Are you a Great British Bake Off fan? I am. I love it. I’ve loved it since the first series, when I stumbled on it halfway through. Whenever it’s on I am in front of the sofa with my laptop and Nexus, tweeting along with some of the most hilarious women I know. It’s one of the highlights of my week.
A lot of baking bloggers are doing a bake-along. This is a marvellous idea, and I would have jumped at the chance to join in had I known about it beforehand. I’d seen a lot of mutterings about how the technical challenge for this week, Ile Flottante, didn’t look at all appetising and how they weren’t looking forward to making or eating it. Then when the show aired yesterday, there were lots of tweets like this:
To which I say — WHAT?!
Ile Flottantes are amazing. Seriously, they are amazing. I tried my first one when I was about 13, on holiday in France. We were in a rural French restaurant and there wasn’t much I recognised on the dessert menu. My dad suggest an Ile Flottante, and I dubiously stared at this horrible pile of custard and squishy stuff. At my parents’ urging I took a spoonful, and promptly face-planted into the dish. I used my finger to scrap the bowl, it was that good. Ile Flottantes are delicious.
I am desperately looking for photos of me eating an Ile Flottantes here, but there aren’t any. I’m fairly sure this is because I eat them before anyone can get near me with a camera.
To be fair, none of the Ile Flottantes I’ve ever eaten have looked like the ones they made on GBBO. Three little quenelles with spun sugar and runny custard? Nope. You need a dish and a dribble of caramel sauce over the top and a meringue that’s almost cakey in texture, worlds apart from any meringue I’ve ever eaten and certainly not something that’s wet or soggy.
So I did a bit of research. And you know what I found? It’s no wonder I love Ile Flottante whereas every baking blogger hated them and they looked as appetising as a plate of sick. They did NOT make Ile Flottantes on GBBO — they made oeufs à la neige.
What’s the difference, you say? Well, in the immortal words of Julia Child in Mastering The Art of French Cooking: Volume One, “French floating island is an unmoulded soufflé of beaten egg whites, sugar, and flavouring, surrounded by a sauce” whereas “those little mounds of egg whites floating on custard which are usually called floating islands in English are the French dessert oeufs à la neige”.
So, no wonder I was so confused.
I intend to fix the good name of Ile Flottante, which GBBO has so carelessly besmirched. However, I am writing this at 10:15pm and I have to be up at 6am tomorrow to go to a rave before work (don’t ask) so I don’t have time to whip it up now.
Be advised that on Friday I will have a kick ass vlog and recipe on how to make a true, delicious Ile Flottante and I will claw back it’s reputation. And just as a taster, this is what a real Ile Flottante is supposed to look like (according to Moms Best Network). (UPDATE: Kick ass recipe and vlog is here)
P.S. Hannah said this about Deborah…
…so I did this.
I spend far too much time on this program. And I am a bad person.