The Stylist Cake Off competition Week Nine: Chocolate tarts

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Katie O'Malley
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It’s semi-final week in the Stylist office and the bakers have been set one of the toughest challenges yet: a chocolate tart. 

We thought that last week’s éclair challenge was the Everest-of-all bakes but we might have spoken too soon. This week the bakers took to their ovens to bake the perfect chocolate tart.

Originally, the remaining four contestants breathed a sigh of relief at such an easy bake. “Is that it? Just a chocolate tart?” questioned one baker. But this was not “just” any chocolate tart (read this in a Marks & Spencer voice for true effect), this was a chocolate tart that would blow the competition out of the water and see the amateur cake connoisseurs through to the epic show-stopper finale. The pressure was on.

When Tuesday morning came, the bakers triumphantly marched their chocolate tarts into the office, having created one of the best array of baking delights Stylist HQ had ever seen (we’ve seen some shockers, believe me). From passionfruit to star anise, the team pulled out all the stops to impress this week’s cake off judge.

For the semi-finale, we couldn’t think of anyone better to judge our tarty treats other than baking extraordinaire Roz Bado from Gail’s in Blackheath. Having started out baking cakes for friends’ birthdays and taking inspiration from The Great British Bake Off series, Roz could sympathise with how hard it is to create a show-stopping bake with amateur baking hands.

With a BIG glass of water in hand (after all, she did have to judge four bakes of thick, cholesterol-increasing, sticky chocolate tarts), Roz got down to judging the bakes. With perfect pastries, flawless ganache fillings and delicate sprinklings of cocoa powder, it was a tough decision to choose the winning bake.

In last place was sub Jenny Tregoning. Despite her lemon and passion fruit white chocolate tart being Roz’s favourite, the lack of white chocolate and acidic flavours meant that it was more a lemon tart than chocolate and therefore had to take last position. With a white chocolate drizzled pattern on top of the bake, it was certainly one of the more eye-catching bakes and absolutely scrumptious when the team attacked it in the kitchen.  

Third place was awarded to deputy production editor Amy Adams' chocolate and star anise tart which has a “good pastry and beautiful presentation”, according to Roz but had a far too dense filling and seemed to skimp on the jam.

Next up was art director Natasha Tomalin’s chocolate and ginger tart who stole second place with her delicious chocolate ganache and perfectly-baked filling. “I love the chocolate pastry and the texture of the ganache is truly superb but I wish there was more ginger — it seems to be an after note and fails to wow me,” said Roz.

In first position, two weeks in the row now, was features director Lucy Foster with her simple yet effective dark chocolate tart. One mouthful of this bad boy and you’ll be in chocolate heaven. On eating the tart, Roz said it could have done with a bit longer in the oven to bake the pastry to perfection but the chocolate filling had a perfect texture and a soft consistency. She also suggested that it’s best to sprinkle a chocolate tart with cocoa powder as icing sugar often looks messy against the dark chocolate tones. Congratulations Lucy!

With the final three contestants going through to next week’s show-stopper finale, this is the last chance the bakers can steal the crown to be named Stylist’s Cake Off champion. What will they make? A Stylist magazine-inspired stacked cake? Edible iPhone biscuits? A chocolate tart shoe? The list is truly endless.  

Your tenth and final Stylist Cake Off challenge: a show-stopper cake. Whether you want to create an ode to Stylist Magazine and make a seven-tiered cake stack of issues or a life-size biscuit in the shape of Paul Hollywood's hair, the choice is yours. 

On your marks, get set … bake!

Remember to keep posting your weekly bakes to the Stylist Cake Off Instagram account tagging @stylistcakeoff and using the hashtag #stylistcakeoff.

Guest judge for Stylist Cake Off’s chocolate tart Week, Roz Bado from Gail’s in Blackheath shares her tart knowledge and top tips for novice bakers

What are your top tips for creating the perfect chocolate tart?

Before you pop your tart in the oven, test the mixture to make sure you have the right flavours. Also, instead of using baking beads, freeze the pastry and line it with tin foil to hold the shape in place.

What’s your favourite bake to make?

I love making a tart using leftover breadcrumbs and nutmeg to create a bread butter/egg custard hybrid dessert. It’s absolutely delicious.

Are you more of a sweet or savoury person?

Personally, I’m more of a savoury baker. I probably eat every bread I make but only taste the tarts when I’m testing new flavours. I love making a brown sourdough bread which is 75% white flour, 15% wholemeal and 10% rye with a bit of sugar to counteract the sourness of the sourdough.

What’s the best cake to attempt making if you’re a beginner?

 A lemon drizzle is probably the easiest as it usually hides the flaws of overbaking. I would suggest always reading a recipe twice before attempting a bake and invest in some good scales.

Roz runs a variety of baking workshops at Gail's Blackheath; various dates; £80. Read more here.

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Katie O'Malley

Katie O’Malley is the editorial assistant at Stylist magazine. When she’s not writing features about everything, from Suffragettes to fashion designers’ desks, she writes the Elsewhere page and contributes to Scoop and 5 Minute Philosopher. She also has a weakness for cheese, monochrome everything and films…all films.