Great British Bake Off: Christmas Masterclass

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were back on our screens last Thursday for a Great British Bake Off Masterclass. Watching them cooking and joking together did feel a bit like sneaking into the staffroom at school. Taking it in turns to cook, Mary began with a simple but effective pavlova that was decorated with fruit to look like a Christmas wreath. She simultaneously knocked-up the pavlova and told Paul off for turning up the speed on her whisk. Whilst exchanging anecdotes about their family Christmases, Paul began to make a chelsea bun Christmas tree, filled with pear and apple and glazed with apricot. It looked delicious and when the time came for the taste test, it got Mary licking her lips in approval.

Mary set about making a characteristically boozey trifle. The substitution of traditional soft trifle fruits for dried pineapples and apricots seemed strange initially, but it went down a treat and it did look brilliantly festive. Paul chastised Mary for buying trifle sponges instead of making her own, but forgave her because the apricot jam was homemade. Paul’s creamy leftover ham and turkey pie flavoured with tarragon was a great way to make leftovers into a meal in their own right. The pièce de résistance was a rosace á l’orange, which looked amazing but I’m sure is impossible to make. As Mary cooked, she offered lots of helpful tips, like putting clingfilm over the surface of custard to stop a skin from forming. Paul, on the other hand, seemed happy to finally be able to show off his kneading skills, throwing all his strength into pummelling the poor chelsea bun dough.

The kitchen looked far more wintery than anywhere else in the UK at the moment, thanks to our record breaking warm December. With sprigs of holly, stockings and a fabulous tree, accompanied by light festive music, it was what we’d all like our kitchens to be like at Christmas. It was pleasantly relaxing watching the experts cooking, with none of the tension of the Bake Off tent. Instead of worrying about whether someone’s dough had been proved properly, or who will win the technical, we were invited to sit back and watch Mary and Paul show us how it’s done. Their dynamic was brilliant throughout, with each one clearly itching to advise the other. But their genuine friendship shone through and made it a pleasure to watch.

All the recipes are at


Fionnuala Deasy


Image: BBC. 

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