It’s hard to believe that we’re at the quarter finals of The Great British Bake Off already, which our original 12 bakers now down to just 5 – with Selasi being the only baker left in the tent not to have been named star baker so far this series.
This week we had yet another first for the show (they really are spoiling us aren’t they?) as the bakers were tasked with creating bakes based around the Tudor era.
For the signature challenge, the bakers were required to make a display of shaped pastries made up of individual pies which could be arranged to form an interesting design.
The task started with great excitement (from me anyway) when Andrew announced to the judges that his pies would be able to move – he was baking Da Vinchi inspired pies in the shape of cogs which, thanks to his engineering expertise, would be able to rotate when placed on a specially designed stand… At least that was the theory and I couldn’t wait to see if he would pull it off.
Candice was the only baker making two different types of pies, with two filling and two pastries (that girl just loves setting herself a challenge), which would come together to form a fish. Jane was making a Tudor Rose, Selasi a bouquet of flowers, and Benjamina went for a Mexican inspired pie flavours (yup, Mexican in a Tudor themed week) which would be in the shape of a sun.
Unhappy with the consistency of her first batch of pasty, Benjamina decided to make a second lot before beginning her pie construction. Jane, not wanting to annoy her husband too much by asking him to make loads of moulds, had only got a few moulds so was making her pies, removing them from the mould, and then making the next lot. The rest of the bakers were baking their pies in their moulds, meaning they had to very carefully removed them from the moulds after taking them out of the oven.
As the bakers agonised over whether their pies would be baked in time, Selasi asked Mel if he could bribe her with pie to give them a few extra minutes – she looked seriously tempted…
Jane’s pies were praised by Mary for their colour, while Paul was impressed at the minimal leakage, and both judges liked the filling. Benjamina’s flavours were praised highly by both judges, but they were;t impressed with her pastry.
Candice’s double workload did effect her overall performance, with one lot of pastry being underdone. Selasi’s pastry was praised for it’s colour, and his flavours also received favourable reviews.
And finally Andrew’s cogs… His presentation was flawless, with the stand and the cogs turning just as he envisioned. The colour of his pastry also impressed the judges.
Next up the technical challenge, and this week Paul asked them to make 12 jumbles, 6 of each design. Jumbles, as we soon found out, were intricately shaped biscuits made with spices.
Paul helpfully supplied the bakers with some ingredients as they would’ve been in Tudor times, and soon we had a tent full of bakers trying to use a pestle and mortar, while Andrew and Jane then jumped to the 21st century and used a mixer to make their dough.
As they finished their knots, Selasi decided to wait until he’d completed his other biscuits and then put them all in together. Candice chose to sprinkle hers with sugar before baking, while Benjamina, Jane and Andrew decided to put theirs in without.
As we approached the end of the challenge, Selasi suddenly realised his knots were the wrong shape, and hurriedly reshaped them before baking, while Andrew, Jane and Benjamina decided to add sugar to their biscuits half way through in an attempt to get a better golden brown colour.
In the end, Jane’s lack of definition earned her 5th place, Benjamina’s were under baked earning her 4th place, despite his last minute shape change Selasi’s jumbles secured him 3rd place, Andrew’s well shaped jumbles saw him given 2nd, and Candice’s shape, definition and colour earned her 1st place.
The showstopper challenge was to make a marzipan centrepiece – the marzipan had to be made from scratch, it had to be 3D and entirely edible.
Benjamina was making a Tudor maze set on top of a spiced apple cake, Jane was making a walnut genoise cake decorated with marzipan swans and roses, Andrew was making a spicy fruit cake with jousting marzipan knights, Selasi’s simnal cake was surrounded by marzipan walls representing Henry VIII’s wives, and Candice was making a marzipan peacock with a multicoloured orange flavoured cake (which also featured a Tudor surprise) and with different coloured and flavoured marzipan.
Once their cakes were out of the oven, the bakers could begin constructing their marzipan masterpieces (and Sue chose to help herself to Andrew’s leftover cake).
Selasi and Candice both chose to make modern and traditional marzipan, with Paul telling the viewers that traditional marzipan would have been much more brittle than the marzipan we generally see today, as it was made without an egg. However, while traditional marzipan can break if heated for too long, modern marzipan can melt, and so the bakers all took up their positions in front of their ovens.
Unfortunately for Selasi, he fell into this trap and had to remake some of his marzipan, meaning with 15 minutes remaining he had to use a blow torch instead of grilling it. Meanwhile, Andrew was desperately trying to make his caramel correctly to create his jousts, and just got them finished as the time ran out.
Jane’s showstopper was described by Mary as ‘very Tudor’, and both judges liked the cake and were impressed with the fact it didn’t sag under the weight of the marzipan.
Andrew’s marzipan centrepiece earned some titters from the judges, with Paul pointing out that maybe the jousts should have been put in each knight’s hand. The texture and flavour of his marzipan was praised, but Paul was disappointed that the currents had fallen to the bottom of his cake.
The judges liked the flavour of marzipan on Benjamina’s maze cake, but Paul said her apple cake was a bit on the doughy side.
Candice’s peacock wowed the judges, and they loved the surprise blueberry centre. Paul described it as ‘exceptional’, and Mary complimented the even layers of her cakes, and both judges were impressed with the flavours of her marzipan.
Selasi’s marzipan centre piece slightly underwhelmed Paul, as he felt more could have been done with the middle. Mary said he cake needed to have been baked for longer, but that it did have a beautiful flavour.
Unsurprisingly, Candice was crowned star baker for a third time, while Benjamina was sent home.
Next week is the semi-final, and the bakers will be taking on patisserie week…
Photos from BBC show ‘The Great British Bake Off’, no copyright infringement intended.