I had an absolute brainwave today. I was so impressed with myself I gave myself a gold star, and a smiley face.
I took the children out to lunch (strike day at school), and we ate so much we couldn’t quite squeeze in pudding, delicious though it looked. We hate missing pudding, so we had ours boxed up to bring home to eat. We went here, by the way. It was excellent, and is only up the road – Frabjous day.
I saved mine until after The Great British Bake Off.
You have to admit that it’s genius.
I am always, always starving after Bake Off, and this week – the week of pastry baked goodness, was no exception.
I am typing this with the residue of cream cheese frosting on my chin and the delightfully satisfied aura of a woman who has just consumed a large wedge of carrot cake.
This week was week seven. WEEK SEVEN people. That means there are only three episodes left.
Good God. I cannot stand it.
It should be on all year round, and twice on Christmas day.
What will I do afterwards?
It doesn’t bear thinking about.
So let us concentrate on the evening’s events instead.
First up was the suet pudding signature bake. I once made a suet pudding for Jason, when we were first together. It was a token of love, made from the fat from round an animal’s kidneys and some jam.
I’ve always been a romantic.
It took three hours and steamed all the wallpaper off the kitchen wall in our rented house – which wasn’t very romantic in the end. In fact, it was a bit stressful.
Tasted nice though. The pudding. Not the wallpaper.
And I suppose the great benefit of doing your pudding steaming in a tent is that the steam can escape through the flaps in the canvas, which is one of the only positive uses I can think of for a tent, except it being God’s way to remind you to buy a house.
There was a fine showing on the suet pudding front. My friend Nicki and I agreed that we would be happy to eat all of them. I particularly fancied Christine’s ice cream as well, although Frances’s ice cream with a hint of goat didn’t really do it for me, and I like goat’s cheese as a rule. I don’t think goat’s cheese 99’s with red razz are going to catch on in these parts for some years to come. Mr. Whippy, your ice cream crown is safe.
The first round went so smoothly I found myself getting increasingly tense about the technical challenge. It just isn’t possible to have an episode of Bake Off where things go brilliantly all the way through.
I was right to worry. They had to make Religeuses, which are basically profiteroles stacked up to make jolly, round nun shapes, smothered in chocolate and cream and filled with creme patissiere. Nun snowmen of joy, if you will.
I went to a convent school for three years (which I know explains a lot), and I never saw nuns like that. If I had, I might have considered a life of religious contemplation a bit more carefully. Although it would have been rather stressful to have been eaten, unless that’s what Jesus really wanted, obviously.
Being filled with creme patissiere would have been brilliant though, as long as the nozzle was at the right end.
And I’m not averse to being dipped in chocolate ganache either, although purely for medicinal purposes.
No sexy time thank you. Kind regards.
Choux pastry is not exactly biddable it seems. It’s a bit like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront, mean and moody and wearing an awkward hat that doesn’t really go with anything, and never stays on properly. Although I doubt choux buns keep pigeons on health and safety grounds.
Christine’s choux buns turned out to be more like burned, choux pebbles. Even she admitted that dousing them in chocolate ganache was hardly likely to fool Mary into thinking that all was well in the order of St. Christine. It looked more like Henry VIII had been in to dissolve them.
Glenn’s buns were somewhat lumpy, bordering on the grotesque by the time he’d stacked them all together. When they started squirting custard everywhere it was rather disturbing. It’s not really a mental image I was happy to revisit, but I go there, so you don’t have to. It’s all part of the service.
Kimberley was rather annoyingly Mary Poppinsish this week I thought. She can be lovely, but every now and again her constant assertions that things are easy and her raging confidence is a little wearing on my shattered nerves. Things are never easy at Boo Towers, and it’s being so cheerful with our constant, low level moaning that keeps us going. We fear the relentlessly up beat.
Today, when she made some remark about how religeuses were actually quite simple and basically some people just worried too much instead of getting on with it, it made me a bit grrrr and arrggh, because if you can’t lose your shit trying to balance choux buns on top of each other with only ganache and piped cream swirls to hold them together, while you’re being filmed, in a tent, with scary sheep outside – when can you?
Which was why I was quite pleased when her buns didn’t quite cut it and she didn’t flash her usual cheery grin.
Your hair is still ace though.
The show stopper this week was to make puff pastry. Not only puff pastry, but three different types of puff pastry, twelve of each sort – in four hours.
This is hardly fair. Bake Off die hards will know that puff pastry is all about the rolling and folding and resting, and the folding and resting and rolling, repeat to fade. It takes about three days to achieve puff pastry perfection and this perfect lamination that Paul is so keen on.
No, not the disease horses get…
Nor the stuff that stops your formica peeling…
The stuff that makes your puff pastry all shiny and flaky and phwoargh.
Four hours was just enough time to reduce everyone to a pulp of raw nerve endings and icing sugar, but not quite enough time to get everything as perfect as Paul and Mary would like, which makes great telly, but does prove exhausting both to the viewer and the viewee.
This was where Glenn, the lovely Glenn who up to now had been having a stonking week, despite the gargoyle like nature of his religieuses, went insane. The minute he looked confidently at the camera and announced that he was trying a ‘new’ version of puff pastry, my heart sank.
‘No!’ we all said in unison. ‘NO GLENN! Don’t Do IT!’
But he did.
And Paul and Mary’s utter scepticism was proved as his pastry broke into hundreds of sharp, weeny shards of pastry doom, and lodged in Paul’s icy heart like a horrible, baking version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, and you knew that Glenn was out.
‘No!’ we all said in unison: ‘Glenn! Don’t go! We miss you so!’
But he did, and we do – and now we are in a lachrymose world of woe.
And it doesn’t matter that Beca had a brilliant week, and I think she deserved star baker more than Frances, who eventually won it because she put some cream horns on a record (like I couldn’t do that. I could so do that. It would have to be Custard Creams on a CD of Sixties lounge music at the moment, but I’d get there in the end), or that Christine made triumphant Eccles cakes – because Glenn has gone.
I’m off to rend my apron and wail into my mixing bowl until next week’s quarter finals, where it says there will be more pastry.