‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 11, Episode 4 Recap: “Chocolate Week”

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There are spoilers about the episode in this article. 

We’re back with the fourth week of The Great British Baking Show and it is “Chocolate Week,” yum! The nine remaining bakers competed in three challenges to earn the title of “star baker” and to avoid being eliminated by judges, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. 

Signature Challenge

For their signature challenge, the bakers were tasked with baking a batch of 18 chocolate brownies, using any chocolate and any other flavors they liked. Most amateur bakers have made brownies at some point and so the challenge seemed deceptively simple. The judges were looking for brownies that were gooey on the inside and had a crackly crust. The bakers had just 90 minutes to achieve this — suddenly not so easy. Paul stated that if the bakers couldn’t make a decent chocolate brownie then that might be a problem. He clearly did not anticipate the poor performance of the bakers in this challenge.

Linda made Christmas inspired brownies flavored with Turkish Delight, dates, and mixed nuts. Dave baked brownies containing honeycomb and popping candy with a milk chocolate ganache. They both received feedback that the judges liked their flavors but unfortunately they had both over-baked their brownies. Their brownies were more like a chocolate cake.

Peter was very unusual with his brownies as he made upside down fig, cinnamon, and pistachio brownies. He baked the brownies upside down and then flipped them at the end so the figs layered in the bottom of the tray ended up on top. Paul thought his brownies were untraditional and rather risky, and the risk did not entirely pay off. The judges thought his brownies were attractive but they did criticise his use of cinnamon, as it overpowered the chocolate flavor. Overall, the judges said his brownies were just okay. 

Sura made marbled dark and ruby chocolate brownies with Italian meringue. She had problems with her brownies as she made them too thick. Unfortunately, this meant that they took a long time to cook in the middle and meant that she left her brownies in the oven until there was just five minutes left. She had another disaster when taking them out of the oven as she dropped one tray. She did not have time to cut her brownies, take them out of the baking tray, and didn’t have the full 18 brownies. Prue liked the citrusy flavor from the ruby chocolate but Paul did not like them. The big problem that she had was with her texture as the judges thought her brownies were tough. 

Lottie made some unusual double-baked pecan brownies, topped with baked raspberry cheesecake and raspberry and pecan crumb. Double baking her brownies meant that she was behind most of the other bakers. She took her brownies out of the oven with only 15 minutes left of the challenge, leaving her with very little time to cool, cut and decorate her brownies. Lottie took them out and put them straight into the freezer, causing the freezer to defrost slightly. Some of the melting ice in the freezer dripped onto her brownies, making them slightly soggy on top. The judges picked up on this and said that the brownies were too runny and they looked like they had been dropped. However, her flavors were okay and they loved the sharpness of the raspberry. 

Image Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Marc made “gimme s’more” brownies with a chocolate chip cookie base and topped with Italian meringue and caramelized cranberries. He received quite good feedback, as his flavors were good and they looked very neat. However, the judges thought his cookie base was too thick, the texture of the brownie was wrong, and the topping was too sweet. 

There was a s’mores-off as Laura also baked s’mores brownies with Italian meringue but with an added salted caramel drizzle. Unfortunately, Laura had a bit of a nightmare as she took her brownies out of the oven too soon. Instead of being gooey, her brownies were actually runny and looked a mess. The judges also thought her flavors were too sweet. 

Image Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

As Lottie stated at the end of the challenge, if any of the bakers had presented a basic chocolate brownie baked well, they would have been alright. Sometimes fancy flavors don’t pay off. 

Technical Challenge

The technical challenge this week asked the bakers to follow Paul’s recipe to make a chocolate babka, which is a traditional Jewish loaf cake, in two and a half hours. Enriched dough is layered with nuts and chocolate which is then rolled, split, and twisted to create a distinctive shape and brushed with syrup. The bakers thought that they had escaped bread after last week, but trust Paul Hollywood to sneak it back into Chocolate Week.

The main pitfall to this challenge was that the bakers needed to twist the bread into shape but if they made their twist too long, it wouldn’t fit in the tin. Sura, Hermine, Lottie, Dave, and Marc all fell into this trap. They made their twist too long and had to cut it down to fit it in the tin, resulting in large holes in the top of their babkas. Lottie went with a slightly different approach of draping the edges of her babka over the edge of the tin where they didn’t fit. Unfortunately, this meant that the ends were over-baked and prevented the centre from rising. 

The bakes were judged blindly and ranked from worst to best. It was no surprise that Lottie came in last place with her babka over-baked and sunken in the middle. Dave was eighth because his twisting left large gaps in the top and his babka was under-proofed and dense. Sura was seventh because of her issues with twisting and her babka being too heavy. 

Image Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Next came Marc, Hermine, and Peter. Marc came in third as his babka tasted delicious but could have risen more. Laura came in second because hers looked good but was a little cakey in the middle. It was great to see Laura gain some confidence after doing well in the challenge. 

Linda once again came in first place and produced a model babka. The stripes were good and it had a nice flavor, bake, and height. Linda seems to excel at the technical challenges but doesn’t tend to stand out in the other challenges. Paul later joked that this was because she owns one of his cook books. 

