When I first saw The Great British Bake Off advertised last year, I almost burst with excitement. My new-found obsession with baking meant I watched in awe every week, simultaneously wishing I was competing and realising I was nowhere near good enough.
As I watched the contestants take on challenge after challenge – from bread, to pastries, macarons, celebration cakes, and pies, I decided to do something I’d been meaning to do for months: write The Bake List. Everyone’s got to have ambitions, right?
Like a jollier, cake-ier Bucket List, The Bake List is a list of all those things I want to take on, experiment, and challenge myself with in the near future. I know it’ll grow as time goes on, and I pore obsessively over recipes online and in my ever-growing mountain of books, but for now, here it is:
The Bake List
1. Tart au citron
2. Key lime pie
3. Bakewell pudding
4. Custard tart (my last attempt went disastrously wrong due to using a springform tin – silly girl!)
5. Hummingbird Brooklyn Blackout cake
6. Courgette bread
7. Rainbow layer cake
8. Bread: sourdough, sodabread, focaccia and a good white loaf
9. Whoopie pies
10. A cracking, hearty, homemade pie
11. Salted caramel cupcakes/macarons
12. Peanut butter cupcakes
The girl who bakes the boy who bakes
Last week, I got to work ticking off number one – Tarte au Citron.
I remembered seeing a picture perfect version of this on the website of last year’s Great British Bake-Off winner Edd Kimber (also know as ‘The Boy who Bakes’) a little while ago, so when the time came, his recipe (click here!) was my first port of call.
I haven’t played with pastry very much, apart from very simple mince pies last Christmas, so I was a little apprehensive. Thankfully, the whole point of The Bake List is to expand my horizons and boost my baking confidence!
After whipping up the pastry in my food processor (it’s as easy as pie, but don’t worry if you don’t have one, it just takes a little longer!), I blind-baked it. If you’re like me and grew up devoid of baked good, blind-baking is where the pastry is baked without filling to get a bit of a headstart and cook properly. You can buy special baking beans to lie on top of the pastry to stop it bubbling up in the oven, but I went down the simple route of covering in baking parchment and rice – does exactly the same job. Save the rice to use another time to avoid waste!
While the pastry was cooling, I gently whipped up the filling – a divine mixture of lemon juice and zest, caster sugar and double cream – before pouring into the cooled pastry case.
Thankfully, as I was simultaneously making macarons that night, I was so utterly exhausted I managed to keep myself horrifically busy – busy enough not to try a slice until it was almost cold.
I fell in lemony love. I was momentarily transported to a balcony overlooking an italian vineyard, the sunshine kissing my skin. The crumbly, almondy pastry, filled with zesty, silky smooth filling. It was heaven.
And then – as quick as the last mouthful disappeared – I was back on my sofa, frazzled, surrounded by beautiful, agonizingly small and time-consuming, macaron shells, waiting to be filled and united with their partners.
I took it into work and it was as big a hit there as it was for me. Sadly, the unusually full-house of staff meant we were left mourning the consequential lack of seconds.
As I embarked on a five hour drive home for the weekend, my mourning quickly came to an end. I was heading home with a box of 30 macarons