This week on The Great British Baking Show, the 10 remaining bakers are competing in “Mexican Week”. This is the first time that this theme has been used. They will face three Mexican-themed challenges to compete for the title of ‘star baker’ and to avoid being eliminated from the competition. There is also the added pressure that two bakers could be eliminated due to no bakers being eliminated last week.
For the signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make 12 identical pan dulce in two and a half hours. Pan dulce are Mexican sweet breads and there are dozens of varieties that the bakers could choose from. They could choose any variety they wished, as long as it contained yeast.
The big challenge with this bake is that the bread is slow to prove. This means that the bakers needed to work fast to get the bread into the proving drawer as soon as possible to give it the longest time possible to rise. If they didn’t then the bread would not rise much and would become very doughy once baked. Many of the bakers including Sandro, Carole and Dawn had problems with this and received negative comments from the judges.
Rebs made lemon conchas. Her breads were vanilla with lemon craquelin on top and served with whipped cream lemon curd on the side. The judges thought her conchas looked awful. Her craquelin was too thick and heavy and so prevented the buns from rising. The judges said it looked like she had sat on them. However, they thought her buns were nicely baked and the lemon flavor was nice.
Syabira had a similar problem. She made corn on the cob pan dulce. She had a corn and custard filling and the craquelin was cut to look like corn. The judges thought they were beautiful but, again, had not risen. This made her buns very dry and dough-like, although they had a nice flavor.
James faced similar criticism. His vanilla, cinnamon and coffee breads were topped with a chocolate and coffee craquelin, with a caramel oyster and edible pearl on top. The judges thought they looked great but the craquelin was too thick and his buns were very dry and dense. They also thought that the breads were too plain and needed a filling for extra flavor.
The two bakers that managed to do well in this challenge were Kevin and Maxy. Kevin made borrachitos, which translates as “little drunkards”. His buns were soaked in star anise and rum syrup and were topped with rum butter. They looked great and tasted good. However, the judges said his bread needed longer proving but that he was almost there.
Maxy clearly came out on top of this challenge. She made orange, cinnamon and vanilla conchas with Chantilly cream on the side. They were very even and large, although they still didn’t have as much of a dome as the judges would have liked. Her craquelin was nice and crisp and the judges liked her flavors. Prue even commented that Maxy has very good instincts for flavors that go well together.
For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make eight Mexican tacos using a recipe that they had never seen before. The hand-pressed tortillas needed to be made from yellow field corn and had to contain marinated steak, spicy refried beans, guacamole, cheese and pico de gallo salsa. The judges ranked the bakes from worst to best in a blind judging, not knowing which tacos belonged to which baker.
There were a couple of pitfalls to this challenge that the bakers fell into. The taco needed to be as thin as possible and be cooked in a pan for less than a minute on each side. If they were cooked for longer then they could dry out and crack and crumble when you tried to fold them around the filling. The other challenge was to put the right amount of topping on top of the tacos. The temptation would be to put too much on top and make them very difficult to eat.
Carole came in tenth place as her tacos were too thick and too small. She had also put too much chilli into her toppings. Rebs came in ninth place as her tacos were also too thick and small. She had oversalted her tacos, they were dry, and she had served them with too much topping. Then, in order, came: James, Janusz, Abdul, Dawn, Kevin and Sandro.
Syabira came in second as her tacos were very neat, the spices were well-balanced and her steak was nice and rare. However, she had cooked her tacos for a bit too long and they were breaking up when the judges tried to eat them. This left Maxy with first place. Her tacos were nice and thin, cooked nicely, and her fillings were all prepared well and tasted good.
For the signature challenge, the bakers were given four hours to make a tres leches cake. Tres leches cakes are sponges soaked in three milks: evaporated milk, condensed milk and double cream. Their cakes had to have at least four layers which is a big challenge due to tres leches cakes being quite delicate and potentially collapsing. The judges wanted cakes that were moist but not so soaked that there was liquid running out of the bottom.
Rebs made a tiramisu tres leches wedding cake. Her sponges had a coffee tres leches soak and included tequila and chilli chocolate ganache, mascarpone cream and was topped with almond and cocoa macarons. Unfortunately, she soaked her sponges too much and it was running out of the bottom. She described her decoration as “rustic”, which tried to cover the fact that it looked slightly messy. It was very boozy, and the chilli was too strong, leaving the judges coughing at the strong flavors.
Carole made a chocolate tres leches cake with a coffee liqueur soak. It was filled with a chocolate hazelnut ganache and decorated with lime and orange buttercream, a chocolate collar and hazelnut caramel spikes. It was vibrant and the judges loved the look. However, the cake was not soaked all the way through; the piece of cake that Prue had was not soaked at all! The cake was well made but the chilli flavor was too strong.
James tried to impress the judges by completing lots of elements. He made lemon and lime sponges with a vanilla soak. It was filled with dulce de leche lime curd and crème diplomat. It was then topped with chilli chocolate ganache, a feathered chocolate collar, chocolate crinkle cookies and a strawberry fraisier tart. He attempted too much and didn’t manage to perfect anything. Everything was very messy and rushed. His cake and tart were delicious, but the top sponge was a bit dry and tough. His sponges were also unevenly soaked.
Maxy made a chocolate cake with a vanilla soak. It was filled with strawberries and Italian meringue buttercream and topped with cinnamon vanilla cream and buttercream flowers. Her cake looked very nice, and the judges were impressed with her piping. Her chocolate flavor was delicious and the richness of the cake was balanced well with the cream.
Abdul made a Day of the Dead cake. His coconut and lime sponges had a passion fruit and coconut soak and were filled with lime curd. They were topped with Italian meringue buttercream, coconut crumble and white chocolate skulls. Although his cake was slightly wonky, his layers were very even inside and it looked very good. His cakes were soaked nicely and the judges loved the flavors.
Dawn made an outstanding cake. Her cake had a vanilla soak and was filled with coffee crème mousseline and a chocolate feuilletine layer to give it crunch. It was topped with Chantilly cream and choux buns pilled with amaretto crème patissiere. The judges thought her cake looked simple but effective. They loved the contrast of textures with her soft cake and the crunchy feuilletine. They were blown away by the flavors, with Prue describing them as heavenly. The look Paul gave Dawn made us all think that a “Hollywood handshake” may have been imminent but Dawn sadly didn’t receive one.
Although the judges thought that Abdul and Dawn had done very well in the showstopper challenge, they hadn’t done well enough in the other challenges to be in the running for ‘star baker’. Maxy managed to win the title for the second time due to doing consistently well across all three challenges.
James, Rebs and Carole were all in the running to be eliminated. The judges decided that this was the week that they would eliminate two bakers due to poor performance across the challenges. This week James and Rebs were both sent home.
Next week, the bakers will compete in “Dessert Week”. Make sure you check it out on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!