There are spoilers about the episode in this article.
It’s now week five of the The Great British Baking Show and we are halfway through the competition with just eight bakers remaining. This week is “Pastry Week” and the bakers must compete in three pastry challenges to avoid elimination and to try to earn the coveted title of “star baker” as judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
For their signature challenge, the bakers had to prove that they were both good bakers and good cooks. They were asked to make eight identical Cornish pastries in two hours. They could use any pastry and any filling but they needed to have crimped pastry.
Laura made a classic cheese and onion pasty with leeks, cream, and thyme. She used rough puff pastry using Paul Hollywood’s recipe, so Paul seemed suitably impressed. Laura’s pastry was flaky and a lovely golden-brown color. Her filling was praised for being great in texture and flavor with a perfect blend of ingredients. The only criticism the judges could find was that the pasties were a little irregular in size but she was clearly thrilled to have finally received high praise from the judges.
Mark used a spiced shortcrust pastry to contain his spiced paneer and aloo gobi filling. The judges thought his pasties looked exactly like a pastry should. It was soft, crisp, and tasted beautiful. His filling was spot on and the textures were right.
Lottie made toad in the hole pastries. Her rough puff pastry contained Lincolnshire sausage, gravy, and mashed potato. Prue was not convinced and was worried that the pastry would be soggy and the whole pastry would be stodgy. Lottie unfortunately had a problem with her pasties leaking in the oven. As a result, her pastries were very messy and she had also lost the definition of her crimping. The pastry was good in color and flakiness and Lottie also proved Prue wrong, as her pastries weren’t stodgy. Her texture and flavors were also good.
Peter also used a rough puff pastry to contain his kedgeree filling of rice and smoked haddock. He made his pasties in the shape of fish using a cardboard template and even added little scale impressions in the pastry. The judges were very impressed with the design. They also liked his flavors but thought the rice on pastry made it a little dry.
Linda didn’t seem to fully grasp the brief of this challenge. She used rough puff pastry to contain her spiced chicken, potato, and coriander filling. She was inspired by Indian samosas and planned to put a karma symbol on top of the pasties in nigella seeds. Unfortunately, she was running low on time, and her pastries were still in the oven when time ran out. She ended up ditching her design and just sprinkling the seeds on top instead. The judges loved the flavors of Linda’s samosa inspired pastries but said that it was a little pale in places. Their biggest criticism was that there was no crimping, which they had asked for, and so she had essentially made a large samosa rather than a Cornish pastry.
Dave was inspired by Thai flavors and used shortcrust pastry for his chilli, jasmine rice, and chicken pastry. He also produced a sweet chilli dipping sauce to go on the side. His was well baked and looked good with his chilli decoration on top. Although his flavors were good, his rice had dried out the rest of the pastry and didn’t wow the judges. Prue did try the pastry with the dipping sauce and said that it made all the difference, but they didn’t seem to count that in the judging.
Everyone thought Marc would have an advantage, as he is from Cornwall. His shortcrust pastries contained monkfish, samphire, and asparagus in a creamy sauce. He joked that he might not be allowed home if he didn’t get the Cornish pastries right. The judges thought his filling was good and that the pastry was lovely. However, it was a little pale and his whole pastry was a little dry and could have done with more cream.
Hermine decided to stray from tradition and she made her own hybrid pastry, not quite a puff pastry and not quite a shortcrust. Hers were filled with Moroccan lamb tagine and chickpeas. Hermine also had problems with her pastry being a little pale, but the judges thought her flavors were perfect.
The technical challenge asked the bakers to follow a recipe set by Prue Leith. They had two hours and 15 minutes to produce six high-end éclairs. Three needed to be raspberry and three salted caramel.
The first challenge the bakers faced was the pared-down recipe, including the instruction “make the choux.” Linda had a lot of problems with the pastry. She worried that her batter didn’t seem thick enough and once it was in the oven, it looked oily and didn’t rise at all. This resulted in her remaking the pastry and when that batch didn’t rise, she remade it a third time with the exact same results.
Many of the bakers had issues with their creme patissiere. Marc and Lottie had issues with theirs splitting, and Dave and Mark had problems with it being too thin and just dripping out of their éclairs.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 20, 2020
The bakes are judged blindly, so the judges do not know which bake belongs to which baker and are ranked from worst to best. It was no surprise to any viewers that Linda came in last place. She only took her third batch of éclairs out of the oven with five minutes remaining. This meant that she had no time to fill or decorate her éclairs. She served them as rather flat choux buns with the fillings as dipping sauces.
Marc came in seventh place as his choux buns were under-baked and his creme patissiere was scrambled. Laura came in sixth because her choux was also under-baked and although her flavors were okay, the texture was wrong. Next came Dave and then Lottie, who both had issues with the creme patissiere.
