F1 Bake Off – Round 8 – France

I think there’s something we can probably all agree on French patisserie is lovely.

So, for the French Grand Prix, F1 Bake Off, I thought I would try my hand at making vanilla slices.

On paper it looks fairly simple:

  • Puff pastry – which obviously I cheated and bought from the spermarket
  • Creme patisserie – never made that before, can’t be that hard, surely?
  • Icing – simple, plain white icing … easy!

Yes, I know most vanilla slices have a chocolate pattern to the top but seeing as I’m allergic to chocolate (outrageous!) I thought I’d just omit that part.

To be honest, it wasn’t difficult to make. Even the creme patisserie was a doddle.

But, and here’s where I stress the but … note to self for future reference, and anyone else who wants to attempt to make them … make sure you let everything cool completely before assembling the slices, otherwise you get something that looks like this:

home made vanilla slice

As opposed to something that looks like this:

And yes, I know the creme patisserie looks a different colour, but that’s because I used brown sugar not white caster sugar.

That aside, it didn’t taste too bad, just proved slightly tricky to actually eat!!

So, time for the recipe. I used a Paul Hollywood recipe from the BBC website, and here it is:

Vanilla Custard Slice

Ingredients

For the rough puff pastry

  • 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200g/7oz butter, chilled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
  • 140-160ml/5-5½fl oz water

For the crème pâtissière

  • 500ml/18fl oz milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 4 free-range eggs, yolks only
  • 40g/1½oz cornflour
  • 40g/1½oz butter

For the icing

  • 200g/7oz icing sugar
  • 5 tsp water
  • 50g/2oz dark chocolate, melted

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together. Rub in a third of the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then roughly rub in the remaining butter, leaving large lumps.
  2. Add the water a little at a time until the pastry just binds together (you may not need all the water).
  3. Tip the pastry out onto a floured work surface. Roll into a narrow rectangle about 2.5cm/1in thick.
  4. With the pastry vertically in front of you fold the bottom third of the pastry up onto the middle third then the top third down onto the other thirds. This is called a turn.
  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and place in the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes
  6. Take out of fridge and with a rolling pin roll out again into a narrow rectangle and repeat the turn as before.
  7. Chill again and repeat the rolling and turning once more, so a total of three times. Wrap the pastry in cling film and return to the fridge to rest.
  8. While the pastry is resting, make the crème pâtissière. Pour the milk into a pan and add the split vanilla pod and its seeds. Bring the milk mixture to the boil, then remove from the heat.
  9. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together in a large bowl.
  10. Pour out a little of the hot milk onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Whisk in the rest of the hot milk until well-combined, then return to the pan.
  11. Cook the mixture over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture becomes thick. It will just come to the boil.
  12. Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the butter and stir until melted and thoroughly combined.
  13. Leave to cool, cover with clingfilm and then chill before using.
  14. Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  15. Divide the pastry into two equal pieces and roll out both pieces to 20cm/8in square and 5mm/¼in thick. Then place each pastry sheet onto the lined baking trays, and chill for 10-15 minutes.
  16. Bake the pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
  17. While the pastry bakes, line a deep 23cm/9in square baking tray with foil with plenty of extra foil at the sides. The extra foil allows you to lift out the assembled slices.
  18. Place one pastry sheet in bottom of the lined baking tray. (Reserve the prettiest piece for the top.)
  19. Spread the crème pâtissière evenly onto the pastry in the baking tray before placing other piece of pastry, on top. Refrigerate while making the icing.
  20. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in cold water until thoroughly combined and set aside.
  21. Transfer the melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle, and set aside to firm up slightly.
  22. Take the custard slice from the fridge and spread the icing over the top layer of pastry.
  23. Using the piping bag, draw ten parallel lines along the top of the icing in one direction. Using a tooth pick, pull parallel lines about 2.5cm/1in across the melted chocolate and icing in alternating directions to create a feathered effect.
  24. Place the slice back into the fridge to set.
  25. Cut the finished vanilla slice into eight pieces.
  26. Using the foil carefully lift the portioned vanilla slices out of the tray and place onto a serving platter.

NOTE – if you’re using shop-bought pastry, start at step 8!

And here’s how I made it:

Why not give them a go yourself?

Let me know how you get on in the comments below.

The F1 Bake Off will be back next week ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Happy baking 😉

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F1 Book Club – Round 8 – France

This week’s F1 Book Club:

Book:    The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Author: Muriel Barbery

ISBN:     9-781-906-040-185

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives.

Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday.

But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

From the back of the book, this looked like it had the potential to be a great read.

Sadly, I was not too impressed. I’m not saying I hated it as much as the Canadian book, I just didn’t gel with it.

