I have very strong feelings this week. Some of these feelings are related to the fact that Yan definitely should not have left the tent. I adore Yan and I would have been very happy if she’d have won. I really like Kate too, but I think she was weaker than Yan for Italian week and has been struggling for a little while, as has Stacey. It seems ridiculous than Yan went out, so much so that I got quite cross with Paul and Prue. But the bake off bake along must go on, and cannoli are happening.
This is the other thing I have strong feelings about this week: what they made in the tent. I felt like it wasn’t a great episode and the challenges didn’t hang together very well. Sfogliatelle didn’t seem like a great showstopper assignment, really, because most people don’t know what they are and don’t have a chance of making them, and because even when they’re made correctly they just don’t look very interesting. Pizza is too simple and dull for a technical challenge, especially when you have the bakers just make a margherita. I mean, pizza is great, but I’ve made it so many times that it’d be no fun for me to do as a bake along. And there didn’t seem to be much leeway given for the fact that it was stupidly hot in the tent. Also, with the budget for this show, surely they can afford to air-condition the marquee? Or put in big fans? Or even just open the sides?! It’s almost like they’re trying to make the bakers suffer.
But. But. The thing that redeemed this episode for me is that it included cannoli. I love cannoli. I have said it before and I will say it again. They are one of my absolute favourite desserts. But I have never made them before, because they look really hard. I don’t have a deep fat fryer. And you have to have cannoli tubes, and who has those?
Well, me. Now I have those. I purchased cannoli tubes for this bake off bake along. Which is nuts. But this felt like the time to finally bite the bullet and do it, because I have always wanted to be able to make cannoli myself.
Not going to lie: making cannoli is fairly labour intensive. It also requires quite a bit of kit. The dough itself isn’t too hard to put together, but then you need a pasta machine to make it thin enough to work with. As with fresh pasta, yes, you could use a rolling pin, but it would take a lot of time and effort to get the dough as thin as it should be. You’d then have a much easier time of it if you had a deep fat fryer. I don’t, so I just deep-fried my cannoli tubes in a pan of oil on the hob, and kept an eye on the temperature with a sugar thermometer, but it was quite hard to regulate and a fryer that kept a consistent temperature would have been so much easier. Finally, you do need cannoli tubes. Luckily they’re really cheap, but I did have to go to the effort of actually ordering them online.
So, all in all, this was a stupid thing to do. But they were so tasty. I was very proud of my little cannoli shells, which bubbled and went golden and crisp, exactly as Paul and Prue had said they should. I feel like making cannoli in and of itself was enough of a challenge, so I haven’t made three different types. I sort of intended to, but when it came down to it I just ran out of time. I stuck with classic flavours: ricotta; mixed peel; dark chocolate. Happy days. They were really delicious, and I was actually quite proud of myself, which I’m not usually after these bakes!
Obviously I didn’t have a clue what I was doing here, so I slavishly followed this recipe. It all seemed to work without any issues, although I did end up adding some extra flour to the dough, because it seemed a bit too sticky and difficult to work with at first. I also dipped the ends of the cannoli tubes in chocolate because… well, because dipping things in chocolate means never having to give a reason.
Sadly, cannoli don’t keep very well, because as soon as you pipe the ricotta mix into the shells they start to soften and go soggy. It just means you have to eat them all very quickly. Which is tragic, obviously.