‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 11, Episode 6 Recap: “Japanese Week”


There are spoilers about the episode in this article.

We’re back with the 100th episode of The Great British Baking Show! To celebrate, the bakers will face a brand new themed week, “Japanese Week.” They will face the usual three themed challenges, judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. By the end of the episode, one of the bakers will be crowned star baker, and one will be eliminated.

Signature Challenge

For the signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make a batch of eight steamed buns in two and a half hours. Japanese steamed buns traditionally contain pork or curry, but the bakers could use any filling they wished. Judge Prue thought that she would see lots of traditional Japanese flavors used, but Hermine and Dave were the only ones who continued the Japanese theme within their fillings.

Many of the bakers made steamed buns in the shape of animals. Dave used turmeric to create the yellow dough for his chicken-shaped steamed buns containing katsu curry. The judges thought his chicken buns looked great, particularly the color, but small parts of the dough were where you could see the filling poking through. The judges thought his textures were great, and although they liked the flavor, it could have been a little stronger.

Image courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Hermine shaped her buns into pandas containing her chicken nikuman with fresh chili, dried shrimps, and shiitake mushrooms. The judges weren’t overly impressed with her pandas, saying they looked “panda-ish.” Her buns were not even and were a little untidy, but both her bun and filling were delicious. Her buns were beautifully baked, although they were a little thick, and their folding could have been neater.

Laura baked pig-shaped Chinese-style pork belly steamed buns with a sticky sauce. Paul loved the idea of her steamed buns, so after winning star baker last week, she seemed like a winner again. Unfortunately, Laura had problems with putting too much filling in her buns, resulting in the dough being stretched and the filling being seen through the bun. The judges thought the bun and the filling tasted lovely, but the meat was a little dry and tough because she hadn’t added enough sticky sauce.

Peter made steamed buns in the shape of lambs containing his spiced minced lamb with Chinese stir fry. He had some problems with his steamed buns. His lambs had creases down them, and when Paul cut into his buns, you could see that there were air pockets inside, a result of how he’d shaped them. He was criticized for having a lot more meat than bread, but his flavors were great.

Marc made onion and apple lentil dhal curry in smoked paprika steamed buns with mango chutney. Marc had a little problem with steaming as he put too many buns in his steamer together. As they expanded, they stuck together and had to be ripped apart, leaving them a little messy and having lost a bit of their shape. The judges liked his flavors, particularly the paprika in the buns.

Mark and Lottie were both inspired by burger flavors and so had a “burger off.” They both faced the challenge that while talking to the judges, they found out that Paul Hollywood hates gherkins. They both agreed to make him a special steamed bun sans gherkin.

Mark used minced beef in his buns mixed with gherkins, onion, cheese, and tomato purée. Mark and Lottie’s buns’ main difference was that Mark fried his mince before putting it in his buns. The judges thought his buns were very good; they were soft and smooth. Although his filling tasted nice, it was a little dry.

Lottie instead put her minced beef in raw and cooked it within the buns. Rather than having her ingredients mixed, she put them into layers. She had layers of beef patty, cheese, bacon, and sun-dried tomato and gherkin relish. She also served hers with spiralized chips (fries for those of you in the US). The judges thought she had great decoration and flavor. However, Paul criticized her filling like a little dry – although as Lottie pointed out later, he hadn’t had the relish because of the gherkins. They were very impressed with the buns, particularly how they had been folded neatly around the filling so that the dough was even all of the way around.

Image courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Technical Challenge

For the technical challenge, the bakers had to follow a recipe written by Prue to make a matcha crepe cake. They had two hours to make 12 thin matcha crepes, which needed to be layered with thinly sliced strawberries and white chocolate ganache buttercream. This was then topped with fresh fruit and edible flowers.

Image courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

The main pitfall that the bakers faced with this challenge were that the recipe did not allow for any spare batter. The 12 crepes needed to be very thin, so if anything went wrong or if the bakers made their crepes too thick, then there would not be enough batter to make all of the layers.

It was hilarious to watch presenter Noel Fielding desperately try to get the bakers to flip their crepes in the pan. Only Dave actually did, as most bakers were too worried about how fragile the crepes were.

What was surprising was that a few of the bakers didn’t seem to know what a crescent was. They were asked to place their decoration in a crescent on top of the cake, but both Dave and Hermine had their decoration covering the entire top of the cake.

The technical challenge is judged blind, so the judges do not know which bake belongs to which baker. The bakes are then judged from worst to best. Laura came in the last place as she had made her crepes too thick, so she did not have enough batter to make all 12 layers. Her crepes were also too chewy because of their thickness. Marc came in sixth place as he had the same problem with not enough layers. However, he tried to make up for this with thicker layers of ganache, which the judges didn’t like. His strawberries were also chopped too thickly, and his decoration was a mess.

