Before I start I have to say I’ve really struggled as how to write this post. I hope it comes across right!
It’s all over! The Great Irish Bake Off has just ended its first ever series……AND I WAS CROWNED THE WINNER! I honestly couldn’t, in some ways I still can’t, believe it. The 8 weeks flew in! I must say congratulations to all the contestants for even getting to the final 12 to begin with, but huge congratulations must go to Will and Maryanne-my fellow finalists. I’ll touch more on this at the end of the post.
As is tradition I’m blogging about the Technical challenge post episode and sadly this will be the last one. But what a good challenge it was to end the series! When being vox popped before the challenge all three finalists were asked what we thought it was going to be. I remember saying I thought it could be petit fours, but knew that it would be something to do with finesse and accuracy.
Petit fours, meaning ‘small oven’ in French, came about circa 19th century in France. The large ovens only had 2 settings at this time-on and off. The reached enormous temperatures which were used to cook boars, meat and bread etc. so when the oven temperature started to weaken the chefs were able to put it to use by baking small confections quickly. Served at the end of a meal, usually even after dessert, petit fours should be single bite sized as at this point of the meal the dinner guests are full to the gills! Now very popular worldwide pastry chefs are ever pushing the boundaries with these confections and can become rather well known for their innovations. Something I would love to achieve some day maybe!
The petit fours in our final technical challenge included vanilla fudge, salted caramel chocolate lollipops, classic sesame and poppy seed tuiles and fruit tartlets. Each one challenging enough in their own right, all four in one afternoon was going to be a big task. I didn’t manage to successfully make all four as well…my fudge did not set. I’m not making excuses; I burnt my first batch, started again and didn’t let it get to the right temperature due to my thermometer touching the bottom of the pan. Silly mistake but now I know!
So today I have all the recipes for all 4 from the show plus one extra. The reason for this is because I couldn’t get hold of chocolate shells in time. So instead I have made salted caramel chocolate truffles-almost a perfect substitute in my book! Without further ado here’s the recipes split into their respective ingredients and method.
50g white chocolate
1 tsp vanilla essence
How to do it:
- Line a tray with cling film and few times.
- Place the milk, sugar and butter into a pan over a medium-high heat. Stir to combine and melt evenly until it reaches 115°C/240°F.
- Remove from the heat, add the vanilla essence, the sultanas and the white chocolate and stir briskly.
- Pour into the prepared tray and place into the fridge to set. This will take about 1 hour or so. When ready turn out and use a clean chef’s knife to slice into even cubes.
Salted caramel chocolate truffles
1 tbsp liquid glucose
55g caster sugar
100ml whipping cream
pinch of sea salt
200g white chocolate
50g desiccated coconut, toasted
How to do it:
- Place the glucose into a pan over a medium heat until it boils at which point add the sugar. Stir to combine, it will go clumpy but don’t worry. Continue to cook until it turns an amber caramel colour.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cream and salt. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes then add the chocolate and butter and stir in until completely melted and smooth.
- Cool in the fridge for about 1 hour to firm up. Meanwhile toast the coconut over a high heat until coloured. Leave to cool completely.
- Use a spoon to scoop out small amounts of the chocolate mix and roll into a ball with your hands then roll in the coconut to coat.
Classic Sesame seed & Poppy seed Tuille
100g Sesame Seeds
50g poppy seeds
150g icing sugar
50g plain flour
40g orange juice
100g melted butter
* This recipe will yield quite a few biscuits so maybe consider halfing the stated quantities.
How to do it:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Mix all the ingredients together with a whisk and chill in the fridge to firm up. This makes the next step easier
3. Use a spoon to weigh out 6g portions of the mix and roll into balls with your hands. Place on the tray and pat down each one with a wet finger.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes when the balls will have spread out and the edges will start to have coloured a little.
5. Remove from the oven keep on the tray for 1 minute. Slide a palette knife under each one and before they cool fully and mould them over a wooden spoon or over a rolling pin.
Leave to set for 30 seconds-1 minute.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
80g icing sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1-2 tbsp milk
100g Bitter Orange Puree**
2 Egg Yolks
150g Caster Sugar
75g Butter (diced)
Fresh fruits to garnish
2 tbsp Apricot jam
2cm fluted tart tins or a non-stick muffin tray.
**If unavailable blend together 1 full orange (skin included) with some orange juice until you have a thick but smooth puree. Pass through a sieve before using.
How to do it:
- Place the butter, sugar and orange puree in a saucepan and heat very gently until the butter has melted and sugar isn’t grainy.
