Pastry, one of my favourite food groups and one which covers a number of yummy treats in the baking world.
Pies & Tarts week had thrown our way a double crust fruit pie for the Signature Challenge. Sounds easy I hear you say? It is when you have all the time in the world to let the pastry rest and prepare your filling, but we were given 2 hours to do it in and it needed to be perfect. I instantly knew which Pie I was going to make and set about checking with my Mam and Nan on how Mamgu (MAM-GHEE) would have made her Rhubarb Pie.
Rhubarb is a tricky one as it releases a lot of liquid during cooking, which meant a high chance of a soggy bottom. In practice, I followed my Mamgu’s method of putting the rhubarb in raw, but once baked, I gingerly cut open the pie only to be splattered with a wave of rhubarb juice; dripping down my oven and onto the floor…rather hilarious now, but not at the time!
The Great Rhubarb Flood of 2013!
After a good chat with my Nan, we decided that roasting the rhubarb would get rid of some of the liquid, but also intensify the flavour. I also added some semolina to the base of my pie before adding the roasted rhubarb. The result? A satisfyingly dry bottom! A little too much pastry for the judges, but I was very happy with the end result and I hope I made Mamgu proud!
My Perfect Practice Pie…phew!
Up next was the dreaded technical. During the previous three technical challenges, I approached each recipe, read the method but then didn’t follow it as I thought I knew better! This week, I ignored my baking intuition and followed the method to the letter and look what happened, I came 2nd! It was a very tricky challenge and many of the bakers had issues with getting the tarts out of the tin, which could easily have happened to me, but luckily it didn’t.
And so we reach the final challenge, a Showstopper that required us to make our own filo pastry and fill then shape it into something decorative that could be a centrepiece at a party. I’ve never made filo pastry before, but thoroughly enjoyed learning how to make it and would definitely make it again. I decided to make a filo pie inspired by a very special holiday to Morocco, where my husband asked me to marry him! We had amazing food in Marrakech and I knew that the flavours and textures of Moroccan food would suit the challenge.
A practice filo pastry pie…pastry was a little raw in the middle, so back to the drawing board!
I was really happy with the finished product, the pastry was crisp and thin, the shape was decorative and the filling was yummy. Paul commented that the filling was all a bit like ‘mashed potato’ and that it needed a bit more texture in the filling. It’s difficult hearing criticism on something that you’ve lovingly prepared for 4 hours, but by week 4 you get use to hearing the comments and take on board what the judges say without taking it all too personally. At the end of the day, being one of the Baker’s Dozen on this year’s GBBO is an amazing opportunity and one that I thoroughly enjoyed…including all the highs and lows.
The ultimate low is when one of the Baker’s Dozen would leave the tent of baking dreams, sadly it was Ali’s turn this week and this was really difficult for us all to accept. Ali is a wonderful person and a very talented baker who will go far. To end on a high note, this week’s Star Baker couldn’t have gone to anyone else…especially after the most amazing Filo Pie! Congratulations Kimberley, you rock!
Next week it’s Biscuits & Traybakes and the all important halfway point!