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  • Katie Home Cook

Britain’s Best Home Cook, Pie Week

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

And breathe… Wasn’t that a tense week?Doing well in Episode 2 should have made me less nervous, but in fact it had the opposite effect. I never ever expected to do well going into the show and when I did it totally threw me. I was really worried the judges would have higher expectations of my cooking. I’d had no clue that the sauce for my fish pasta was unusual flavour combination, what if my pie was also a strange combination, but this time it didn’t work?

Going back to BBHC house without Q was really hard for me, but I was lucky to get a new next door neighbour, when Trevor moved into Q’s room, I could stay up late bothering him now. We spent almost all our time together, chatting but mainly laughing!! Josie and Dipa asked me to show them how to make scones, neither of them had made scones before and it’s such a simple recipe. We had lots of fun baking them and even more fun eating them! At the start of episode 3 you can see Josie tucking into one…

Watching the show is just as exciting for me as it is for you, because a lot of the footage is new for me.

I love seeing the video diaries, especially when Tobi said he loved us all… It may seem strange that we all bonded so quickly but we really did, I was even doing laundry for some of the others, including pants!!Pie week had me worried, I thought the filling might be too much for the judges. I was making, “Penclawdd Pie”, name by yours truly. Penclawdd is a village in Swansea, South Wales, which is famous for its long history of cockle picking, Penclawdd still exports cockles all over the world. I buy my Penclawdd cockles from Swansea Market, they are the best!


The pie was chicken, mushroom, bacon, cockles and laver bread in a creamy sauce with just a touch of Welsh blue cheese yet again! The pie was going to be topped with rough puff pastry; I’d only practised the pastry once and the pastry had not risen properly, and let’s be honest the pastry is the most important part of a pie. The thought of making pastry for Mary Berry was giving me cold sweats…

We were all up bright and early ready to head back into the kitchen, I couldn’t really eat breakfast, my tummy was in knots. Tobi though managed to make himself a breakfast fit for a king, but I couldn’t face it! Claudia was waiting for us as usual, looking lovely, then in walk the judges and Dan proceeds to tell us how much he loves pie, it’s his favourite food and it should have pastry all the way around. It’s all I can do not to just bolt for the door; mine is a stew with a lid. I think he’s got us all rattled!

We start cooking and I make my pastry straight away, I need to get in at least four book turns to get the lamination Mary will be looking for. I want to squeeze in a double egg wash if I can. All of this takes a lot of chilling time.

Making rough puff pastry

(So book turns are where the pastry is folded into three, then chilled, then rolled out and folded into three again, to get butter in between the layers of the pastry, which causes it to rise. A double egg wash, is just a normal egg wash, then about 10 mins into cooking another quick egg wash, it helps the colour and the shine of the pastry).Mary Berry comes over to see me and we chat about laver bread and my pie, I explain that Penclawdd is where the cockles are picked in Swansea, and my Great Great Grandmother was actually a cockle picker in Penclawdd. Mary then brought Chris over to try the laver bread (he simply adores local produce). Both were keen to find out about Swansea Market, I was always talking about the market and Welsh produce;I invited them both down for a visit!

Mary Berry & I talking about Swansea Market & laverbread

I was conscious of the time, but things were running quite smoothly for me. Josie, my gorgeous bench buddy was really struggling with her pastry. I tried to coach her through it, I liked helping Josie and the others where I could. Josie is such a lovely person and I just wanted everyone to be able to do their best.

Josie was having trouble with her pastry...

I got my pastry finished the way I wanted. My filling was completely chilled before topping with the pastry, to stop the filling steaming and making the pastry soggy, I just needed the pastry to rise now… I felt quite panicky, but Tobi reassured me, he’s always a calming influence for me. Thankfully my pastry did rise, my vegetables on the side were looking good and my cockle popcorn were lovely and crispy; I was proud with what I had produced, but still nervous that the judges may not like the flavours!

Today I was first up with the judging…. Mary was very kind and said that my pie looked “tempting, with a good glaze”! YAY! Dan said that laver bread was an underrated ingredient, well I was over the moon, I love using laver bread in my cooking, but a lot of people are put off because it’s seaweed. I made cockle popcorn as one of my side dishes (battered and deep fat fried cockles). Dan loved them, he renamed them “Frockles”, he said they were so good he could use them in his restaurant!!

