Having bought a copy of the book linked to the current series, ‘How to Turn Everyday Bakes into Showstoppers’, I have been having a go at some of the challenges and will add to this page as I go along (regardless of my success level!).
Paul Hollywood’s 8 strand plaited loaf
I didn’t find this a difficult challenge – the plaiting just needed a bit of concentration. If I did it again I would allow more space on the work surface and make sure I rolled the 8 strands as long as possible. I also need a bigger baking tray as the ends of the loaf were a little restrained! It tasted lovely and had the Golfer’s approval.
These were very time-consuming to make and the main problem was trying to spread the butter icing over the sides of the cakes because of the crumbs on the cut surfaces. I wonder if it would help the cakes were frozen for a short time before the icing was applied? Otherwise marzipan on all but the bottom would give a lovely smooth surface for the final icing, but would be more expensive to make (although yummier to eat). The recipe says ‘fondant icing sugar’ for the final icing, but I haven’t come across that – does it have glycerine in it? On the follow-up programme Mary Berry actually used a block of fondant icing which she watered down. I ran out of icing sugar part way through and did the pink icing in two batches; some of the fancies were dipped and some had the icing poured over them, but both methods were vaery wasteful of icing. The end result tasted lovely, though, and they didn’t look TOO amateurish unless you were going to highly critical! They met with approval from all tasters anyway.
Paul Hollywood’s Hand-Raised Pies
These contain chicken, smoked bacon and dried apricots, but I realised after I had made the pastry that I didn’t have enough apricots so made up the quantity with prunes. This affected the appearance but didn’t detract from the taste. I made 4 smaller pies rather than two big ones so I could use jam jars to mould the pastry. I eased them off the jars without too much difficulty but must have left a few cracks as a lot of the gelatine mixture ran out. I’m sure the moulding process would be easier with pie dollies that are smooth and oily with years of use! I have made hot water crust pastry a number of times before and have two 5″ pie tins which are ideal for these and still have the hand-made look, so when I make this recipe again I shall probably use those. It was a good combination of flavours and there is something pleasantly different about this sort of pastry when cold – the pies certainly went down well with Younger Daughter and the Golfer.