Wednesday, 19 October 2016
GBBO range of gifts and Maids of Honour
Tonight is the GBBO's semi-final. I think by now it's clear who's going to win. If you're a GBBO fan, there is a new range of Great British Bake Off gifts launched in Debenhams.
This range, launching exclusively in the first few weeks at Debenhams, includes cake tins and stands, timers, an assortment of mugs, fridge magnets, a tea-for-one set and a Star Baker apron, with more items to be added towards Christmas.
A good cake tin is a must for any baker. A new personalised cake tin from the new range comes with a whiteboard marker and eraser. Write whatever you want to label the tin - very useful for taking a tin to potluck or school fayre. It is a spacious container, for a good sized cake or a lot of biscuits.
To test my new tin, I decided to follow in the footsteps of last week's challenge.
Last week's GBBO was Tudor-themed, and oh boy, what a creative chaos it was. I did think Jane was robbed of the Star Baker title, as her showstopper looked the part the most. I'm afraid Candice's peacock looked very unappetising, albeit colourful.
Years ago I have hosted a Tudor-themed birthday party for my friends. Here I am, in a Tudor dress, with our friend Cecilia looking ever so dashing as Sir Walter Raleigh.
At that time the Internet was not as extensive, but I did manage to find some articles on the Tudor cuisine, and I also found a book in the library. I remember I baked a cake with dried marigold petals, but I don't have that recipe any longer, and as much as I searched, I couldn't find exactly the same recipe.
A quick google for Tudor recipes suggested baking Maids of Honour - curd cheese pastries, much appreciated by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. According to the legend, the king went to visit Anne Boleyn in her rooms, and saw her scoffing those pastries. He loved them so much that he confiscated the recipe and kept it in the iron box to be used only for the Royal Consumption only. That's love for you.
There are quite a few recipes around, but that's where the confusion begins.
Some use puff pastry, some use shortcrust pastry. Some bakers add a raspberry jam, the others - quince jam, then there's Delia with a lemon curd.
You can find a recipe for Maids of Honour as made by Richmond House, who claim its roots back to the original recipe. One of the ingredients they have is a mashed potato. Not quite sure about its authenticity then, as potatoes were introduced to Great Britain by Sir Francis Raleigh, so that would be already after Henry VIII.
Then there's the food historian and chef Clarissa Dickson Wright's recipe - her Maids of Honour are made with ground almonds and quince jelly, and not a spoonful of curd cheese in sight.
Having read all the available recipes thoroughly, I decided to adapt several of them.
First of all - oh horror - I used a ready-made puff pastry. Mary Berry would need her smelling salts. But, but, but... good old Delia, thanks God for Delia, uses a block of fresh puff pastry in her Richmond Maids of Honour recipe.
I didn't make my own curd either, a jar of a supermarket own lemon curd worked perfectly well.
I decided to make half a batch with lemon curd, and half - with raspberry jam.
Maids of Honour
1 pack of puff pastry ready rolled (320g)
150g curd cheese
40g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg yolk
20g ground almonds
2tbsp lemon curd
2tbsp raspberry jam
You will need to take the pastry out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before working with it. Unroll the pastry, and using a cookie cutter, cut out 24 mini rounds. You might need to re-roll the scraps of dough to cut out more circles.
Bake in two batches, if using a 12-piece cupcake tin.
Slightly butter the tin before putting the pastry circles inside, and slightly press in to get a cup-shape.
Add a bit of curd cheese on each pastry and spread it evenly.
In a medium mixing bowl beat together the curd cheese with sugar, egg, egg yolk and lemon zest. Add the ground almonds and mix well. Use half of the mix to fill in each pastry, about 1 heaped tsp each.
Bake in the oven preheated to 200c for about 20 minutes until golden.
Take out of the oven, let the pastries cool a bit, take out.
Then repeat with the raspberry jam for the second batch.
Don't worry about the cracked curd cheese, it only adds to their rustic appearance.
Both version were delicious, though the lemon curd variety is my favourite.
And they store beautifully in the new spacious tin.
Have you been inspired by GBBO? What did you bake/
Disclosure: I received a GBBO tin for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are mine.