5 Minutes With MasterChef Leanne Beck

Leanne Beck definitely knows her pastry! She’s hosting Friday night’s Masterclass on MasterChef, and Russell Crowe is a regular at her Sydney bakery Sweet Infinity. She’s also catering the Camp Quality Supper Club tonight at Sydney’s Strand Arcade, hosted by Rachael Finch. She shares her baking tips and the secret to her famous brownies with SheSaid:

1. Many home cooks are intimidated by pastry. What’s a great introductory recipe that’s easy to make?

Best recipe for shortcrust is the classic one:

225g plain flour

Pinch salt

125g unsalted butter

3 tablespoons water

Squeeze lemon or orange juice

Rub the room temperature butter through the sifted dry ingredients. Make sure that you are letting plenty of air into the mix.

Add water (with juice in) little by little and mix. Turn onto floured board and knead gently. Put into fridge for a couple of hours before rolling. Make sure that your hands are cold and run them under cold water if you need to.

2. What are your 3 best baking tips?

1. Always, always pre-heat oven.

2. Sifting flour and the other dry ingredients is a must.

3. Cold hands when making pastry or kneading dough wash hands under cold water.

3. You’re famous for your brownies – what’s your secret to baking the ultimate brownie at home?

Use good quality chocolate, have plenty of it to nibble on – alongside a cheeky glass of Australian red wine!

4. What’s your favourite winter dish?

Roasted pheasant with lentils and jus.

5. We’ve had macarons, cupcakes – what do you think the next big cake fad will be?

Hard to pick but I like the retro trend that has been happening recently so I will go with Amy Johnson cakes which have a shortcrust base under a raspberry sponge with zesty lemon layer on top. Some people add aromatic spices and fresh roasted coconut but that’s a personal choice. Amy Johnson was an Australian aviation pioneer so I also like the history.

Make sure you catch Leanne Beck hosting the Masterclass on MasterChef this Friday!