I made the bakewell tart from The Great British Baking Show
The technical challenge tasks Bakers with perfecting a classic. Can this GBBS superfan measure up?
Except for the fact that I do know. While Val and Raj and Andrew all grappled with the complexities of a shortcrust pastry, blind baking, and forgetting to turn the oven on (and who hasn't?), Candice and Jane sailed through the challenge, which only made me even more convinced that should I take on the bakewell on my own time. So I did. Below is how the tragedy unfolded, with a little triumph sprinkled in for good measure.
00:00 - Ready. Set. Bake!
According to Mel and Sue, I have two-and-a-half hours to morph my bags of groceries into something I can eat for breakfast. (I'm an adult: why wouldn't I eat dessert for breakfast?) And according to this recipe, I am to use fresh raspberries which I am to mash, combine with sugar, and then boil for four minutes before letting set.
00:01 - I have chosen to use frozen raspberries because I am not made of money.
00:02- I also do not know how to convert from grams to cups without the internet, and am losing time. I'm going to pour half the bag of raspberries into the pot because that seems like enough, and also because a bunch of raspberries fell into the pot and we've hit the point of no return.
I'm already the Val of this operation, making it up as I go along.
00:08 - NOT BOILING YET. Onto dough prep!
00:09 - Or am I supposed to be stirring the jam?
00:10 - I have done nothing but stand over the jam gingerly, lurking like a shy teen at a school dance.
00:11 - It's boiling! I've set the timer, and the countdown is on. Now I combine the flour and butter until it looks like breadcrumbs, and then add —
00:16 - I thought I heard a sound from the jam, so I continued to look at it, assuming it wanted attention, and honestly don't we all. The timer's gone off, into the freezer it goes, and while I don't think a single contestant cooled their jam in the freezer, I'm beyond consulting the show for guidance as I've just made jam, and am better than everybody.
00:17 - Meanwhile, the butter is very cold and therefore hard to breadcrumb, and now that it's in the bowl, I'm pretty sure I used a little too much. But this is also as legitimate as I've ever felt, since it seems like GBBS never measure their ingredients the way I normally would. Thus, it is in this moment I begin referring to myself as Selasi — cool, calm and determined. Despite knowing I am every contestant but.
00:26 - I have begun to roll the dough.
00:27 - I have begun to realize how much I hate rolling dough.
00:38 - I hate this. I hate pastry. How did Jane do it? How did Candice do it? Andrew? Not thinking about counter space, I afforded myself only half of what I needed, then when trying to pick up the rolled-out dough, I haphazardly dropped it into the tart tin, where now half of it is hanging over the side. This would be photo-worthy, but the countertop lighting is melting the butter (and dough), making it stickier with every passing moment. Trying to build something that resembles a tart, I begin taking pieces from the side with excess and patching them onto the other … I am Raj, and am seconds from a whole side of this tart just not existing. I can't look at it. I'm a disgrace. Into the fridge it goes.
00:40 - It's chilling, so I am going to do what I've never seen a GBBS contestant ever do: wash the dishes. Will I live to regret it? Who cares, I hate mess.
00:50 - I'm supposed to leave the dough chilling for 30 minutes, but I don't want to because time is passing quickly and also I am very tired.
00:57 - Right, so did you know you shouldn't trim pastry away from the edges of a tart until it comes out of the oven? I do now because the patch job is the least of my worries. My crust is mocking me.
01:02 - As I begin making the frangipane, I realize it is glorified goo and that together with the jam, it will result in a texture I will eventually liken as "the absolute worst."
01:03 - And I just poured too much almond extract in.
In the immortal words of Sue, "What good is a recipe if not to completely ignore?"
01:04 - It's time to take the shrunken head equivalent of my tart crust out of the oven, and to reconcile with the truth. Also, tart trays come in two pieces, so if you don't pick it up around the sides, you will nearly drop your bake into the oven and begin cursing a blue streak while shouting "Don't look at me!" to your meowing cat.
01:05 - This looks … bad.
01:07 - But the jam, while slightly frozen, is perfect! This is also the first time I've not made jam with cornstarch, and I feel superior to every single person I have ever met.
I glance over at my stream of GBBS and realize the contestants have been finished for hours, and that I am now watching an episode of something that doesn't matter because my hands are covered in almond extract and butter.
01:17 - A fun fact about frangipane is, as depicted on the aforementioned episode of GBBS, that it should always be piped if you don't want it to bleed into the jam and look like PB&J in their worst and most harmful forms.
I am now trying to spread it with a spoon, but the counter lights are melting everything again, so I have chosen to use my hands. Literally no person on Baking Show has ever done this, nor have they cursed so loudly while attempting to.
Into the oven it goes, maybe it will help. (It will not help.)
01:47 - Okay! It doesn't look terrible. It doesn't look perfect, but it certainly looks like something that needs to be iced to avoid being thrown out. I'm putting it into the freezer so I don't have to make eye contact anymore.
01:49 - Speaking of throwing out, I am now ready to throw out this bag of icing sugar after dropping way too much into my batch of icing. Who cares. I don't care. Everybody loves icing, there's no such thing as too much icing.
02:01 - There is absolutely such a thing as too much icing. Icing is semi melting into the frangipane that's kind of melted into the jam … ? I don't care. It's over. I'm moving on. I'm going to pipe on my pink icing.
02:15 - I mean.
I hate icing and I hate pastry and I hate that I waited to start this until 8pm on a Sunday because I am very tired and hungry and am seconds from eating half this tart for late supper because this is what I've been reduced to.
But first obviously I will feather the pink icing, I'm not an animal.
02:16 - And I'm done! I am done. I am done, and sooner than anybody in that Baking Show tent, and now all I have to do is make sure I haven't got a soggy bottom.
AND I DON'T. The crust is perfect, albeit a little tough, but who cares I've never made this before and it's held its own! And at the end of the day, this is a pastry challenge. No, my layers are not defined, and yes, I'm sure something has gone very wrong with the frangipane, but — deformities aside — my shortcrust was on-par with every other person's shortcrust (minus Val, beautiful Val), and my sense of superiority has never been stronger.
Even when I have to scrape the icing off the tart because oh my lord, there is so much. And if anybody ever tells you otherwise, they are lying and secretly hoping to see you toothless.