Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Umbrella Collective: The Great Blogger Bake Off

I think that's possibly the longest post title I've ever used. I'm often tempted to put half a song in that box, but then realise that that would be a stupid thing to do and stop.

So yes. It's Tuesday again (why do I feel the need to point out what day of the week it is at the start of my blog posts? You know, it's Tuesday for you too) which means that it's Umbrella Collective time!

After last week's charity shop challenge where I felt a little out of my comfort zone, I was pleased to be back on my home turf this week. Amy mentioned in her post last week that she was keen to do a foodie post- and being a bit of a foodie/ bit of a fattie, I was all over it like a rash. Fortunately, Rhiannon and Laura were keen too, and we decided that a Great British Bake Off style post would be best. While it would have been fab to do a "technical bake" challenge, where we all made the same recipe, I think we all felt that could have been less interesting to read- so we decided to go along the "signature bake" route.

Our challenge? Bake any item, and include berries. Simples!!

Yes, it's simple. But I have a confession- I sort of cheated. But before you condemn me, give me a minute to explain myself, because I didn't really cheat. I bent the rules.

I've baked a lot of cake recently, and I just didn't feel like baking more cake to take to work and be mostly eaten by the few people in my office who really wind me up- so that was kind of out of the question. I thought of making cranberry, white chocolate and macadamia cookies- but again, I just didn't feel like it.

What I did want to make, was this:

Tarte aux baies. 

Otherwise known as a berry tart, made with sweet shortcrust pastry, crème pâtissière, and berries- and yes, the entire lot was homemade. No cheating with shop bought pastry for me!! But before you start, be warned- sweet shortcrust is a bit of a faff and an absolute bastard to work with. Every time I make it I remember this, but never before I start. One day I'll learn. That said- totally worth it.

And this is how you do it. Really sorry for the lack of pictures, for some reason they didn't want to go onto my computer!!

You will need: 
A 23cm loose-bottomed flan tin; a few bowls; an oven; baking beans or uncooked rice; a saucepan; an electric whisk or guns of steel

Sweet Shortcrust:
110g Butter (only slightly softened- it should still be cold)
225g Plain flour
80g Caster sugar 
1 large egg

In a bowl, rub your butter into your flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Then stir in your sugar and your egg- I actually find it easiest to do this with a knife (this also stops your butter melting). It'll start to clump together, and when it does this, get your hands in to squash it gently and quickly into something slightly resembling a ball. Wrap it really well in cling film, pop it into the fridge, and go and watch TV for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, get your pastry out of the fridge, and roll it out (a wine bottle works as a good substitute if you don't have a rolling pin) until it's around 5mm thick and bigger all around than your pastry tin. Make sure you flour the surface before you start, and turn the pastry regularly while you're rolling or it'll get stuck to the surface. When it's big enough, get your flan dish really close, roll your pastry up a bit over your rolling pin, and lay it gently into your tin. Press it in around the edges, trim the excess (do not throw it away- wrap it in clingfilm and put it back in the fridge), prick the bottom, and put it back in the fridge for another half hour at the very least. Generally speaking, I hate leaving things to rest but this is SO important here- if you don't, the butter will melt as soon as it goes into the oven and your pastry will collapse. Not good. I actually left mine for about an hour and a half because I fell asleep, and that won't hurt it. Preheat your oven to 170C.

This is what I mean by rolling your pastry up over your pin- it really helps move the stuff.
When it has rested, line your pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake like this for 12 minutes, then take it out and remove the paper and beans. Now- at this point, you may notice that some of your pastry "walls" have collapsed. This is what your excess was for- use it to patch any holes and get it all back in the oven for another 15 minutes until it's all golden. Take it out and leave it to cool completely.

Crème Pâtissière
500ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 Egg yolks
200g Caster Sugar
20g Cornflour
20g Plain flour
150ml Double cream

In a big-ish saucepan, gently bring your milk and vanilla to the boil- don't let it boil over, it makes such a mess. Whisk everything else except the double cream in a bowl- it'll be a very thick paste, and if it's a bit too dry to mix properly, add 1tbsp of the warm milk to your bowl and whisk again. Once the milk has boiled, add four tablespoons of it to the bowl of eggs, whisk until it's well combined, and then pour all of this back into your saucepan with the milk. Bring back to the boil, stirring constantly until it thickens- this is basically custard, and that's the thickness you're looking for. When it's thick, pour it into a baking tray and cover it immediately with cling film, and leave it to cool until it is stone cold. 

When it's cold, pop it back into a bowl and beat it until it's all smooth and lump free again- nobody likes a lumpy crème pât. Whip your cream to soft peaks, then fold through the cold custard. Pour this lot into your cooled pastry case, and pop into the fridge until you're ready to serve (though I wouldn't leave it for more than a couple of hours).

This is what your finished  creme patissiere should look like
When you're ready to serve, take it out of the fridge and cover in lovely berries- I tried to make mine look artistic and wished I'd just piled silly amounts of berries on- it can take it. It would also be fantastic with peaches or mango and raspberry, I think.

And look! Not a soggy bottom in sight.

So there you have it! My bake with berries. Yes, I cheated a little in that I didn't actually bake the berries, but come on- surely I'm forgiven for something as delicious as this!? If not, I'll make cranberry, macadamia and white chocolate cookies in the week.

Make sure you check out AmyRhiannon and Laura's efforts too!


  1. Argh I really need to buy a pie tin, I've been wanting to make something like this a lot recently! Yours looks delicious, I'm very impressed! xxx

    1. You must- so worth it! This one is from Lakeland and is SO good- things don't stick at all!! Aw, thanks lovely! xx

  2. you are a chef! I could never manage to bake this haha.

    1. Thank you!! Oh I'm sure you could- it's a bit fiddly, but not too difficult really! :) xx

  3. You made your own pasty. I mean, what? I made flapjacks. WOW.

    1. I like making pastry :) And I have to say- I'm rubbish at flapack!!! xx

  4. My belly really did just rumble. xx

  5. Making your own pastry! WHAT?! I have never even attempted that, I do love these desserts though, remind me so much of french desserts x

    1. You must- pastry really isn't too tricky!! Me too- I love French desserts, definitely why I like this so much! xx

  6. Alice this looks INCREDIBLE!!! I want to eat it straight off the fork right now!!! Hehe in your last photo I read the caption as "saggy" not "soggy" hehe. Yummy. xx

    1. Thanks so much Meg!! I was so tempted to just dig into the whole thing, but had to be restrained and cut myself a slice. Haha saggy bottom! Brilliant. xx

  7. I love making berry tarts. SO SO GOOD. I'm going to try to make them all the time this summer!

    1. They're such a fantastic summer dessert, aren't they- so fresh!! xx

  8. Oh my gosh, the whole lot of you are so flippin impressive, this looks amazing!!! So, so good.

    Kate x
    Just Pirouette and Carry On...

    1. Thanks, the other ladies did brilliantly didn't they?! xx

  9. Replies
    1. Thank you!! It tasted pretty awesome too... xx

  10. Replies
    1. Aw thanks lovely! Definitely going to be making it again :) xx


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