Thursday, September 9, 2010

A bloke bakes

When a copy of Steve Joll's Baking for Blokes arrived in the mail, I thought I'd better find a bloke to try it out. In the old days Harvey would have jumped at the chance. This is the man who once fearlessly tackled Pink Pears on a Chocolate Tart for my birthday. His friend Geoff was due for a visit, so I decided to ask him - I knew he'd relish the challenge.

I'd meant to write up his report in time for Father's Day, but a few intrusive health glitches meant we couldn't see him until today. On the whole he found the book good value. "The blokey stuff was a bit over the top in places, but often it was funny and I enjoyed it. The instructions seemed pretty clear and easy to follow."
         And then he proudly presented us with the results of his baking debut - an apple tart. (In fact it was Tart 3 - taking no chances, he'd had two test runs first.)
            He's an engineer, and he didn't approve of being told to "chop the apples" - "I thought nice slices would look much better". Nor did he agree with the recommended amount of sugar - "6-8 tablespoons is far too much, I used 3." But he used more cinnamon than it said, because he likes it. He had made the pastry from scratch, mixing in the butter and egg by hand as Joll recommends. I was very impressed. "You get it all over your hands, I was hoping the phone didn't ring!"
             Everything went well until it came to putting the pastry in the dish. "It said to let it hang over all round, and then trim the overhang evenly and fold it in." At this point his wife Pam explained the problem: Geoff had thought he was making an apple pie, like his mother used to make (that's why he'd chosen this recipe) and he didn't realise that tarts are different, they don't have pastry on top.
            What he ended up with was the perfect compromise, halfway between a tart and a pie - a lovely rustic French-style galette, with the pastry overhang draped nicely around the edges of the apple slices. The four of us shared it for dessert tonight. He'd done a pretty good job, it was yummy - and he was right about the sugar.

"Did you pick up the hint of apricot jam?" Geoff asked, sounding as if he'd been baking for years. "Yes", I said, "was that in the recipe?" "Of course!"
             As a reward, I told him he could keep the book. He's already started planning what to bring us for afternoon tea on their next visit.

Baking for Blokes: DIY in the Kiwi Kitchen, Steve Joll, New Holland, $29.99
(There's a nice TV3 piece about it here )
PS: I couldn't resist this picture of How a Real Bloke Mixes a Cake (thank you, Dale!)

No comments: