I immediately knew it would be a winner: almond and orange always is, after all! So, I made an orange and almond sponge and added a deliciously tangy yet sweet orange cream cheese frosting on top. Yum.
You’ll need… (for 12 slices)
For the sponge
- 200 g white caster sugar
- 200 g unsalted butter, softened
- 4 eggs, medium
- 1 teaspoon almond flavouring
- 170 g self-raising flour
- 50 g ground almonds
- a pinch of salt
- zest of 1 orange + 1 tablespoon of juice
- 1 tablespoon of almond liqueur (I used Disaronno)
For the frosting
- 170 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 50 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g icing sugar
- zest of 1 orange + ½ tablespoon of juice
- optional: a few drops of orange food colouring
- optional for decoration: almond flakes or halved almonds
- baking tin, 20 x 24 cm
- mixer, either stand or handheld
- parchment paper
- optional: piping bag
- and an oven, of course! This sponge needs to be baked at 180 °C (don’t forget to preheat your oven!)
So, let’s get baking!
Preparing the sponge
1. Cream butter and sugar Put the softened butter (it should be at room temperature) and the caster sugar together in a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer if you own one. Use a mixer with a whisk attachment and mix the butter and sugar together on a high speed until it’s gone pale and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, almond flavouring, orange zest and juice and liqueur Add the eggs one by one, mixing each one through before adding the next one. After the eggs have been mixed through, you can add almond flavouring, orange zest, orange juice and almond liqueur to the mix and mix this through as well.
3. Fold in flour, ground almonds and salt Sieve the self-raising flour above the bowl and also add the ground almonds and the pinch of salt. For a stand mixer: replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and mix it all together on a low speed. If you don’t have a stand mixer, take out a spatula and fold the flour, almonds and salt through by hand.
4. Bake! Prepare your baking tin by lining it with baking paper and greasing and flouring it lightly. Then, transfer the sponge batter to the baking tin and make sure it’s evenly spread out. Put the tin into the preheated oven and bake the sponge for 20-25 minutes, or when an inserted skewer comes out clean. Take the tin out of the oven and let the sponge cool for about 10 minutes before transferring it out of the tin and onto a cooling rack.
Preparing the frosting
While your sponge is in the oven, you can start preparing the frosting.
5. Mix butter and cream cheese Put the butter and cream cheese into a bowl and whisk them together with a mixer until the mixture is nice and smooth.
6. Add icing sugar Gradually add the icing sugar to the cream cheese/butter mixture and mix it all through.
7. Add orange zest and juice (and food colouring) Add the orange zest and juice to the frosting and mix it all together. This is when I added a little bit of orange food colouring to the frosting, to get that nice and vibrant orange look. This isn’t necessary, though; you can also just leave the frosting as it is – it’ll still look really nice!
8. Cool This frosting is on the runny side, so when you’re not using it, it’s best to store it in the fridge. Your sponge will need a while to cool down, so that gives your frosting a little bit of time to stiffen up in the fridge. You can either transfer the frosting to a piping bag and put that in the fridge, or put the bowl in the fridge directly.
When the sponge has completely cooled down, you can frost it!
9. Frost the slices Cut the sponge into 12 equal slices and then move them a little bit apart from one another so you’ve got enough room to frost. There are two ways you can go about frosting the slices: scooping the frosting on and using a smooth knife or a palette knife to spread it, or using a piping bag. I used a piping bag, but the frosting isn’t thick enough to hold its shape, so I still used the back of a spoon to even out the frosting afterwards. Using a piping bag is the neater option, I think.
Once you’ve frosted the slices, you can add the almonds for decoration if you so please and then either serve them or store them in the fridge for later use.
And that’s it! You’ve got yourself a delicious almond and orange tray bake. Enjoy!