Mmmm, pastry week. My mouth’s watering already. It’s amazing what you can make from just flour, fat, water and salt – it’s like kitchen alchemy. A perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.
I love a frangipane tart and have a really great recipe for frangipane in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself, as I make them every plum harvest-time. Personally, I think frangipane works best when it’s balanced with something sharp. My personal favourite is frangipane and greengage tart with greengage jam. I might have to make one this weekend as there’s some greengage jam burning a hole in my cupboard at the moment.
For me, Flora’s flavours interested me the most in the signature, as the sharpness of fresh apricots are a really good partner for frangipane.
It was nice to see Ian bringing his own eggs in from his guinea fowl at home. My dad breeds chickens, but I was always too nervous to use their eggs in the tent as they’re not standard sizes, so I save them for fry-ups instead. Dad’s chickens did well out of my series’ pastry week though, with a new design feature for their coop. Remember the éclair stairs?
My top puff pastry tips? Keep the butter really cold, roll it neatly and only fold the pastry seven times. If you’ve got warm hands like me, puff pastry can be a bit of a pain – but it’s so delicious that it’s worth persevering with. The stormy conditions outside the tent that day were helpful for once!
Paul’s chilli prawn and Nadiya’s cod and clementine flavours were the ones I’d have been clamouring for, but I’d have been a vol-au-vent dustbin in the tent that day. Tamal’s flavours sounded wicked too – the top two sandwiches of his life, what a great source of inspiration!
I think Flora’s chocolate pastry was a really brave idea as well – I might try giving that a go at home. But as soon as Mat talked through his ‘His & Hers’ vol-au-vents I thought he had it in the bag. Smoked trout and horseradish and then a ‘Full English’? Breakfast and dinner sorted for me right there.
There is nothing like the smell of bacon in that tent. It wafts around and gets everyone drooling (except for the veggies). It reminded me of Nancy’s ‘Full English’ stuffed bread last year.
As I said with the signature bake, factoring in time for mistakes is important in the Bake Off, but making puff pastry again from scratch, as Nadiya attempted, is easier said than done. It’s not a process that can be rushed and serving her vol-au-vents unfilled was such a shame. There’s been quite a lot of that this series, which probably means the time pressures are getting more difficult.
I was so chuffed for Mat this week getting such positive comments, he really deserved Star Baker this week. Tamal was rock solid on all his flavours this week – he’s consistently near the top.
I think everyone watching at home would have been devastated for both Alvin and Nadiya. I’m pleased that Paul and Mary were gentle with both of them under the circumstances. Their kindness is probably what set Nadiya’s tears off, and every time Alvin said ‘sorry’ to the judges I wanted to give him a hug.
As Mel said, who knew that puff could be so tough? Chin up Alvin, you’ve been a great contestant to watch this series and I’m really sad to see you go.