- In a separate bowl put the eggs and egg yolk into a bowl and whip thoroughly until thick and paler.
- Add a small amount of the orange and sugar mixture to the eggs to temper and then add all the egg mixture into the saucepan. Heat very slowly stirring all the time until it has thickened (8-10 mins) and coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat and pass through a sieve then chill.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry :
- Place the flour, butter and sugar into a bowl and rub well together until the mix has the consistency of breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and the milk to the dry ingredients, mixing it in well. You may not need all the milk, only enough to bring it together. Gently work the mixture until it comes together roughly then place onto a worktop dusted with flour.
- Wrap the pastry in cling film and place it in the fridge to chill.
The longer you leave it to chill, the easier it’ll be to work with.
- Grease the small tartlet moulds and when it’s ready, roll out the pastry and the line the moulds. Dock the pastry by piercing it with a fork all over then chill for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C /160°C fan for 10-12 minutes or until dry to the touch and slightly golden at the edges.
Cool the tarts for 20 minutes.
- When everything is cooled fill the tartlets with the cooled orange curd.
Top with the fruit.
Place 2 tbsp of apricot jam into a pan with a splash of water and heat until melted and runny. Brush over the fruit.
160g salted butter
2.5g sea salt
5 white chocolate shells
100g white chocolate
How to do it:
Salted caramel sauce:
- Heat the glucose over medium high-heat in a heavy saucepan. When it starts to melt, start whisking in the sugar which will clump up, but keep whisking as it will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.
- Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber colour. Make sure you watch the pan very closely as this is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 175°C/350°F on a thermometer. Carefully add the butter and stir until melted.
- Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stir until cream smooth then add the fleu de sel (salt). Leave to cool.
- Melt a little of the white chocolate – this can be done over a plastic bowl in a saucepan of boiling water, or slowly in the microwave. Meanwhile toast the coconut, then leave to cool as well.
- Fill the chocolate shells ¾ of the way with the cooled caramel. Top with some melted white chocolate and insert the lollipop sticks. Place in the fridge to cool and firm up.
- When the lollipops have set, dip the entire ball in the remainder of the melted white chocolate. Shake off any excess then place into the toasted coconut, wither to coat fully or just at the top-you decide. Return to fridge to set.
- To finish decorate the ball with random lines of piped white chocolate.
There you go then 5 solid recipes for you to try out, full of variety. My personal favourite is the salted caramel lollipops, they’ve got so much flavor and textures going on. The Tuille biscuits are also amazing. In fact they’re all exceptional!
Just before I wrap this post up I must touch on the final. This week was by far my favourite one! The challenges were properly challenging but most importantly (this one’s for the bakers) good fun. When we received the brief for the final I knew immediately that I was going to construct something out of gingerbread as I love working with it and always enjoy constructing things. That’s my Dad’s influence on me.
But I knew that gingerbread alone, no matter how impressive the construction, wouldn’t be enough for the final. I tried to include as many recipes and show as many skills as I could to the judges so I included cakes, crumbles, tuiles and my decorating skills. Speaking of gingerbread I’m currently organizing a gingerbread house competition at Christmas in aid of charity at Victoria Square so I shall keep you posted!
I must also say I honestly thought on the day that Will had it. His lighthouse was incredible and also showed off many other skills and techniques. That’s not to say that Maryanne wasn’t a contender-first place in the technical and then producing that cake-she easily could have taken home the title too. Winning does not in any way mean that I am Ireland’s best amateur baker-I am the first to admit that there are many other better home bakers out there than me. Out of the hundreds who applied the best got through and all it means was I was the winner from this group. I hope that next year we see some more fantastic baking talent! If you’re thinking of applying I say do it, best experience I’ve had to date!
So thank you all for the support I’ve received over these last few months and for reading my blog. No matter what the future holds for me I mean to continue posting up recipes from my weekly baking repertoire.
Thank you so much!,
Stephen (Great Irish Bake off champion 2013 :P) x
- Salmon and mustard tart with a Passion fruit and raspberry mousse: Not quite the technical challenge from The Great Irish Bake Off Semi-Final (bakersdiet.wordpress.com)
- Mille-Feuille: Technical Challenge 6 on The Great Irish Bake Off (bakersdiet.wordpress.com)
- Genoise Sponge: technical challenge on the Great Irish Bake Off (bakersdiet.wordpress.com)
- Tear and Share bread: Technical challenge 3 on The Great Irish Bake Off (bakersdiet.wordpress.com)
- The Great International Bake Off (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Great British Bake Off, episode three, review (telegraph.co.uk)