In the same way a well-baked pastry has many layers, so does the story of the future of The Great British Bake Off. Following the news that the show would be moving to Channel 4 without its pun-loving presenters Mel and Sue, yesterday it was confirmed that Mary Berry would also not be continuing her role as judge, while Paul Hollywood has signed up for the next three series.
It certainly will not be the same show, but until then we still have the Bake Off we all know and love to enjoy for the next few weeks. And on the menu this week was pastry, and for seasoned viewers, we finally saw the return of the soggy bottom…
For the signature challenge, the judges asked for 24 breakfast pastries – Danish pastries specifically – with two different fillings.
Time was of the essence in this challenge, with the dough needing to be made quickly so that it had time to prove both before and after being shaped. After the first prove the bakers had to begin layering their pastry with butter, and soon the tent resembled an anger management session as the bakers began bashing their butter into a thin sheet with their rolling pins. And as the layering began, so did the mathematics, with the bakers struggling to figure out how many turns would result in however many layers (according to Benjamina there is an actual equation to figure this out).
Using his skills as an engineer worked very well for Andrew during biscuit week, and he put them to use again this week, getting out his ruler and painstakingly measuring his dough and his pastries to try and get them the right size.
Not one to do things by halves, Jane decided to make two different doughs, while Val introduced us to her secret weapon… Dental floss (remarkably good for slicing Danish pastries as it goes).
As time began to run out, it seemed like both Candice and Benjamina could be in trouble, with some of their pastries only going in the oven with 20 minutes of challenge remaining, however it could have been worse… Poor Rav, with 5 minutes left on the clock, suddenly realised he’d forgotten to make one of his pastries meaning he would only be serving up 23 to the judges…
Despite his meticulous measuring, the judges deemed Andrew’s Danishes to be too thin, however he was praised for his lamination. Jane’s decision to make two different doughs didn’t appear to hamper her at all, with Mary and Paul praising her lamination, her bake and her flavours. Unfortunately for Candice and Benjamina, their last minute rush meant their Danishes suffered, with Benjamina’s being deemed a bit raw, while Candice’s had become dry. They can’t have been that bad though, as Mel decided to steal several of them to take home.
Mary chose the technical challenge this week, and asked the bakers to make a Bakewell Tart.
Immediately, some of the younger bakers began looking towards Val and Jane, feeling that both had probably made a Bakewell Tart before and would have an edge. And interestingly enough, we were given the perfect opportunity to see if that would be true when Val realised that she’d only read one side of the instructions and had therefore gone off at a bit of a tangent. I was interested to see where she’d end up in the rankings.
Having baked and filled their tarts – Rav being somewhat disappointed that he’d mixed his jam and frangipane – many took their positions in front of their ovens. Andrew was somewhat confused that his tart wasn’t rising as he expected, only to realise that he had’t actually turned his oven on, which resulted in his tart being too hot to ice and being served up to the judges unfinished. Fortunately for him, he had some company as Rav’s tart half collapsed seconds before the challenge finished.
Rav’s collapsed tart resulted in him finishing in last place, although Mary commended his jam. Val’s off-text approach led to the first soggy bottom of the series and scored her 7th place. Andrew’s nicely baked but unfortunately unfinished tart earned him 6th place, while Benjamina came 5th, Tom 4th, Selasi 3rd, Candice 2nd and Jane 1st.
Finally the showstopper challenge. For this, the bakers had to create 48 amuse-bouches using filo pastry, one batch of savoury and one batch of sweet. Having worked with filo pasty myself I know it’s hard to handle at times, and soon the bakers were struggling trying to get the pastry thin while not breaking or tearing it.
It was interesting watching the bakers using different techniques to create the pastry, with Tom and Benjamina stretching out in a similar way you would a pizza, while Val took inspiration from the internet and rolled hers out with a broom handle (a clean one she was quick to tell us). Candice, rather ingeniously in my opinion, chose to use a pasta machine, a technique Mary seemed to approve of.
Jane had created a challenge for herself, choosing to wrap her pastry into a cone a shape. As if wrapping the delicate pastry around a cone without breaking it wasn’t hard enough, she then had to transport them in and out of the oven, with a fair few falling over during both trips.
However, it appeared the struggle had all been worth it, as Paul told Jane her cones looked fantastic and praised their flavour, however they were just too big to be classed as amuse-bouches.
Val’s pastry by her own admission was a disaster, becoming all stuck together and causing her to lose time. This unfortunately meant that when time was up, 12 of her amuse-bouches were still in her oven, and the pastry of the ones she did serve up was not up to scratch. It therefore wasn’t surprising that she was the baker sent home this week.
Meanwhile, Candice took the star baker crown for a second time, with her amuse-bouches being praised highly for their flavour and their bake.
Next week, another first for Bake Off, as the bakers take on botanical week…
Photos from BBC show ‘The Great British Bake Off’, no copyright infringement intended.