The Great British Bake Off: Schichttorte

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I don’t even recall how I found out about the Great British Bake Off (I think there was an advert for it before or after Downton or one of the Saturday cooking shows). I think it has been around for several seasons now, and either I was completely unaware of it being on American TV, or it is new to us.

In any event, I was hooked. There is even drama surrounding Baked Alaska, if you could believe it! In one of the recent weeks they did an episode on advanced pastry, and the Schichttorte was one of the cakes that the competitors were challenged to make. I thought, I have to try this. I think I had seen another food blogger make one several months ago and I had the same impulse when I saw their blog at that time. In fact, last night, before I made this cake, I dreamt about the process for the entire night.

Schichttorte is a 20 layer cake that is glazed with apricot and then chocolate. It’s not a terribly complicated cake, per se. However, it requires a lot of attention to detail, and an almost masochistic penchant for standing in front of your oven for an hour and a half. By itself the method for the batter is fairly straightforward and similar to most every other cake. However, you need to divide your batter into 20 equal portions so that your layers come out even (and to ensure you have enough batter for 20 layers!). This where having a digital kitchen scale is crucial… I was able to weigh out my batter as a whole and then calculated that each layer should have 1.71 oz of batter. And don’t think that Paul Hollywood didn’t count everyone’s cake layers to ensure they were all there!

So the process for building the cake is this:

Spread a layer of batter to make a thin layer

Put it under the broiler, watching it very carefully and quickly removing it when it browns lightly

Remove the tin to your scale, weigh out another layer

If you have a kitchen timer you can always time the duration of the cake under the broiler, or you can just keep your oven door ajar and watch it.

The cake is worth every moment of staring at it under the broiler. Delicate flavoring, and fantastic mouth feel. And of course super impressive when you cut into it.

If you are up to the challenge I would recommend this. It’s not complicated, but you have to want to put in the effort to making sure it turns out the way it ought to… and as Julia Child once said, “nothing is too much trouble that turns out the way it ought to”.

For the cake
  • 10 large free-range eggs, separated

  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter

  • 150g/5½oz caster sugar (super fine sugar)

  • 1 large lemon, zest only

  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 215g plain flour, sifted

  • oil, for greasing

  • 6 tbsp apricot jam

For the chocolate glaze
  • 50g/1¾oz unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp golden syrup (I used corn syrup here, though if you can find it, use it)

  • 1 tbsp rum

  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 75g/2½oz plain chocolate (36% cocoa solids), finely chopped

For the vanilla glaze
  • 250g/9oz icing sugar

  • 1 tbsp rum

  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Preparation method

  1. Using a paddle attachment, beat your room temperature butter with your sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in  your egg yolks, the vanilla, and lemon zest until well combined. Scrape down the bowl and then give another quick whir to ensure everything is well incorporated.
  2. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen the consistency. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
  3. Preheat the broiler to high.
  4. Grease a 20cm/8in round springform tin with oil and line the base with parchment paper.
  5. Spoon some of the batter into the base of the cake tin and spread evenly across the bottom. Give the tin a gentle side-to-side shake (or use a small offset spatula) to even out the top of the batter. Place on a shelf 10cm/4in below the grill and cook for two minutes, or until light golden-brown.
  6. Remove from the grill, add another spoonful of batter, spread out with a pastry brush, and place under the grill for three minutes, or until dark golden-brown. Continue layering and grilling until you have 20 layers alternating in color from light golden-brown to dark golden-brown. (Or continue until you have used all the batter.)
  7. Remove from the grill and leave to cool in the tin for five minutes. Carefully release from the tin and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. Melt the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat. Pass through a fine sieve, then brush the top and sides of the cake with jam. This will help the glaze stick to the cake.
  9. For the chocolate glaze, melt the butter in a small pan with the golden syrup, rum and vanilla paste and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for five minutes. Stir in the chocolate until melted. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to a coating consistency.
  10. Place a large piece of greaseproof paper under the wire rack holding the cake. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake to cover completely. Any excess glaze will be caught on the greaseproof paper and can be reused to fill in any unglazed areas of the cake.
  11. For the vanilla glaze, sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the rum, vanilla paste and milk, stirring until completely smooth. Drizzle over the chocolate glaze.
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7 Responses to The Great British Bake Off: Schichttorte

  1. Having read the spiel you gave right at the beginning, I think I’ll leave that for you! That sounds very complicated, especially for someone who generally cooks just by bunging everything into a slow-cooker for the day!

  2. Wow! This cake looks lovely and so elegant! Hats off to you for the careful work you put into it!
    PS: did you watch some House of Cards this weekend?

    • The 2nd 35 Years says:

      I did, but not as much as we planned. Got pulled into other things. Maybe next weekend will be more restful!

  3. lucyabakes says:

    This looks wonderful! I keep playing with the idea of whether I should try this or not!

  4. Scrumptious! I DO want to try this!

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