Mark came in third, as despite his creme patissiere being liquid and leaving parts of his éclairs empty of filling, his pastry was well cooked and his flavors were delicious. Hermine was second with her delicious éclairs being baked well. Peter won the challenge as his éclairs were very neat, his creme patissiere was the right consistency and had a good flavor.
The showstopper challenge gave the bakers three hours and 45 minutes to make a caged tart. They needed to make a sweet tart that both looked and tasted good, inside a latticed pastry cage. The cage had to be self-supporting and decorative, making it a tricky challenge.
Lottie, Dave, and Hermine all decided to make cages that would be assembled after they had baked. They made individual sheets that would then be glued together using isomalt or caramel.
Lottie made an apple tart with various layers of caramelised apple, apple slices, apple purée, toffee popcorn, and creme diplomat. Her choux pastry cage was in the shape of a pyramid. The judges were exceptionally impressed by her cage since it looked very delicate but hadn’t broken. The judges thought her flavors and textures were good, however, there was a debate as to whether her tart was actually a tart since it didn’t have sides. The lack of sides also meant quite a few of her layers leaked out during eating.
Dave made a chocolate, mango, and lime tart with mango beautifully arranged on top to look like a flower. His sablée cage was inspired by the Louvre museum and was a similar pyramid shape to Lottie’s. Dave’s cage and tart both looked great and the judges though the flavor of his pastry and fillings went together beautifully.
Hermine made a lemon and lime tart topped with Italian meringue and macarons. Her tart sat under a more robust, cuboid, pastry cage. Her design was beautiful and clever, however, it did collapse immediately when Paul lifted it. The flavors of her tart were lovely, although the judges thought the base could have been thinner. There also seemed to be a little bit of a disconnect between the beautifully intricate tart and the more hefty cage.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 20, 2020
The rest of the bakers decided to use a mold to shape their pastry cage into a dome shape. The challenge for these bakers came with demolding their cage without breaking it, which was terrifying to watch.
Laura made a tart inspired by key lime pie with crunchy ginger pastry and Italian meringue. Her domed puff pastry lattice was stunning and decorated with pastry flowers and butterflies. Paul Hollywood loves key lime pie, so Laura was definitely on to a winner. The judges were very impressed with the appearance of both her cage and tart. They absolutely loved the key lime flavor.
Peter made a blackberry and lemon tart on a hazelnut pastry to sit under his domed shortcrust cage completed with edible flowers. The judges thought his cage was beautiful and liked the randomness of the wavy design. They also thought his tart was delicious.
Marc made a blackberry and apple tart with chocolate cremeux on a sablée pastry base. His cage was made of puff pastry with shortcrust flowers and vines leaves to decorate it. The judges thought his cage looked very effective and they loved the taste of his tart, particularly the rich chocolate. However, his filling was not spread to the edge of the tart. This made the whole tart look a little clumsy as the base looked too big for the filling.
Mark made a pear and sage tart with a puff pastry cage sat on shortbread sand. His cage was supposed to be shaped like a bottle to fit his “Mes-SAGE in a Bottle” theme. When he tried to demold his pastry, it broke into several pieces. The judges had quite high expectations from him due to him winning star baker last week. Unfortunately, his cage had collapsed and was resting on top of his tart. They also weren’t impressed by the appearance of his tart because he was running out of time and his piping was very messy. His tart was delicious, although his base was a little thick.
Linda decided to make a classic gypsy tart with a coffee and brandy sponge. Linda also had severe problems with demolding her cage. It stuck to the mold and despite putting it in the freezer for longer to try and loosen it, it broke apart completely when she tried to lift it. She ended up with a few spindles resting on her tart. The decoration of her tart with lace chocolate-work also hadn’t properly worked. The judges loved the flavors of her tart but they couldn’t overlook the mess of her cage.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) October 20, 2020
After the challenges this week, Hermine, Dave, and Laura were all in the running for star baker. I was quite surprised that Hermine did not win star baker since the judges loved both her signature and showstopper bakes and she came second in the technical challenge. However, it was underdog Laura that won star baker this week after wowing the judges with her signature and showstopper bakes. She hasn’t stood out from the rest of the bakers so far in the competition, so it was nice to see her excel.
On the other hand, Linda, Mark, and Marc were all in danger of being eliminated. Mark and Marc both did alright in the signature but Marc came seventh in the technical and Mark had issues with his cage in the showstopper. Linda was eliminated this week, despite her saying that Pastry Week was going to be her week, it really wasn’t. The judges weren’t impressed by her samosa pastries, she failed spectacularly in the technical challenge, and her pastry failed her in the showstopper.
Make sure you tune in next week for something brand new in the tent. The Great British Baking Show will have it’s very first “Japanese Week”! Then, check back here for the latest recap!