Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ready, Steady, Bake

Paul Kelly helps you recreate a little of the magic from 'The Great Irish Bake Off'

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly

'The Great Irish Bake Off', which starts next Thursday at 9pm on TV3, has been described as the ultimate baking battle in Ireland.

Twelve passionate amateurs will compete over eight episodes to be crowned Ireland's Best Amateur Baker, watched by presenter Anna Nolan and judges Biddy White Lennon and Paul Kelly.

Paul, the executive pastry chef at The Merrion Hotel, has spent close to 20 years in the food industry, and he selected the tempting recipes for our cookery spread today.

The Wexford man has worked in many of Ireland's five-star hotels and high-quality restaurants, including Park Hotel Kenmare. It was there that he discovered his true calling in the culinary world – pastry.

Paul later moved back to Dublin to work in L'Ecrivain as full-time pastry chef, before finding his place at The Merrion, where he has been since the hotel opened in 1997. Paul is a creative risk-taker, which has led him to develop many unique concepts such as Art Tea at The Merrion, and his eye for detail is evident in his recipes featured here today.

Paul says: "Food memories can be so powerful, so I thought, 'why not bring all those wonderful memories back to the table, but this time with a modern Irish twist?' I am always striving to create new interesting flavours, so I took the toast flavour of my childhood and toasted the milk for my panna cotta. The strawberries could be infused in black or green tea with a drop of lemon juice and a sprinkle of icing sugar. The vanilla ice cream came from the memory of ice-cream vans."

Praising the talents of the 'Bake Off' contestants, he says: "I genuinely hope our bakers have gained confidence through the 'Bake Off' journey. I do think that all of them learned a lot throughout the process, and for me that just makes the competition even more beneficial."



White chocolate picnic rug transfer (available from La Rousse Foods, laroussefoods.ie
Ice-cream maker

Kitchen blow torch


For the toasted milk panna cotta

175g powdered milk

375g double cream

60g sugar

8g gelatine

1 vanilla pod


To make the panna cotta, toast the powdered milk in the oven and combine it with the double cream and sugar in a saucepan and boil. Remove from the heat and blend for two minutes with a hand blender. Stir in the gelatine and mix until disolved. Pour mix into moulds and put in the freezer.



For the strawberries

10 Wexford strawberries, cut into quarters

Lemon juice

Icing sugar, to sprinkle


Squeeze lemon juice over the strawberries and sprinkle icing sugar over the top.



For the strawberry meringues

250g caster sugar

125g egg whites

Tiny drop of red colouring

Tiny drop of strawberry essence


Boil the sugar to 121°C and pour on top of the egg whites as you whisk them. Add the colouring and essence. Pipe the mixture on to a tray and dry in lukewarm oven overnight.

For the vanilla ice cream 1 litre cream

2 vanilla pods

16 egg yolks

200g caster sugar

50g trimoline (from La Rousse Foods)


Bring the cream to the boil. In a bowl, combine the vanilla pod seeds, egg yolks and sugar and pour the boiled cream into this mixture. Place the mixture back on the heat and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.

Combine this mixture with the trimoline, put into an ice-cream machine, turn for 10 minutes, then remove and freeze.

To create the picnic

Assemble the strawberries, meringues, panna cotta and ice cream on a plate. Place a rectangle of the white chocolate picnic rug transfer on the top and use a heat source, such as a kitchen blow torch, to melt it. Paul says you could also use a paint scraper or hair dryer on a gentle heat to melt the transfer.

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