Maybe it was because, for me, I felt it took over two-thirds of the book to actually get-going. And it’s not like the build-up was a build-up of a suspense. To me, it just seemed it was setting the scene laboriously and introducing characters that really had not much to add to the story, and were just there to fluff out words.

The result being, that all the ‘action’ happened in the last third of the book and then it just ended, and I found I had several loose ends to tie-up and questions that didn’t get resolved. Almost like the book just ended with the author saying: “Right, had enough of writing now.”

I guess, having read the book and knowing what happens at the end [spoiler alert, someone dies] maybe the author was just trying to get across the point that when you go that’s it. End of story … in this case literally!

Like I said, it was OK, not brilliant, but certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read … and I read ‘Life of Pi’!!

Now it’s your turn.

Give it a read and let me know your thought?

Or if it’s a book you’ve already read, did you agree with me?

Either way, let me know in the comments below right now.

And seeing as it’s a back-to-back GPs, the F1 Book Club will be back next week …

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Top 10 Funniest Tweet Awards – Canadian Grand Prix 2019

“Well that was a dull, uneventful race, with no controversy whatsoever!” said no F1 fan ever, after watching the Canadian Grand Prix 2019.

What with:

  • Albon becoming the filling in an Alfa Romeo and Racing Point sandwich at the start
  • Norris overtaking Verstappen – yes, that really happened, but then Norris’s brakes caught fire, bummer
  • Norris retiring due to aforementioned brake problem
  • Ricciardo fending off Bottas who had forgotten to have his porridge before the race
  • K-Mag FM becoming the new radio channel to listen too
  • Gunther Steiner proving why he’s such a Netflix star
  • and then came …

… that penalty decision!!

Is it any wonder that this week’s judging of the Funniest Tweet Awards was so difficult?

But, judge them I most certainly did and here are the Top 10 Funniest Tweet Awards for the Canadian Grand Prix 2019:

10th place

@chainbearf1 for this emergency email sent to Valtteri Bottas, as it appeared he had forgotten to have his power porridge before today’s race … oops!

9th place

@PatrickSikler with live footage from Hulkenberg’s cockpit camera as he realises his gearbox might, just might not make it to the end of the race … spoiler alert, no panic he did finish!

8th place

@JaclynlovesPaul with this tweet as Ricciardo (aka ‘The Honey Badger’) kicks Bottas into touch … for a while at least … as he defends his position on track successfully

7th place

@atotalshunt as Ferrari seem (and I say seem) to leave Leclerc out a little longer than maybe they should have …

6th place

@dibhayles as a Renault-powered car overtakes a Honda-powered car. Nothing unusual in that, but this time it’s McLaren doing the overtaking … OK, so Verstappen took the place back after some might defending by Norris, but still …

5th place

@Jontys_Corner with secret footage of Ferrari’s Plan B to avoid Vettel being overtaken

4th place

@landosnorisbook with live footage of Norris’s brakes as he manages to park his stricken McLaren safely out of the way at the pit lane exit … some say you can never have too much orange (although personally I prefer pink!)

3rd place

@timwagner66 … about that penalty!

2nd place

@StephenCole1984 for live pitwall footage of Gunther Steiner as he talks to K-Mag on the team radio following K-Mag’s rant about the state of the car … which he had binned during qualifying and team had been up half the night fixing … ever get the feeling there’s no pleasing some people??

1st place

@mattamys with live footage of Vettel as he stormed off after the race to visit the stewards …

As usual, there were an enormous amount of seriously funny tweets to choose from which always makes my life so difficult. If you want to see all of the ones that made the list, they are all on my Twitter feed – @Pitlane_Girl

The Funniest Tweet Awards will be back in 2 weeks time in France.

If you want to take part it could not be easier.

Simply follow me on Twitter (@Pitlane_Girl) and during the race tweet something funny but make sure you tag me so I don’t miss it and then simply cross your fingers that it makes the top 10.

So, until we meet again in France keep tweeting …

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F1 Bake Off – Round 7 – Canada

How do you make a blueberry grunt?

[insert appropriate punchline in the comments]

Seriously, there is a Canadian dessert called a ‘Blueberry Grunt’ and with a name like that, how could I refuse to attempt to make it?

From the research I did, if Nova Scotia had an official dessert, the ‘Blueberry Grunt’ would be it.

The recipe I used, apparently not a true authentic recipe … but hey, it worked for me … is a very simple recipe, easy to make and the dessert will be ready in an hour.

