And on to the Technical! In keeping with their promise to keep things simpler this series, this was one of Paul’s recipes, fougasse, something so simple that all of us pick up a couple in Sainsbury’s almost every week. Not. Most of the contestants had never even seen one, let alone made it, and struggled with the instructions to make “two cuts down the middle and six on either side”. Should the middle cuts be one above the other, or side by side?
The correct answer, and one which seemed to be the main thing separating sheep from goats, fresh home-grown herbs plucked from pots outside the kitchen door from dried-up dusty sprinklings purchased in a panic from the corner shop, was one above the other. This was so that the finished loaf, which was really just herby bread of a sort that even I could probably have a go at*, would resemble a leaf. No-one said what kind of leaf, but to me it looked like nothing so much as a leaf off one of those Swiss Cheese plants that used to be so popular.
I was given such a plant once for my twenty-fifth birthday, and it lived with me for about twenty years, the latter ten in the corner of the kitchen in my house, which is Edwardian (the small sort of Edwardian for the likes of Lupin Pooter, you understand, not a whopping Stockbroker Tudor mansion). The ceilings are thus rather high, and it was when the plant had grown large enough to be brushing the ceiling that I decided it needed to be rehomed before I woke up to find myself in an impromptu performance of Little Shop of Horrors. When I moved it, I found that it had literally grown into the house, sending out air roots and tendrils behind the skirting board and down through the floor boards. My brother-in-law took it and put it in the day room of the hospital where he worked, plants apparently being A Good Thing in these places, and for all I know it’s still there, terrorising the patients and retarding their recovery.
*Although I have found that this is a dangerous thing to say with Bake Off. Macaroons, I’m looking at you.