Phil was up next, I could have eaten a big bowl of his cabbage on its own and I thought the mustard in the pastry was ingenious; I will have to try that out.

Cyrus’ dish looked like it was straight out of a magazine, as always… the mash was outstanding, silky smooth. I loved his use of pea shoots, I can’t think of anything that isn’t improved by pea shoots.

I was so excited to try Tobi’s chicken gizzard pie, because I love using offal, so cheap and full of flavour, but I’ve never cooked with gizzards. The pie was phenomenal… Tobi is always so inventive, although I almost had a heart attack when he was trying to get his pie out of the mould!!

Fish pie has got to be one of my favourite pies, but I had never tried one that tasted like Dipa’s - I loved the mild spicing, it tasted like a creamy fish korma topped with smooth mash! Dipa can you make this when I come round for tea?

Josie’s pie filling was delicious; I liked the Filipino flavours, I thought her green bean and mushroom side was to die for, I actually ate what was left of it after judging!

I thought Pippa’s pastry was interesting, I had never thought to put butter and suet in pastry together.

Trevor had told me that his idea for his pie was to have the chilli filling with the short crisp pastry acting a little bit like a tortilla, well he achieved that. I really enjoyed his Jerusalem artichoke, I would eat it again! When chatting afterwards he told me, he only wanted to make it because he liked it, typical Trevor!

Making the pie left me feeling tired, I was thinking about what was for tea back at the house when it was time for the favourites to be announced. Dan chose Pippa, Chris chooses Tobi, and Mary says her favourite “Ultimate” pie has an “interesting filling”, the “very best pastry” and “perfect pastry”, followed by my name….. I am totally gobsmacked… two weeks in a row, pinch me I’m dreaming! The Queen of baking just said my pastry was “PERFECT”, this overtakes the Swiss Roll, my mother will be proud.

I was so shocked....

The choice is between cheese and plums… I know that I have used Welsh cheese in every one of my Ultimate’s so far, but I can’t get the thought of plum crumble out of my head, I haven’t had a crumble for ages. Pippa and Tobi are in agreement, so plums it is.

Pippa, Tobi & I chose plums

Watching the episode I realised how worried Josie was about using plums, it’s hard to know when you’re picking the ingredient for the following day what the other contestants are going to think. Sorry Josie!I jump in the car ready to go home, it’s just me and Trevor and he says to me, “I know exactly what I’m going to make…” I’m so glad because now we can have fun, a couple of G&Ts and not spend all night worrying about the challenge the next day. Trevor says “I’m going to make pancakes, with a plum compote, some roasted plums and maybe some cream…” It’s all sounding good to me, then he says “then I’ll make a hole in the top pancake and fill it with Crème Patisserie” whoa… I told him, “keep it simple!”

Later that evening Trevor and I spent a long time debriefing and putting the world to rights, as we often did. Having Trevor in the BBHC house and as a friend made the whole experience that much richer for me. The following day I’m up at 4.30am as always, but I know exactly what I’m making this time I have only one concern, will there be cornflour? I need it to make my custard, there’s been a lot of talk around crème anglaise in the house, but I have no idea what that is!

We’re back in the kitchen, I’m armed with my plum coloured lipstick, which Claudia compliments, I am honoured!! Josie and Dipa are both nervous today, neither of them want to be in the cook off for a third time.

Hearing Trevor saying that he works in ounces when it’s an old family recipe is exactly like me, all my handed down recipes are in ounces and I have never converted them. Wonder how many other people do that?

Straight in tasting the plums

We’re sent to our bench and I start by tasting the plums, they taste beautiful, the stock cupboard and fridge are plentiful…. then I see cornflour… I’m so happy!

I start my plums off in a pan, something I would never do at home, but I need to control the flavours, I think the fruit in a crumble should always be slightly tart, I can’t make my plums too sweet. To my plums I add amaretto, ginger and orange zest… then top with my crumble, once that’s in the oven I start my custard. Crumble and custard might seem like an easy choice, but in fact it was a time pressure to get it all done.