I used the following recipe from All Recipes UK

BLUEBERRY GRUNT

Ingredients

  • 450g fresh blueberries
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (approx 30g) butter or margarine
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250ml milk
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 / 160C (Fan)
  2. Arrange the blueberries in the bottom of a baking dish
  3. Sprinkle 150g sugar over the blueberries
  4. In a bowl cream together the margarine, 100g sugar and egg
  5. Add the milk, flour, baking powder, and salt
  6. Beat until evenly combined
  7. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the blueberries
  8. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes

NOTES:

  • I didn’t use all the 150g sugar to sprinkle over the blueberries – it can make the dish too sweet
  • Completely messed up making the ‘grunt’ bit – I mixed the butter and sugar first, then added the egg and flour and completely missed out the baking powder and salt – oopsie!
  • The ‘grunt’ was a tad runny – could be because I messed up the making, but reading the reviews on the recipe website, I wasn’t the only one who thought so
  • The dessert needed 45 minutes NOT 30 minutes in the oven

It was OK.

My official taster, aka my dad, said it wasn’t as nice as the Monaco bake and I have to agree with him.

The ‘grunt’ part lacked taste – maybe it could have done with adding some vanilla or cinnamon, it was just bland.

Definitely made the right call by not adding too much sugar to the blueberries, any more. I used 100g and it gave the right balance between sweetness and blueberry taste.

My opinion, definitely not as scrumptious as the butter tarts I made last year, but I might attempt it again … make the ‘grunt’ the right way and add some cinnamon …

And here’s how I made it:

See you in a fortnight, for the next installment of F1 Bake Off.

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F1 Book Club – Round 7 – Canada

📚 This week’s F1 Book Club sees me review ‘Mauve Desert’ by Nicole Brossard.

The challenge 21 races, 21 countries, 21 books.

This is the 7th book I’ve read. What did I think? …

Mauve Desert by Nicole Brossard

Book:    Mauve Desert

Author: Nicole Brossard

ISBN:     9-781-552-451-724

Shimmering mirages, swimming pools and mysterious motel men loom as fifteen-year-old Melanie careens across the desert in a white car, chasing fear and desire and Angela Parkins, and escaping her mother and the roadside Mauve Motel.

This audacious story, in the form of the novel Mauve Desert, finds its way to an enigmatic translator, Maude Laures. Transfixed, Maude embarks on an extraordinary quest for its elusive author and characters, eventually arriving at Mauve, the Horizon, her own enticingly oblique translation of Melanie’s story.

 

Oh. My. God!

Maybe I missed the point of this book, but I hated it.

I wasted an hour and a half of my life reading it. I thought it was complete tripe.

The book is divided into three sections.

The first section, ‘book’, is called ‘Mauve Desert’ and is effectively the story. Although every other chapter is a sub-story; the thoughts/actions of a man who doesn’t seem to have any connection to the main story. Unless he is the man who has shot Angela Parkins, but by the time I thought that, to be honest I was passed caring.

The second section of the book is called ‘A Book to Translate’ and goes into the characters of the book. There’s a series of random photos bookended by a page with a file picture on and they represent the ‘strange man’ from the first book. To be honest, I was so bored by this point I skimmed right through this section, neither caring to read it, or bothered by any of it.

The third section called ‘Mauve Horizon’ is literally just a re-write of the first section. Pretty much word for word. Just tweaked here and there. Seriously, what was the point of that?

I just didn’t get it.

Maybe I did miss the point, but I was left wishing that I should have stuck to my first thought for a book from/about Canada and chosen ‘Anne of Green Gables’.

But then, that’s the thing with reading, some you love, some you hate and some are just so-so. This isn’t the first book I’ve read that I never want to read again, there’s already quite a few on that list already …

And just because I didn’t like, doesn’t mean that you won’t. You may love it.

After all, we’re all unique individuals and wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?

 

If you’ve already read it. What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

And the F1 Book Club will be back in two weeks …

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Top 10 Funniest Tweet Awards – Monaco Grand Prix 2019

Boy, did I need a cup of tea after that race!

Monaco isn’t normally known for producing exciting races, but this year, although not spectacular, there was a lot of jostling, incidents and bum clenching as to whether tyres would last the distance.

The chance of rain started at 90 per cent, but this eagerly anticipated event didn’t occur.

Despite the lack of rain, there was a downpouring of funny tweets, which as usual made my job of whittling them down to just 10 incredibly difficult.

But, after a well needed cuppa, whittle them down I did.

So without further ado, here are the Top 10 Funniest Tweet Awards for the Monaco Grand Prix 2019:

In 10th place is @Planet_F1 after a few of the back runners decided to hold a mother’s meeting at Rascasse to talk about their plans for after the race!

9th place goes to @timwagner66 after Red Bull Racing’s sense-of-direction-o-meter goes wrong during the pit stops, as they release Verstappen into the path of Bottas … anyone else think that a 5-second time penalty was a little lenient?

In 8th place is @Jontys_Corner with a sneaky, behind-the-scenes look into the TV director’s control room during the race!

7th place goes to @TarasDemerson with this tweet of most viewers as Verstappen lunged down the inside of Hamilton into the chicance and they made contact … thankfully without incident!

