Bake Off Technical; Tudor Week – Jumbles

Sorry I haven’t been up to date with my technical write ups! It’s been a rollercoaster couple of weeks, as my precious Vauxhall Nova failed its MOT and along with other issues in life (those who follow me on Facebook will probably know about my mental health…anyway, enough of that). I have baked all bar the Final as of today (October 30) I just haven’t had the time or motivation lately to write them up!

This year for the quarter finals, it was the newly-introduced Tudor Week, and the technical this time (nothing could be worse than the painful marjolaine!!)  was something called ‘jumbles’, a rubbed-in biscuit apparent popular in the period. Flavoured with a medieval blend of aniseed, mace and caraway, the jumbles were baked in elaborate celtic knot designs.

Recipe issuer was Paul Hollywood (groan), and he specified that the biscuits were to be half double-knots, and half triquetra knots. WHAT. Just looking at the other bakers’ attempts made my eyes water. How can you tie biscuit dough into such an elaborate knot?! (Google ‘triquetra’ or ‘trinity knot’ to see what I mean for those who didn’t watch!)

My first problem was that I couldn’t procure aniseeds. Waitrose didn’t stock them and neither did ASDA. As the recipe only asked for half a teaspoon, I decided to just substitute for fennel seeds, which I did have in already. They offered a similar flavour, albeit slightly more muted.

When it came to actually making the recipe, I came armed with a WikiHow tutorial on tying a trinity knot and my stand mixer (well gadgets make life easier!) and it was easy enough to mix up a biscuit dough. It made a fairly sticky dough, so I liberally dusted the surface with flour whilst it had some time to chill in the fridge – you had to make 8 balls of dough, and weigh each dough ball so they were exactly the same. The trinity knots were to be slightly bigger balls.

The double-knots were a pain enough to tie – I had my tape measure out so the dough strips were the correct size, but it still broke upon knotting so I just lashed them up a little to ensure some uniformity.

Double knots. Or Knot. Ha. Life is too short for this.

Now it was time to tie the triquetras. Oh dear. Biscuit dough is not the same as ribbon. The first one was a mess. I decided life was too freaking short, and just formed the dough into the three ‘petals’ and then placed the rings on top. They’ll weld upon baking and nobody will know the difference!  I brushed the raw biscuits with beaten egg and sprinkled caster sugar on top.

These were the ‘tied’ triquetras. Mess.
And these were the cheats ones…laid out into the shape as opposed to tied. I thought they looked far superior.

The double knots needed 5 more minutes because they were thicker, but on the whole, this was a fairly painless technical. Yeah, I took a short cut with the trinity knots, but I had social media snaps to take and the ones laid out into the shape instead of being knotted looked infinitely better, as the photo shows.

But they were meant to be eaten as well as look ornate (ish), so verdict on the flavour. Maybe it was my smokers’ tastebuds, but I found them midly bland. They had the correct texture of crisp outside and fluffy interior, more scone-like than crunchy traditional biscuits, which was what Mary and Paul were expecting. Mine were fairly pale when baked, but I don’t think that detracted too much.

They are somewhat hefty. One is enough with a brew. The triquetras were better to eat, the double-knots were too bland and heavy for my taste. 

Now the important question: Would I make again?

Yes and no. The triquetras do look very, very attractive and would look nice displayed in a bakery window. So I plan on using this recipe as a bassline and fusing it with a Dutch traditional winter bake that Waitrose have put on their shelves for their 2016 Christmas range, speculaas.

Speculaas are a spiced soft biscuit, filled with almond paste , often moulded in shapes (windmills are a popular design) and eaten at Christmas time. I pondered this after a London-based speculaas spice blend seller contacted me on Twitter when I gushed about how delicious they were. Not only am I giving an independent seller business, I’m also baking a traditional Dutch treat whilst creating my own spin.

If I replaced the caster sugar with dark brown, and the anise/mace/caraway with speculaas spice blend (I will namecheck the seller) that means I’ve changed 2 key elements of the recipe, making it my own. I will fill the ‘loops’ of the triquetras with almond paste (I make my own for the Christmas cake and when I occasionally bake Battenbergs) and place a blanched almond in the centre. Triquetra Speculaas anyone?

Off-piste, I know, but hey, it was spun off from this challenge! Watch this space for when I go about testing this theory out. If they’re a success, then I shall post the recipe!

Until then, you can hear about my exploits with the semi-final technical, the savarin!


