Saturday, 10 August 2013

Not Quite Bernard Chu - MasterChef Lolly Bag Cake

Today, was no ordinary day.  It was the day that I planned to make Bernard Chu's Masterchef lolly bag cake.  My vision was of perfection... gorgeous even layers of silky lolly loveliness lying on my kitchen table waiting to be dressed in a luxurious cloak of rich velvety raspberry Redskins.  I was super excited and my mise en place was meticulous.  I weighed out my mint leaves even though it said 300g on the packet - there was one too many so I ate it.  I learned that 200g of egg yolks equates to eleven eggs exactly (if you use the free range eggs from Woolworths Select xlarge min 700g).  I'm full of optimism and I take simple delight in watching the 100s and 1000s bouncing around as I measure them out. Everything looks so pretty and I just can't resist putting the lollies into gorgeous vintage coloured glass bowls.  
These lollies are special as they take me back to my childhood.  I think it's quite appropriate to use vintage bowls as my daughters think that I'm now vintage too!
Thankfully, I wasn't under the watchful eye of cameras like the Masterchef contestants and had the luxury of time.  Sure, I could try and complete my cake in a mere three and a half hours but the thought of mucking up just one layer after spending so much time and money sorting out my ingredients made me baulk at the idea.  Instead, I decided to devote the whole day to my task but of course this also included disruptions. I still had to feed my knight in shining armour and two gorgeous girls...  although the thought of letting them just eat cake was pretty tempting.   
Anyway, I took lots of photo's and this is how it went.

Mandarin Jaffa Ganache
Preparing the silicone mat with spray oil and go-between.
Gold strength gelatine after soaking in cold water.
Mandarin jaffa ganache just placed into the freezer.
Musk Mallow
Musk sticks, water and sugar on the boil to make a sugar syrup.
The musk stick sugar syrup.
Whisking the musk mallow till light and fluffy.
Don't be shallow, here's my mallow - musk!
Mint Paste
Mint leaves and water.
Mint Paste
 Spearmint Leaves Buttercream
Mint paste and egg yolks ready to be whisked.
Silly me, I prepared the food colouring then spilt it. 
Oh yay, now I've got a green thumb - literally!
The hot milk is added to the mint paste and egg yolks.
If you add the food colouring whilst the buttercream is whisking it blends better. 
Gently folding the buttercream and meringue.
Freckles Crunch
All measured out and ready to go.
100s & 1000s, Pink Murray River Salt & Paillete Feuilletine
One giant square freckle!
Banana Syrup
The banana syrup is brushed onto the almond joconde.
Almond Joconde
Almond joconde in the making.
Ready for the oven.
After 8 minutes on 220 degrees celsius in a conventional oven.
Almond joconde with the chocolate coating.
Everything in Bernard's recipe seemed to work perfectly and I found each element fairly easy to make. However, as I've just received a new commercial quality kitchen blow torch the most terrifying thing for me was trying to use it!  When I turned it on it sounded like a jet plane taking off and because it doesn't have an automatic on and off switch it scared the bejesus out of me.  This is when I started to panic as I had the flame going whilst I was trying to sort out my layers - yikes.  The whole time I was thinking, "oh, please oh please don't burn the house down or burn a hole in the wall, or worse burn myself"!  Anyway, I got my third layer done and then went to reach for my mandarin jaffa ganache only to find out that it hadn't set and was more like chocolate sauce - damn! This broke my heart as I'd worked sooooo hard and everything was going so well.  

Anyway, minor hiccup - so I made the decision to turn off my smokin' hot blow torch and wrap all the other lovely lolly bag cake layers in go-between and I popped them back into the freezer.  I've decided that enough is enough this weekend and it will now have to wait.  I should have known better as the concentrated mandarin puree that I made clearly wasn't concentrated enough and there was too much liquid in the ganache for it to set.  I'm going to finish off the cake next weekend and I'm going to replace the mandarin puree with mandarin zest and orange oil instead.  This should work fine and I'll be back on track.  Now the only problem I'll potentially have is sorting out the layers of the cake with the blow torch whilst they're frozen and not melting the buttercream when I apply the Redskin glaze.  If a lesson can be learned from me, it's that all is not over if one of your layers doesn't work out.  Preserve your other layers and try again.  Still super excited and can't wait to get the glaze on and play with the isomalt as this bit will be fun - oh yeah!  Watch this space...

Back again.  Today, I made another batch of Mandarin Jaffa Ganache and I'm much happier with the result.   I also gained more confidence with using the blow torch.  But, this time I turned it on and off each time I needed to use it without putting myself under undue pressure.  Soooo happy with how it's all starting to come together.
Mandarin Jaffa Ganache - lovely jubbly!
Almond Joconde with Banana Syrup
Hot or not? 
Not finished yet but already, I'm dancing in the kitchen!
Chinese cleavers are perfect for cutting Red Skins!
Preparing the Red Skin Glaze
The Red Skin Glaze splits but then comes back together. 
Playing with Isomalt 
Applying the Red Skin Glaze
Lots of hard work but it was worth it!
Let them eat cake!
My girls thought this was yummylicious!
How many kids go to school with home made lolly bag cake for morning tea?
Thanks MasterChef for creating such a wonderful challenge as I absolutely loved it but oh, you are soooo cruel and evil only giving the contestants three and a half hours to do this... Christina you're a super star in my eyes - would love to visit your "Nostalgia" restaurant when it's open!  And, Bern (Bernard Chu) a big thank you for providing me with advice via twitter whilst I made this!

Now, I just need to perfect my cake slicing skills as I think we'll be eating cake for a month of Sundays.


  1. OMGosh, I spring salute you! I would have only read the instructions and given up immediately!

    Looking forward to the continuation of this adventure of yours...

  2. Hi Emily - you're a true gem but I don't believe that for a second because you're an awesome cook!

  3. OMG What fabulosity this is!!!! You completed the challenge with flying colors!! Awesome!

  4. Thanks for the advices you left here.
    Goining to make one but have to buy expensive silicone mals first...

    Greeting from the Netherlands

  5. Hi Cornelis Drop, unless you're going to use the mats often see if you can find an alternative in the Netherlands as it's a lot of expense if you only use them once. I hope you have just as much fun making the cake as I did; and if you need any help let me know. Thank you for visiting my blog :)


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