We’ve seen the first episode of the ninth series of The Great British Bake Off already which means it’s time for me to bake along with the show. The first episode of the series was Biscuit Week and the challenge I chose to attempt was the Technical which was Wagon Wheels.
I chose to invent my own recipe to make the Wagon Wheels, which is essentially a sandwich biscuit consisting of 2 shortbread biscuit layers sandwiched together with marshmallow and jam before being all covered in chocolate. The recipe used on the show contains gelatine for the marshmallow but my Wagon Wheel recipe doesn’t contain gelatine making it suitable for vegetarians and those who don’t consume gelatine.
Obviously the absence of gelatine has an effect on the marshmallow filling. This is a variation of a Swiss meringue which involves whisking together egg whites and sugar over boiling water until the egg whites are cooked and the sugar dissolved and then whisking to increase its volume. This gives a really smooth filling which has a piping consistency that holds its shape (perfect for sandwiching biscuits) but doesn’t set firm.
With only 1 egg white, I whisk this by hand. I put the egg white and the sugar in a small metal bowl on top of a saucepan. I add enough boiling water so that it doesn’t touch the base of the bowl and begin to whisk. The steam from the water will heat up the egg white and dissolve the sugar. Constantly replacing the water will keep this heat going and for such a small quantity of egg white, it is ready in about 10 minutes whisked by hand. It will become thick, glossy and more opaque as the egg white cooks (at 61°C) and then further whisking will bring it to the right consistency. This is the same meringue that I made for my Dark Chocolate Teacakes with Marshmallow Meringue.
My homemade jam filling is thickened with cornflour instead of using jam sugar, which has added pectin in it. This makes a really quick jam that is thick and spreadable but also incredibly easy to make. As it is made with cornflour, there will be natural separation resulting in liquid seeping out – this process is called syneresis – but it is completely natural.
The last part is covering the biscuits with chocolate. Ideally you want to temper your chocolate and I’ve found that adding seed chocolate is the best way of tempering. That sounds like a complicated term but “seed chocolate” just means a small amount of solid chocolate that you melt later on to temper chocolate. I melt 80% of the chocolate in the microwave until it’s just melted and then use the residual heat to melt the seed chocolate and you have quick tempered chocolate.
I set the assembled biscuits on a cooling rack over parchment, spoon the tempered chocolate on the top biscuit and move my spoon in a circular motion to encourage the chocolate down the sides. This gives a really smooth finish.
Paul’s recipe is enough to make 8 but my recipe is enough to make 4 Wagon Wheels.
For the shortbread biscuits
100g plain flour
30g granulated sugar
40g dark chocolate
For the jam filling
100g frozen berries
80g granulated sugar
75ml boiling water
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornflour
For the marshmallow meringue
1 egg white
50g granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
For the covering
100g dark chocolate, 20g of which is chopped finely
In the bowl of a food processor, blitz together the plain flour with the margarine and granulated sugar until it almost forms a dough. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring together to a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the shortbread dough to 7mm thick and using a 6cm round cutter, stamp out rounds of the dough and transfer to a parchment lined baking tray. Reroll the offcuts of the shortbread dough and repeat until you have 8 biscuits.
Bake the biscuits for 14 – 16 minutes until golden brown at the edges and set. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool fully. Pair together 2 biscuits that sandwich together nicely and choose a top and base biscuit.
For the jam, place the frozen berries with the sugar, water and lemon juice into a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring the jam up to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent burning and to break down the berries. The jam should be sweet tasting but not overly sweet; if it is too sweet, add more lemon juice to taste.
In a little bowl, mix the cornflour with an equal amount of water and add to the saucepan at once, stirring constantly. The jam should instantly thicken up and have a thick consistency. Pass through a sieve into a bowl, discarding the seeds. Leave the jam to cool to room temperature before covering with clingfilm and chilling until needed.
Melt the 40g of dark chocolate in the microwave on 30 second intervals. Dunk the sides and cover the top side of the base biscuits with chocolate, placing onto baking parchment chocolate side up. Refrigerate and allow to set.
To make the marshmallow meringue, pour some boiling water into the base of a small saucepan. In a metal bowl that can sit on the saucepan, add the egg white, sugar and lemon juice. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl and begin to whisk the meringue until it turns frothy.
Continue to whisk, replacing the boiling water every so often, until the meringue becomes thick and starts to hold the shape of the whisk. The meringue at this point should be smooth, thick, opaque and not grainy. Then continue to whisk until the meringue becomes thicker and fluffier and can hold peaks. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and cut off a 1cm hole.
Turn the biscuit bases uncoated side facing up. Pipe some of the marshmallow meringue on to the biscuits, leaving a slight border. Add some of the jam and cover with a small amount of meringue. Place the top biscuit onto the bottom biscuit, ensuring you don’t push the meringue out. You can use your finger to tidy up the sides if needed. Place into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Melt 80g of the dark chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time. When the chocolate has just melted (usually stirring the chocolate will melt the last bits), add in the 20g of finely chopped chocolate and stir to melt.
Place the assembled biscuits on a cooling rack set over a sheet of parchment paper. Spoon some chocolate onto the top biscuit and then move the spoon in a circular motion to encourage the chocolate down the sides and over the marshmallow and base biscuit, making sure the sides are all covered. You can finish with a sprinkle of roasted hazelnuts like me if you wish.
Carefully transfer the biscuits back to the fridge and leave the chocolate to set before serving.
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- Vegan Week: Vegan Chocolate Praline Layer Cake
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