T x


Bovrocado Toast With Poached Egg

This is scarcely a recipe but I felt like I had to post it, partly because this meeting of old British classic and modern uber-trendy ingredient actually makes for a killer combination. Trust me.


The intensely salty, beefy Bovril provides a solid underpinning to the cool mashed avocado, spiked with fresh ginger and chilli with the zing of lime (essentially the method from Simply Nigella sans the fresh dill and that was only because I didn’t have any in the house – if you have dill, please use it in this!), and the poached egg is the finishing touch to make it a light meal for one. Any bread will do, I’m more than happy to use plastic white but I’m sure some good sourdough will be even better.

And why else am I posting this? Simple – because I want to get under the skin of the professionally-permanently-outraged who got SO riled up about Nigella Lawson sharing her take on the ubiquitous avocado toast last year. Seriously…if a cooking show angers you because the recipes have simplicity, it may be time to change the channel and re-evaluate your life. So come at me, Twitter! Hit me with your best trolling! I’ve even given it a stupid portmanteau name to really make the hackles on your neck stand on end.

Serves 1 for a light breakfast, lunch or supper.

Bovrocado Toast With Poached Egg


1 ripe avocado

2 slices bread of your choice – even plastic white is good here

Small piece ginger

1/4 tsp chilli flakes (to taste)

1-2 tsp lime juice

Pinch sea salt flakes (to taste)

A few squirts Bovril (to taste)

1 egg

Splash vinegar

Optional: Chilli oil, to drizzle on top


  1. Set a small pan of water on to boil.
  2. Peel avocado and remove pit. Scoop the bright jade flesh into a small bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Mix in the lime juice to prevent it browning and season with salt. Grate in ginger and add chilli. Stir to combine.
  3. Toast your bread.
  4. When bread is toasted, spread with bovril thinly. You don’t have to perfectly cover it, it is just there to add an intense saline underbelly to the sprightly-flavoured avocado.
  5. Spread the bright green avocado mash onto both slices of bread
  6. When water is boiling, add the vinegar and stir with a fork to create a whirlpool.
  7. Crack egg into a small dish and slide in the whirlpool and turn heat down to medium and poach until just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on one of the slices of avotoast.
  8. Drizzle with chilli oil and dive in.


Bake Off Technical; Dessert Week – Marjolaine

Ah. Dessert week.

As long as I’ve been following Bake Off (2013-), the technicals for this have always been something fiendishly complex, usually French and meringue based. Think Floating Islands or Spanische Wintertorte. And Mary Berry, the usual recipe issuer for dessert week, continued this theme this year.

French? Check.

Meringue? Check.

Hideously complicated and time consuming? CHECK.

This time, the remaining bakers were asked to make something known as a marjolaine, which from research, tells me is the doyenne of French dessert patisserie. It is an oblong, layered gateau but doesn’t have any sponge cake (though some recipes call for a single layer of whisked génoise), instead made up of meringue, chocolate ganache and buttercream flavoured with praline. Nut allergy sufferers, look away now.

Just reading the recipe on the BBC website made me question my own sanity and just what on EARTH I had let myself in for. Watching the bakers make it was challenging enough. But I am never one to back away from a challenge. The whole point of this scheme of baking EVERY technical was to push my own skills to the limit and see how competent a baker I actually am.

Never made a dacquoise before.

Never made caramel before, let alone praline.

Soft ball stage sugar? French butter cream?! Nope.

This was either going to be a triumph. Or a mess. I was thinking mess.

Firstly though, I was also trying to keep to a reasonable budget – I did not go out and buy 2 swiss roll tins, instead opting for my 2 faithful baking trays, which measured the same dimensions and were deep enough to cook the meringue in. My food processor had died a few months ago, and I wasn;t going to rush and buy a replacement just yet. I had a hand blender, cling film, a jug and a rolling pin. I could manage.  I also couldn’t get hold of slivered pistachios in time for the topping, instead I chose to buy shelled ones and chop them. Won’t be as violently jade to look at, but add enough contrast for visual impact. Cop out? Lazy? Maybe. But I’m a home cook and can count on one hand the amount of times I’d need a swiss roll tin. I don’t make them, or roulades.

Anyway, back to the 4 hours of hell (The bakers had 3…I tried to do it in 3 but it didn’t happen) on a Sunday afternoon in early October.

