Genoise Sponge: technical challenge on the Great Irish Bake Off


Last night saw the premiere of The Great Irish Bake Off which of course starred had yours truly on it! The build up was lengthy so it was great to actually see it all come together in the end. And what a great show episode it was too! Oh and in case you didn’t see I secured 1st place in the first technical challenge! There’s one goal off the list.


Baking 12 of our signature cupcakes was the first challenge for which I made 6 passionfruit cupcakes and 6 sourdough carrot cakes. Both were received well but there was room for improvement. I have since updated the recipes and will post them up so you can try them at home! But if you want to try them now you can find the recipes here.

But now for the star of the show the technical challenge-the Genoise sponge! A difficult cake to master and we were all rather surprised to see it as the very first technical challenge. You see we are told about our signature and showstopper (next week) challenges and what we have to make for them. As for the technical challenge, well we just turn up on the day and are given a bare-bones recipe with some ingredients.


This particular challenge really inspired me to take my baking to the next level. The amount of elements that went into it seriously opened my eyes! I thought it would be good to show it in list form to see the full extent of what we had to make:

  • Genoise sponge
  • Passion fruit syrup
  • White chocolate crunch layer
  • Chantilly cream
  • Toasted coconut
  • Jam glaze
  • Chopped strawberries
  • Sliced strawberries

Quite a few elements for just the one cake! So here’s the scaled down recipe for the technical challenge which I made yesterday for the premiere.

You will need:

6 eggs
185g caster sugar
40g butter, melted
185g plain flour

Passion syrup:
pulp of 2 passion fruit
50g caster sugar

White choc crunch:
100g white chocolate, melted
50-80g Special K or any other breakfast cereal similar

Jam glaze:
2 tbsp (generous) strawberry jam

Chantilly cream:
500ml whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
½ vanilla pod, split and seeds removed

100g coconut, toasted
1 punnet of strawberries

How to do it:

  1. Make the Genoise sponge, weigh out and prepare all ingredients. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.
  2. Place the eggs and sugar in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk on high speed for 5-7 minutes or until doubled in volume, pale and warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and continues to whick for a further 5-10 minutes or until the mixture had tripled from it’s original volume, cool to the touch and forms ribbons on the surface when the beaters are lifted. Mix in the melted butter.
  3. Sift the flour over the egg mix in 2 batches. Using a large metal spoon very gently fold in the flour so that you retain as much air as possible. Pour into the cake tin, tap a few times to remove and large air bubbles, then place into the oven for 30-35 minutes or until firm and a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove and place on a wire rack.
  4. For the passion syrup place the pulp and sugar along with 100ml water into a pan and bring to the boil for 1 minutes then remove from the heat.
  5. Take 1/4 of the strawberries and chop into smallish chunks. Slice the remaining strawberries in three.
  6. For the chocolate crunch melt the white chocolate then start to add the special K. Crush it slightly if you want. Mix in enough Special K so that you have a thick mix.
  7. Toast the coconut in a pan over a high heat until just browning.
  8. Place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a large mixing bowl and whip until it holds it’s shape.
  9. Put the jam with 1 tsp water into a pan over a high heat and mix until very loose. Pass through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  10. Now to assemble the cake. Slice the cake into 3 even layers.
    Brush the layers with the passion syrup.
    On the bottom layer pour over the chocolate crunch and spread over evenly using a metal spoon.
    CIMG4345 CIMG4347
    Next pour over a layer of the cream over and spread evenly using a palette knife.
    CIMG4349 CIMG4350
    Place the next layer on top. Spread the chopped strawberries and cream over in an even layer.
    CIMG4351 CIMG4352
    Top with the final layer.
  11. Next using a palette knife spread a thin layer of the cream all around the cake then apply the toasted coconut. This will be very messy and you will have coconut all over your worktop but don’t worry it’s easy to clean up. On the show we were literally given a bucket of the stuff so you can imagine the mess we had!
    CIMG4358 CIMG4359
  12. Place the remaining cream into a piping bag fitted with a start nozzle. Pipe and ring around the top.
  13.  Mix your jam glaze briefly in case the top has set then pour it over the top of the cake and spread to the sides. You may not need to use it all.
    CIMG4363 CIMG4365
  14. FINALLY-neatly arrange the sliced strawberries on the top in a spiral or in whatever fashion you like, it’s your cake at the end of the day!



We had 2 hours and 15 minutes to do that in-yeah it was tough going. A lot of the bakers found working to a time constraint very stressful which certainly hindered their performance. I know for a fact that each and every one of the contestants could make this cake to the standard the judges were looking for in a less pressurised environment. But seriously give this cake a try this weekend, it’s highly impressive and if you take each step slowly you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve!


That was week 1-cakes. Next week we have tarts where we face another technical challenge and then have to make 2 showstopping tarts. It’s a good episode so please watch!

Thanks for reading,



6 thoughts on “Genoise Sponge: technical challenge on the Great Irish Bake Off

  1. Well done on winning the technical, you did a great job.

    I was also quite shocked at the 1st week’s technical, seemed more like something that would be later in the series as it really is very complex, so I can only imagine how all of you were feeling at seeing it. Must have looked like a mountain of a bake. But you did great, so congrats!

    Now, I need to give that sourdough carrot cake a try. Nom!

  2. I’m not sure I’d be great at starting a starter, I’d forget to feed him, lol, so I’ll see if I can adopt an offspring somewhere 😀 And if not, I might just have to do it myself, cause I really need to try that out. Thanks 🙂

  3. Wow lovely looking cake. Congrats on the Bake Off…am trying again for the next series of GBBO….hard to know what to say in the (lengthy) application form to “tick the boxes” !!! But actually quite fun to complete, too!

  4. Pingback: Petit Fours: Final Technical Challenge on the Great Irish Bake Off | A Bakers Diet

  5. Pingback: Fraisier Style Fruit Cake for The Great Irish Bake Off | Bakers Diet

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