Sparkling Wine & Pastry Pairing with The Great British Bakeoff
On your marks, get set, BAKE!
What is it about a drone’s eye view of a baking competition tent in the hills of the English countryside that has us so transfixed? Is it the charming set with its retro duck egg blue and sage green coloured appliances? The uplifting violin medley in the opening number? The convivial attitudes and eccentric personalities? The tension-building moments when contestants are staring into an abyss of an oven, kneeling in prayer position willing their dough to rise? Simultaneously, others run from freezer to station, gripping their baking tray like a baton in a sprint to the Final Show Stopper finish. The list could go on. It’s perhaps a mix of many a wonderful and wacky ingredient that make for such an iconic programme. The tent transports us to a bucolic baking dream land for one hour every Tuesday night. And admittedly, we are hooked on its silly, light-hearted pomp and circumstance.
“Did you see Bakeoff last night?”
Every Wednesday, a group of us here at Wines Direct gather “around the water cooler” to debrief. When taking Bakeoff roll call there is an occasional, “No! I haven’t watched it yet!” A complimentary spoiler alert is sound and the a.m. tea break Bakeoff banter begins. “Did you think she should have gone home?” “Did you cry?” (yeah, okay, we sometimes get a little emosh!) “Do you think Paul is giving too many gratuitous handshakes?” And after Danish Week, “What wine would you pair with Rahul’s smørrebrød?” Alright, we don’t go that far, but having lived in Denmark for a stint, it was fun trying to say “smørrebrød” again. It’s no surprise that Patisserie Week prompted a sparkling discussion on what pastry we would pair with our favourite bubbles. Whether you are a fan of the Great British Bakeoff or not, few could argue that sweets and sparkle is a match made in confectionery heaven. And too good not to share outside the Wines Direct break room.
Who says you can’t have Champagne on a weeknight?
In honour of our shameless fandom and Season 9’s finale, we recommend three staff sparkling wine picks to correspond with the three challenge bakes from Patisserie Week. You may not bake or buy a “Settevelli” anytime soon but there is a lot of fun in experimenting with your favourite bakes using some general wine and pastry pairing tips. You may also opt popping open a bottle and pairing it with your favourite programme! Who says you can’t have Champagne on a weeknight?
When pairing wines with desserts, an easy rule to follow is matching levels of sweetness. When pairing sparkling wines, the size of the bubbles with the texture of the confection is also a consideration. For example, a dry Champagne will have more robust bubbles than a delicate sweet Frizzante. Something like a flaky puff pastry can handle a dry Brut Champagne but a sweeter Prosecco may best go with something lighter, such as a mousse or sponge cake. Truth be told, sparkling wines are very versatile when it comes to pairing with food — especially sweets. The fun is in finding that perfect union of sweet and sparkle.
Madeleines and Moscato
Signature Challenge: Two sets of dipped Madeleines.
Madeleines are a French classic. A dainty cake baked in a pan with shell-shaped depressions resulting in the iconic shell-like hump. A Madeleine is genoise cake batter and traditionally calls for finely ground nuts, usually almonds. It tastes like sponge cake and is often dipped in chocolate. Citrus additions are also common. We saw some fun flavour combos in the Signature Challenge — espresso and mojito martini, lemon and raspberry, and quirky ginger and lemon Madeleines iced to look like bunnies. See Rahul’s Chocolate Dipped Madeleine recipe here.
Bera Moscato d’Asti is a sweet semi-sparkling wine and a perfect companion to the Madeleine. It’s aroma is Moscato grapes, mixed with floral and yeast. Bera is sweet and zippy with a refreshingly light taste. The soft bubbles of Moscato d’Asti and the fluffy texture of a Madeleine makes for a lovely pairing. Bera is an easy drinking wine and at just 5% abv. (alcohol by volume); it doubles as a low cal dessert on its own! (I’ve done the research).
Settevelli and Prosecco
The Technical Challenge: Settevelli.
Settevelli (Italian for “Cake of the Seven Veils”) is a seven-layer torta served at birthday celebrations in the City of Palermo in Sicily. This cake is all about cream, mousse and chocolate. The top layer is a mirror chocolate glaze, and includes the following layers (in order from top to bottom): chocolate mousse, hazelnut Bavarian cream, chocolate sponge cake, hazelnut Bavarian cream (yes, again), praline crunch, and one more layer of chocolate sponge cake. Piece O’ cake! Sarcasm and pun intended. For Prue’s Settevelli recipe, click here.
Le Contesse Frizzante is a fruity, off-dry Prosecco with a zingy palate of light fruit flavours. The silky, seductive bubbles compliment the decadent and airy layers of the Settevelli. These two Italian sweets are meant for each other!
The Parisian Patisserie Window & Champagne
The Final Showstopper: 36 Pastries that could adorn a Parisian Ladurée shop window.
Contestants had 5 hours to make 36 pastries using choux, pate sucree and millefeuille pastry — an incredible feat. Given the pressure, it is no wonder that Briony mixed up her sugar with salt. The recipe for Ruby’s Summer Millefeuille is here.
There is nothing more perfect to accompany these classic French pastries than Jacky Charpentier Prestige Rosé Champagne. The Charpentier’s have been winemakers since 1920 — before Champagne was glamorous. It is hard to find a better texture pairing than the fine creamy bubbles of the Prestige and the flaking pastry. The fruity aroma and beautiful blush presentation make this chic bottle a wonderful party guest. It also stands alone as an amazing aperitif.