First step was blitz up hazelnuts and blanched almonds and roast. The hand blender in a jug did a reasonable job, but they weren’t, shall we say even. And also, I felt the oven didn’t roast them enough so I bunged them in a dry pan. And overdid them. Great. Screwed up the first step whilst trying to multitask (I was separating eggs into the Kenwood whilst the nuts toasted). Thankfully they were salvageable and I didn’t have to start again. Besides, I told myself, meringue is stupidly sweet anyway. A hint of bitterness might be desirable as I like some complexity in my sweet treats, not just one-note diabetic relentlessness. I’m not 10 years old anymore.

Nuts mixed with sugar (a 2kg bag of the stuff was bought for this just in case!) and cornflour and left aside, I started on the meringue. Fairly straightforward, whisk until stiff (I once tried to whip egg whites years ago when my hand whisk broke and the balloon whisk had gone walkies. A fork doesn’t do the same job. It was pain on another level and taught me a valuable lesson about planning and procrastination) peaks form, and then ass the sugar spoonful by spoonful until once more stiff and glossy. Hold over head to check for doneness. Nuts folded through, I took a sneaky taste of the raw meringue (which is actually up there with condensed milk as one of those things you shouldn’t eat but you do in clandestine rapaciousness) and there was no undesirable burnt bitterness detected. YES. I could hide my previous cock up. I spread the manilla-toned, nut-speckled mix onto the parchment-lined trays and set in the low oven to bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Perfect time to get on with the other stages.


Time to lose my caramel virginity. I’ve done caramel sauces with butter and cream before, but never the proper stuff with just sugar and water. I knew that leaving the pan even for a microsecond was a no-no, so off I went. I stood by the pan like a sentry, and my first observation was….man this takes forever. Slowly the syrup began to turn the palest of golds….then darker and darker….as soon as my partner’s stepdad, who was casually observing, said it ‘looked and smelled like caramel’ I whipped it off the head and bunged in my toasted almonds (done with shaky optimism whilst panwatching), spreading it on a sheet of parchment and sighing with relief that potential burnt sugar hot mess had been averted.

When it came to blitzing the praline, I decided to go for the primeval bag and rolling pin method and luckily it broke into uneven chunks fairly easily. But I knew I had to get the blender out once more, so yet more eye-watering sounds, pieces flying across the countertop followed. But I had a mostly fine powder with a few bigger chunks. But I was happy with that….would add texture.


Chocolate ganache? Easy peasy, I thought, but I made a fatal mistake here which was to bite me on the arse later on. The recipe called for 360g plain chocolate (I had a mix of cheap value plain stuff and 85% gourmet stuff), and I got so engrossed in the serene repeition of snapping dark brown squares into a bowl that I inadvertently threw in the entire 400g…and I wondered why the warmed cream didn’t melt it all and why there were a few chunks of partially melted chocolate sitting gloatingly within the shining pond of ganache. More on that later. Blissfully unaware of my second mess-up, I threw the ganache gaily into the fridge and moved onto the next stage, the daunting French buttercream.

8 egg yolks were required for this, so in addition to the leftovers from the dacquoise, I separated 2 more eggs and got to work. It was time to get scientific and look up how to test for the ‘soft ball’ stage as I don’t have a candy thermometer. Simple enough, just drop a small amount of hot sugar into a bowl of ice cold water and see what it forms – if it makes a soft ball, as the name suggests, then it’s ready. So yet more sugar and water in a pan on the heat, off I went, anxiously watching and willing myself ‘Don’t fuck it up’ (my subconscious had taken on the form of RuPaul today it seemed). After a good few tentative tests, I had what I thought was a soft ball forming in the water so I took it off the heat rapidly and got the mixer going on the yolks. I was instructed to drizzle the warm syrup slowly into the beating egg yolks until thick and completely cool. 5-10 minutes. For God’s sake.  When it looked and felt just that, it was time to add the eye-watering 350g of cubed, soft butter bit by bit, whisking all the while. Essentially I was making a very decadent, sweet mayonnaise or bearnaise, wasn’t I? Jesus wept. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH REGULAR BUTTERCREAM?! I raged internally. It is ten times easier to make, or is it too uncouth for this fine patisserie, Mary?! But eventually I had a bowl full of what looked to me like a cross between cake frosting and mayo, and it seemed to be enough to fill and coat the gateau. I gingerly folded in the crunchy, golden powdered praline and placed into a bowl to go in the fridge alongside the fucked-up (excuse my language but you need to get SOME idea of the stress I felt when assembling!) ganache.

