Pistachio and raspberry Bakewell tart

Great British Bake Off: Pastry Week inspiration and tips

by Great British Chefs 20 September 2016

Get ready for Pastry Week in the Great British Bake Off tent by brushing up your own pastry skills. We have all the recipes and how-to-cook articles you could ever need to avoid a soggy bottom.

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

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

After the all-new Batter Week on GBBO it’s back to normal with Pastry Week. We expect plenty of rolling, quite a bit of sweating and a good measure of blind baking – however, with this week’s incredibly tough technical challenge, there could be a fair amount of swearing too.

Filo pastry tarts are quite an easy thing to put together – simply make a little basket out of the sheets, fill it with something delicious and pop it into the oven until golden and beautiful. However, the Bake Off bakers will be required to take on the frankly insane task of making their filo pastry from scratch, which requires an awful lot of patience, a very deft touch and being able to keep cool under pressure when it breaks apart for the tenth time. Even Mary Berry says she buys the pre-made stuff.

If the contestants do manage to get some serviceable sheets of filo, however, then there’s plenty they can do with them. Adam Gray’s Beetroot and fig filo pastry tartlets with Oxford blue cheese taste as good as they look, while Sally Abé’s simple Egg cups with a spicy tomato salsa are perfect for brunch.

Danish pastries will also be on the menu, which require a special laminated dough which is very slightly different from puff pastry in that it contains yeast. The bakers will still need to layer their dough twenty-seven times to create the buttery, flaky texture, but the slightly heavier Danish dough means it will be a bit more substantial than its puffier counterpart. If the bakers have made their own puff pastry before then they shouldn’t have too much of an issue – although anything can happen in the Bake Off tent.

The bakers will also be required to make a Bakewell tart to test their shortcrust skills, although we expect many of them to deviate from the classic raspberry filling. They could take a leaf out of chef Jeremy Lee’s book, whose Almond tart with medlar jam, caramelised apples and Jersey cream combines decadent frangipane with Armagnac and medlars for a truly beautiful autumnal dessert.

If you fancy mastering puff pastry at home (which is more time-consuming than complicated), then you pave the way to all sorts of classic dishes, from pissaladières to pithiviers and pies. Tarte Tatin is one of our favourite uses; try Marcus Wareing’s classic apple version or, for a savoury interpretation, how about Bruno Loubet’s Shallot tarte Tatin which is served with chicken livers – definitely worth going to the effort of making your own puff pastry for.

Working with pastry can be tricky but keeping cool (literally) will make a big difference. It is also important not to overwork the dough and to let it rest for a suitably long time so it doesn’t shrink when cooked. Use our easy-to-follow guides for making and using the different types of pastry and master skills such as lining a tart tin or evenly rolling pastry. We know you can easily buy it ready-made, but making it yourself is so much more satisfying. Apart from filo.