The great Star2 bake-off!
The columnists pay tribute to The Great british bake Off.
WE are fans of The Great British Bake Off, a television baking competition whose fourth series has just ended. (You can catch it on HyppTV BBC Lifestyle and YouTube.)
In each episode, contestants have a signature, technical and showstopping challenge to fulfil. What we like is how these bakers – who have honed their amateur skills just from baking at home for their family and friends – turn out dishes that manage to impress the critical eye of judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood and meet their strict requirements.
And so for this month’s column (it’s the fifth-year anniversary of the column, by the way), we have each tried out a recipe from the show (they are available on the The Great
British Bake Off website; direct links to the recipes will be given on the online version of Don’t Call Me Chef
at www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle under Viewpoints). It wasn’t a competition between the three of us, but there were times in our own kitchens when we felt we were in an actual bake off.
Basket case By S. INDRAMALAR
COMPETITIVE cooking shows like The Great British Bake Off should come with a warning, like “food made on the show are a gazillion times harder than how they appear on the show” or something of the sort.
I was overly ambitious when we embarked on this mini bake-off – I wanted to make Bake Off champ Frances Quinn’s Midsummer Dream Wedding Cake – a three-tiered cake adorned with edible confetti, pineapple flowers and bees made out of marzipan. The cake looked magnificent – no surprise as all season long, Frances has produced visually stunning bakes.
And then I glanced at the recipe. It was long. No, it was massive. A three-tiered cake sounds hard enough, but with Quinn’s recipe, each tier comprised a different cake. Adding to that, she has two types of butter cream to frost them, a cream cheese filling to go in between them, edible decorations and two types of marzipan (she makes these herself) to shape some bees and leaves. I gave up before even trying. Instead, I chose to make Ruby Tandoh’s Vegetarian Picnic Basket Pie, which seemed slightly less daunting. A pie that is shaped like a picnic basket with a colourful vegetarian filling made of roasted vegetables, cheese and flavoured couscous sounded great. I couldn’t wait to make it and eat it.
The recipe is long, but doable within the three-hour time allotment. There are four parts to it: making the pastry for the basket, making the components for the filling, constructing the basket and assembling the pie.
The pastry Ruby used is a shortcrust pastry that’s kneaded a little so that it’s sturdy enough to construct a picnic basket while still remaining flaky and short to the taste.
I like making pastry so this part was enjoyable, even though I’d never made quite so much pastry at one go (600g flour and 300g butter? Whoa!). The real challenge was keeping the flour in the bowl and not all over me!
The pastry took me about 30 minutes. I was on track ... yay.
I then focused on the filling which was time-consuming, but pretty straightforward – roasting vegetables, making the couscous and grating the cheese.
OK, time for a confession. Ruby uses two types of cheese – halloumi and mozzarella. I was going to buy halloumi, but changed my mind when I saw just how expensive it is. I decided to double up on the mozzarella instead.
With an hour and a half to go, I then started on the pastry basket.
Oh! What fun! Although more technical than I’d imagined – Ruby’s attention to detail is amazing – it was really exciting to watch this edible basket take shape bit by bit. Apart from the intricately woven lattice top that makes the basket cover, Ruby adds a loose weave to the pastry case as well which makes the pastry basket look quite real. She also has handles and latches made from pastry.
The verdict: Ruby’s pie was delicious and pretty. It is no wonder she won praises from judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. I’m definitely going to make this pie again, pastry basket and all.
A loaf of pride By JANE F. RAGAVAN
I EAT oranges and drink the juice, and I have made candied orange peel, but I remember cooking only once with oranges, and that was to make orange chicken for a Don’t
Call Me Chef column early last year. The fruit just doesn’t seem to have the same allure for me as other citrus fruits like limes or lemons when it comes to cooking.
But oranges seemed to be a favourite flavouring ingredient in many of the dishes prepared by The
Great British Bake Off contestants. I bake bread all the time, and lately I’ve started moulding them into shapes. After all, a food as basic as bread can still have a touch of whimsy. Why should cakes have all the frills?
So, I knew I would choose a bread from GBBO to make, and when I saw contestant Ruby Tandoh’s White Chocolate and Orange Peacock Bread, from Episode 2 of Series 4, I knew that would be my baking challenge. She makes it completely by hand, which is how I like to make my bread too, so I was off to a good start.
The recipe is long, but the dough is one that I am used to. What I wasn’t completely sure about was the shaping. And so I watched the last 20 minutes of the episode three times and did screen captures of the steps that I couldn’t catch.
White chocolate and Orange Peacock bread
custard tart and coffee for breakfast.
Vegetarian Picnic basket is as delicious as it is beautiful to look at.