Saturday, April 8, 2017 the Great Picky Bake Off (Part 2)

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome back to the Great Picky Bake Off, where I reminisce on all of the tasty successes and the fantastic flops I encountered while putting on my own at-home vegan version of the Great British Bake Off.

If you're just joining us, I suggest going back and reading Part 1 of this series. From this point onwards, you'll notice that I learned the hard way that Instagram filters aren't the kindest to food photography taken in weird lighting, and that Ziploc bags make for decent piping bags for about five seconds (or until the bag's zip top comes undone, squirting buttercream all over your leg. Whatever comes first!).

And now, without further ado, here are my bakes from the last five weeks of the Great Picky Bake Off.
Week 6: Classic English bakes

I have a really bad habit of seeing recipes in magazines and saying to myself, "One day I'm going to make that, by golly!" And then I immediately forget about said recipe for years on end. (I think that's one of my greatest hidden talents, along with constantly adding to My List on Netflix and then never watching anything but re-runs of The Office and Scrubs.

However, I finally conquered that terrible habit and made good use of a long-bookmarked recipe for sticky toffee pudding from an old issue of VegNews. I've never had sticky toffee pudding before, but if this one is anything to go by, it's one of the easiest and tastiest dessert recipes that trick people into thinking you put a whole lot of effort into making it.

Week 7: Cookies

Cookie week was split into two factions: baking a batch of ordinary cookies, and baking a dozen fancy cookies. For the former, I went with my go-to favourite: rosemary chocolate chip cookies that would be perfect to use as lunchtime desserts in our packed lunches. Since I make these all the time, there's nothing more to say about them other than that they are amazing, and if you are put off by the idea of rosemary chocolate chip, then you really need to expand your mind a bit.

For the fancier cookies, I opted to make a recipe that's been on my to-make list for years: the peanut butter chocolate pillows  in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. These were super easy to make and were 100% indulgent to eat. I'd wager that they're one of the most perfect, decadent, and moist cookies I've ever had in my life. 10/10 would eat again.

Week 8: Cheesecake

One of my absolute favourite cookbooks in my collection is Kris Holchek's Have Your Cake and Vegan Too and even though I've had this book for five years, I've just only recently attempted the recipe for a lemon poppyseed raspberry cheesecake that I'd had my eye on since first buying the damn book.

Turns out that this recipe is a creamy and dreamy winner, despite the fact that it was overzealous in its stated serving sizes (we only managed eight small slices out of what was billed to be a 12-serving cheesecake).

Week 9: Cupcakes

Leading up to my ninth Bake Off week, I had been experiencing an extreme craving for lemon meringue pie, but two things kept me from embarking on making that craving a reality: 1. I had already told myself that I'd be doing cupcakes in Week 9; and 2. At that point in my life, I was quite intimidated by aquafaba.

And so, with just a pipe dream and a mishmash of recipes, my lemon meringue-ish cupcakes were born. With a lemon cupcake base, a gooey lemon curd centre, and swirls of vanilla buttercream topped with graham cracker crumbs, these were so delightfully moist, tart, and amazing that I had to stop my omni brother from going back for thirds.

Week 10: Show-stopping cakes
For those unacquainted with Great British Bake Off, each episode concludes with a showstopper challenge where bakers are asked to make an intricate and beautiful bake to present to the judges. Since my previous bakes up to this point were all pretty simple in their techniques and presentation, I decided to go big -- or what I considered to be 'big' -- by trying my hand at a pumpkin Swiss roll cake featured in Have Your Cake and Vegan Too.

Here's the thing about Swiss rolls, though: to successfully pull one off, you actually need a Swiss roll pan, and not a scheme to make your brownie pan into a makeshift Swiss roll pan. Another thing about these cakes is that Swiss rolls are cold and unforgiving cakes that can see through your hair-brained DIY schemes.

Needless to say, my DIY pan wasn't good enough, and my Swiss roll was a hideous yet delicious failure. I was inconsolable, but at least I had (ugly) cake to make me feel a bit better.


That's it, folks! If you enjoyed these Bake Off posts, I highly recommend checking out the show that started it all. And if all these vegan baked goods are causing you to drool on your keyboard, please check out this year's Calgary Vegan Bake Sale on April 29, where you can snag tasty cruelty-free goodies baked by talented volunteers. I'll be volunteering again, and I'd be happy to hook you up with an armful of delicious treats that benefit an amazing cause!