Oh... My ... God.... Pastry ..... is there anything more divine than biting into a flaky crunchy pastry, filled with your favourite things... the buttery goodness.. the naughtiness of it..... I think I gained 3 kilos just in test baking this week's challenges but I used that as the excuse as I am a glut when it comes to pastry.
I could lie and say I make pastry all the time... but it's not true. Perhaps twice in my life.... and along with sweet dough who knew I had it in me! They are now my new favourite thing!!!
Having moved away from my roots in recent bakes, it was good to slip into my comfy soul flavours with this week. Making my dad's fav snail danishes and my fav savoury flavours.
Everything went so well in the signature, just like at home (for the first time ever a bake performed just like it did in my kitchen).
Matt and Maggie did the usual rounds in the beginning to discuss what we were all making. Liv's behind me sounded amazing with the persimmon! Matt and Maggie were worried about my savoury with the asparagus spheres over cooking in the oven. And perhaps the flavours for my savoury didn't engage them either as they are a big strong flavours so yet again I am left double guessing myself ... am praying yet again that the finished bake would win them over....again...
The bake went great, I finished with no issues, even made lots of extra's for the crew to munch on (about 30 extra!!) and helped Liv behind me get hers finished and into the oven for baking.
Judging... I am floored. When Matt and Maggie came back into the shed for judging the look on Matt's face when he glanced at mine told me, I might stand a chance of doing well. His eyebrows went up... was this a sign? Antonio's were fabulous and I can only be thankful for poor Liv that her's needed another 5 minutes as they would have trumped mine!
They loved my signature! Even though a couple of the savoury had popped open during baking, the asparagus weren't over cooked as I had them well wrapped in the other ingredients.
My dad's snails were the best I had made in ages and I was overwhelmed at the end as I felt him with me.
Thank you to my gorgeous compari for the lovely serving platter that I used for this bake - was my gift from them for getting on the show.
Post judging.. Demolished! Nothing to take home to my family.. oops!
Technical bake - Lamb wellington... Lamb.... sigh.... poor Matt was proud as punch of his family Moran Lamb and then there was me.... not a lover (sorry for all the lamb fans out there, we can't all like the same thing) so I've had ZERO experience with lamb... and didn't it show...
Thankfully the important bit, being the pastry was good. I struggled with the smell of lamb cooking in the shed and even the next morning when we walked in I could still smell it - I had to do a burn off in my oven before making the show stopper in case the flavour infused it was that strong!
And now my fav part of the week, the Show Stopper.... Here comes the Show Stopper Queen again with an OTT design and ambition...Choux pastry 3D animal.... remind me to clip the person who came up with this challenge over the back of the head!! (Bad Dan... bad Dan!!!!)
What a challenge this one was. I must have came up with 100 ideas for this one. But as we were going with sentiments this week, I went with an owl. Based off a set of owl candle holders my father brought back from America when mum was pregnant with me, that now resides on a shelf in my kitchen overseeing all my cooking/baking adventures.
Test bakes went great and I came up with the idea to have light up eyes.
In the shed on the day I bought in my dehydrator again, as this is great for keeping choux's dry and crunchy until the last moment. Matt was checking the idea out. Yes, queen of hacks strikes again!
Everything was going to plan when my "nest" portion of nougartine cracks in half. I think at this point the producers were waiting for a big reaction but I really wasn't fussed. My mind went straight to "mmm how can I fix this". On screen I looked annoyed, was more the clogs going...Frankly, the owl was good enough on it's own, the nest was just an extra element.
I had planned for sesametine for the eyes, beak and wings (see below) but my caramel kept seizing! So frustrating. I made 3 batches, all fails. Antonio later tells me to add glucose to the mixture and it won't happen again. A great tip. Wish I knew it on the day, but have saved it to use at home.
I filled the choux with the creme pat and tasted a couple, oh... heaven in my mouth.... don't eat any more Moni!!!
I finished up early with lots of time to spare again. Even gave a full pipping bag of left over choux pastry to James as he was in a spot of bother at this stage. The crew kept asking what else can I do and had I done enough etc etc.... which made me question myself so I added extra toffee etc to the owl - big mistake on my part. Frankly I felt like the finished owl looked like a hot mess and I was really disappointed in myself. Ugly is a word I would have used in judging!!! Not my usual neat standard.
um yes.. at least it tasted great! Ugly but yummy should be it's name!
Went into judging very flat. I knew the choux was good. Perfectly baked and dried. The flavors of the creme pat and texture was great. So am hoping this was enough to save me with this one as it looked terrible and messy.. Hot mess!!!!
Bless Maggie on this one, she beamed a wide smile and loved the concept and the flickering eyes etc. They loved the flavours etc. I was blown away as the feedback was not what I expected at all.
On the showstopper, I wanted to note a few of the others at this point as it was such a hard bake. And while I tend to shy away from talking about the other bakers in case I perceived a situation incorrectly (plus I think their story is theirs to tell), this one was a tough day and for once I wasn't wrapped up in my own little world and saw more...
Liesel, the poor darling sprouted a huge nose bleed just as we were about to start and lost over 90 minutes of her baking time and still managed to put up a fabulous bake! Never shown on the show and I understand why but truly worth mentioning. She was such a trooper!
Antonio's fish was breath taking... what a showstopper. And I couldn't keep my eyes off Liv's turtles behind me. It was all fantastic!
But my fav on the day was Fiona's. This played on everything in my as a cake artist. It was adorable, quirky, challenged the brief etc. Loved loved loved it! I would still say it was one of my top 5 fav bakes of the entire 10 weeks. Now thinking I should do a wrap up of my favs and why... great idea Moni! hahah
Expecting Antonio for the Star Baker this week I was bowled over with the title again this week. Had a little cry off camera as was so shocked by it all once again.
I know we all try to act strong etc on camera, but each week I am stunned to still be there. How did I get this far?!!? I keep thinking that I am surrounded by such amazing talent, am feeling a little out of place by this stage.
Get the recipes here:
The day Fiona and I realised we were wearing matching Anoraks!!
Love for this week - Monica <3
Cheeky Liesel pretending to be a witch and scaring the crew as they walked past hahahah