Are you watching The Great South African Bake Off? Me too!
I will admit that I am always wary when an overseas production gets given a South African make-over. I find that I get quite critical of the local version because the spinoffs never seem to measure up to the original do they? When I heard that The Great Bake Off was headed this way, I was rather disappointed actually.
I make my kiddos watch cooking shows to save them from the inappropriate drivel which is broadcast during their television time. It did not take long for Pretty Girl to hear that the show was coming and as expected she begged me to enter. Much to my relief, having formal chef training as well as extensive restaurant experience disqualified me from the show. I do fear that child of mine may have driven me nuts were it not so.
As if to confirm my trepidation, the first episode of The Great South African Bake Off was not broadcast in its advertised space. I was not alone in my confusion as I found myself watching a rerun of a Mary and Paul’s Great British Bake Off Master Class which aired in its place. Twitter went nuts and the show’s producers cited a technical glitch.
Redemption came two days later when the first show aired. I just love it. The Bake Off Tent – albeit seemingly situated in the desert – is perfectly decorated to resemble the British version, but the accents such as the pin cushion wallpaper are enough to give it a South African feel. As presenters, Anne Hirsch is quirky and Donovan Goliath is cheesy,and both seem really clueless about baking which I find rather charming.
The judges, Shirley Guy and Tjaart Walraven, really know their baking stuff. I have deep respect for Shirley Guy’s long food career. I remember getting her book “Weber Cooking South African Style Cookbook” along with our first Weber. I like that she is no nonsense and perfectionistic. In fact of the two, I find Tjaart more annoying in the way he delivers a judgement. His outfits bother me too. A great deal.
Anyway, in Episode 3, the technical challenge bake was a Lemon Meringue Pie. Look, Lemon Meringue Pie is realy not an easy bake and one which has a few technical elements to master. I really felt for the bakers because those judges were hard to please. But then seriously though, the baker who blind baked his pastry without paper just the pastry balls, well I was finished! You can see the clip here.
After watching the show I was really in the mood for a giant slice of Lemon Meringue Pie. So I made one.
(If you doubt my commitment to Lemon Meringue Pie, check out this ice cream.)
My recipe is so fabulous that I think even Shirley and Tjaart would approve. The pastry is crisp and thin. The lemon curd filling is tart and smooth. The Italian meringue billowy and soft with no evidence of seeping.
Also, and I really hate to brag, but did you notice that after all these years I have still got some mad pastry kitchen like piping skills?
Are you also fan of the show? Who is your favourite to win? Let me know in the comments.
- 125 g butter, softened
- 90 g icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 280 g cake flour
- 250 ml (1 C) white sugar
- 30 ml (1 T) cake flour
- 45 ml (3 T) corn flour
- 1 ml (¼ t) salt
- 375 ml (1½ C) water
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 lemon, zested
- 30 ml (2 T) butter
- 4 eggs yolks
- 4 egg whites
- 225 g caster sugar
- pinch salt
- To make the pastry, place the butter, icing sugar and egg in the bowl of a mixer.
- Beat with the paddle attachment until light.
- Add the flour and continue to mix until the mixture comes together in a dough.
- Form the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll the pastry out to and line your pie dish or baking pan and neaten the edges.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice.
- Bake the pastry in an oven preheated to 190˚C for 20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
- Remove the baking paper and beans and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes to crisp the bottom.
- Place the sugar, flour, corn flour and salt into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Add the water and lemon juice.
- Whisk over medium heat for about five minutes or until the mixture boils and thickens.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the butter.
- Whisk in the egg yolks, bring back to the boil and continue to cook for two minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Stir in as much of the lemon zest as is required for the lemon curd to be tangy but not bitter.
- Pour the filling into the baked pastry shell and leave until completely set and cool.
- Place the egg whites and the castor sugar in the top of a double boiler.
- Cook over medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved in the egg whites and the mixture is warm to the touch.
- Transfer the meringue mixture to an electric mixer.
- Beat using the whisk attachment for 5 – 10 minutes or until the meringue is glossy, white and stiff.
- Decorate the top of the curd with the meringue.
- Use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize the meringue.