Welcome to the fourth week of my GBBO Bake Along challenge!
In This Issue...
I was not very excited about this episode’s theme, dairy, nor the technical itself, the Maids of Honour pastry. Besides having the most British name ever for a dessert, Prue’s version combines lemon curd and cheese, which doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy. Also, why put cheese curds in a tart? Why not just use cream cheese?
Anyway, I don’t want to gripe too much. On the positive side: one less technical challenge to go, and I got to practice making rough puff pastry.
I was less familiar with the techniques in this challenge than the ones in Week 2 (fig rolls) and Week 3 (floury baps) so I was very focused on following instructions correctly. As a result, I didn’t take too many process photos for this bake, sorry!
Straining the cheese curds
Did anyone else think of Miss Muppett during this episode? So much talk of curds and whey. The fact that anyone can easily make cheese curds at home simply by adding vinegar to milk is pretty cool! But please watch your saucepan carefully, or you’ll end up like me and have the milk foam over because you weren’t attentive enough. Milk takes a while to start boiling, but once it does, you have to stir quickly to prevent it from boiling over.
Rolling rough puff pastry
I’ve always been apprehensive of pastries, because it seems so difficult to get right: the dough can’t be too dry or too wet; overdo the rolling and your pastry will be tough, or your butter will melt; not enough layers and you won’t achieve that flaky open crumb.
The rough puff for the Maids of Honour recipe calls for rubbing in chilled butter with your hands, and then grating frozen butter. I was pretty nervous doing here because I was scared my hands would soften the butter too much. But it ended up being easier than I thought! Actually, the dough was very fun to mix and the results were fantastic.
I will probably make all pastry dough this way (rubbing in butter by hand) instead of using a food processor. I used to think that food processors made the job easier, but if you count the time it takes to clean, it really doesn’t save you much effort at all. And it’s much easier to over-mix your dough in a food processor. Hands are the way to go!
At first, I thought I had added too much water, about 7 tbsp, but as I worked, the extra flour I dusted helped absorb some of it. In fact, I think if I’d added any less water, the final dough would’ve been way too dry. So don’t worry if your dough looks a little wetter than it should.
Making lemon curd
The lemon curd was super easy. Cooking it over a heated water bath reminded me of the process for making genoise sponge for the first technical challenge, Angel Slices. I left out the lemon zest, since I didn’t have any on hand.
Blind baking the pastry crust
Beans are typically used to weigh down the crust for a blind bake, to prevent it from puffing up. However, dry beans, once baked, are useless for cooking because they’ll stay hard and chalky, not fun to bite into. So I used rice instead, which you can take out and cook as usual after the bake. Also, the butter from the pastry will give them a nice rich fragrance!
Anyway, my oven failed me as usual, and the crusts for the Maids of Honour stayed a pasty white even after baking the required 20 minutes, and then some. I ended up blind baking them for closer to 30 minutes. However, from all the GBBO I’ve watched, I knew that over-baking will lead to a dry crust. So I took them out at that point, even though they still looked anemic, since there was another 10 minutes of baking coming up after I added the filling.
Baking the lemon curd and cheese filling
To be honest, I don’t know how the contestants got the tops of the Maids of Honour tartlets to be so smooth. I followed the instructions for the filling pretty precisely, and it seemed smooth enough, but the consistency was a lot thicker and firmer than it should’ve been. As a result they looked a bit lumpy when I
poured scooped them into the muffin trays.
You won’t have issues with overflowing tarts or anything like that; the texture doesn’t change much in the oven. Again, I baked for longer than the recipe called for, about 15 minutes, just in case.
Icing sugar stencil
If you haven’t noticed, I did not bother with the Tudor rose stencil design. First of all, I don’t have a utility knife, and I’m not trying to give myself arthritis by cutting out all those tiny little holes with a pair of scissors. Second, because my filling was so lumpy (and their time in the oven didn’t change that), it would be hard to dust them evenly anyway.
I was about to leave the tops of the tartlets plain, with no sugar dusting whatsoever, but then I figured that the stencil is one of the distinguishing marks of these Maids of Honour. Since that was a part of the challenge, I should at least try. I made a very simple spiral design for the stencil. It ended up looking more like a comma, but whatever.
I’m not very impressed with the taste of this recipe, I have to say. They were okay when they were still hot, but I had a couple for breakfast the next day and there was a smell of raw egg! Pretty gross, I have to say. However, the pastry was delicious. Flaky, layered, but not too dry.
What to do with leftover rough puff pastry?
There was a little bit of pastry dough left, so I mixed some cinnamon and sugar and baked it with the dough into some kind of… pastry cinnamon bun.
Roll the dough out into a thin layer, sprinkle some ground cinnamon and sugar (optional) on top, rub it evenly over the sheet, and roll it up. Bake at 400 °F for approx 25 minutes.
Honestly, I think I enjoyed eating this more than the Maids of Honour tarts!
Stay tuned for Week 5 (The Roaring Twenties)!
Tune in next week to see me tackle my next Bake Off challenge, beignet souffles with sabayon.