Mark came in fifth, Hermine in fourth, and Dave in third. Lottie came in second as her crepe cake tasted delicious and her ganache was well made. Her cake was very neat, but she had put a little too much coconut on top. This left Peter first, which is exactly what he needed after his bad feedback in the signature challenge. The judges said his cake was exactly what the cake should look like, and his flavor was excellent.

Showstopper Challenge

The showstopper challenge asked the bakers to make a kawaii cake in four hours. Their flavors, decoration, and type of sponge had to be inspired by Japanese cuisine. The bakers faced the challenge of most Japanese sponges being relatively light and delicate, but their sponges needed to be sturdy enough to hold decoration.

Lottie made an unusual cotton jiggle cake in the shape of a toadstool. She used flavored lime sponges with a cherry cream center. She added other forest details such as Japanese whisky fudge pebbles, biscuit bamboo, and a tree topped with cherry drop flavored candy floss. She took a bit of a gamble with a top-heavy design, but it did pay off. The judges loved her design and flavors. Paul loved the texture of her sponge and said the last time he had a sponge-like that was when he was in Japan.

Laura made an upside-down pineapple cake from pineapple chiffon cakes with poached pineapple, lime, and yuzu curd, and Swiss meringue. She had some issues with her yellow fondant as it was somewhat fragile and had holes in it when she placed it on her cake, and so it seemed like her fate was sealed for being eliminated. However, she covered these holes rather well with other decorations and managed to pull it off. The judges thought her character was charming, although it could have looked slightly more like a pineapple. The judges loved her strong citrus flavors and her light sponges, although they had collapsed slightly in the middle under the decoration’s weight. She was hopeful that she might just have done enough to save herself from elimination.

Hermine made a cake in tribute to a Japanese garden, made from vanilla genoise sponges with strawberries and a cherry blossom tree made from modeling chocolate and marshmallow fondant. The judges weren’t entirely sure that she had met the brief. Although her cake was Japanese inspired, they weren’t convinced that it was kawaii. They did think her genoise sponges and flavors were lovely, although the fondant and buttercream were a little thick.

Peter made a rather odd anthropomorphized shuttlecock, complete with a bump on his head and stars around it where a racket had hit it. He used rainbow-colored castella sponges, chestnut cream, and poached Asian pears, decorated with white chocolate feathers. The judges thought that although his design was a bit mad, it was cute and funny. His rainbow layers inside the cake looked good, but the judges thought his cake’s texture was a bit chewy and needed a little more flavor.

Image courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Dave made his Shiba Inu dog using a matcha and rosewater sponge and a chocolate sponge with apple jam and buttercream. The judges loved his design and felt it fit the Japanese brief, but there were creases in his fondant. His sponges were well baked, and the flavors beautifully. The judges were surprised by how well the rosewater and matcha went together.

Marc also made his dog, Hamish, the border terrier. His cake was made from a honey and tahini sponge and a ginger and soybean sponge with lemon Swiss meringue buttercream. The judges loved his design and felt that they could see the character of his dog. Although his cakes had collapsed a little in the middle, the judges loved his flavors.

Mark made avocado cakes (in look and flavor) using avocado chiffon sponges. He also made a tempered milk chocolate stone that was filled with ruby chocolate biscuit baby avocados. Although the judges thought his design was cute and witty, he ran out of time towards the end and so rushed his second avocado half, resulting in the fondant being messy. They thought that his yuzu flavor was a little overpowering but what didn’t work was that his sponge was tight and very dry. Paul said it was verging on inedible. Prue did say that the small biscuit babies were delicious, though.

Image courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’


This year is a bit of a roller coaster in terms of star bakers and eliminations. The bakers all seem on a fairly even footing, so it is becoming very difficult to predict what will happen each episode.

Marc, Dave, and Lottie were all in the running for star baker this week. Lottie won star baker this week as she did well in the signature with her burger buns and came second in technical. However, what won her the challenge was her stunning cotton jiggle cake.

Mark, Laura, and Hermine were in danger of being eliminated. It seemed like Laura was the obvious choice for being eliminated, but the judges loved her showstopper, so she managed to claw her way out of danger. Unfortunately, this left Mark as the person being eliminated. Although he did alright in the signature challenge, he came fifth in the technical, but his showstopper being almost inedible pushed him over the edge.

Next week, the bakers will be tackling some nostalgic bakes in “80s Week,” which will see them make ice cream on one of the hottest days of the year. Make sure to tune in for the episode and then check back here for the latest recap!

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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