I didn’t get through to pie week in series two but I loved pastry week. I’d say hearing Mary Berry say my pastry was lovely and short was a personal highlight that year. Getting a short pastry is of course only a third of the battle – the filling also needs to be right and tasty and the bottom needs to be lovely and brown so moisture was the enemy this week as the nation played Soggy Bottom Bingo. How many times did you hear it?
The Signature Bake – A Double Crusted Fruit Pie
I feel the contestants this year have taken a step towards Masterchef this year as there were some fantastic flavour combos. Rosemary, Apple and Pecan from Kimberley, Apple, Plum and Cinnamon from Christine, Apple and Sage from Howard, Cherry Apple from Beca (only is had no cherries or apples – only rhubarb!) but my tummy was rumbling for Frances and her Peach Pie In The Sky.
Paul wanted a ‘pie that’s perfect’ – well of course. That’s why they are all on the show. Perfection and precision is key to baking. Mary cautioned that the fruit should not be overcooked as this would release excess moisture and lead to the bottoms of sogginess.
So there were lots of tips on how we all avoid these. Rob opts to remove the base of the baking tin and place the pastry directly onto the baking sheet over a layer of greaseproof paper. Clever idea I thought as you can see how brown the bottom of the base is. Frances uses frangipane at the base to mop up any additional juices.
Kimberly and Beca added a layer of semolina at the bottom for the same reason. Personally I would have par baked the base slightly before filling and then glazed quickly in egg white to seal.
We also saw the invention of a new word this week from Howard - ‘Crackage’. This means slight cracks appearing in the pastry. Sadly for Howard, there was major crackage as he underworked his pastry and it crumbled apart when the judges came to taste test. Kimberley, Ruby and Rob were commended with comments through copious munching. Always a good sign. Glenn’s pie was a disaster in texture and taste receiving a ‘not quite right’ from Paul which I think is the worst comment ever. (‘What’s not quite right?? Be more specific!’ I shouted at the screen).
Frances achieved a fantastic presentation again – she always looks so cool and calm doesn’t she. Poor comments from the judges though on taste with Paul even going as far as saying it was ‘bland’. Ouch! I felt for Frances as I once got that comment too. Another new phrase invented with Christine and her Soggy Top. But it was Ali who was in the doghouse this week with a pie that was “underdone and tasteless” – a shame as Apple and Ginger should have been a winning combo.