9 Life-Changing Culinary Lessons We Learned from The Great British Bake Off
Have you been consistently binge-watching BBC's The Great British Bake Off on Netflix? Us too. If, after an hour of indulging in the addictive show, where the country’s top amateur bakers battle it out, you find yourself in the kitchen attempting to whip up your own creation, you’re in good company: We’ve been diligently watching all season long, and rounded up the nine most resourceful pastry tips and techniques we learned along the way. Read on for some pro intel.
Flavor with Flair
We defer to Bake Off’s resident “Flavor Queen,” Chetna Makan, for Middle Eastern cooking inspo. Her upcoming cookbook, The Cardamom Trail ($26; amazon.com), features unique combinations, like these delicious stuffed potato patties served with tamarind chutney.
Steam Your Oven for the Perfect Crusty Bread
If Bake Off contestants can use simple sheet pans and spray bottles to mimic professional-grade steam ovens to achieve perfectly crusty bread, you can, too. Simply set the oven 25˚F hotter than the suggested temperature and pop in a sheet pan when it’s preheating. After putting the bread in, add 1/2 cup of water to the sheet pan, spritz the sides of the oven, then return the oven to the suggested temperature. Voilà! Golden, crisp perfection.
Invest in a Pie Tin With Removeable Sides
When in Doubt Slather Everything in Chocolate
A glossy ganache requires minimal embellishments—it’s already dripping with sophistication. Literally. Not to mention, it’s also a great way to cover up any breaks or dents in the cake. The key to a sleek finish is giving the glaze ample time to set. Let it cool to room temperature before covering.
Put Some Booze In It
Make sure enough scotch is in the butterscotch to keep Mary Berry happy, but not so much that your pastry is flavored like raw alcohol. Add in liquor little by little, tasting the batter as you go, until you arrive at the right amount.
Cool Your Pastries Before Decorating
Or else, risk runny buttercreams and seeping fondants that incite the wrath of Paul Hollywood.
Strategically Position Things in the Oven.
When attempting a multi-tiered cake, place the pans on the same shelf so that heat dissipates uniformly. Depending on the size of your oven, this might require some Tetris-level finessing, but it’s worth the effort for an all-around “good bake.”
Embrace Sugar Substitutes
While far from sugar-free, some successful alternatives include honey, agave nectar, and orange zest. Another option is to fill the baked good with fruits and nuts to make any lack of sugar incidental.
Be Wary of Soggy Bottoms
Prevent the pastry faux pas by creating a barrier between the leaky filling and the base crust. For savory pastries, cook the meat just enough to seal in the juice and par-boil the vegetables as opposed to putting them in raw. When working with sliced fruit, assemble tarts at the last minute, place slices skin side down, or brush an egg wash over the crust before adding in the fruit.