Scottish Daily Mail
Hot air! Mary Berry’s new blast at Bake Off stars’ love of blowtorches
IN her day, blowtorches were used for metalwork and unlikely to be found anywhere near the kitchen.
So Mary Berry was less than impressed when nearly every contestant on last night’s Great British Bake Off relied on the ‘fancy’ gadgets to brown their meringue pies.
When Rav Bansal, who was eventually eliminated, told her he would be using a blowtorch and not cooking his meringue in the oven at all, she blurted: ‘You are only blowtorching it?’ And after Jane Beedle – the oldest baker remaining – emerged as the only one sticking to traditional methods, Miss Berry took a moment to bemoan the blowtorch trend to co-judge Paul Hollywood.
She said: ‘The thing that I am not too happy about is they are nearly all using a blowtorch, and to me meringue topping is best put in the oven to get a crunchiness. Not many of them have got that method.’
Last year Miss Berry, 81, sparked controversy when she banned the BBC show’s bakers from using ‘these fancy blowtorches’ to make creme brulees, saying that not everyone has one at home. Her instructions were criticised at the time by chefs, with many pointing out that blowtorches are widely used for restaurant creme brulees.
Yet Miss Berry’s traditional approach to meringues was lauded by fellow professionals. Jean-Christophe Novelli, a French celebrity chef, was ‘not surprised’ Miss Berry had been disappointed. ‘It may be trendy to use a blowtorch but the art of a good meringue is respecting the classic technique which is the oven,’ he said. ‘The blowtorch is too intense and too direct. But you are dealing with novice bakers who are excited and trying to follow the fashion.’
When the signature challenge ended, there did appear to be a contrast between the blowtorched pies and the solely oven-cooked version, which was entirely golden brown.
Miss Berry told garden designer Miss Beedle, 61: ‘You have done it in the oven and that is how I like my meringue done.’