I actually made the pastry for my cream horns AGES ago, but it's been sitting in the fridge for a bit, as it struck me that cream horns were a touch on the impractical side when it comes to transporting to work or to the rowing club or wherever, so I've been putting off the actual baking part.
Anyway - week 8 was Patisserie week. I'm honestly not sure that there is a difference between pastry (see week 6) and patisserie, but I assume what they were looking for here was something a bit posher. Posh pastry!
This included the most ridiculous showstopper yet, the amazing religieuse a l'ancienne, a kind of tower of eclairs allegedly in the shape of a nun. Definitely recipe for tears and collapses.
The technical whatnot was a mokatine, which seemed to be a wee coffee cake with added complexity.
The signature bake, though, my own particular interest, was the cream horn - a deceptively simple bit of baking and one that, unexpectedly, I had never attempted before.
I did, however, turn out to have a set of metal cream horn cone mould things (leftover from this wee escapade), so I was all set!
Having watched the show, I opted for a rough puff pastry (courtesy, once again, of Pastry) using a mix of plain and strong flour for added non-falling-apart-ness.
I rolled it out thinly (possibly not thinly enough - I'll know better next time) when I did eventually get round to doing the baking part, cut it into strips, wound it round the cones, painted it with egg white and sugar and baked them till they were done.
I was quite boring and just filled them with a slightly vanillaey mix of whipped cream and mascarpone, with a bit of jam in the bottom for a bit of interest.
They were good - the pastry in particular was v pleasing - I might do them again.
Probably just as well, as there is still pastry in the fridge.
All this was followed by Week 9 - Chocolate Week.
Technical chocolate soufflés were the order of the day with a side of further tears and collapses (I've never made a chocolate soufflé either, so no judgement from me).
I failed to completely understand the showstopper on this episode - maybe I should watch it again and pay a bit more attention to the specification - it seemed to be a Chocolate Thing Including Biscuits. Anyway, it all looked very exciting and, honestly, who doesn't love a working chocolate well?
I was quite pleased to see that the signature bake was a chocolate tart, though a little more dismayed that it required chocolate pastry (and not *just* because there is a lump of "spare" shortcrust currently in residence in my fridge).
This wide brief was a bit of an issue. I could just have made a ganache type chocolate tart or maybe one in a baked custard style, but that seemed a bit dull in lots of ways.
I'm quite a fan of baked goods based on cheap chocolate bars - I've made some nice Twix themed tarts in the past and am partial to sticking caramel and chocolate in a sponge and describing it as a Rolo cake, so I went for something along those lines.
I surveyed my colleagues and Milky Ways came up reasonably often, which seemed as good a way to decide as any.
Having said that, research determined that American Milky Ways have a layer of caramel (though are still somehow distinct from a Mars Bar - not certain how that works) and a layer of caramel never made anything worse. Thus a plan was made.
I made a chocolate shortcrust with a mixture of lard and butter (mine was unsweetened - I thought the filling would be sugary enough). It turns out that the contestants weren't wrong when they made all that fuss about chocolate pastry - replacing a bit of flour in your shortcrust with cocoa powder really does make it a bit weird... Having said that, it was also pleasingly short when baked, so, y'know, silver linings and all that!
I blind baked it for a bit, then took out the baking beans, brushed it with egg white and baked it a bit longer till it was nice and crispy.
I made an experimental caramel with a bit of vanilla and mascarpone instead of cream (fridge supply limitations), cooled it a bit, poured it into my tart case and cooled it in the fridge.
The mascarpone made a nice sauce - slightly sharper than sometimes - though I'd make it a bit thicker next time, I think, for slightly better setting potential.
I made a weak ganache/cream thing from a bit of milk chocolate, cream and a smidge of butter.
If I'd been a bit cleverer about this, I'd have refrigerated it overnight and then whipped it, but that turns out to be difficult without a bit of foresight. I did chill it a bit, though.
I whisked some egg whites with sugar into a meringuey thing (again - next time, maybe Swiss or Italian meringue for extra stability, though I do like the fluffiness of the raw white).
I folded the whites into the chocolatey cream to make a kind of mousse and poured/spread it over the caramel layer to almost fill my tart and stuck it back in the fridge (whilst simultaneously sticking the leftover "overflow mousse" into my mouth).
I was going to make a beautiful shiny tempered chocolate topping for the whole thing, until I remembered that, whilst it would be very pretty (and would doubtless elicit gasps of awe at my beautiful tempering skills), combined with quite a soft filling, it would render my tart completely impossible to slice, so I opted for a buttery (and a teeny bit golden syrupy) ganache thing instead.
Oof - well done for reading if you've made it this far!
We ate both these things while watching the actual real GBBO final, which was pleasing.
Just one more bakealong to go, that means - iced buns for the win!