This week was patisserie week but it should rather have been entitled 'wahffer thin week'. You will see why in a mo.
The first semi final challenge was filo pastry. A worthy challenge but who really makes filo pastry? As Richard put it 'we have so many great shops in North London' why bother? But a challenge it was and they all got stuck in to making two different types of Baklavas. Paul was looking for a beautiful syrup binding a beautiful filling. Mary wanted a "wahffer thin" pastry.
The pastry is made with flour, water, vinegar and water and Luis had the great tip of just letting the KitchenAid do all the work in kneading it to build the gluten up to make is stretchy and elastic to work with. Most of the others seemed to knead by hand
Chetna was the only one to make two different types of pastry. A normal one and a chocolate one. Her flavours were chocolate filo with orange and pistachio and then a masala chai (of course as we are coming to expect nothing less than spice mixes).
Luis had his own interpretation of baklava. He was making filo flower shaped cups in a muffin tin to fit a rose and barberry filling. For his second bake he was making what looked more like filo cigars with a cashew, almond and carrot filling and a saffron syrup. I love how Luis uses saffron in his choices. Such a delicate flavour that is difficult to get right. Too much and it's too bitter. Too little and you've wasted about £10 worth of the strands!
Nancy went for something completely untraditional. She was making granola. Yes granola to go inside her breakfast baklava. What a genius idea. I would live this for breakfast right now. With a dollop of rose scented yoghurt perhaps. This was complemented with a coffee and chocolate baklava.
Richard opted to stay true to the baklava roots with a rose and pistachio combo in the traditional shape and then a walnut and almond version with a cinnamon syrup. Delicious and completely akin to those we see on the shelves of Turkish bakeries in North London. I would recommend Yasser Halim in Palmer's Green. They also use the filo for amazing savouries too.
Anyway, the challenge seemed to sail away. Before we knew it they were all playing up and being judged. Nancy had a great result with both. No negative comments. Her bonkers granola baklava idea was spot on. Richard received the same showers of praise. Luis did not. Paul commented that his pastries were not really Baklavas as there were no layers and the bakes were 'bone dry'. But I guess the saving grace for Luis was that both judges loved his flavours. Chetna also did not do too well. Though she had perfectly formed Baklavas in two different shapes and a good colour on her pastry, she was missing the layering too.