Richard Burr discusses pastry week on Great British Bake Off

By
Richard Burr
Added
10 September, 2015

Our resident GBBO baker gives his verdict on the highs and lows of pastry week.


You want to know what difficulties can present themselves with pastry? Crikey, where do we start?!

If you’re new to pastry there are plenty of pitfalls and unfortunately most of them rely on experience and judgement so practice, practice, practice. With shortcrust, the most important things are to not overwork your dough, and make sure you thoroughly chill the dough before you blind-bake. With puff pastry, try to keep it as cool as possible and handle it as little as possible. Don’t use the freezer to chill it either, as it sets the outside layer of butter and makes it harder to work. There are no shortcuts in making this sort of pastry, other than buying it ready made, of course!


Mat was definitely the star of the show this week, although I thought Tamal’s flavours were spot on, too.

But for me, Mat’s vol-au-vents and continued dedication to desiccated coconut triumphed. His ‘His and Hers’ vol-au-vents showed real flair and great judgement of flavours. Being a builder who likes fishing, both the ‘Full English’ and the smoked trout would have been right up my street. Once he aced the technical I thought he might have had Star Baker in the bag, so I was really chuffed for him.


I’m a big pastry fan, both sweet and savoury, so I would have loved to eat everything.

The vol-au-vent flavour combinations gave me so many ideas that my kids might have to get used to vol-au-vents for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the foreseeable future! If I had to be pushed, I was really excited by the idea of cod and clementine, and I want to find a way of giving this a go at home. It gives me an excuse to go fishing for cod in the next few months too.

Paul had a hard time this week and lacked a bit of focus.

It’s a shame as I really liked the sound of his chilli prawn vol-au-vents. I’m convinced Nadiya just had the ‘curse of the Star Baker’ this week and hopefully she’ll bounce back. It’s nice to see Flora do better this week and I think she’s learning that you don’t need to add bells and whistles to your bake to get great feedback.


What could Alvin have done differently to not be sent home? Better time management!

This was a consistent problem for Alvin and this week there was nowhere left to hide. All of his pastry was under-baked and he looked constantly panicked and harassed, especially compared to last week where he managed to finish his upside-down cake with time to spare and received very positive comments. If he’d have learned from that experience, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him in the final.

 

Overall, I liked Mat’s combinations the best. However, if I could have chosen Ian’s truffle and mushroom vol-au-vents alongside Nadiya’s cod and clementine ones (had they been finished) I think I would have been in showstopper heaven.

There’s not often many opportunities for savoury showstoppers, so I really enjoyed this week’s.


I have a great frangipane recipe in my book, and so I’d have made a greengage frangipane tart with greengage jam.

I love the taste of plum and almond together. My parents have a garden full of plum trees and always seem to go on holiday at plum harvesting time so the job often falls to me. I have quite a few plum recipes up my sleeve and this is the perfect time of year to wheel them out, so I think family Burr will be enjoying greengage tarts this weekend!


Find our favourite pastry recipes from Richard's book here


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