The Great British Bake Off final is tomorrow night. If you consider yourself to be a bit of a pastry pro, a marzipan maverick, or you just like dessert, here are the top places around the world to have your cake and eat it…
If you’ve spent the past nine episodes of GBBO drooling over the epic cake creations, you’ll probably want to know where you can taste some of the delectable desserts for yourself (without having to become a semi-pro pastry chef first). To celebrate the end of Bake Off, here’s our round-up of the best themed weeks, and where you can find some of the tastiest treats across the globe.
Episode seven of this year’s Bake Off was an Italian foodie special, which saw the contestants creating delicious homemade pizzas and creamy Sicilian cannoli. If you’re Italy-bound, you’ll find amazing food all over the country, from Tuscany down to Puglia, and everywhere in-between. There’s even a new Italian food theme park, aptly named Eataly, opening in November, which is just an hour away from Venice.
If you want to taste the very best pizzas, head to Naples for a traditional Neapolitan made with the freshest ingredients. In September every year, there’s a pizza festival – called Pizza Fest – to celebrate the famous triangular snack, featuring demonstrations, dough-throwing, and of course, plenty of tasting.
For the best Italian desserts, head to Sicily – home to the delectable cannoli. The capital Palermo and the town of Taormina are the best places to try this Sicilian staple. If you’re staying in the pretty hilltop town of Taormina, Laboratorio Pasticceria Roberto is where you’ll find freshly-made cannoli. This place even featured on Gino’s Italian Escape. Look out for the pictures of Gino in the café windows, and you’ll find it.
Paris is well known for its pastry scene, with everything from choux buns to profiteroles on offer. But, if you want a bit more of a ‘technical’ treat, head to Turkey where you’ll find the king of filo – baklava. This super-sweet dessert is made from layers and layers of ultra-thin, crispy filo pastry, and it’s usually filled with pistachio nuts and glazed in honey or syrup. If you’re Bodrum-bound, head to Antik Akdeniz restaurant in the city centre to taste this freshly made treat. Or, if you’re planning a sunshine escape to Antalya, try cosy, locals’ favourite Faruk Gulluoglu Konyaalti, where you’ll find rows and rows of every-flavour baklava to bring back as a souvenir. And, if you’re more of a savoury fan than a sweet-toothed dessert connoisseur, don’t leave Turkey without trying some borek – a cheese-filled fried pastry topped with sesame seeds.
Remember those drool-worthy molten chocolate puddings created for the technical challenge in episode five? There’s no better baking ingredient than chocolate, so if you’re a bit of a choc-osseur, head to the Caribbean island of St Lucia where you’ll taste the sweet stuff straight from the source. St Lucia is not only the home of the official Hotel Chocolat plantation, the island produces some of the best chocolate in the world, and you can have a go at tasting and even making some of it yourself. The tree-to-bar experience at the Jade Mountain Resort takes you from the cocoa fields to the chocolate factory, showing you all the steps of the chocolate-making process. You’ll make your very own chocolate bar from scratch and then do an all-important taste test. You can also pick up plenty of pure, freshly-grown cocoa from the Castries Market to use in all of those chocolate-y bakes, too. Mmmm.
For cake week, the GBBO contestants usually whip out some unusual ingredients to make their iconic bakes, and this year was no exception. Everything from rose and rhubarb to courgette and gilded pear made an appearance. If you happen to love booze-infused cakes (a la Mary Berry), you can’t go wrong with a Jamaican black cake made with Appleton rum. Some versions of this recipe use almost two bottles of the good stuff, with a bit of fruit and other cake ingredients mixed in. Pick the coastal resort of Negril in Jamaica as your next holiday destination, and you can take a tour around the Appleton Rum Factory, before sinking your teeth into the Caribbean’s most famous bake.
Over in Mexico, there’s the innocuous-looking tres leches cake, which might seem like a simple vanilla sponge, but it’s actually made with three different types of milk. This Mexican marvel uses evaporated, condensed and regular milk to make the sweet and airy sponge. Try this dessert at the TUI SENSIMAR El Dorado Seaside Suites which serves up a top-rated version of the classic recipe in its Mexican restaurant.