‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 10, Episode 7 Recap: “Festival Week”

If you have not seen this episode, there are spoilers ahead.

The Great British Baking Show returned this week with six bakers remaining, competing to earn the title of Star Baker, and to save themselves from elimination. This week saw a brand new theme for the show, Festival Week. This gave the bakers a chance to represent festivals and flavors from different cultures around the globe. It also gave comedian hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding the opportunity to dress up in various hilarious costumes throughout the episode.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Signature Challenge

This week’s signature challenge called for the bakers to make festival buns. The only directives the bakers were given were that they had three hours to produce 24 uniform yeasted buns. They could be any flavor and represent any festival from any country. You would think that with a whole globe to choose from it would be fairly easy for the six bakers to choose six different festivals, but apparently not. Three of the bakers chose to do hot cross buns. At least the three of them chose to do different flavor combinations, unlike the similar situation that occurred during ‘The Roaring Twenties Week,” when four bakers chose to produce a piña colada cake. I like to think that the bakers now have a group chat to make sure they aren’t all baking the same thing.

Since we are now down to six bakers out of the original thirteen, the contestants are definitely feeling the pressure. The judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, now have fewer people to interrogate, and so seem to spend more time peering creepily over their shoulders as they work, although they still find time to terrify contestants. Michael was given blank stares from Paul after he revealed how much fruit he was putting into his figgy pudding flavored hot cross buns, leaving him completely unnerved, but still able to laugh it off.

The process of making the buns required a lot of tense waiting around for the bakers. The buns have to be left alone to allow the dough to rise, which makes the buns light and fluffy and also prevents them from cracking on the top. The bakers then have to divide the dough and shape it, which prompted Michael’s remark of “I’m rolling my balls around on the table.” The individual buns have to be left to prove again before being put in the oven, which left several bakers sitting on the floor staring hopefully into their ovens. Others had some decoration to work on, and gave us another beautiful example of how lovely the bakers are to one another when David tasted Henry’s glaze and gave him his opinion on the flavor.

The judges then made their rounds and gave their feedback to each baker. Michael and Alice seemed to rank fairly low in this challenge. Alice’s lemon, blueberry, and almond hot cross buns had a nice texture, but they weren’t sweet enough and weren’t a consistent color or size across all 24 buns. Michael’s figgy pudding hot cross buns tasted good, but they were a bit tough and looked uneven and cracked — a problem caused by including too much fruit, indicated by Paul’s blank stares earlier.

However, Steph and Henry did very well with their signature bakes. Steph’s zest and spice hot cross buns looked and tasted delicious and had the perfect texture. Henry’s chocolate kardemummabullar – Swedish cardamom buns — were delicious, baked well, and looked interesting. It may have also helped that it wasn’t another hot cross bun. Both of these bakers received the coveted Paul Hollywood handshake. He gives out a handshake for those bakes that are well above the rest, and they are given out very sparingly. It also resulted in a hilarious moment when Paul held his hand out to Henry who promptly yelled “shut up!” back at him before quickly grabbing his hand.

Technical Challenge

The technical challenge sees the bakers receiving a challenging recipe to follow that they have never seen before. They must complete the challenge, and then the bakes are ranked from best to worst after a blind judging. This week the recipe was set by Paul. The bakers had one hour and 15 minutes to bake 12 Sicilian cassatelle. Cassatelle are chocolate and orange flavored ricotta wrapped in delicate half-moon shaped pastry which would traditionally be served at Carnevale.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Bake Off’

Once again, none of the bakers had ever heard of a cassatelle before and seemed completely confused and bemused as they attempted to follow the vague recipe, which included them sieving cheese. Three bakers also accidentally broke the handles off of their pasta machines, which they had to use to roll out their pastry dough.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Bake Off’

One of the frustrating things as an audience watching the technical challenge is that it will cut away to the judges outside the tent giving advice about what the bakers must do to make sure their bakes are successful, and then cutting back to the bakers doing the exact opposite. This week, Paul informed us that the bakers had to make sure that the pastry was rolled very thin, otherwise when the pastry was put into the fryer, the shell would break open and release the ricotta into the oil. It then showed both Alice and Michael deciding that their pastry was done when it was still much too thick.

This resulted in Alice being ranked sixth in judging, as her cassatelle were unevenly fried and had partially exploded. Michael came in fifth, as his were slightly soggy and had also exploded. Steph came fourth and Henry third. David came second in technical, once again, as his were almost perfect, but his crimping had lost some of its definition. Poor David has come second in technical challenges five times and never first. This left Rosie in first place, as her cassatelle were well fried, fully sealed and she had given the judges plenty of filling.

