Pie week. Hmm. I didn’t get to pie week last year and I was really rather glad because I was absolutely dreading it. And by the challenges the contestants had this year I think they all were too.
Giving it some Wellington
For the first challenge this week, the bakers had to make a Wellington which is traditionally made with a beef filling and puff pastry. For Paul it was ‘all about the pastry’ and Mary was looking for ‘a lovely even bake and rise in the layers and flakes’.
Manisha and James opted for puff pastry which takes longer and to be honest I cannot bear to make any more. When I was practising for the show, I made about 20 batches and just looking at all the butter on the show today made me shudder. The others went for rough puff which is easier to make but still has lots of butter! (It does taste great, though.)
There was lots of dialogue about the method of folding the pastry. ‘Single turns’ seemed to be the order of the day for most and so Paul (very helpfully, I thought) demonstrated his ‘book turn’.
Fillings were interesting, too, this week. John’s Haggis with Venison went down a treat with the judges despite the pastry being undercooked, and Manisha’s Rosemary and Lamb was also a hit but again the pastry was poor. The big hits were Ryan’s Malaysian-inspired sea bass and lentils, Brendan’s Norwegian Salmon and Cathryn’s huge sausage roll. How she continues to miss the brief each week and stay in the competition continues to completely baffle me.
Personally, Wellingtons don’t appeal, but if you do fancy having a go, top tips from the show are as follows:
Take time over your pastry – it’s an essential part of the recipe and, as we saw, let most of the contestants this week down.
Partially cook your filling so it cooks in line with the pastry’s baking time.
Let the filling cool down after you’ve cooked it, because otherwise the sides of pastry will melt and you’ll do a Sarah-Jane and be left with an ‘alien’ as Paul so vividly described it.
Tightly wrap the pastry around your filling to avoid it blistering and leaving large gaps like Danny’s.