Ask the expert: GBBO does cake

Series 6 of the Great British Bake Off starts tonight (5 August) on BBC 1
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The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) is back for series six – with ‘cake’ taking centre stage on BBC1 tonight. But how can the contestants succeed? We spoke to expert Chris Ormrod of Ministry of Cake.

The GBBO contestants’ first signature bake challenge is to make a Madeira cake. According to Ormrod, this is a traditional classic, he says, “mess with it at your peril”.

But no GBBO contestant gets to the top of the dozen by playing things safe. The trick to innovating this product all lies in presentation.

Ormrod explains: “It’s a classic bake, usually sold in loaf form, but you could experiment with an interesting shape by using a bundt tin. Flavour-wise, this cake used to be topped with lemon zest – so play around with that. The contestants could caramelise some lemon peel, or caramelise new super fruits like goji berries or gooseberries, and place them on top of the perfectly executed sponge.

“If you really want to be creative, then the Madeira cake was historically served with glass of fortified wine. You could throw a bit of masala wine in the mixture, but it’s a very traditional cake, so mess with it at your peril.”

Winning the Showstopper

The showstopper this week is a Black Forest Gateau, a flavour Ormrod says is one of Ministry of Cake’s top 10 selling cakes. The key to this? Moisture. He says: “This one needs to be beautifully moist, so the cherry compôte to go in and on top of the bake has got to be spot-on. What is more, those cream peaks need to be mixed to perfection - it’s all about the visuals.

“The contestants could also use expensive wild cherries on top, but don’t use glacé cherries, as you really want a deep purple appearance. To innovate, they could infuse the cream with cherry flavour, and even experiment with making the sponge with a red velvet mix. Whatever they do, though, they need to pile the cherries high.”

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