Ask the Expert: GBBO does pastry

Tonight GBBO does desserts including vol-au-vents and frangipane

There are plenty of shop-bought shortcuts that can be taken when it comes to baking pastry – but not for the seven bakers who remain. 

The sixth episode of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) series six will see the bakers attempt to impress Paul and Mary with perfect pastry. We ask three-Michelin-star patissier Joakim Prat of Maître Choux what could possibly go wrong.

The episode will kick off with frangipane in the bakers’ signature challenge. Prat says this should not pose too many problems for the bakers. “Once you have made your puff pastry, it is not very difficult, but you have to follow the processes,” he says. “When adding the custard mix to the mix of butter, eggs, flour and sugar, you have to be sure they are both the same temperature, texture and consistency. If you mix them together with, for example, a cold custard, they will split and the butter will set cold.

“There is nothing too difficult – you just have to ensure the two mixes are the same consistency – smooth and silky.” He recommends adding bitter almond extract to make the almond flavour stronger.

Next up is Paul’s technical challenge – the flaouna from Cyprus. This traditional cheese-filled pastry, sometimes filled with fruit or garnished with seeds, is likely to be new to many of the contestants. In Cyprus, they are traditionally prepared on Good Friday for consumption on Easter Sunday by Orthodox Christians. Prat says they must be visually stunning.

Joakim Prat says consistency is key in creating frangipanes
  (Photo:  )
Joakim Prat

The third and final challenge this week is what could really cause some trouble, says Prat. He may be right, particularly as one contestant has described vols-au-vent as his nemesis.

“The vols-au-vent will be the most difficult, especially if the puff pastry is not properly made,” he says. “It is difficult to make because it has to rest in the fridge to have less stretchiness. Usually you roll and fold the dough five times and, in between each time, you leave it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. When I make puff pastry I put it in the fridge the whole night – it helps raise the dough once you are going to bake it. If there is stretchiness in the dough, it will lose its shape when you bake it.”

Prat advises the contestants to control the baking and ensure that the classic ‘70s canapé is cooked all the way through. He says pricking the dough before cooking helps take moisture out, which helps the food cook evenly. 

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