I then got busy clearing up (I was adamant that clean-as-you-go would be imperative here and I was so glad I did!) and toasting flaked almonds as well as chopping more hazelnuts and pistachios somewhat haphazardly with my trusty mezzaluna (yes it is Nigella’s official cookware one FYI) to get ready for the grand assembly.

It was crunch time.

I got out a tape measure to mark where to cut the cooled meringue sheets and made a small indentation with my thumbnail. It was a little tight-rope-between-skyscrapers but I successfully managed to have 4 rectangles, albeit very fragile. And the only serving platter that would fit this monster of a gateau would be a chopping board. So I placed the first sheet of meringue and began to slather on about a quarter of the buttercream, using the nearby stepdad’s “builder’s eye” to check it was level.

First layer done.

Topped with another sheet of meringue, the next layer was ganache. WHY WAS IT SO HARD?! A quick microwave blast to loosen it slightly and I was just about managing to spread it. Good enough, I decided, and topped with the third sheet, before slathering on another rough quarter of the buttercream. It didn’t look like there would be enough to cover the cake….did I beat it enough? Was the sugar syrup not at the right stage? Who knew? Or was I being paranoid?

Final sheet placed atop, it was then time for the bit I hate when frosting cakes (a practice I do rarely because of this), the coating. Gingerly and shakily, I began to use a standard kitchen knife (I really should just buy an offset spatula or even a pallet knife..I’m such a culinary Scrooge) and just about managed to coat 3 of the 4 sides with this stuff I was already sick of the sight of. Sod it, I can slice off the messy-ass front for a ‘layers’ photo.

I slapped on handfuls of toasted flaked almonds much like a kid does with glitter and glue when making a nursery Christmas card, and managed to successfully coat the back and sides with them.

And it was then I realised my earlier cock up as the stiff ganache REFUSED to be piped, oozing through the stitching in my piping bag and all over my fingers. And then a chunk of excess unmelted chocolate jammed the nozzle. I had to run upstairs before I threw the wretched gateau at the wall. And it was time to go pick up my partner for work, the optimistic 3 hours extended by 45 minutes. In a blind stressed out rage, I heated the ganache in the microwave again and threw it in the fridge, veins throbbing in my temples. Everyone and everything was the devil incarnate. And I’d run out of cigarettes! Life was laughing at me and I HATE leaving jobs unfinished. Plus I’d also set myself the additional task of roasting a joint of beef once I’d done the gateau.

So once back home, my partner suggested try reheating the ganache (it had of course, solidified YET again) and just see what happens. So he took that job whilst I SEETHED, contemplating throwing the bloody unfinished thing in the bin and cursing Mary Berry’s name and the pointlessness of piping excessively. Ganache much softer, I dumped it in the piping bag and grudgingly set about finishing the now 4 plus hours of torture. Somewhat sloppily, a frame and 5 diagonal lines were piped, with a little help from a dessert spoon handle to join any gaps. Ridges weren’t that defined, but by this time I couldn’t have given two shits.

However, once the gaps were filled with contrasting shades of chopped hazelnuts and pistachios….the marjolaine was finished. And despite the obvious issues here and there visually, I thought, begrudgingly so (though everyone else at home, who of course had to be an audience, which I hate when taking on a cooking task I struggle with. thought it looked really good), didn’t look too bad, and even looked, dare I say it…impressive?

And as soon as it was finished, the fierce homicidal rage evaporated and relief swept through me. I had conquered the most challenging bake I had ever done, albeit with some mistakes. But sometimes “this will do” is enough. Life is too short sometimes.


But I can tell you that this vodka/cream soda with grenadine sunrise in my hand was MUCH needed.



There is no sadness in his eyes, just relief at finally making it through the wilderness.


As I write this up, I haven’t seen Tudor Week but I know the technical involves ornate biscuits. Nothing, I tell myself, nothing, can top this hideous nightmare. I’ll take anything.


But one thing I have taken from this experience, is that I want to try cooking meringue more. So this coming weekend, I will take on the 2013 dessert week technical, Iles Flottante (floating islands), which is poached meringue quenelles on a ‘sea’ of creme anglaise (vanilla custard). I may write it up as a special post as it sort-of fits the Bake Off technicals, just one from 3 years ago! And then, I will tackle the Tudor Week one!

See you next time!



