If you have not seen this episode, there are spoilers ahead.
For those of you who have not experienced the excellence that is The Great British Baking Show – or The Great British Bake Off in the UK – you are in for a sweet treat. The show follows amateur bakers as they compete against each other in three challenges each week. Those challenges will see the best baker of the week crowned ‘star baker’ and the worst eliminated from the tent after judging by professional bakers Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Yes, you read that correctly, the bakers are eliminated weekly from the tent in the middle of Welford Park in Newbury which showcases the beautiful British scenery.
The show revolves around more than just baking of decadent cakes. You are also treated to baking innuendos brought to you by the lovely hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding, and the friendly competitors actually helping one another get through challenges. The only drama in the show is waiting to see whether a cake has baked all the way through. What more could you ask for, other than for the cakes to be delivered to you whilst you watch?
Season 10 saw 13 bakers enter the tent to compete and we are now down to seven bakers with only four episodes to go before the finale. Each week the three challenges are based on a theme, with this season seeing the introduction of some new themes such as ‘Dairy Week’ and ‘The Roaring Twenties’. This week, however, is ‘Dessert Week’, a classic with the show. Every week the challenges get harder and the expectations are higher.
The signature challenge each week involves bakers being assigned a type of cake that they must bake, but it gives them a chance to showcase their own personality and favorite flavors. This week the bakers were given two hours and forty-five minutes to create a layered meringue cake. The judges wanted to see a large cake with a minimum of three layers, sandwiched with a filling. However, meringue is very fragile and so the bakers had to navigate how much filling and topping they could put on the fragile meringue without it breaking. This led to some fairly tense moments when bakers assembled their fragile layers, but luckily all meringues made it through intact.
One by one, the bakers presented their creations in front of the judges and despite Prue claiming that the challenge ‘seemed quite simple’, all of the bakers received fairly negative feedback. Bakers Henry and Steph seemed to receive the best comments. The judges loved the taste of Henry’s pistachio and chocolate meringue but it looked fairly messy and uneven in its layers. Steph’s eton mess meringue was also delicious but the judges stated she used too many nuts.
On the other end of the scale were bakers David and Priya. Paul and Prue looked dubious when David said he was baking spiced meringue and only taste tested it on himself. They were proved right in their assumptions when tasting it. They disliked the flavor but thought it was presented beautifully. Priya, however, didn’t even have the benefit of the judges liking her presentation. Prue disliked the blue colored topping of Priya’s almond and blueberry meringue, adding that the meringue was also overbaked and the flavoring of amaretto was too strong.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 1, 2019
The weekly technical challenge is always the element that bakers dread the most. The bakers are given a week to practice their baking for the other two challenges, but the technical challenge is given to the bakers blind. They are presented with a recipe they have never seen and for added difficulty the recipe is vague on many details, leaving it up to the bakers own knowledge and intuition.
This week, the bakers had two and a half hours to create six identical verrines. All of the bakers looked perplexed, and for once I felt like an accomplished baker because I already knew! A verrine is a layered dessert served in a glass – I only know this because it was a recent trend of desserts served at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. Prue set the recipe this week and the verrines included, from bottom to top: a layer of mango compote, coconut pana cotta, raspberry jelly, coconut and lime streusel, with a sable biscuit and additional decoration perched on top of the glass.
The technical challenge tends to be the most stressful part of the show and this week was no different. The bakers were given extremely vague instructions like ‘make sable dough’. They shrugged it off while they baked to the best of their abilities and squinted at other competitors work stations trying to pick up hints.
One of the most crucial parts of this challenge was the bakers ensuring each layer was chilled properly before adding the next, to guarantee the layers sit delicately on top of one another. This involved bakers carrying trays with six glasses to and from the freezers regularly. It created very tense moments when I was sure the glasses were going to slide right off the trays and onto the floor. Luckily, all of the bakers avoided disaster even if it was a close call for Henry.
However, Priya unable to avoid the disaster of her layers not setting properly. She poured the raspberry jelly onto the coconut compote before it was set and the jelly sunk through the compote, ruining her layers. The tension also rose as the bakers tried to get their biscuits to delicately sit on top of the glasses though the biscuits simply wanted to fall through.
