Have you ever heard of World Baking Day? I discovered it last Friday, thanks to a tweet by Lynn Hill (the Clandestine Cake Club‘s founder). That link made my weekend, as I had little hope of doing anything more than coursework and cleaning chores: with such (un)exciting plans, I’d have been crazy not to click it!
World Baking Day 2013 was Sunday 19 May, but the website is still open for you to get inspired. Its concept is encouraging people to “Bake Brave”: step out of their comfort zone, and bake something completely new. All you need to do to get involved is enter your level of baking-savviness, and let the site redirect you to a suitably challenging recipe. I settled on a Strawberry Pie with white chocolate cream: its difficulty level was 87 out of 100, which definitely made me feel brave!
The original recipe is from Kivilcim Iren Namli, a Turkish pastry chef, owner of Pasticcina Patisserie. Making it took the whole Sunday afternoon, but I was stunned at the sight of the end result: my Strawberry Pie was the prettiest bake I’d ever made.
I spent the evening proudly relishing my accomplishment, anticipating the moment when I would bite into the first slice and find that it was as tasty as it was pretty. I expected a feeling of elation: like the one you get when you find the courage to talk with that good-looking girl you spotted at the tube station, or the handsome stranger you saw at a party, and discover that they don’t only like the same music as you do, or read the same books. They think and talk like you do, and it’s just amazing.
I probably don’t need to tell you, but sometimes, in life, things just don’t go to plan. The handsome stranger has the annoying habit of talking during cinema screenings, and reads the “Sun” every morning. The good-looking girl on the tube platform won’t consider dating you, unless you take her to Harrods and buy her a pink-clad chihuahua. Likewise, my beautiful Strawberry Pie turned out to be a disaster.
The crust was rock-hard; it had stuck to the bottom of the pie mould, and had no intention of coming off. All slices miserably broke, one by one – and pride turned to disappointment. One second my pie was ready for her grand debut; one second later it was all ripped up, and I felt like the butcher. Poor, beautiful, unlucky pie.
So what went wrong? Follow me through my version of the recipe, and I’ll tell you about my three Baking Mistakes.
(makes 8 slices)
- Mix 75g sugar and 55g butter spread together, then add one egg.
Avoid my First Baking Mistake: 75g sugar is the right quantity, but I read the wrong line, and used 125g instead – which is the flour dose!
- Little by little, pour in 125g flour, and keep on mixing the blend. Add one tablespoon vanilla extract and one pinch of salt. Knead until you’re able to make a solid ball of dough.
- Roll the dough with a rolling pin, and put it in a greased pie mould.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°, and bake for about 25 minutes.
My Second Baking Mistake happened at this point. By rolling the pastry in the pie mould, I made the worst pastry-rolling blunder you can possibly make: you should never, ever roll pastry inside a baking dish. Get a baking mat. Use your kitchen counter. Whatever you decide upon, just don’t do it in the baking dish. That will cause your pie crust to stick to the bottom, and not come off – unless you can get hold of a chisel!
My Third Baking Mistake was using a 30cm mould, which was far too big for this pie. This created all sorts of difficulties when I first rolled the pastry on a baking mat. I had to spread it very thin, and when I tried to lift it, it broke on all sides. Hence the let’s-roll-it-into-the-mould experiment; the rest is history!
2. Make the Cream
- Boil 200ml skimmed milk and 40g sugar together.
- In a separate bowl, mix another 40g sugar with one egg.
- Add a quarter of the boiled milk to the egg and sugar mix, then add 65g flour as well.
- Add the rest of the boiled milk to the blend, and mix with a forceful, fast movement.
- Put the mixture over the heat and keep mixing it until it reaches the thickness of a cream.
- Add 50g white chocolate to the cream, mix well to make sure it melts, and set aside to cool.
3. Decorate your Pie!
- Spread the chilled cream on the pie dough, and top it with 400g sliced strawberries.
- Finally, boil one sachet of gelatin, and spread it over the strawberries while it’s warm. Let the gelatine set before serving.
You could say I had it coming. I should have rolled the pastry on the baking mat, and used a smaller mould. I wouldn’t disagree, but then I’d tell you that the spirit of World Baking Day was Bake Brave – not Bake Perfect. Like macaron chef Loretta Liu said, making pastry is all about experimenting and allowing yourself to fail. Indeed, I learnt a lot from this baking challenge; now I’m looking forward to the next one!
While I plan it, tell me about yourself. Have you taken part in World Baking Day, be it as bakers or tasters? And what’s your most striking baking fail – the one you’ll never forget, from which you learnt more than from any of your successes?
NOTE: While some of the quantities and ingredients in this post have been adapted, the original recipe is © Kivilcim Iren Namli.