Bake Off Technical; Botanical Week – Fresh Herb Fougasses

Firstly, let me apologise for the late posting for Pastry Week, I made it a fortnight ago, but just never got round to the write-up until this week. Obviously Dessert Week has now come and gone,  but THAT (ARGH) is an epic mess to come.

Rewind back to last week, when there was the newly-added ‘Botanical Week’, whereby the bakers had to make goods with flavours inspired by nature. Citrus meringue pies were the signature (have to say that was a bit of a copout by the producers), whilst the Showstopper was to be floral-inspired tiered cakes. The technical was an altogether different beast.

I groaned when I saw that it was to be a bread, meaning it was one of Paul’s. YAY. Or not. And as guessed by the preview, it was indeed a Fougasse, flavoured with herbs.

A fougasse is a French leavened flatbread, related to the more well-known Italian foccacia,hailing from the Provence region and usually flavoured with olives and anchovies (YES PLEASE), and slashed to resemble ears of wheat or a leaf. I was familiar with them, having seen them on sale alongside the pizzas in Waitrose.

I took a deep breath, and decided to get on with it without cursing CowellLite Hollywood’s name. Thankfully the recipe required no hand kneading, and you could do the dough entirely in a stand mixer. Thank God for that. It sounded easy enough, so armed with herbs, flour, yeast, olive oil and salt, off I went.

I ran the dough hook-armed Kenwood for the allotted 8 minutes and noted that the dough was fairly wet, but stretched out the bowl as the recipe told me. So far, so good. I placed it an oiled bowl and left in my top oven to rise for an hour at least. Upon my return, I saw the dough hadn’t risen a lot (maybe I’d left the bottom oven too warm) , but deciding to press on, I scattered semolina and flour over the worktop and split it into two balls, flattening them out on two baking trays lined with greaseproof paper.


The recipe stated you needed a pizza cutter to make the fougasse’s signature slashes – I don’t own one, as I don’t ever buy chilled pizzas (only choosing to have them delivered if I didn’t want to make one myself) and rather than keep buying utensils for these one recipes, I stuck to a sharp knife. However, although I managed to get 14 slashes on each dough oval, they took a good few goes with the knife and weren’t very open and emphasised. Undeterred, I placed them back in the top oven for 20 minutes for a second prove.


When it was time to bake, I removed the uncooked loaves and tried to open the holes a bit more, with only moderate success. I was then instructed to drizzle with olive oil and scatter with dried oregano, which I duly did. They then went into the oven for a 20 minute bake.

Perhaps I should have got some steam going in there as star baker Tom did for this, as although the loaves baked through in that time and got a decent golden colour, they still had very narrow holes. Oh well, they were cooked, sounded hollow and weren’t burned. Good enough for me. I peeled them off their parchment bases and placed on a cooling rack, brushing with olive oil whilst hot as instructed, before finishing off with a scattering of Maldon salt.

I floured them before baking. Some may say overdone. And where are the holes?

Hollywood would probably give them 4/10 for appearance but I don’t care. I wanted to see how they tasted as the savoury scent of sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano wafting through the house as they baked was mouth watering. Because it made 2 loaves, I saved one for our household and took the other into work.

Both went in a very short space of time. I myself was pretty taken with the crunchy, bready savouriness (though I had to admit the herb flavour wasn’t especially strong) and devoured a fairly large amount of each loaf – by the way, it made fantastic dipping components for soft boiled eggs when cut into small sticks.

I would have if left unsupervised. Salty, herb bread. HEAVEN.

Verdict. The first Hollywood technical I would make again. Only this time, I won’t bother with fresh herbs, instead going for the saline punch of chopped olives and anchovies as in the authentic Provencal version of the bread. Much more up my street. Not that this herbal take was a bad thing as the flavours were still sunny and Mediterranean. I liked how it was easy to knock up in the stand mixer, though perhaps a pizza cutter would be a better tool for the essential slashes. And perhaps bigger baking trays. But I’m sure I’d do just fine without, and if I changed the flavourings to olives and anchovies, plus topped them with cheese before baking, I have essentially created my own recipe. So watch this space.

Next time – prepare for tears and a nervous breakdown as I tackle the most hideous technical to date. Mary Berry’s marjolaine. How on EARTH…..but I intend on seeing this through to the final. I took this on as a test of my baking skills.

