Monday, 5 October 2015

Peanut Butter & Caramel Eclairs: GBBO Week #8

The first challenge of patisserie week was cream horns, which are spirals of pastry filled with cream and sometimes jam or creme patisserie too. The judges wanted two different flavours of cream horns, 12 of each flavour. The bakers could use ruff, puff or flaky pastry. Paul thought puff pastry was the way to go, while Mary was more concerned about the cream horn being filled all the way to the bottom. Baker Paul, Ian and Nadiya all went for ruff puff pastry while Flora and Tamal chose to make full puff pastry.

Flora chose peach, lemon and thyme, and butterscotch and smoked almond for her flavours. She topped the cream horns with caramel wafers and tuille cigars which she spent way too much time concentrating on making, rather than focusing on the main event. She also presented her cream horns upright, but as they were not sealed at the bottom her lemon curd and chocolate fillings dripped out completely so there was none left for the judges to taste. Ian was the only baker to do a second flavour of pastry. He added cocoa to his pastry to make a stripy cream horn with a Black Forest Gateau inspired filling. Unfortunately his different pastries did not bond together and were partly raw inside.

Nadiya made rose and pistachio, and mocha hazelnut cream horns. She seemed quite nervous while her pastry was baking, but it baked beautifully and she calmed down once they were done. She got the usual warnings from the judges about not using too much rose flavour, but after tasting them Paul said it was a very delicate flavour. The judges agreed they looked very good and were uniform with nicely baked pastry.

Tamal went for lime and mascarpone, and malt cream horns. His pastry was crispy and well layered, and the judges were very impressed with his flavours. Baker Paul made coffee and vanilla, and banana cream horns. His pastry was well baked, but judge Paul did not think the banana flavour was strong enough. For his coffee ones, his creme patt was too thick and he hadn't piped it all the way to the bottom - cue a disapointed Mary!

Mokatines were the technical challenge this week. A recipe from Mary Berry's baking bible itself. Mary's fear inducing comment to the bakers before they started was that they should be "sheer perfection". No pressure then Mary! They are squares of genoise sponge filled with coffee buttercream and covered in chopped nuts and coffee icing.

Nadiya had heard of the recipe before but never made it. Paul struggled the most as he had never made a genoise sponge before, and the recipe had no instructions on how to do so. He made two normal sponges but they did not rise enough. This resulted in him coming last, Tamal came 4th, Flora 3rd, Ian 2nd, and Nadiya won the challenge!

This week's showstopper was to make a Religieuse a L'anncienne, which is a tower of eclairs separated with biscuits. Think of it as the eclair version of a croquembouche. The judges requested three tiers of eclairs with no help from dowling as support. It also must be decorated with buttercream. Paul was insistent that the flavours come through, and Mary warned that the eclairs must be strong and fully baked as if they aren't and they bend it could create 'ghastly' results. Once the eclair towers were completed, the bakers had to go on a 2 hour lunch break before they were judged to prove they could remain standing.

Tamal made passionfruit & mango, and pistachio & raspberry eclairs for his tower. Both he and Ian used very strong flour for their choux pastry and it certainly paid off as neither collapsed. Tamal and Ian also used a star nozzle to pipe out the eclairs to give them more structure and strength. Tamal's held up, and although his piping was a bit messy, the judges enjoyed his flavours. Ian made cardamom & coffee, and passionfruit eclairs. This really was a perfect challenge for Ian as he is very good at baking engineering. They loved his flavour mix and were impressed by his technique.

Flora used half regular and half strong flour, but still suffered a collapse. She chose coconut & vanilla, and lime and basil for her flavours, but the judges couldn't taste any of her flavours.

Nadiya and Paul did not use any strong flour for their eclairs which was definitely a mistake as they both suffered structural issues. Nadiya's flavours were peppermint and bubblegum. I'm not really sure what bubblegum tastes like, isn't it just sugar? Nadiya's did collapse, and the judges liked her flavours (well, Mary wasn't so sure) but thought they were far too strong. Paul's flavours were vanilla & banana, and raspberry & basil. He added artifical banana extract because he was concerned about it not coming through enough. The judges praised his icing technique and also the bake on his eclairs, although as they were underdone this probably lead to the collapse of his tower.

Paul left us this week. He came last in the technical, Paul wasn't impressed with his cream horns and his eclair tower collapsed. Star baker was Nadiya as she did so well in the first two challenges. Next episode is all about chocolate!