Showstopper Challenge

For their showstopper challenge, the bakers had four hours to make a white chocolate celebration cake. They had to celebrate a specific event with a layered white chocolate cake (minimum of two layers), expertly decorated with white chocolate.

The bakers faced the difficulty of working with white chocolate in the tent in high temperatures. White chocolate is already notoriously difficult to work with because it can split or seize, but the high temperature in the tent meant that the bakers risked their decorations melting. Many bakers changed their intended decoration and did chocolate drips instead. 

Laura made a cake to celebrate her two year wedding anniversary. Her cakes were layered with blackcurrant jam and Italian meringue buttercream. She decorated her cake with a white chocolate bouquet but the judges weren’t impressed by it, thinking it over-the-top. They liked the blackcurrant jam but thought there was too much chocolate in the sponge. Her cakes were also over-baked and slightly dry. 

Lottie’s cake celebrated her grandparents’ sapphire wedding anniversary (65 years). Her cakes were sandwiched with passion fruit curd and lime drizzle, and decorated with stunning blue geodes and tempered white chocolate. She was worried about this challenge and had actually practised between 15 and 18 times. Prue reassured her that she only had to be “not the worst.” Very comforting! The judges thought her cake was over-baked and dry although her flavors were good. However, Lottie managed to save herself as the judges loved the look of her cake, particularly the geodes, describing it as imaginative and exciting. 

Continuing with the anniversary cakes, Sura celebrated her parents’ 36th wedding anniversary. Her cakes were sandwiched with strawberry and lemon jam, and she decorated with a chocolate flower on top. She had originally intended to also decorate her cake with piped buttercream flowers and tempered chocolate ruffles but she decided it was too hot for those decorations to work. Her bad luck continued as she almost launched her cake off of the cake stand as she tried to delicately place it on the stand, which provided a good jump scare for everyone for the Halloween season. Unfortunately, Sura had problems with her layers which meant that her cakes were rather wonky. The judges loved her chocolate flower though. Unlike the rest of the bakers, to reduce the fat content, Sura decided to water down her white chocolate, which seemed very odd. Sadly, when they cut into the cake, it was still raw in the middle, making it inedible. Obviously something had gone wrong with either her recipe or her measuring, although the judges suspected that it may have been caused by the watered-down chocolate.

Peter also made an odd decision to include chunks of white chocolate rather than melting it into his cake batter. His cake celebrated his brother’s graduation and included mango curd, coconut yoghurt, and whipped Chantilly cream, decorated with a white chocolate collar with hand painted mathematical symbols. The judges loved his beautiful chocolate-work although they seemed a little unsure about the chunks of chocolate. However, they thought his flavors were great and that it was well baked.

Hermine made a lemon and white chocolate cake in homage to her parents’ wedding, decorated with Italian meringue buttercream. The judges thought the bottom of the cake was a little messy and seemed rather disconnected from the top. However, they were impressed with her combination of flavors, particularly the lemon. Prue even gave a shudder of delight at the taste, which was then dubbed the “Pruegasm.” 

Marc made a white chocolate and raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream cake in celebration of his daughters, Rosie and Jasmine. The cake was decorated with their namesake flowers. The judges loved the look of his neat cake and liked the flavor, however, his cake was a little dense.

Linda also paid tribute to her daughter, Melissa, who passed away when she was 18. She made an English rose cake with amaretto, mascarpone cream, and raspberry jam. She intended to have chocolate collars adorning her cake, but unfortunately some of the white chocolate would not set on the acetate due to the temperature, and she had to scrap the idea. The judges thought her cake was delicious, if a little dense, but the main issue was her decoration. Her piping work did not impress them and looked messy. 

Marc celebrated his wife’s birthday by making a white chocolate cake using her favorite flavors of pistachios, lemon, and marula fruit liqueur. The judges loved the look of Marc’s cake as they thought that it was original and modern. Although they liked the flavors, they thought that they were a bit too delicate and that the pistachio needed to be stronger.

Dave made a cake to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday. He made a strawberry and white chocolate Fraisier cake using amaretto soaked sponges and mousseline cream. The judges thought Dave’s cake tasted good and looked wonderful, however, Paul was concerned that the cake looked too dark. They were surprised that it wasn’t over-baked but found the color a little off-putting. 

Results

This week both Peter and Mark were in the running for star baker. Peter has been very consistent so far and it wouldn’t surprise me to find him in the final. However, it was Marc who won star baker due to his beautiful showstopper cake. 

On the opposite end of the scale, both Lottie and Sura were in trouble, which was quite shocking as they have both been strong competitors. Unfortunately, Sura was eliminated this week. I truly thought she would also be in the final but sadly this week was just not her week. You simply cannot have a bad week in the tent when the competition is strong. 

Image Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Next week is “Pastry Week,” and it looks as though it will have us on the edge of our seats as bakers need to make delicate structures from pastry. Make sure you check it out and also check back here for the next recap!

Lynette

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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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