T x


Bake Off Technical; Pastry Week – Bakewell Tart

After the disaster that was the pointless lacy pancakes, I was relieved to see that Pastry Week’s technical was something manageable. Thankfully the hideousness of laminated dough (I can’t do it) was confined to Danish pastries for the signature challenge, whilst the showstopper was something else I would NEVER try, filo pastry. Eccentric barmy aunt Val was the one to leave, whilst my favourite (and it seems, many people’s least…I have no idea why. Probably because of her non-RP accent) Candice won star baker. But you all knew this anyway, so on to the important stuff.

Most of us Brits love a Bakewell tart, be it the real McCoy from the town in the Derbyshire Dales or the mass-produced small kind topped with fondant and a glacé cherry.  There is no actual evidence it originated in Bakewell, but it is a close relative of Bakewell pudding, which did come from the town. Anyway, I am a fan of them and have never made them before, the closest being Nigella Lawson’s raspberry Bakewell slices from her Kitchen book.

The recipe, thankfully, is by Mary Berry, who despite my not being a huge fan of, definitely prefer hers over the intolerable Paul Hollywood’s.  It seemed fairly straightforward, though she also asks for a thick glacé icing topping, feathered with pink. This caused some controversy (don’t you just love people’s ability on social media to get whipped up into a frenzy about food?) as of course, the traditional tart is uniced, merely garnished with flaked almonds atop the frangipane filling.

It called for a sweet shortcrust, raspberry jam (the same one as for the Viennese whirls) and of course the frangipane (a sponge made with ground almonds instead of flour, for those who don’t know what it is. An underrated confection in my book. I should make it more. Especially given my fondness for stone fruit which is of course from the same botanical family as the almond), as well as this aforementioned icing.

First problem I encountered was the tart tin. The bottom to my nonstick flan had gone walkies and, also, was possibly too big, being over the 23cm/9inches specified. So I had to plump for a china flan dish, which looked to be about that size (don’t ask me how I guessed but yeah, we’re going into X-rated territory). I had no qualms about serving the tart to my guinea pigs (work colleagues) out of the dish. Not taking any chances, I buttered and floured the thing and got on with it.

The jam turned out better than with the whirls, having timed it religiously and it was now cooling and setting patiently as I heaved out my Kenwood to mix up the pastry (sorry but gadgets win and plus you are meant to handle pastry as little as possible). Fairly easily done, no drama, and it was sent to the fridge to chill for half an hour.

No big sheets of jam this time.

After the waiting game, it was time to blind bake. I am well versed in this so this was no bother. Admittedly the pastry shrunk back a bit, but I was unfazed. As long as it sufficiently dried out, there should be none of the dreaded soggy bottom. It was baked for 15 minutes with the parchment and uncooked rice (I have a jar of much-used stuff especially for this purpose – too cheap to buy ceramic baking beans) and then another 5 with this paraphernalia off to dry it out.

Pastry was a bit of a pain to work with, hence the messy base. Personally I’d have gone with a basic plain shortcrust for this as the icing, jam and filling are sweet enough.

Case baked, cooled a little and spread with jam, it was time to get the mixer set up for the filling. Equal measures of sugar, butter and ground almonds plus 1 beaten egg and some almond essence.  Again, no drama and it was set into the reduced oven to cook. This is where the first problem arose….it needed a good extra 5 minutes over the maximum 35 cooking time as stated within the recipe. Once baked, it was left to cool and hopefully settle down into a flat surface.

Frangipane filling awaiting its pink and white anointment. As you can see, several skewer holes to check for ‘done-ness’. A little patchy colour-wise but that didn’t matter as the icing would hide those sins.

I perhaps got too eager and made up the icing in advance, and it had to be stirred a good few times to stop it setting, and it also may have been a bit on the thick side. However, it was just enough to cover the top of the tart, and when it got to the feathering (fine piping isn’t my forte and the lines were a touch messy) I had way too much pink icing left over. But the tart was finished.

However, the proof of the pudding IS in the eating, and it was devoured with gusto by my work colleagues. Can’t ask for more than that. Perhaps the base was a little thick at the edges if I was being hyper critical but apart from that, the china pie dish was a decent stand in, and serving the tart from the dish didn’t hurt – it cut nicely without breaking.

Verdict on this one: A good, solid recipe, though the feathered icing topping is cause for contention amongst purists. However, some find the plain unanointed variant of the Bakewell a touch dry, and I do love a Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewell – the satiny tooth-aching synthetic sweetness of the fondant (almond flavouring in that is desirable) is a good enough contrast. Like the Viennese whirls, this has been added to the ‘will bake again’ file.

Next time……I get to grips with Fresh Herb Fougasses..