This week on The Great British Baking Show, the four remaining bakers are competing in the semi-finals: “Patisserie Week.” They will face three patisserie-themed challenges to compete for the title of Star Baker and to avoid being eliminated from the competition.
For the Signature Challenge, the bakers were asked to bake a batch of six identical mini charlottes. They had two and a half hours to make the desserts, consisting of a set filling encased in sponge. The bakers could use any flavors they wished, but the judges expected the desserts to look amazing and be worthy of a patisserie.
Sandro made mini charlottes that had layers of banana sponge coated in caramel and peanuts, peanut and caramel mousses, caramel chocolate ganache, and caramel sauce. It was encased with joconde sponge and topped with praline crumble and patisserie cream. The judges were worried that he had taken on too much and that he may not finish in time. He did manage to finish, but they were a little clumsy as he rushed toward the end. The judges also thought that although his flavors were delicious, there were too many, and they were overwhelming. His cakes were also too big and chunky for patisserie-style mini charlottes (emphasis on the mini). The layers inside were beautiful and soft, although the peanut layer was a little gluey due to too much gelatin. Judge Prue Leith said his banana sponge was one of the best sponges she had eaten, though.
Janusz made mini charlottes that included plum and dark chocolate mousses encased by chocolate joconde sponge fingers and topped with a hazelnut custard dome. The judges thought they looked a little untidy as Janusz had tied his ribbons too tight around the sponges and broken some. The judges loved his combination of flavors. His plum mousse was set nicely, but his chocolate mousse was not set as it had no setting agent, and his sponge was quite tough.
Syabira made peanut butter and berry mini charlottes. They had layers of blackberry, strawberry, and peanut butter cheesecakes encased by Savoyard sponge fingers and topped with a strawberry flower. The judges seemed a little skeptical about the combination of flavors, but they were won over. They thought it was unusual but that it worked. Her desserts were also very pretty and elegant. However, her blackberry and strawberry cheesecakes weren’t quite set enough, although her peanut butter cheesecake was.
Abdul made tiramisu-inspired mini charlottes. His desserts had layers of pistachio mascarpone cream and coffee crème chiboust, surrounded by sponge ladyfingers and topped with chocolate decoration. He was very aware that since his flavors were simple, he needed to make every element perfect. As a result, he spent a lot of time doing this and ran out of time to decorate at the end of the challenge. His mini charlottes looked a little messy; however, everything else was perfect. The judges loved the flavors and textures; it just wasn’t quite up to patisserie standards.
For the Technical Challenge, the bakers were given two hours to make four identical chocolate hazelnut and vertical raspberry tarts using a recipe they had never seen before. The judges were expecting a ring of sweet shortcrust pastry, a semicircle of chocolate hazelnut mousse, topped with a layer of raspberry jelly and decorated with whipped cream, raspberries, tempered chocolate discs, and gold leaf. The judges ranked the bakes from worst to best in a blind judging, not knowing which tarts belonged to which baker.
This challenge was difficult for several reasons, one of which was that the bakers had no idea what these tarts were supposed to look like and had to work this out from the recipe. Another was creating the right texture for the mousse, which was created using whisked meringue. If the bakers undermixed the mousse, they would have mousse dotted with egg whites, but if overmixed, it would knock the air out of the mousse and become more solid and like a ganache. Most of the bakers also didn’t realize that when they baked their rings of pastry, they should have put rice in the middle to help the pastry hold its shape. Only Syabira did this.
Sandro didn’t put rice in his pastry rings but was lucky his pastry held its shape. However, he still came in last place. He added extra fluid to his jelly, which meant that his jelly didn’t set. He also struggled to understand the instructions to figure out what the tarts should look like. He got it wrong at first and lost quite a bit of time working out what had gone wrong. This lost time meant he rushed at the end, and his tarts were messy. However, his pastry was very good.
Janusz came in third, as his pastry was slightly underbaked. He had put his rings in the oven without rice which had caused them to crumple inwards, two becoming unusable. He had to put two new rings into the oven (this time with rice). He made another mistake by not placing any paper between his pastry and the rice, so some of the rice stuck to his pastry, which he then had to pick off. One of his underbaked rings broke during assembly because it was so soft. His tarts were also a little messy. His mousse was the best out of everyone, though.
Abdul came in second because his rings were slightly overbaked. Again, he hadn’t put rice in and so had to pull them out of the oven, reshape them, and cook them for longer. They looked quite neat, but his mousse had been overmixed and turned to ganache. His flavor was very good, though.
Syabira was praised as her pastry was neat, and her tarts looked amazing. Her mousse had also been overmixed and was more like ganache, but her tarts were delicious. This landed her first place.
For the Showstopper Challenge, the bakers were given four hours to produce their own take on a Swedish krokan dessert. This multi-tiered dessert is made from almond biscuits with intricate marzipan, icing, and sugar work decoration. The judges were expecting the biscuits to be crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. They needed to produce a structure at least 60cm tall and for it to be structurally sound. It was a challenge for the bakers to find the right balance between the chewiness of the biscuit and being strong enough to be stable for the structure.
Janusz made a tribute to Brighton Pride. He made almond and rose-flavored biscuits to create his structure which was decorated with gin-flavored royal icing. The bottom tier had isomalt stained-glass windows, which were a tribute to the pride flag, his second tier was pink and blue hearts, and the top tier was black and brown musical notes, ensuring he paid tribute to all parts of the LGBTQ+ community. The judges loved his bottom tier but felt it became messier on the higher tiers. They loved his flavors, but none of his biscuits had the perfect bake. Some were overbaked and some underbaked.
Sandro made a tribute to both Africa and the UK, where he was born and raised. He had two different biscuits, one flavored with pistachio and raspberry and one with rhubarb and custard. He made an elaborate structure that included a map of Africa, a Big Ben clock face, and the London Eye. He had done some red isomalt sugar work, but sadly, it fell off just after the challenge had finished. The judges thought his structure was a little messy, although they quite liked the design. The caramel that he used to glue together the biscuits was overdone and almost burnt. However, they loved his flavors, and his textures were spot on. The biscuits were perfectly soft in the middle.
Syabira made a very impressive structure which was a tribute to DNA. She made chromosomes from almond biscuits and her double-helix structure from rose and pistachio-flavored biscuits. Her structure was incredible as the entire top structure was supported on the X-shaped chromosome biscuits. Her double-helix format was supported only by thin biscuit rods. She had to balance it extremely carefully, or else it could topple over. The first three practice bakes she had done failed for this reason. She even used a spirit level to make sure everything was perfect. The judges were very impressed with her structure and loved her flavors. However, some of her biscuits were overbaked and not chewy in the middle due to them being so small.
Abdul excelled in this challenge. He made a rocket ship from lemon biscuits, including colored sugar stained-glass windows. He had orange zest marzipan decorations, including stars and astronauts. His bake looked amazing, and his flavors were delicious. He achieved the chewy middle to the biscuits as well. The judges thought he had done a terrific job.
It was a lovely sight to see the bakers hold hands in support as they waited for the results this week. Abdul won his first Star Baker, which was well deserved with how well he did this week!
Sadly, this week we said goodbye to Janusz. From the beginning of the episode, he had said that patisserie was his weak point; unfortunately, he just didn’t meet the judges’ high standards.
Baking Show Best Bits
Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!
- Host Noel Fielding leaving the tent during the Technical Challenge because Syabira told him to stay away whilst she was whisking her mousse.
- Janusz helping Syabira in the middle of the Showstopper Challenge. He took time away from his own bake to help her lift her structure.
Next week, the bakers will compete in “The Final.” Make sure you check it out on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!