I was going to make cream horns this week and I did give them a try but it didn't get past the pastry stage! Firstly the ice cream cones I bought to use as moulds were all smashed in the packet, so I only had two to work with. Then my pastry split apart in the oven, so I gave up on it. I also had problems making the eclairs too. I was feeling stressed after the cream horn disaster and my first batch of eclairs were a soggy mess. I had a break and calmed down, then took more time and got it right second time round. I'm so glad I persisted as they were damn delicious!!

To make the choux pastry I started by putting 200ml cold water and 75g in a pan. I heated it until the mixture came to boil.

I removed it from the heat and tipped 125g plain flour into the pan. I beat it with a wooden spoon until it was mixed in. I put it back on a medium heat and beat it in the pan for a few minutes.

I then poured the mixture into a bowl and beat it for a few minutes until it was luke warm instead of hot. I slowly added 3 beaten eggs, bit by bit, and whisked in thoroughly between each addition.

I put the mixture into a piping bag with a round nozzle. I piped out 4 inch long lengths of the pastry onto a lined baking tray. I used a sharp wet knife to stop the flow of batter. They are slightly misplaced in the above photo as I messed one up!

I baked the eclairs on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for a further 20 minutes. This made sure they were really dried out. To make sure they were dry inside I broke one open as a test. If it's still wet inside just poke holes in the other eclairs and give them another 5 minutes in the oven. They weren't as straight as I wanted (I think the fan in the oven blew them over a bit!!) I stored them in tupperware box overnight as I didn't have time to fill them the same day.

I melted some dark chocolate, about 200g, and dipped each eclair in it to coat the tops.

I then melted 40g peanut butter candy melts and piped a zig zag pattern over the dark chocolate once it was set.

I made the filling by mixing 90g peanut butter, 300ml double cream, 200g icing sugar, 2 tsp Dr Oetker caramel flavouring and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

I filled the eclairs with the mixture using a piping bag and a star nozzle, and tucked in! They were super sweet, salty and nutty - such a good combination! You need to eat the eclairs straight away, or at least the same day. If you don't fill them they will last a couple of days in an airtight container. They are also really good filled with plain whipped cream!

I am entering these eclairs into Baking Queen's challenge Perfecting Patisserie, there is no specific theme this month.

I'm entering this into the Bake Off Bake Along hosted by Rhyme & Ribbons and This Particular.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Raspberry & Lime Charlotte Russe: GBBO Week #7

My week 7 review and bake is a bit late as I've been in Hong Kong for the past 2 weeks (more on my trip coming soon!) This week The Great British Bake Off changed up the theme again with a Victorian episode. They do love their history so I think this was a nice choice. The first challenge for the contestants was to make a raised game pie using hot water crust pastry. In the Victorian era, game pies were status symbols for the middle class. Mary expected to see an ornate pie with intricate decorations, and Paul wanted thin pastry all around.

Mat had a traditional pie tin from his friend's mum which dated back to 1850, his pie was filled with venison and pigeon. The judges loved the look of the pie and thought the meat was tender. Baker Paul used wild boar in his pie, but the judges thought it wasn't decorated well. To be honest I thought they were overly harsh on Baker Paul about the decoration element. Tamal did a middle eastern spice mix with rabbit, lamb and venison. The judges absolutely loved it and he even got a handshake from Paul! Nadiya went for an untraditional Chinese 5 spice mix with pheasant and duck. Paul loved the decoration on top, but both he and Mary thought the spices over powered the game.

Flora really emphasised her middle class background as she told us how she made a pheasant pie in school and won a competition with it. She went for lucky pheasant again along with pigeon and rabbit, but she had problems cooking the pie as she over filled it. Although it had caught a little, the judges liked both the pastry and filling. Ian revealed his roadkill eating passion, and his pie was filled with venison, partridge and guinea fowl. He also made a meat jelly to accompany it. Mary did not think his pie was decorated enough on the outside, but she loved the appearance of the layers of meat inside. He did well for flavours too.

This week's technical challenge was a Tennis Cake. This is a rich fruit cake decorated with a royal icing tennis court. Mary noted that it was very important that the cake was baked as soon as possible to it had time to cool down. Paul noted that there were a lot of elements of the decoration that could easily go wrong!

They had to make all of the different types of icing - marzipan, royal icing and sugarpaste from scratch. Mat struggled with his sugarpaste and ended up with radioactive looking goop, he also baked his tennis court and net so they turned brown. Meanwhile, Nadiya couldn't remember what a tennis court looked like, but she was the only one to have an upright tennis net! Nadiya won the challenge with Paul 2nd, Tamal 3rd, Flora 4th and Ian 5th. Mat came last.

