Sherbet Lemon Cake
The star baker talks of Le Cordon Bleu, his worst critics and his mouthwatering new book...
Published 26/04/2014 | 12:00
Being crowned top dog on of The Great British Bake Off has dramatically changed the life of law graduate John Whaite.
Since winning in 2012, the ultimate star baker has graduated from the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu in London, established an artisan chocolate business and released two cookery books.
Despite the honour bestowed upon him by GBBO toughies Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, John reveals his biggest critics are closer to home.
"Sometimes my family can get on their high horse and lecture me about things, and all I wanted to know is whether they liked it or not," he says.
"They're very helpful, and I adore them for that. I think it's the lawyer in me - I want people to be honest all the time."
Many of these tried and tested treats feature in his new book, ‘John Whaite Bakes At Home’, along with the Turkish pizzas he cooks when friends call over, and the picnic delights he makes with his nieces and nephews.
Whaite does all the cooking at his new flat in south east London, where he lives with his partner of six years, graphic designer Paul.
"Paul can't even heat up a can of beans! I think that's because of my whirlwind nature in the kitchen though - he's too afraid to step into my realm," he says.
"He does do the washing up after. It's not a big price to pay for some tasty cuisine."
After winning Bake Off's third series, former commercial banker Whaite embarked on a nine-month patisserie diploma at Le Cordon Bleu, graduating last month.
"I was very nervous because I still had a lot to prove in the industry when I started the course," he admits.
"At first, my classmates were sort of like, 'You're that guy', but I said, 'Of course, I've done Bake Off and it was a great thing, but in this classroom, I'm no better than anyone. We're all starting from the same keel,” he finished.
SHERBET LEMON CAKE
For the candied lemon topping:
600ml water (in batches of 200ml)
75g golden caster sugar
For the cake:
Zest of 3 lemons
225g golden caster sugar
225g butter, very soft
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
For the filling:
400ml whipping cream
500g mascarpone cheese
300g icing sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1tbsp lemon juice
2 packets of lemon Dip Dabs (sherbet only)
Icing sugar, to dust
*For the lemon topping, use a potato peeler to pare thick strips of peel from the lemons - if you get any white pith, scrape it off with a knife.
*Chop the lemon peel into thin matchsticks, then place in a small saucepan with 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then drain the water, place the lemon zest back into the pan with another 200ml water and repeat. Drain again then repeat - you should bring the lemon zest to the boil three times in total. Set the drained lemon zest matchsticks aside.
*Place the 100g sugar and 100ml water in the saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar is dissolved, then return the lemon zest and allow to poach for about five minutes. Drain. Place the 75g caster sugar in a bowl and add the lemon matchsticks. Toss in the sugar then arrange on a baking sheet and allow to dry out for a few hours (overnight is better).
*Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4.
*Place the ingredients for the cake into a mixing bowl and beat together until well incorporated and smooth. If you have a free-standing electric mixer, use the paddle attachment.
*Divide the batter between two 20cm loose-bottomed, round cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
*Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, before removing from the tins and turning on to a cooling rack until completely cold.
*Meanwhile, make the filling by whipping the cream to very soft floppy peaks. Fold this into the mascarpone along with the sifted icing sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Then quickly beat in the lemon juice - though don't over-beat, as you don't want the mixture to split.
*When the cake is cooled, and the candied lemon is dry, slice each cake in half horizontally so that you have four layers. Place one on a 20cm (approx) cake stand.
*Fill a piping bag (with a 12mm nozzle) with the filling and pipe little blobs around the edge of the cake, then a spiral of filling in the centre. Sprinkle over a third of the sherbet, then top with another slice of cake. Repeat this until you have four layers of cake and three layers of cream and sherbet.
*Sift a layer of icing sugar over the top, then scatter over the candied lemon matchsticks.
‘John Whaite Bakes at Home’ is available in all good bookshops.