Showstopper Challenge

Coming into the showstopper challenge, Alice and Michael were both definitely in danger of being eliminated, as they had done poorly in both the signature and the technical challenge. I definitely felt sorry for Alice this week. She did much better in previous weeks, and she described her tough week in her job as a teacher. How any of the bakers manage to juggle full time jobs, practicing baking, then film the show on the weekend I will never know, but the stress had definitely gotten to Alice this week. On the other end of the scale, there was no clear contender for Star Baker this week. Henry and Steph had come up tops in the signature, but then come middle of the pack in technical. David and Rosie had done well in the technical, but average in the signature challenge. Star Baker was anyone’s game this week.

The showstopper challenge this week was a very difficult and unusual challenge. The bakers had four hours and 15 minutes to make a Kek Lapis Sarawak cake, also known as a Sarawak layer cake. These are cakes used in Malaysia for religious and cultural celebrations. This is an extremely unique cake made by grilling a thin layer of cake before adding the next layer to create bright multi-colored layered cakes. They are then cut up into strips before being reassembled to produce shapes and patterns along the sides of the cake.

This cake proved extremely challenging to the bakers for several reasons. One being that grilling with an unfamiliar oven must be extremely difficult. This proved to be true when both David and Rosie both managed to burn layers of their cake, meaning that they lost time and some cake batter. Grilling cake is a delicate balance. If the bakers overcooked their cake, then it would become tough and rubbery. If they undercooked the cake, then the layers were likely to collapse.

Once the cakes were cooked, the next challenge came in the shape of cutting up their cake neatly and then reassembling it into a pattern. The cake cutting had to be precise, because if the strips were uneven, then they would not reassemble into an even pattern. David decided to use a bread slicer. Rosie’s dad had made her a metal template to aid in even slicing. The rest of the bakers were cutting the cake freehand, which made me feel very nervous to watch as the bakers’ nerves set in, and shaking hands made the task even more difficult.

However, one of the most rewarding moments of the show each week always comes when the bakers are decorating their showstoppers. Michael’s fabulous Jamaican flag piped in icing was beautiful to watch. Rosie made fabulous sugar glass birds. I would have definitely liked to have seen more of her producing the birds, as we were only given a quick glimpse of the process, which seemed similar to blowing glass.

Once again, Steph and Henry did well in their feedback. Henry’s lemon and lime Sarawak cake had good flavors and texture, even though it slightly resembled a stack of egg and cress sandwiches. Henry’s incessant practicing — where he told us that he had used 110 eggs in one day — obviously paid off. Steph’s orange and chai spiced cake was soft, tasted good, and was topped with lovely decorations, although her uneven slicing had left gaps in the pattern of her cake. Alice also managed to claw her way out of danger with a stunning showstopper. Her chocolate, orange, and salted caramel cake was extremely neat, with a lovely pattern and had good texture and flavors.

However, David and Rosie produced disappointing cakes and found themselves in danger of being eliminated. David didn’t learn his lesson from his poorly received spiced meringue last week, so his spiced Sarawak cake wasn’t sweet enough for Prue. It was also small and rubbery, a product of him having issues with the grill and overcooking his cake. Rosie found herself in trouble because she had been overambitious. The rest of the bakers had settled on slicing their cake so that the stripes of color were in alternating patterns, but Rosie wanted to try to produce triangles. She had lost time because of burning a layer of her cake, and her complicated pattern ended up being messy, although her lemon and mixed spice cake tasted good.

Michael also received disappointing feedback. His rum and ginger Sarawak cake looked amazing with his bright black, yellow, and green layers and the icing Jamaican flag on the top. However, sandwiching his colorful layers were uncolored layers of cake, which meant that the layers blended together and weren’t distinct. He had also soaked every third layer with rum, which the judges said had made the cakes stodgy and rubbery.

Results

Henry emerged triumphant as this week’s Star Baker, beating Steph’s three week streak. His showstopper and signature bakes earned him his first Star Baker, and he happily said that he could go home happy now that he had earned that title and a handshake, all in the same week.

It was a sorrowful but unsurprising farewell for Michael. Unfortunately, Festival Week was just not his week, and the fan favorite was sent home. I will miss Michael for his humor, positivity, and colorful shirts. Despite holding back his own tears, Michael spent most of his farewell reassuring the rest of the bakers that it was his time to go. The remaining bakers also expressed how much they would miss him in the tent, leaving Alice in tears. The bakers’ friendships are truly a wonderful part of this show.

Make sure you check out next week’s episode, the classic “Pastry Week,” which will see the bakers battle it out to bake the best pie in the quarter finals. You can watch it on Friday, October 18 on Netflix . Then, make sure to check back here for our latest recap!

Lynette

Lynette has been a lifelong nerd and over the last few years finally learned to let her freak flag fly. She likes to dip her toe into almost every fandom but is particularly passionate about Supernatural, Stranger Things, Marvel and Disney. When she isn’t binge watching programs, she loves to swim, sing and (true to her Ravenclaw nature) read. Lynette joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2019 and loves sharing her nerdy knowledge with the world.

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