The Great Year 8 French Bake-Off
Le grand concours culinaire français de la quatriѐme classe
The Year 8 French class researched French cuisine and the history of famous French dishes, then took part in a French bake-off over the holidays, photographing the results of their artistry to compete in a COVID-safe way. The language department was faced with the onerous task of selecting winners from among the many magnificent entries, and finally settled on:
1st prize: Ishaan Tapre
2nd prize: Karina Bu
3rd prize: Henry Daniels
with honorary awards offered by passing teachers who couldn’t resist promoting their own particular favourite dishes:
The Ms Kendall Award for technical excellence: Tracy Pham
The Deputy Year 8 Advisor’s Award from Mr Gillespie: Ingrid Lyford
Félicitations to all the students on the high quality of their presentations.
80ml heavy cream
150g orange milk chocolate
100g orange dark chocolate
125g almond flour/meal
125g icing sugar
3 egg whites
125g caster sugar
(optional) orange food colouring (MUST BE GEL FOOD COLOURING)
2 medium bowls
1 large bowl
1 hand mixer
1 baking tray
1 sheet of baking paper
2 piping bags or ziplock bags
1 pair of scissors
In a medium bowl pour cream and chocolate
Heat for 30 seconds and mix
Put the ganache into your fridge
Sift almond flour and sugar into the large bowl
Separate 3 room temperature egg whites into a medium bowl
Beat with the hand mixer until opaque and add ⅓ of caster sugar
Beat for 5 seconds then add another ⅓ of the sugar
Repeat step 7
Beat until soft peaks form
(optional) add gel food colouring (I didn’t have any)
Beat until stiff peaks form
Mix into the flour mixture using a cut and fold method
Mix until the batter falls from the spatula in an even stream, and immediately stop mixing
Preheat the oven to 140C
Pour into piping bag OR ziplock bag with a small corner cut off
Pipe 3 cm diameter circles spaced evenly (should make 40 – 42 cookies)
Lift baking tray 10cm and drop, repeat until bubbles start to surface
Pop bubbles with a toothpick or a thin object
Bake for 18 minutes
Take out of the oven and let cool completely
Find a pair of cookies of equal size and flip one of them
Pipe ½ a teaspoon of ganache onto the flipped cookie
Lightly press another cookie onto the ganache
Keep in a fridge for 3 hours
● ¼ cup granulated sugar
● 2 tablespoons water
● 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (rice wine vinegar)
● 1 ½ cups orange juice
● 2 tablespoons minced shallots
● 1 ½ chicken stock
● 4 oranges (sections cut from membranes)
● 1 duck breast (cut into 2 halves)
● Salt & Pepper to taste
● ¼ cold unsalted butter
Preparing the Orange Sauce:
1. Gather all ingredients
2. In a saucepan, boil sugar and water for several minutes until the syrup caramelises and turns a golden brown/amber colour.
3. Add the vinegar, juice, shallots and chicken stock and simmer until the sauce is reduced to a little less than a cup.
4. Cut the butter into small pieces and add them to the pan with 1 tablespoon of orange zest. Shake the pan over medium heat until the butter has melted and is incorporated into the sauce. Stir in the orange.
5. The sauce is now ready and can be cooled and stored until you’re ready to prepare the duck breasts, or you can set it aside and proceed with cooking the duck breasts.
Preparing and Cooking the Duck Breasts:
1. Gather the ingredients
2. Dry the two half breasts with paper towels
3. Slash through the fat on the breasts with a sharp knife to create a crisscross pattern, this will help release the fat, and the fat will crisp when cooked.
4. Sprinkle both the meat side and the fat with some salt and pepper.
5. Heat a skillet over high heat. Sear the duck breasts quickly on both sides, then cook the duck for about 9-11 minutes on each side.
6. Remove the breasts from the pan and place them on a warm plate. Cover them with paper towels and leave them to rest for 5 minutes. This helps soften the duck after cooking.
7. Reheat the sauce.
8. Place the duck on a hot plate, either whole or neatly sliced. Spoon the sauce over the duck. Garnish if desired.
9. Serve immediately and enjoy.
History of Duck a l’Orange
The world famous French classic dish seems to be from the 19th century. Many food historians believe Duck a l’Orange was exported to France by Catherine de Medici, Henry II’s wife. The origins of Duck a l’Orange is shown that it has deep roots, certainly going back to the ancient Middle East, as dishes from that region often combined meat and fruit. The fruit balances the fat and flavour of the flesh with bright tart notes. The kings of France planted oranges in the 16th century, but it didn’t make catch on until the 17th century, which is when we see the first reference to the orange sauce. Wherever it came from, Duck à l’Orange remained a classic dish throughout the 20th century.