Right after I published my last post which included a line about it not being a good day to bake, I changed my mind. We had opened the windows to let the fresh air circulate. Then my husband commented that it would be a good day to bake, since none of our neighbors would be home if the smoke alarm went off. So, I blew my nose, drank some orange juice, washed my hands, and went to work.
This past week, we found a link to The Great British Bake Off on my high school art teacher’s Facebook page. If you aren’t clued in to it, PBS has a series of shows where amateur / home bakers compete. In each episode the bakers first show their creativity, then their technical competence. The third challenge is a combination of the two. At the end of the episode one or two contestants are eliminated; everyone hugs the loser(s) and tells them they are sorry to see them go.
We’ve only seen the first series, but so far I’ve enjoyed it. The goal is to be the U.K.’s best, but all of the contestants gain something from the experience. They learn humility as well as gain confidence. The criticism and the compliments that Paul Hollywood(Master Baker) and Mary Berry(Cookery Book Writer) give the bakers something to take home after the competition.
To fill some of the time, the producers give a little background on each of the bakers. Often the camera lighting is muted and you get the idea that you are supposed to have a warm fuzzy feeling about relaxing in the kitchen making food for the people you love. In contrast, the competitors find themselves fighting panic in the race against the clock in front of the television cameras. These segments remind me that you can find satisfaction in “just” baking at home. Although the title “Pastry Chef” may get you an “Oo-la-la” it usually comes with a burden of stress. Some of the contestants may pursue a baking career in the future, but others will return to home, a different job, and food preparation as a hobby.
Of course, you can’t watch a food show and not walk away without being hungry. Today, we were hungry for the Cornish pasties that featured as one of the technical challenges. While putting them together this afternoon, I realized that pasties are really big, baked empanadas.
This time around I followed the recipe (as far as I had the ingredients; I had to substitute all butter for the suet/vegetable shortening, and carrots for the swede.). There isn’t much to the seasoning—salt and pepper. The meat and the onion take care of the rest. However, if you prefer something more moist, my husband recommends using the Chipotle red sauce as a condiment.
Next time I might experiment with cutting down the size. The four, giant pasties take 45 minutes to bake after the time put into preparing the dough and filling. Maybe if you chop the meat and vegetables more finely and divide the dough into eight the bake could be sped up. For now, we’ll share.