There are spoilers about the episode in this article.
It’s “Dessert Week” in The Great British Baking Show and it’s the quarter-final. We are down to just five bakers and they all seem to be evenly matched, having all earned the title of star baker, which is the first time that has happened. Each week the bakers compete in three challenges judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith to earn the title of star baker and to avoid being eliminated.
For their signature challenge, the bakers were asked to bake 12 identical mini cheesecakes in two and a half hours. The cheesecakes had to be baked and the base had to be made from scratch. The judges were looking for silky smooth cheesecakes, a decorative top, and lots of flavor packed into the small cheesecakes.
Peter made ginger and lime cheesecakes with a toasted oat and gingernut biscuit base. His cheesecakes were topped with lime curd and crystallised ginger. Paul was optimistic about Peter’s chosen flavors but Peter was worried, as he had never made a baked cheesecake before. He struggled with his lime curd as it was too thin and so he added butter to make it thicker, which made it completely unusable, which meant he had to make it again. He also had issues with his cheesecakes as they sunk considerably in the middle, which Paul suggested may have been because the mixture was delicate. The judges said that although his flavors were lovely, they didn’t look like cheesecakes and the ginger flavor could have been a little stronger.
Marc made vanilla and mascarpone cheesecakes with a digestive biscuit base. His cheesecakes were New York style and topped with almond praline dust, pecans, and glazed apricots. The judges were not impressed with Marc’s cheesecakes. They said they needed to be neater and that they were too big and thin to be considered mini cheesecakes. They didn’t get much vanilla flavor either, although when they ate the cheesecake with the apricot on top, it was delicious.
The other bakers all used passion fruit flavors for their cheesecakes. Laura made vanilla cheesecakes with a honey and oat biscuit base topped with passion fruit curd. Laura had severe problems with her cheesecakes as she left them in the oven too late and so they didn’t set before she needed to decorate them. This meant that her cheesecakes looked a mess. However, despite this, the judges were still impressed because the ratio between her elements was perfect and they were delicious.
Dave made a citrus cheesecake with a lemon cheesecake filling, passion fruit, and orange jelly glaze with an orange shortbread base. His cheesecakes were topped with lime meringue kisses. His cheesecakes looked very neat. The judges thought they were delicious and that the textures were perfect. They had been concerned that he had put too much gelatine in his jelly but they were proved wrong when the jelly melted perfectly in the mouth.
Hermine made passion fruit cheesecakes with passion fruit jelly, a cinnamon biscuit base and topped with meringue kisses. She was the only baker to leave her cheesecakes in the mold it was baked in, as her cheesecakes were all served in little jars. She was also the only baker to bake her cheesecakes using a bain-marie, which may have proved to be the wrong decision. The only compliment they gave her was that her cheesecakes looked pretty. They said her cheesecakes were not as silky as they had hoped, were stodgy, there was not enough lime or passion fruit flavor and that the base was too soft (which may have been caused by the bain-marie).
For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to follow a recipe set by Prue. They had to make two Sussex pond puddings, which is a classic recipe from the 1700s. The pudding consists of suet pastry, steamed until golden. When you cut into the pudding, a full lemon is revealed (yes, even including the skin) and the lemon-flavored butter and sugar filling oozes out. The bakers had two and a half hours to make the two puddings alongside a silky smooth creme anglaise.
The bakers faced the struggle of making a suet pastry strong enough to contain the filling without it leaking out. This was difficult when the only instruction they were given in the recipe was “make the pastry.”
However, the problem that was the downfall of all of the bakers was how long to steam the puddings for. Prue said privately to Paul that they should be steamed for as long as the bakers had left in the challenge, ideally one and a half to two hours. None of the bakers steamed it for anywhere near long enough.
Dave was the last person to put his puddings into the steamer and the first person to take his out. This proved to be a disastrous decision when he demolded his puddings and the pastry instantly broke apart, spilling the filling everywhere.
The others soon followed suit but their cheesecakes had been in the oven for longer. It was still heartbreaking to watch the bakers demold their puddings, as every baker had at least one pudding burst.
The technical challenge is judged blind so the judges do not know which bake belongs to which baker and they judge them from worst to best. Dave came in last place and Peter came in fourth. Both of them had raw pastry because it was understeamed, which caused their puddings to collapse. Both of them had made good creme anglaise, though.