6th place goes to @virdinliatyler4 for live footage of F1 viewers when a familiar sound was heard through speakers on TV screens around the world …

In 5th place is @KennyGreybeard for onboard footage from Verstappen’s car as he tries to find a way to overtake around Monaco …

4th place goes to @the_real_mccoy for live footage of the steward’s office as they discuss and hand out penalties during the race … can anyone throw light on how an unsafe pitlane release and a nudge on track carry the same penalty?

3rd place goes to @HurricaneBarca for this tweet of Charles Leclerc’s luck during his home race

In 2nd place is @Beomoose … so back to those stewards and their penalty decisions …

This week’s winner in 1st place is @Blueshay3 and the words on everyone’s lips as Hamilton crossed the line in 1st, having spent over 50 laps complaining about his tyres …

 

And there you have it, my Top 10 Funniest Tweets for the Monaco Grand Prix 2019.

They will be back in a fortnight for the Canadian Grand Prix.

In the meantime, if you want to take part stat practising now and taking part is easy:

Simply follow me on Twitter – @Pitlane_Girl.

Tweet something funny during the race (anything from lights out to the chequered flag is eligible).

Make sure you tag me (otherwise I might miss it).

Cross your fingers that I pick yours.

You win nothing but kudos and bragging rights until the next race. However, each Top 10 tweet gets points (akin to the F1 drivers) and these are talied up over the year to crown an overall Funniest Tweet Champion after the Abu Dhabi GP.

 

Til Canada … happy tweeting 😉

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F1 Bake Off – Round 6 – Monaco

A little (OK, much later) than usual here is this week’s F1 Bake Off challenge.

A Galapian, which is a cherry, almond and candied Canteloupe melon tart, created, apparently, in the 1990s, by Alain Bouchard in the Apt region of France … OK, so not technically Monegasque cuisine, but it’s close enough to count …

I think this is literally just a twist on a Bakewell tart. Pretty much the same idea: pastry base and almond topping with something sandwiched in the middle. Although in this case it’s candied Canteloupe melon, not jam!

And, technically, mine isn’t a traditional Galapian either, due to the lack of candied Cantelouupe melon in my local supermarket. So I substituted that with apricot halves – which are easier to come by and you still get the colour, which is what the Galapian is famed for.

How did I get on?

Not too bad. In fact, I can state categorically that this was a rip-roaring success. It even tasted nice!

The recipe I used was from Global Table Adventures 

Galapian

Ingredients

Sweet Pastry Dough:

130g flour
65g confectioner’s sugar
75g (8 Tbsp) butter, chilled
20g slivered almonds, measured then ground in a spice mill
1 egg

Fruit & Almond Filling:

4 egg whites
2 Tbsp + 65g sugar
85g sliced almonds, measured then ground

15 strips of candied cantaloupe slices (I found mine at Whole Foods)
5 maraschino cherries, cut in half
almond slices, as needed

Honey Glaze:

1 Tbsp very hot water
2 heaping Tbsp honey (preferably lavender)

Notes:

  • I didn’t bother making the pastry, I simply used shop-bought, ready-made
  • I substituted candied Canteloupe melon for apricot halves
  • I didn’t bother using flaked almonds and then grinding them …. what’s the point? … I just used ground almonds to start with

Method

  1. Using a pastry cutter or food processor, cut together the flour, sugar, cubed butter, and ground almonds until the butter is pea sized
  2. Use a fork to incorporate your beautiful golden egg (or, if using a food processor, pulse it until it just comes together)
  3. Briefly knead together and, if needed, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time until a soft dough forms (a bit moist and a tad sticky).
  4. Dust your hands lightly with flour and press into 9″ square (or round) tart pan
    Cover tightly, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours
  5. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / Gas Mark 5 / 170C (Fan)
  6. Whip egg whites until medium peaks form, gradually streaming in the 2tbsp of sugar
  7. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and ground almonds
  8. Gently fold the egg whites together with the sugar and almond mixture
  9. Remove tart shell from refrigerator and layer the cantaloupe slices (or apricot halves) all over it
  10. Smooth the egg white and almond mixture over the top of the candied cantaloupe (or apricot halves)
  11. Use the spatula to make it as smooth as possible
  12. Decorate with cherries and sliced almonds
  13. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 170C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 / 150C (Fan) and bake another 20-25 minutes
  14. Brush liberally with honey glaze & place in the oven for a few minutes to set the glaze
  15. Leave to cool, cut and enjoy

Pictire of a Galapian (cherry, almond and canteloupe melon tart)

 

And, oh boy, is it tasty!!!

Here’s how I made it:

 

The F1 Bake Off will return in a fortnight for the Canadian Grand Prix …

Happy baking!

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