For these delightful Duchesses there is much to learn before the steaming commences however, and it's mostly about piping. Fanny demonstrates her piping technique, and shows pictures of her poor assistants, and even Johnnie, in action with the bag and nozzle. The assistants are forced to wear matching outfits and have strict instructions never to look at the camera.
The basic mix is made from steamed potatoes that are then sieved and heated gently in a completely clean dry pan until all the mixture is really dry. This is the key to successful Duchess, moisture is not a friend. Fanny says you may get 'bored bandy' sieving the potatoes, but reassures that it is essential for a good effect. The flabbier the potato if overloaded with moisture, the more frustrated you'll be with your failed piped shapes. Fanny says it's like icing a cake, you must start right from scratch. Far from being bored, I find it quite therapeutic.
To the steamed, sieved, dried potato, seasoning is added, a small amount of softened butter and an egg yolk. I coloured the egg yolk with green gel paste colouring from Wilton's first. Then it's on to shaping! Fanny gives separate and detailed instructions for Gallettes, Doights (fingers), Petits Pyramides, Petits Pains, Brioches, Rosettes Longues and Couronnes. I prefer the piped ones, especially the little pyramids, but try them all. I even add in my own shape (what on earth would Fanny say) in preparation for Valentines Day. Obviously, nothing says 'I Love You' quite like a green mashed potato heart.
Before baking, the piped potatoes need to be brushed with a glaze Anglais. This is strained egg which is beaten with olive oil (I used rapeseed though, I clearly just can't follow Fannys instructions), salt and white pepper. Fanny says this mixture imparts a fine, rich glaze to any savoury substance which needs one. Perfect. All that's left to do is bake until a nice rich brown colour. And still green of course.
They come out looking sensational - at least I think so! Has Fanny finally gotten to me? Will my potatoes forever be green? They look so cheery and colourful, and the piped ones especially just simply made me smile. Definitely no ordinary potato, the Duchess is surely a perfect way to remember Fanny and celebrate her style - go on, grab your food colouring and get piping!