Hermine came in third and Marc came in second. Both had puddings that were cooked better but they still hadn’t been steamed long enough. This meant that the lemon inside was hard instead of soft.
Laura came in first place, as although her creme anglaise was a little too thin and her pastry still needed longer in the steamer, her puddings were the best of a bad bunch. The shape of the puddings could still be seen and her flavor was good.
This was a difficult challenge to judge purely because the bakers all seemed to mess it up. However, what shocked viewers most about this challenge was that Prue revealed that she was 80 years old. She definitely doesn’t look it!
For their showstopper challenge, the bakers were given the difficult task of making a jelly (jello for those of you in the US) art design cake in four and a half hours. It needed to be a layered cake with at least one baked sponge. This needed to be topped with a spectacular jelly topping or coating.
The making of jelly art requires a lot of skill, as you need to inject liquid jelly into set jelly to create your design. The bakers also needed to judge how much gelatine or agar to put in their jelly, as too much and they risk the jelly being rubbery and too little and the jelly will be watery.
Marc made a cake with chocolate and strawberry mousses, hazelnut dacquoise meringue, and panna cotta topped with two layers of apple jelly with designs of roses and jasmine inside. Unfortunately the judges were not impressed with his creation. His strawberry mousse had not set and had curdled. Due to this, he had to place his jellies on a board on top of his other layers to support them. His bad feedback did not stop there. His meringue was overbaked and like concrete, his chocolate mousse was too hard, and his jelly too rubbery. They liked his design and ambition for the two-tiered jelly but the cake as a whole was a bit of a failure.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) November 10, 2020
Laura made a beautiful tribute to a koi pond. She had layers of genoise sponge, raspberry mousse, and white chocolate bavarois topped with jelly showcasing her molded koi carp and injected flowers. The judges loved her jelly design which included little bubbles coming from the fish. However, they said that the rest of the cake could have been neater by having the sponge covered by some decoration. They loved the texture and flavors of her cake though.
Dave made a tribute to Newquay beach. He had layers of chocolate fudge sponge cake, clotted cream mousse topped with apple and guava jelly showcasing the 3D beach scene. The judges were impressed with Dave’s clever design and his jelly was light and melted in the mouth. They weren’t as impressed with the rest of the cake. He had used too much gelatine in his mousse which made it stodgy, and Paul thought his sponge was neither chocolaty nor fudgy and made the cake too dry.
Hermine made a stunning cake made of kirsch-soaked genoise sponge, chocolate and raspberry mousses covered with a tempered chocolate collar and white chocolate ganache. This was then topped with a clear jelly dome that housed a Japanese poppy. Hermine was worried that her elements wouldn’t set in time but she had no reason to worry. Her cake was beautiful and as a gardener, Prue said her poppy was perfect. The raspberry, chocolate, and aromatic flavors in the jelly worked together beautifully. They also loved the white chocolate ganache and asked Hermine to take the cake away quickly before they ate it all.
Peter made a cake inspired by a snow globe. He had layers of orange and cranberry mousses in the centre of his sandwich sponge cake decorated with coconut dusted Italian meringue buttercream. He made Christmas decorations out of panna cotta, which could be seen under his jelly dome. He put himself in a dangerous position by not practising within the time limit and he didn’t know how long it would take his elements to set. Unfortunately, his panna cotta was a bit loose and didn’t hold the crisp shapes of the Christmas decorations, particularly intricate shapes like the reindeer. The judges thought his shapes ended up a bit too abstract and they also needed to be bolder colors since pastel colors didn’t remind them of Christmas. They thought his sponge was overbaked and his mousses weren’t quite set properly, which resulted in it being very difficult to cut a slice of the cake. They thought that the flavors were beautiful, though.
Once again, the competition was very tight this week. The signature challenge was fairly mediocre for the bakers and the technical challenge went wrong for all of them. Everything relied on how they did in the showstopper.
Both Hermine and Laura were up for star baker this week. Laura did consistently well through the challenges, but Hermine swooped in and produced a spectacular showstopper which earned her the title of star baker for the second time in a row.
On the other end of the scale, both Peter and Marc were in danger of being eliminated. Peter didn’t do well in any of the challenges and Marc had been fairly safe this week. However, Marc’s showstopper went very wrong, which meant that he was eliminated this week.
This season is truly unpredictable and with it being the semi-final next week, it is impossible to tell who will be in the final. Make sure you check it out next week and then check back here for the latest recap!