Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press
I admitted a couple of weeks ago that my baking capabilities fell short of British Bake Off standards.
Helen, a food blogger at ‘The Crazy Kitchen’, read my column and set me a challenge. I had to watch Episode Two and make a batch of Mary Berry’s Florentines.
While being somewhat grateful that I wasn’t being asked to make a 3D biscuit scene, I was rather nervous when it became clear that Florentines should have a lacy appearance, the chocolate shouldn’t seep through the biscuit and a definite zigzag pattern was required on the back.
Looking at the results of Helen’s baking on her website, this was going to be a tall order.
Hearing about the challenge, husband Dougie decided to get in on the act. He’s usually a bit of a Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen, organised if a tad bolshy, but his signature dish is chicken stuffed with haggis so precise weighing and decorating aren’t really his modus operandi. He’s no Paul Hollywood.
We gave him a new name: Doc Hollywood.
I sent Doc out to buy the ingredients and he was most put out when the cashier failed to notice he would be making Florentines.
Did he really think she examines everyone’s basket and tries to work out what they are going to make, like Ready, Steady Cook?
Back in the kitchen, the challenge was on. With only one set of scales, there was some pushing and shoving. Dougie spilt the demerara sugar on the floor and blamed me for the way I had opened the packet.
The Doc was keen to cut his almonds, walnuts and cranberries into tiny pieces: I preferred a chunky, rustic look. He also annoyed me by using lots of individual dishes for each ingredient. “You’re not on the telly,” I admonished him. “Think of the washing up!”
I think mine looked better as I spooned them onto the baking tray. Dougie’s looked as if they had been regurgitated.
Neither set of biscuits looked to be spreading very well in the oven so we both battered them a bit to get them moving.
Once out of the oven, the Doc had no patience, keen to start adding the chocolate before the Florentines had cooled then even more desperate to do the zigzag pattern.
There was more waiting around before we could actually try them.
The result? Not much between them, to be fair, though my fork swirling was deemed superior. Dougie’s biscuits won the blind tasting, however, probably because they had less chocolate on them and, we both agreed, the plain chocolate was far too bitter. Sorry, Mary, but milk chocolate would have been preferable.
That evening, as we settled down for a cuppa in front of the TV, I asked Doc Hollywood if he fancied one of his Florentines to go with it.
“Nah,” he replied. “Can I have a Twix?”
* You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com