The Great British Bake Off is back this week introducing new challenges that will ultimately send one of the bakers home.
After a shocking two bakers, Rowan and Nicky, leaving the Bake Off tent last week, this week was deemed to be even more challenging.
Great British Bake Off Season 14, Episode 6
Introducing botanical week, the bakers were set with three challenges, as usual, to impress the judges.
They were set as such:
Signature bake challenge: 12 perfectly fragranced spiced buns (in two hours and 45 minutes)
Technical challenge: Lemon and thyme drizzle cake (in one hour and a half)
Show stopper challenge: A beautiful, imaginative, and intricate floral dessert showstopper piece that must include florals.
Back with my Brig series, this week I will be attempting to recreate the technical challenge, making my own lemon and thyme drizzle cake.
I will therefore be following Prue Leith’s recipe as best as I can.
The talented Bake Off judge has presented this cake for botanical week, combining the strong, herbal scent and flavour of the thyme with the tangy notes of lemon.
With the intricate toppers, including a lemon-thyme syrup, icing, and crystallised toppings, the cake is near perfect.
Thankfully I have had my fair share of baking lemon drizzle cakes, but I am excited to test my own baking skills with the new incorporation of thyme.
As said by the judges, the aim here is to make a light and moist sponge.
And as Prue Leith said in the show: ‘be bold with the botanicals!’
Lemon and thyme drizzle cake
The cake normally serves 12 people but I have chosen to cut the ingredients in half to make sure no cake gets wasted!
The difficulty is set as ‘easy’ so we’ll put this to the test.
The ingredients for the bundt cake are:
I began the cake process after preheating the oven to 180°C and preparing all of the ingredients.
The first step called to beat the softened butter with the caster sugar using a hand-held mixer for about three minutes. I made sure to scrape the batter into the middle of the bowl repeatedly so the two ingredients mixed well together. I did so until it reached a nice, creamy texture without large lumps.
I then added flour and baking powder at the same time through a sieve, sifting the dry ingredients so that no lumps could be visibly seen. Then mixed the two ingredients again with my mixer until smooth.
I added lemon zest from about two lemons using a grater, leaving the zests a little larger than usual for added texture and taste, but this was a personal preference that I am used to doing since I was little. I then added two tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, removing the stems.
In the episode, Prue Leith says that she is worried the bakers will not put enough thyme in it, as “if you only put a bit in it, it will only be a lemon drizzle cake.”
Once both ingredients were added to the bowl, I used my hand mixer to mix the batter one last time. The aroma from the mix was delightful, bringing out a fresh but citrusy smell to my kitchen!
Finally, I added the juice of half a lemon to incorporate the strong lemon flavour. I mixed this in using a spoon, in order not to over-mix the batter more than needed. The end result came out like this:
I poured the batter into my small cake tin (which I had previously greased with some melted butter), and placed it in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes, as the recipe calls for.
The outcome, lemon-thyme syrup, and decorating my cake
After 35 minutes, my cake was ready, although it was burnt slightly at the sides. This might have been due to my silicone baking dish, or just an error in my batter-pouring.
However, I am thankful that it was extremely easy to remove my cake from the silicone tin, which is different from the bakers, who had to use a hard, unbendable, metal tin. This is why it was crucial for them to heavily grease it with butter to allow for the cake to be removed smoothly.
Whilst the cake was baking and cooling off on a plate, I also chose to make the lemon-thyme syrup.
In a pan on a warm hob, I poured the juice of one lemon with caster sugar and brought it to a simmer and boil. I then added another tablespoon of thyme, stirring it occasionally for ten minutes on low heat. This brings it to a syrup-like consistency.
I strained it through a sieve, removing the excess thyme and poured it over the cake, allowing it to seep through the layers. I repeated this a few more times to make sure the entire cake, both inside and outside, were nicely coated.
This was especially important in the middle, where most of the syrup went straight through to the rest of the inside of the cake.
I chose not to make the crystallised lemon and thyme toppings simply due to the time I had at hand, and because I though the syrup was going to be the most important part in terms of flavour and aroma.
Thoughts and opinions
This week’s technical challenge was very entertaining.
I was able to step out of my comfort zone and attempt new cooking skills with new ingredients that I had never tried before. It was my first time making a cake syrup and it turned out delightfully.
To my surprise, I think the thyme works really well with the lemon, and it was the perfect way to step-up a rather normal lemon drizzle cake.
As Paul Hollywood mentioned, the judging was going to come down to the flavours in the cake, and how well the lemon works with the thyme, and I’d like to think that mine worked pretty well!
It would be interesting to try and see what other spices and seasonings could be incorporated in other classic cakes – but if it has been done on Bake Off, you know it’ll be a good one!
I give this recipe an 8/10 for personal preference as I think most people would hesitate to try it, but in terms of taste it rises to a 9/10 overall as it is so sweet and soft. I can definitely see myself making this recipe again, especially so for lemon-lovers, but I would most likely add more thyme to spice up the flavour even more.
It took me about 45 minutes to prepare the cake (including the time it took me to take pictures of each step) and 35 minutes to bake the cake in the oven. In terms of thyme (get it!), this is a time-friendly bake that you can do whilst taking a break from studying or as moment of relaxation if baking is for you!
This week’s star baker was 27-year-old Josh who impressed the judges with his show stopper.
“I really don’t know what to say, it’s incredible!” he says.
Sadly this week Dana left the Great British Bake Off kitchen, after the judges thought her dessert was too thick and a bit dry. This was a disappointing conclusion, as the appearance of her dessert was definitely a showstopper.
She said, “I feel like I’ve smashed it… week six!
“I’m just kind of thinking of all the fun that I’ve had throughout the whole six weeks, and that’s what I’m going to be remembering.”
To follow this quick recipe and try it out, you can find it here!
You can also re-watch this episode or catch the next episode of the Great British Bake Off on Channel 4.
Featured image credits: Emanuela Scalia