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Great British Bake Off – inspiration for Patisserie Week

Great British Bake Off – inspiration for Patisserie Week

by Great British Chefs Friday, September 18, 2015

It’s Patisserie Week on the Great British Bake Off and Paul and Mary have yet more unfamiliar baking challenges to test the remaining five contestants.

More from this series:

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Patisserie Week in the Great British Bake Off tent conjures up images of nervous amateur bakers sweating over intricate pastry confections as they attempt to become master pâtissiers for a weekend. Unlike other weeks, with patisserie there is nowhere to hide – consistency and finish are everything. Making the classics, such as financiers, délices, fraisiers, mille feuille and éclairs, takes patience, creativity and a steady, confident hand. As a result, most of us are happier to visit a patisserie than to make one but that’s why we’re sitting at home watching television rather than battling it out in the Bake Off tent!

The signature challenge calls for twenty-four cream horns with two different fillings. So more puff pastry, this time wrapped carefully round a cylinder to create a cavity for flavoured whipped cream. (Is it just us or did Tamal’s vol au vents look a dummy run for this challenge?) The dangers for the contestants appear to be collapsed horns, inconsistent baking and over-whipped cream. For puff pastry patisseries that don’t rely on the puff puffing for structure, try making mille feuille – layers of puff, pastry cream and fruit – arlettes or palmiers.

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The technical challenge this week is for mokatines which turn out to be squares of genoese sponge filled with coffee-flavoured butter cream and decorated with two different types of icing. As usual, it is a new one to us but it sounds delicious and not as technically challenging as some weeks. Genoise sponge is extremely light as it is made with very little fat and it relies on beaten eggs for the rise rather than a raising agent. It makes a great vehicle for different flavours and fillings and is the base for various pastries and pudding like fraisiers and tiramisu. For last year’s Bake Off, Victoria Glass was inspired to create miniature tiramisu cakes which have two layers of genoise sponge soaked in espresso and rum.

The showstopper this week is a choux pastry creation the likes of which you will probably only ever see on a television cookery show in search of novel ways to showcase pastry. It is called a religieuse à l’ancienne and it is nothing if not showstopping! Imagine three tiers of iced éclairs filled with crème pâtissière then beautifully decorated with piped buttercream. It not only has to look spectacular and taste amazing, it also has to stand up and stay standing up . . . we think you should stick with these pretty éclairs from Nancy Harbord and leave architectural pastry to the professionals.

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