The technical challenge is judged blindly, meaning the judges do not know which bake belongs to which baker. To ensure anonymity, the bakers place their desserts on a table at the front behind their picture – which is turned away from the judges. Watching the look on the bakers’ faces when they realized they had to bring their glasses – with precariously perched biscuits – across the room was comical. Seeing them move at a snail’s pace across the room was both hilarious and terrifying in equal measures.
Despite how bad the bakers did in the previous two technical challenges – where some bakes were inedible – all of the bakers did fairly well this week. For the technical challenge, bakers are ranked best to worst and coming out on top this week was Alice, narrowly beating David purely because her layers were more even. Both were complimented on the taste. Steph came third, Henry fourth and Rosie fifth. Unfortunately, Michael came sixth due to his uneven layers and Priya placed last due to her layers not setting and too much streusel.
The showstopper challenge again sees bakers given a specific item to bake. It is usually a large bake that must taste delicious and look amazing in their final attempt to impress the judges. This gives the bakers a last chance to push themselves up to star baker or save themselves from elimination. This week Steph and Alice were head to head battling for star baker while Michael and Priya needed the opportunity to save themselves.
The bakers were asked to create a celebratory bombe dessert which is a semi-spherical or fully spherical dessert and had to include one baked element and at least two other dessert elements. They had just four and a half hours to complete the challenge.
The bakers needed to use a mold to shape their cake and could line the mold with cake to help firm up the structure. Only Steph decided to forgo this step, with her sphere shape resting only on her chocolate mousse, and this technical skill set her apart from the other bakers. They could also choose what layered desserts went inside their cake and many chose mousse and bavarois fillings which would set quickly and reduce the stress of the bake. Again, this helped David stand out as he chose a sorbet layer.
Many of the bakers had time for a cup of coffee or play a game of noughts and crosses whilst their desserts were setting, but there was tension as they waited to see whether their layers had set and if their desserts would come out of the molds. If the layers did not set properly, the dessert was likely to collapse, ruining the spherical shape. Most seemed to come out fairly easily but Alice had a difficult time. Her cake stuck to her mold and she spent a long time banging it against the work bench to try to loosen it, concerning everyone that her dessert would break apart. By some miracle, it came out intact.
Alice and Steph once again received amazing comments on their bombes from the judges. Steph produced a stunning mirror glaze bombe with chocolate mousse, coffee bavarois and cake layers, with Paul claiming it was one of the best things he had eaten in a while. Alice also produced a beautiful tiramisu bombe that had amazing flavors and clearly defined layers.
The other bakers received mixed feedback. David’s lemon pistachio cake, raspberry and rose jelly, lemon and shiso sorbet and raspberry and white chocolate mousse bombe was beautiful but his jelly was terrible. Rosie’s honey cake, mango bavarois and lemon and hibiscus mousse bombe, tasted good but her mousse was not very smooth and it looked clumsy. Henry’s bonfire bombe, consisting of layers of cinnamon sponge, spiced honey mousse and apple mousse, looked elegant but his cake was tough and his flavors bland. This feedback seemed to push Rosie and Henry into the danger zone for possible elimination.
Michael’s black forest bombe, containing chocolate mousse, cherry jelly and cherry cheesecake, tasted good but unfortunately his cheesecake had not set and Paul and Prue commented that his decoration was a bit garish, claiming it looked like it had come from a 1970s sweet trolley. Priya’s summer fruits bombe looked very elegant but her raspberry flavors were overpowered by her chocolate mousse. It seemed like Priya may have done enough to save herself and it looked as though Michael may have been destined to be eliminated on his birthday.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 1, 2019
This week Steph was crowned star baker for the third time in a row. She was nearly beaten by Alice, but her mirror glaze showstopper was stunning and the fact that she achieved her dome without using cake was excellent.
It was a tense moment as the bakers held hands and received the news that Priya was eliminated this week; her showstopper was not enough to save her. Priya was extremely lucky not to be eliminated the previous two weeks as she struggled with finishing on time. Although I am sad to see anyone leave the tent – especially when the bakers pile into a group hug – it was definitely Priya’s time to go.
Next week’s theme is ‘Festival Week’ and the preview shows bakers set to bake carnival cakes and seasonal treats. It will be released on Netflix Friday, October 11 so be sure to tune in, and check back here for the latest recap!