It was pastry week on the Bake Off and the signature challenge for the bakers was to make a frangipane tart, which involved making shortcrust pastry. The tarts had to be open topped, which meant lots of pretty patterns with fruit on top. Paul warned the bakers not to overwork the pastry, and Mary warned against getting a soggy bottom!
Both Paul and Tamal went for Christmas flavoured tarts. Paul’s had pears poached in orange and cinnamon, and Tamal’s had pears poached in mulled wine. They both got great feedback from the judges! Ian used his guinea fowl eggs to make a pear and raspberry frangipane, however the judges thought it needed glazing and the pastry was not crispy enough. Alvin had a big disaster due to timing issues and his tart was not cooked when the judges tried it.
Mat made a pina colada tart, which I thought sounded so fun! And I loved how he made the pineapple look like the sun on top of the tart. The judges thought it looked good, but they couldn’t taste the rum! Not everyone blind baked their tarts, which I thought was dangerous behaviour. I always blind bake for big tarts like this. It seemed to me like some of the bakers weren’t actually that experienced with pastry as some of them seemed confused about blind baking, and when to trim the pastry.
The technical this week was pretty bizarre! They were asked to make flaounas, which are a Cypriot pastry with a cheese and sultana filling. They have two very weird ingredients in them: mastic, which is hardened reisin from a tree and is used to flavour various foods in Greece and Cyprus. And mahlepi, which is a spice made from ground up cherry stones. The Greeks add it to breads. Strange stuff! Of course Paul did not give the bakers much help at all and even Mary, who hadn’t heard of flaounas either, said he was being totally unfair (but she still grinned evilly with him).
The pastry had yeast in it, so the bakers all got confused and didn’t know whether to knead it or not. The next confusing step was how they should look and they all folded them differently. Everyone was looking around in desperation to see what everyone else was doing, but none of them had a clue! Paul laughed as soon as he approached the gingham altar, most of them were well made, but they just didn’t look like they were meant too. Tamal was 7th, Alvin 6th, Paul 5th, Nadiya 4th, Ian 3rd, Flora 2nd and Mat won!
The showstopper this week was the 80s classic dinner party canape – vol-au-vents! The bakers had to make their own puff pastry from scratch, make two different fillings, and make 24 of each kind. Paul was looking for a good rise, for them to be nice and straight and equally golden. Mary wanted to see beautiful layers in the pastry and for them to be well filled. Thinking about making any pastry besides shortcrust from scratch makes me feel tired as it’s so time consuming, I really feel for the bakers during challenges like this! Tamal made a pulled pork vol-au-vent that was inspired by a sandwich he’d had that he said was one of the top two sandwiches of his life, his other flavour was spicy chicken and coriander. They were a bit pale and topsy turvy according to Mary, but both of the judges adored his fillings.
Ian went a bit fishy with some squid ink, bacon and scallop vol au vents. His wife didn’t like the filling and neither did Paul and Mary. His pastry had risen well and they did really like his mushroom ones. Flora made chocolate puff pastry vol-au-vents filled with ganache, as well as savoury asparagus and parma ham. The judges loved both the appearance and flavours. She is certainly good at presentation and making all of her bakes look very attractive.
Mat was definitely the vol-au-vent star with his full english breakfast and smoked trout filled delights. Paul said the lamination, shape and bake were all perfect, the flavours were gorgeous and well thought out. Mary loved the runny egg in the english breakfast vol-au-vent. Paul wasn’t so lucky as the judges said his garlic and chilli prawn with risotto vol-au-vents were underbaked and his sweet vol-au-vents with creme pat, raspberry coulis and cream looked ‘hideous’. I thought they looked really pretty!
Nadiya made bengali korma and cod and clementine vol-au-vents. She had problems with her first batch of pastry so she made another batch, which put her behind on time. She ended up presenting them ‘deconstructed’ to the judges. They absolutely loved her fillings though! Alvin made chicken ala king and smoked salmon encroute. Unfortunately his pastry was raw, but they liked his fillings. He was so sweet apologising to the judges for his mistake.
It makes me very sad to say that Alvin left this week. I absolutely love him, he is such a sweetheart and seems like the most lovely man. As much as I love him, I do think it was the right decision as he did not have a great week. Mat won star baker which was really nice and he definitely deserved it for those vol-au-vents! Next week looks like another change from the normal theme with old fashioned techniques, recipes from the past and Victorian bakes.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I have no time to bake anything from this week’s episode as I’m going on holiday! So I’m re-posting this Plum & Limoncello Tart from back in May, but it’s pretty yummy so I hope you don’t mind. I love baking with plums as it makes them extra juicy and delicious. And I guarantee this tart will really delight your friends and family if it’s presented at the end of a meal.
For the pastry I stuck with a recipe for shortcrust pastry that always works for me. I rubbed butter into the flour, I then added in eggs and mixed until a dough formed. I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it in the fridge.
After the pastry had been chilled I rolled it out onto some cling film, this makes it so much easier to lift and line the tin with.
I lined a 28cm diameter loose bottomed tart tin with the pastry and peeled off the cling film.
I lined the pastry with baking paper, then filled it with baking beans and baked for 15 mins.
Then I removed the baking beans and baking paper and put the pastry back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the pastry was fully cooked on the bottom.
I cut up 8 plums into thin wedges and arranged them in the pastry base. They do shift during baking and when the custard is poured in, but I liked the effect of having them arranged.
I made the custard while the pastry was baking by whisking together the zest and juice of lemons, double cream, ground almonds, melted butter, eggs and golden caster sugar. I whisked it well, then gently stirred in limoncello.
Then I placed the pastry with the plums in onto the oven shelf, then poured the custard in. I baked it on for 25 minutes until the custard was set, but still had a slight wobble.
Once it was cooled fully, I dusted it with icing sugar. I was really pleased with how the Plum & Limoncello Tart turned out, and I love the effect of the plums on top and their vibrant colour.
The juicy plums were a perfect accompaniment to the nutty sweet custard. The Plum & Limoncello Tart went down a storm when I took it into work, it was a rather large tart and disappeared very quickly! It would be a perfect tart on a sunny
day, or you could warm it up with some custard.
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Plum & Limoncello Tart
For the pastry
- 350 g Plain flour
- 170 g Butter
- 2 Eggs large
For the filling
- 5 Eggs large
- 6-8 Plums
- 2 Lemons
- 4 tbsp Double cream
- 100 g Ground almonds
- 100 g Butter melted
- 100 g Golden caster sugar
- 8 tbsp Limoncello
- Icing sugar to dust
To make the pastry, rub the butter into the plain flour. Add the eggs and mix until a dough forms. Wrap it in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes
Pre-heat your oven to 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
Roll the pastry out onto some cling film, then line a 28cm diameter loose bottomed tart tin with it
Line the pastry with baking paper, then add baking beans and bake for 15 mins
Remove the baking beans and baking paper, put the pastry back in the oven for another 10 minutes until fully cooked on the bottom
Cut the plums into thin wedges and arrange them in the pastry base
Make the custard by whisking together the zest and juice of the lemons, the double cream, the ground almonds, the melted butter, the eggs and the golden caster sugar. Whisk it well, then gently stir in the limoncello
Place the pastry with the arranged plums in onto the oven shelf, then pour the custard in. Bake it for 25 minutes until the custard is set, but still has a slight wobble
Once it is cooled fully, dust it with icing sugar
Recipe from BBC Good Food.