Thursday, December 2, 2021

‘The Great British Baking Show’ Recap: Season 12, Episode 7 “Caramel Week”

Numbers are dwindling on The Great British Baking Show with just six bakers left! This week they faced “Caramel Week,” a notoriously sticky challenge. The results were rather disastrous!

Signature Challenge

For the signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make a highly decorative, sharing caramel tart in two and a half hours. They could use any style, flavors or additional elements they wanted but caramel had to be the star of the show. The judges expected caramel perfection with caramel not too hard like toffee, not too soft like sauce, and not too sweet.

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The main downfall of most of the bakers was that they needed to be careful with what elements they had chosen to bake. They needed time to be able to cool their base before adding other elements on top or risk their elements melting. Three bakers all chose to do extra baked elements which meant that their tarts were in the oven for longer and it ended disastrously for them.

Jürgen made a caramel tart which had a pastry base. On top was a baked caramel and nut layer that included pecans, walnuts, and pistachios. This was then topped with a kumquat crème chiboust. Due to his baked caramel layer being too hot when he added his chiboust, it split and melted on top. The judges weren’t impressed with his messy decoration when they had asked for a highly decorative tart. His caramel was also too chewy and they described it as nut toffee. They thought his flavors were good but on the whole were not impressed.

Lizzie made a caramel tart with a pastry base, baked caramel custard, and topped with caramelised pineapple, caramel shards, and Chantilly cream. Again, due to her custard being baked rather than set, it was too hot when she placed her cream on top. The judges thought her base was crispy and her flavors were delicious. It would have been a triumph if she had managed to cool it in time and decorate it neatly.

George made a tart based around banoffee pie. It had a chocolate pastry base, salted caramel custard, toffee sauce, bananas, crème fraiche, and double cream. George had the same problem of his base being too hot for decoration which all melted. The heat also resulted in his caramel remaining too liquid and leaking out of the tart. Sadly, he also curdled his custard. However, the judges did like his thin pastry crust.  

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Crystelle, Giuseppe, and Chigs made the much safer decision to only bake the pastry base. This allowed them to cool the base in time before adding their other elements into it. Crystelle stood out in this challenge. She made a tart with a layer of pecan crunch topped with miso caramel apple chunks, topped with cinnamon and cream. The judges liked her decoration and thought her flavors were very well balanced despite the slightly bitter flavor to her caramel.

Technical Challenge

For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make 10 identical caramel biscuit bars. The judges were expecting perfection with a shortbread biscuit, topped with caramel and then coated in chocolate. The bakers had only an hour and a half to follow the very sparse recipe. The bakes were ranked from worst to best in a blind judging.

‘The Great British Baking Show’

The bakers had to judge the caramel very carefully. It needed to be solid enough that it would set on top of the biscuit and not run down the sides but not long enough that it became hard like toffee. Several of the bakers had trouble with this. George let his caramel harden too much, so he tried to soften it in the microwave. The judges still complained that the caramel almost pulled their teeth out. His biscuits were also very messy and so he was placed in last position.

Lizzie came in fifth place as her caramel dripped down the edges as it wasn’t hard enough. Her biscuits were also quite rubbery and were a mess. Crystelle came in fourth, Chigs in third, and Jürgen in second. This left Giuseppe in first place. His biscuits were quite neat and the caramel was lovely. However, his biscuit was still a little soggy. The bakers all clapped for his win and Paul commented that they shouldn’t clap. His biscuits were far from perfect but they were the best of a bad bunch.

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper challenge, the bakers were asked to make a caramel flavored dessert with an exquisite sugar-work dome or sphere in four and a half hours. They could produce any type of dessert they wished but it had to have at least one baked element and two caramel components. To make their dome, they could use isomalt or caramelised sugar but the judges wanted it to be transparent.

Jürgen managed to pull himself back from the danger zone in this challenge. He went all out with his many layered dessert that took 107 steps to make. The dessert included a shortcrust pastry base, caramel, hazelnut praline, caramel bavarois, passionfruit and mango bavarois, chocolate genoise, passion fruit glaze, ladyfingers around the outside, and a mango flower. It looked spectacular! He made an isomalt dome that was crystal clear. However, Paul was a little concerned that it looked very thick and it had a collar around the bottom. The judges thought every layer was delicious and that the dessert was a triumph.

‘The Great British Baking Show’

Lizzie received very mixed feedback. She turned the challenge on its head when she decided to make a blue isomalt flower bowl. Her bowl contained an apple cake, pecan brittle, and sage caramel and was topped with apple and toffee pastry roses and honeycomb. It looked amazing and the judges commented that Lizzie had finally achieved finesse. However, it didn’t look great inside the bowl and was a messy mixture of the different elements. It was very stodgy and the judges thought that it needed a creamier element. Her roses were also slightly overdone.

Crystelle received quite positive feedback despite the disastrous end to her bake. She made another bake that was sentimental and dedicated to her late grandfather who left a cactus on her porch before passing away unexpectedly. She made a cake that was topped with cactuses and the dome over the top acted like a terrarium. Her dessert included a salted caramel mousse with caramel sauce, coffee peanut ganache, a peanut biscuit base, chocolate mirror glaze, and miso caramel rocks.

She struggled to make her dome using her mould. Her multiple attempts resulted in the dome breaking each time. Lizzie taught her another method of using a balloon which finally worked. There was a heart-warming moment when Crystelle put down her finished dome to hug Lizzie. However, when she tried to pick it up from the mould where she had placed it, it had stuck. The other bakers watched in horror as Crystelle panicked in the last few seconds but finally managed to get it free. Sadly it had tufts of sugar where it had stuck and was slightly deformed. The judges commented on the state of it but thought her dessert was beautiful without it. They loved the flavor but thought it was too rich. They also thought her mousse was too dry and stodgy due to the amount of gelatine she had added to help it set faster.

George was very brave with his bake as he was the only baker to make a dome from caramelised sugar rather than the more stable isomalt. His dessert included three hazelnut and almond dacquoise meringue layers with salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream and chocolate ganache in between. This was then topped with honeycomb. The judges were very impressed with its appearance, particularly his dome. His flavors and textures let him down though. His dessert was too dry and hard with his three layers of meringue. However, Prue argued that it tasted delicious as long as you made sure to get a forkful of all of the layers.

Results

This week was the tightest week between the bakers. All of the bakers struggled with “Caramel Week” and no one did particularly well. Due to this, four of the bakers were in the running for the title of star baker. Crystelle and Jürgen did quite well, and even Giuseppe and Chigs were in the running despite receiving mixed feedback for their bakes. However, in the end, Jürgen won the title due to coming second in the technical challenge and his excellent showstopper.

This left George and Lizzie both in danger of being eliminated this week. Unsurprisingly, George was eliminated, which he had already resigned himself to. He seemed to have doomed himself from the moment he said that he felt fairly confident at the beginning of the episode.

Baking Show Best Bits

Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!

  • Everyone trying to avoid saying the trade name Twix in the technical challenge.
  • During the showstopper challenge, George said that he’d already packed to go home. Noel joked that he was going to go and unpack for him. He actually came back later with some of George’s clothes.

Next week, the bakers will compete in “Free-Form Week.” Make sure you check it out on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!

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Lynette
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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