Like a large number of the British viewing public we were enthralled by The Great British Bake Off. Those mouthwatering creations kept us glued to the TV set, drooling, only guessing at the pressure the contestants must have felt, turning out those intricate dishes in front of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood let alone the millions watching from the safety and comfort of their sofas.
Although I bake regularly both bread and cakes, I rarely do anything out of the ordinary but this programme left me inspired to try some new recipes. Now whilst they had all the latest gadgets and ovens, we have to contend with an ancient old Rayburn which runs on solid fuel and is susceptible to weather conditions. When it’s windy outside it’s smokey inside and we have to be careful the chimney doesn’t catch alight. And as for an even bake, not a hope in hell. When I’m baking a cake, the side next to the firebox always rises more than the other and there is no viewing window to see what’s going on.
Despite all the pitfalls, as the weeks went by, I decided to have a go at the iced fingers, the millefeuilles, Sachertorte, a baked cheesecake and my favourite, a pork pie. The meat came from our own home reared pig and was seriously good, although next time I bake one, I shall omit the jelly as neither of us are very fond of it.
Of course it wouldn’t be any fun without the judging. After hours slaving in a steamy kitchen, each concoction was scrutinized, tasted and awarded points for presentation, flavour and “the bake”. The iced fingers were yummy if a bit on the large size, the millefeuilles pastry was slightly raw on the bottom and the filling grainy, the Sachertorte was not as chocolatey as it looked. The cheesecake with our own Scotch Dumpling apples and goats milk was delicious and so was the pork pie once we had scraped off the jelly.
I have yet to have a go at the battenburg, macaroons and éclairs but I’ve no intention of trying the croquembouche.