Week 1 Signature Challenge: Strawberry Champagne Swiss Roll

For their first bake, the contestants were required to make a Swiss Roll. As usual the signature bake should taste and look pretty. The Swiss roll is actually an Austrian sponge cake which has been filled with whipped cream, jam, or icing. The tricky part of this challenge is the roll. If not rolled correctly the cake will crack. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were particularly focused on the presentation of the spiral of filling and cake.

The Planning

I found some recipes for a Swiss roll on Pinterest. I have made a Swiss roll as a Yule Log before, so this won’t be entirely new to me. I found this recipe for a champagne cake roll. Now of course, I didn’t want to be too simple. A plan champagne cake with powdered sugar is not Baking Show worthy. I started brainstorming appearance ideas. That brought about the idea of pairing with champagne: chocolate and strawberries. I love the idea of a light cake with a sort of decadence in the flavor profile.

I’ve never tried strawberry roses. Do the roses need leaves? There was the idea of sugared, candied, or soaked strawberries as well. I decided to leave them as is, to prevent an overpowering sweetness.

Then I came up with the idea of filling the roll with strawberries as well. I decided not to soak the strawberries in champagne. Though champagne is subtle in many baked goods, I want to avoid a one-note flavor to the cake.

The final draft is a champagne rolled cake soaked in reduced champagne, sprinkled with cocoa powder on the inside, and filled with champagne whipped cream and strawberries. The outside will be lightly dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with strawberry roses [and chocolate?]

The Bake

Step 1: Reduce the champagne

Reductions have always been a weak spot for me. If they’re supposed to be sticky, then this did not reach that consistency. It was on the stove for 30 minutes! I tasted toward the end and the champagne seemed a bit bitter so I didn’t want that flavor to get stronger.

Step 2: Make the Cake

This a cake without a fat. The air needs to stay in the batter. I actually folded most of my ingredients with a spatula, except for the meringue.

Step 3: Bake

I actually started with the timer at 10 minutes, even though the instructions said 15. It still needed some time but I watched like a hawk. But 14 minutes it sprang back.

Step 4: Invert and Roll

I’m not going to lie. I cheated a bit on this one. I had Bae help me invert since I’m scared of burning myself. I did, however, roll immediately as instructed.

Step 5: Fillings

Strawberries were hulled and chopped into manageable pieces, since apparently the grocery store only had gigantic strawberries available. The whipped cream is fairly easy but I definitely should have tasted before spreading it on the cake.

Step 6: Fill and Roll

I brushed the cake with champagne reduction, careful not to make the cake soggy. After a mishap with the cocoa powder, I lightly sifted some on the cake. I then spread the cream with a spatula and sprinkled sliced strawberries throughout.

Step 7: Decorate

Strawberry roses are hard! The first few attempts did not quite work out, but that’s why I bought extra strawberries. I finally managed to make two decent ones, but I think this will take some more practice.

First Try
Tada!

The Judging

I’m my own worst critic. The cake was light. No crack in the cake! Unfortunately, I couldn’t really taste the champagne. The strawberry was the right choice to keep the cake from being too sweet, however it was slightly underfilled. In places there were gaps due to lack of whipped cream, but you could still make out the swirl!

Although in my head the appearance was supposed to be classy, it ended up being kind of simple. Perhaps I should have cut more roses or added some chocolate shapes.

Bae played “Paul Hollywood.” He enjoyed the cake, but he couldn’t taste champagne either. He was glad the cake wasn’t tongue-numbingly sweet.

Overall I don’t think I’d be sent home quite yet. Let’s see how the other two challenges go! Next is the technical: Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake.

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