How do you say ‘Bake Off’ in French? – Bake Off Semi-Finals

Selasi had a dream. He dreamt that he baked in the final of The Great British Bake Off… While wearing a dress…

Far-fetched it may seem, but when he took over from Mel and Sue and announced to his fellow bakers they only had a few minutes remaining for their signature challenge, their was a strange feeling in the air. Could it be that Selasi had some sort of prophetic powers?

Only time would tell… (Plus wouldn’t it be fab to watch?!)

It was patisserie week in the Bake Off tent for the semi-finalists, and for their signature challenge, Paul and Mary asked for 24 savoury palmiers. They had to be made from puff pastry and there had to be two different flavours.

The key to successful palmiers, according to Paul and Mary, was getting the pastry right, and not overfilling the palmiers.

Jane hadn’t had much luck with her practice runs, by her own admission her last attempt was a disaster. Unfortunately for Andrew, his problems occurred in the Bake Off tent, and an hour into the challenge he decided to remake his pastry as he felt it was too crumbly.

With the pastry in the oven, the bakers took up their positions in front of them, staring intently to see if they’d achieved enough layers. Both Jane and Selasi had minor hiccups, with their palmiers falling off their trays as they travelled between the oven and the counter.

Time ran away with Jane, and her pastry ended up not being quite done, but Mary praised her flavours, with Selasi receiving similar comments from Paul.  At the other end of the spectrum, Candice’s pastry was described as beautifully crispy by Mary, but one type had lost definition, while Andrew’s were praised for being both crispy and a good flavour – clearing redoing his pastry didn’t do him any harm.

For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked by Paul to make a saverin* (which we later found out was a yeasted cake with liqueur running through it).


Here’s how the pros make it

There was a difference of opinion on the best method, with Candice opting for the whisk attachment, Jane choosing the dough hook, Andrew starting with the dough hook and then switching, and Selasi deciding to whisk the mixture.

A key aspect of producing a good saverin was the rising process which had to be done twice, once in the mixing bowl and for a second time in the tins. This second prove was arguably to more crucial one as the bakers had to let it rise enough to fill the cake tins in order to get the specific shape.

selasi-savrin-decorationAs the end of the task approached, Jane was struggling with her decorative caramel shards, and after three failed attempts she decided to finish without them. Meanwhile, not wanting his cream to melt, Selasi chose to decorate his cake in the fridge.

In the end, the judges awarded Selasi 4th place – his decoration was good but the saverin lacked finesse. Candice came 3rd – her cake was also praised for its decoration but was overdone and underproved. Andrew was 2nd – his was also underproved and a little over done, but Mary was impressed by his attention to detail as he took the membrane of the orange. Jane took the crown this week, despite being slightly underproved and missing the caramel shards, her savarin was a good colour and her liqueur was quite evenly distributed.

Finally the showstopper – the bakers were asked to make 36 fondant fancies, two different types with the genoise sponge, fondant and buttercream all made from scratch.

Our bakers were already at a bit of a disadvantage, as Mary explained that when making fondant fancies the baker would usually make the genoise sponge the day before they were decorated – our bakers had just four hours.

Jane had a particularly ingenious way of covering her fancies, explaining that she would be using a potato masher and a ladle to cover her fancies with icing.

Things seemed to be going well for the final four, with all of them having one sponge baked. That was until Selasi was somewhat reprimanded by Mary for not sieving his flour before baking. Realising she’d be on the lookout of an imperfections, Selasi decided to redo his sponges.


The ‘fondant straddle’ – guaranteed to give you thighs of steel according to Mel

Now the real fun began – icing them. Andrew took on what Mel called ‘fondant straddle’ to ice his fancies with buttercream. Meanwhile Jane, somewhat controversially, chose not to cover her sponges in buttercream, and Candice had a slight hiccup when she dropped one fancy on top of another and had to do a quick patch job.

Mary said Candice had produced a nice display, but Paul said her praline fancies looked a little messy. Both judges like the texture and taste of both, and the surprise fillings in the middle, with Mary describing them as ‘two cracking fondant fancies’.

Paul said Selasi’s fancies were very dainty, but Mary could see some of the sponge through his icing. Paul really liked the sponge, but both his fancies ended up being very sweet sweet.

Unfortunately for Jane, the  judges were disappointed by the look of her fancies, with the lack of icing on the sides meaning they had a bumpy appearance, however Paul did praise her flavours.

Mary commended Andrew for his decision to go for simple decoration, but she could see some jam peeking out of his vanilla fancies. Paul praised the texture and flavours of both his fancies, although his mocha fancies had a little too much buttercream for Mary’s liking.

Perhaps because of these comments, Andrew was shocked to be named star baker this week, while unfortunately it seems Selasi’s fortune telling skills were not that accurate, and this week he was sent home (I for one,  hope he does turn up in the dress for The Bake Off Final picnic).

Next week Andrew, Candice and Jane take on their final challenges to be crowned the winner of The Great British Bake Off. 


Photos from BBC show ‘The Great British Bake Off’, no copyright infringement intended. 


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