This week's showstopper challenge was a Charlotte Russe, which is a mousse called bavarois and a jelly layer surrounded by ladyfingers. A structural nightmare to say the least! Mary said the most difficult element was getting the bavarois and jelly to set in time. I do mention this a lot, but I really think they should give them extra time for things to set as it really isn't under anyone's full control. Everyone was making the ladyfingers from scratch of course, and everyone except Tamal were using the ladyfinger sponge mix for the base of the dessert. Tamal used jelly as his base which really impressed the judges. He also decorated the ladyfingers with a chocolate swirl pattern.

Ian and Paul certainly had the most elaborate and impressive decorations. Ian made a 3D crown which was just fantastic! Mary thought it looked spectacular and Paul said it was purely magical. And Paul carved fruit into swans, but unfortunately his jelly was not set. Nadiya mixed italian meringue into her bavarois which was a recipe she learnt in school. The judges absolutely loved it as it was so light and creamy.

Mat made a simply flavoured strawberry Charlotte Russe, but he had problems with the ladyfingers breaking and the jelly wasn't set. Flora flavoured her Russe with pomegranate, champagne, raspberry and white chocolate. Paul really didn't like the addition of pomegranate at all, but they liked the other flavours and the defined layers of the Russe.

Mat left us this week after coming last in the technical and delivering a disappointing Charlotte Russe. I was so sad to see him go! He's really funny and a brilliant baker of course. I think we'll definitely see more of him in the future. Tamal won star baker, and I was really pleased for him as I think he's deserved it in the past and I was glad he finally got it! Next week it's all about patisserie.

I decided to make the Charlotte Russe this week as the tennis cake looked incredibly fiddly and as we are a half-vegetarian household a game pie was not suitable. The Charlotte Russe is very similar to the Charlotte Royale which featured on the Bake Off in 2013. So I was a bit disappointed not be using any new techniques, but on the other hand I was really excited to make bavarois again as it's so delicious!

I prepared the tin by using a long piece of baking paper and folding it in half, then using it as a collar inside the cake tin. I secured it with a paper clip.

Lining the tin was the most fiddly part. I used shop bought lady fingers as they would be more sturdy. I started by covering the bottom and slowly building the side as I filled the bottom. This made sure the ladyfingers along the side were wedged in as I went - otherwise they just fell over. I dipped each ladyfinger for a couple of second in a mixture of 100ml sugar syrup (I used Fruiss Pure Cane Sugar Syrup) and 100ml Chambord - which is a black raspberry liquor. I really wedged it all in and filled in all of the gaps with cut up bits of ladyfingers, I was determined not to have any leakages!

To make the lime bavarois I put 750ml whole milk, 250g granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, the seeds from 1 vanilla pod and the zest of 2 limes into a pan. I heated it up to a simmer and until all of the sugar dissolved.

In a separate bowl I mixed up the yolks of 10 eggs. I poured the milk into the egg yolks slowly, stirring constantly. I poured the mixture back into the pan and heated it for about 5 minutes until it thickened up. I poured it through a sieve to remove the zest, then added 8 pre-soaked leaves of gelatin and the juice of 2 and a half limes. I stirred it until all the gelatin was dissolved, then popped it in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.

Once the custard was cool I whipped up 460ml double cream with my Kenwood kMix Hand Mixer and mixed it into the custard.

I poured it into the ladyfinger case and put it in the fridge to set. I left it in there overnight, but it set within about 2 hours.

The next day I made some jelly using half a pack of Hartleys raspberry jelly. I added 2 tsp of Chambord to the mixture. I poured it on top, but I did have some problems with leakage. I decided not to fill it too much as it was leaking.

For the decoration I whipped up some cream, I didn't measure it but it was about 300ml. And I piped it using a star nozzle around the inside edge of the Russe, and around the outside at the bottom (this handily hid the leakage evidence!)

I added raspberries and lime zest on top and it was done! I was really pleased with the final apperance and look of it. I thought it looked really pretty! I haven't cut into it yet, but I tasted some of the bavarois while I was making it and it was so creamy and delicious. I can't wait to have a slice!

Update: I took it into work and entered it into the 'other bakes' category of our Bake Off in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and came first in the category! I was so pleased and I got some great compliments.

What did you think of this episode of The Great British Bake Off? Will you make any of the bakes? Let me know in the comments!

I'm entering this into the Bake Off Bake Along hosted by Rhyme & Ribbons and This Particular.

Recipe adapted from Chowhound.