Last Friday was Red Nose Day here in the UK, and to celebrate there was a bakeoff at work. Hooray! (If you don’t live in the UK, Red Nose Day is an even sponsored by a charity called Comic Relief. It happens across the country and has lots of impact – it even has a telethon. Find out more about Comic Relief on their website.) As I often bake for work anyway, I couldn’t resist entering. I baked two items — rose & raspberry meringues and chocolate hazelnut tart.
I didn’t enter with the intention to win, but I have to admit I was a bit gutted when I didn’t even place. First place was an admittedly delicious lemon cake; second was bakewell cupcakes; third was peanut butter and chocolate squares. All pretty traditional, I think, so I’m comforting myself by assuming I was just too adventurous. For a student palate (I work at a university and the event was run by the student union) I suppose rose & raspberry is unusual. Plus, my pastry definitely wasn’t at its best.
The chocolate hazelnut tart is, yes, another one from The Art of the Tart. It’s Simon Hopkinson’s chocolate tart and is frankly the best thing I can bake. I guess it’s not foolproof, but I make it often because it is impressive (and not very difficult). It’s unbelievably rich, too, which keeps people from eating too much of it. This is the one that used all the egg yolks – it has only eggs, butter, chocolate and sugar in it. I made the same hazelnut pastry I used for the failed apple hazelnut tart months ago. It didn’t turn out as well as I’d like and crumbled all over the place when people were eating it.
The tart left a few egg whites, so I thought I’d make meringues. I bought rose water for the first time last year, but haven’t had any opportunity to use it so far. I didn’t want to use it on its own, so I had a bit of fun Googling flavours that could work with rose. We have raspberry jam in our fridge, so that was ultimately the winner. I followed a basic meringue recipe and added a few drops of rose water during the initial beating of the egg whites (before I added the sugar). Towards the end, I swirled in some red food colouring and melted raspberry jam. I thought I overbaked them. Nonetheless, I was reasonably happy with them and thought they were quite pretty.
What would you enter in a bakeoff? Do you have a signature item?