And so the Great British Bake Off has come to an end for another year. It feels like the end of an era as next year it will move to BBC 1 and what was once the guilty secret of us “floury types” will be firmly mainstream. I just hope it doesn’t end up being the X factor with caster sugar and yeast…
In the meantime I’ve got round to having a go at a recipe from this year’s Bake Off book. I’m a big fan of these – my favourite shortbread recipe comes from the Showstoppers edition – and having seen this recipe demonstrated on the Masterclasses last week I was keen to give it a go.
The Apricot Pie is a great store cupboard pie – flour, butter, sugar, marzipan and tinned apricot halves. Make the pastry and line your dish. I chilled it for a bit at this stage to try and reduce shrinkage. You then grate marzipan over the base. Add the apricots, cover with a pastry lid and bake. The only change I made was to add less marzipan. LSH isn’t a fan and the amount suggested nearly filled the tin on its own! Even for me that seemed like a bit too much. I used just over half the amount and that seemed ample. I also ended up adding some extra chopped apricot to fill some of the gaps between the halves.
The finished result was lovely and so easy to make. Even the marzipan phobic LSH was keen on it and it tasted just as good cold the next day.
With the ending of summer comes the return of the Great British Bake Off with in all its floury, pastel shaded loveliness. But it’s no longer the only Bake Off kid on the block with the US and Australia both having their own versions. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet I’ve been able to tide myself over waiting for our UK version to start by following the Great Australian Bake Off.
And it’s been brilliant! Instead of Paul Hollywood they have the Guardian columnist Dan Lepard (one of my baking icons) and Mary Berry has been replaced by Kerry Vincent, wedding cake designer extraordinaire. They even have two hosts with comedian Shane Jacobson and tv cook Anna Gare in the Mel and Sue roles. It’s still set in a giant marquee furnished with pastel workstations and envy inducing stand mixers. And it even has its own version of the infamous squirrel with lots of kangaroo shots scattered throughout the show.
I have been totally addicted and was even persuaded to bake the Dukkah and Macademia bread baked by Nancy in their Bread episode. It was Dan’s comments about being able to smell the Dukkah before even eating it that sent me scurrying to the GABO website to print off the recipe. A bread that fragrant had to be tried and, more importantly, eaten.
Dukkah means “to pound” and is Egyptian in origin. It is a mix of nuts, seeds and spices that are roasted and ground into a powder. It is traditionally served with bread and oil but in this recipe the oil and Dukkah are combined with the flour and yeast to form the dough. I couldn’t find Macademia nut oil so I used a mix of toasted sesame oil and olive oil instead.
More of a challenge was the plaiting. The last thing I plaited was my hair when a small child and this was many years ago. So it took me a couple of goes to get the plait to look attractive. The loaf is formed from two plaits which are laid side by side before proofing. Nancy drew an attractive design into hers – my artistic abilities are distinctly lacking so I stuck with just glazing with egg and scattering with nigella seeds.
The result was a beautiful fragrant bread to be proud of – even for a novice plaiter like me. The coriander is the strongest smell and flavour but it’s not overpowering. Instead it complements the rest of the flavours producing a bread that will take pride of place on my table any time. Check out the Great Australian Bake Off website for more recipes including a 4 hour(!) croissant ideal for the impatient baker.