It’s Great British Bake Off time again (where has the year gone?), so Tuesday nights are now taken up with all the essential questions of life: “How often are Mary/Paul/Mel/Sue roundly told to naff off as they hover judgementally next to the competitors just as they’re trying to do a tricky bit?” “Who’s going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, by being a long-flagged possible winner only to be knocked out in the last five or four?” “Did (s)he forget the eggs?”
Anyway, it’s tarts this week, and we see from the trailer at the end of last week’s show that the technical bake is for a treacle tart. We therefore decided to give it a go, taking Mary’s recipe from the book accompanying this year’s series: The Great British Bake Off: How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers.
There were two things about this recipe that surprised me. First, the pastry is incredibly short, using only butter and no margarine/lard/vegetable shortening. My usual problem with pastry is in knowing how little water I can get away with adding; I usually end up with either far too little, and I’m trying to roll out a pile of pastry that resemble breadcrumbs, or too much water, with makes it easier to roll out, but gives a tougher result at the end. I have a horrible feeling that this time, I’ve gone too far. We’ll find out.
Second, the pastry case isn’t blind baked. I don’t know if this is an oversight in the recipe, or deliberate – the treacle and breadcrumb mixture is quite dry, so I suppose blind baking isn’t necessary to stop the filling seeping through the case, but we’ll see if it results in a soggy bottom. And as we all know, there’s little worse than a soggy bottom.
Like all recipes, it’s stuck a little between a rock and a hard place in terms of assumptions of skill and experience. Treacle tart is pretty straightforward, so if you’ve made it before you don’t really need a recipe, but if you haven’t, then a bit of hand-holding might be nice. The recipe does say that more breadcrumbs should be added to the filling if it’s too dry, but it doesn’t say how dry or wet it should be. I guesstimated the texture at a stiff porridge level, and that seemed to work well enough.
And here we have the final result. As you can see, it’s a good thing that I’m not a weaver, as I can’t even seem to do a simple over/under pattern. As well as weaving, perhaps I shouldn’t become a knot-garden designer either.
As expected, I had added a little too much water to the pastry, as it didn’t have the “absolutely light as a feather flakiness” of a true expert. Not bad though, but more practice needed. It does look as though blind baking isn’t necessary, as the bottom wasn’t soggy at all. Which was nice. We had it with some home made clotted cream ice cream, which needed some work on the recipe – a bit to heavy on the eggs.
All in all, though, a pretty good result. Not nearly professional enough for Paul, but tasty, sinful, and very, very British.
The Great British Bake Off: How to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers is published by BBC Books, cover price £20.
Fuss Free Flavours received a review copy of the Bake off Book. All opinions are our own. We were not required to write a favourable review.