My roommate, Annie, and I LOVE to binge baking shows. Something about the thrill of watching people create delicious (or sometimes not at all delicious) baked goods satisfies us both to no end. After comparing herself multiple times to the struggling contestants on the Netflix show Nailed It, Annie decided it was time to actually put her skills to the test. Not knowing at all what she was in for, she asked me to create a baking challenge for her to complete in our apartment. Let’s just say I didn’t hold back.
So, after hours of brainstorming and of culinary preparation, last week at 10:30 a.m. we kicked off the Memorial Day “Great Nailed It Bake Off” in our apartment. What follows is a summary of the saga that ensued throughout the day…
Annie surprised herself with how nervous she was, but she suited up for the day nevertheless. Initially hating this apron, she’s grown quite fond of it over the course of this year. She was ready.
The first task was revealed: Royal Iced Steelers Cookies. She only hesitated for a moment before diving into the kitchen.
Her confidence only grew over the next hour and a half, during which she sped through the challenge, enthusiastically pulling cookies out of the oven and inserting musical interludes. (She created three perfectly tailored playlists specifically for this occasion).
She finished with a hefty five minutes to spare, and it appeared that she actually had indeed “nailed” it.
Unfortunately for Annie, who’d continuously stored her cookies in our freezer between layers of icing, I withheld an important bit of information: royal icing does not set in cold temperatures.
So the cookies didn’t look quite as…perky, a few minutes later. But this didn’t endanger Annie’s spirit. She was proud of her success–and of the job she’d done on our kitchen–and welcomed the next challenge.
That is, until she found out what the next challenge was. Round 2, inspired by The Great British Bake Off’s “Technical” challenges, was an apple galette. Not just any apple galette, but a Warm Apple Galette with Spiced Toffee Drizzle from @thebakefeed.
A galette is essentially a pie without a pie pan: a sheet of pastry folded around a fruit filling and baked. Annie did not know this, nor did she have a picture to help her. Needless to say, her enthusiasm dropped drastically when she discovered the evil I’d unleashed upon her.
A lot less singing and a lot more grunting occurred this round. But, after a frightening mandolin slicing technique that threatened the safety of her fingers, a hilarious over-abundance of apples, a personal rendition of the “fold and pleat” method in the recipe that she called the “hug and squish”, and a cooling technique that involved walking through our apartment with the galette, she presented a final product. (On our personal “gingham altar” in honor of the show)
Despite undercooked pastry and a soggy bottom that would have sent Paul Hollywood into panic, it tasted pretty darn good. Perhaps my favorite part of the round was when she engineered a tool involving a spoon, paper towel, and tape to sop up the leakage (from the 5937397 pounds of apples she’d tried to shove into one circle of pastry). She posed with her invention after finishing the challenge.
Nothing, though, could prepare Annie for what I had in store for the finale. I wanted challenge three to be something dear to her heart, something that would prompt her to muster up all the baking energy she had left left in her. So, for her “Showstopper” challenge, I decided to have Annie create this…
Toothless Cake!! The product of three hours of prep work the day before, I unveiled this cake as the final element of Annie’s day. Her reaction did not disappoint.
She was ecstatic. When the timer began, though, her joy instantly transformed into a focus that was unmatched by the rest of the day. I watched as she silently glided through the kitchen with a laser gaze, fueled by the image of her beloved DreamWorks dragon.
With her intensity, I knew I could look forward to something grand at the end of the day. However, when I came back to the kitchen 2 1/2 hours later for the reveal, I had no idea just how spectacular the creation was that awaited me:
It was ADORABLE. Her cake, that we came to lovely refer to as The Bat, exceeded every expectation I held. It was decided. Annie may have been the only contestant, but she won with this cake.
After confirming that the taste was just as spectacular as the exterior, we wrapped up our baking extravaganza. Six hours of baking behind her, Annie was exhausted, overheated, and dyed a vibrant shade of fuchsia, but so very proud.
We both crashed that night in sugar comas, thoroughly satisfied with the result of our little event–it was an experience we truly will never forget. And we haven’t brought ourselves to throw away the bat just yet; he greets us with those bug eyes every time we enter the dining room.
Annie is plotting her revenge on me in the form of a Chopped themed challenge. Stay tuned 🙂
If you’re ever in need of a little spontaneous fun in your household, perhaps consider the possibilities that lie in the kitchen. I promise it WON’T disappoint.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God…