I almost burn my custard, yapping away with Trevor, luckily I saved it…. I look calm on the outside but inside I’m a nervous wreck, but there’s no point crying over spilt milk, HA!

I get my crumble out of the oven and it looks a mess. My crumbles often dribble a little at home but nothing like this! (At least one twitter user described it as a bloodbath and another as being a good dessert for Halloween!!!) Icing sugar, sure that will save it…

Tobi is cutting it fine with his strudel, I’m finished, I come to the rescue with extra palette knives, I offer to help lift it, but he declined, can’t blame him - he’d seen my crumble!

Trevor's Pancakes...

Trevor is up for judging first and if those pancakes are what his Nan used to make, when can I visit? Mary describes his compote as “Very, very good” I’m elated for him, his pancakes were, light, fluffy and delicious. He’s chuffed to get such good feedback.

Tobi impressed again with his plum strudel, the judges love it, especially as he managed to get it cooked through and finished in the time. It smelt lovely, like mulled wine.

Oh Dear… my turn and the first thing Mary says to me, “did you even try to wipe the dish?” then “it’s got to be good, because it’s JUST a straight forward crumble.” I have a sinking feeling, then she takes out a piece and there’s too much crumble. I just kept adding more and more crumble, I was worried there wouldn’t be enough. I explain that I put Ginger Nuts in the crumble topping, which I thought was a twist but I don’t think I convinced them!

When Mary said, “I bet you’ve made a better one at home” I was devastated. On reflection I should have maybe made a neat little crumble in a ramekin with a roast plum on the side. Maybe I needed to elevate my cooking, could I even do that?Whilst watching the episode on TV, I was overjoyed to hear Mary say that my flavours were right and that she could drink my custard, I don’t feel quite so bad about my plumble now.

Dipa’s duck with plum sauce

Dipa’s duck was undercooked, I felt for her so much, but her sauce was gorgeous.

Phillip and Pippa both made eggy bread, which is one of my favourites (to be honest there’s not much I don’t like to eat). Phillip was up first, and it was hilarious when Claudia stood next to him for judging because she had convinced him to serve an extra plum. The judges loved his dish and I could have polished the whole thing off. Pippa followed Philip, the judges didn’t think her dish was sweet enough, I know sweet dishes are something Pippa struggles with because she doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

Josie’s duck with plum sauce

Josie’s duck was cooked very well, it’s such a shame her fat wasn’t crisp, didn’t stop me though, I ate most of it. Yummy!

Cyrus’ dessert looked as though it had been made in a fine dining restaurant and judges liked both his flavours and textures. Very bold to make meringues in 60 minutes!

After judging Claudia was telling us it was time for a cup of tea, when Trevor successfully put a whole plum in his mouth and Mary Berry caught him…. It was hysterical, he was dying of embarrassment, and if you look closely you can just make out the plum in his hand, what is he like?

Waiting to find out who was cooking again was excruciating, I had convinced myself that a bog-standard crumble had no place in this competition. I was resigned to the fact that I would be cooking again.

Dan tells us that only Dipa and Josie are going to be cooking again, I can’t quite take it in… they both make me promise not to cry, no matter what. Trevor is chuffed that he has a stool, but soon realised that sitting on one is heart breaking at the same time.The challenge this week is to make pasta. In a way it was fair because neither of them had ever made pasta before, but the cook-off is hard to watch no matter what; we’re so close and such good friends.

Dipa and Josie finished, and both did a good job. Time for the silent tasting, no matter how tense Chris’ tasting faces always make me giggle.

It is so interesting hearing the judge’s thoughts for the first time. It was a testament to Dipa and Josie and their cooking, to see how close the decision was and how difficult it was for Mary.Josie was very nervous and Dipa had confided in me that she thought it was her time to go and she was ok with that. Then Chris announced that it would be Josie going home.

Love ya Josie 💕

I promised not to cry and I didn’t, but it was very hard. I have not met many people who are sweeter or kinder than Josie, and my goodness she is just gorgeous! I do love her dearly and cannot wait for her trip to South Wales to visit me in the near future.

Britain’s Best Home Cook continues Thursday, 8pm, BBC One

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