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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Great British Bake-Off: Pastry Week

It's rather odd watching The Great British Bake-Off knowing that changes are afoot of screen and that sadly this will be the last series that we'll hear Mel and Sue's iconic one-liners. In fact I feel that Channel 4 needs to cast the next host of The Bake-Off wisely and try to find someone who isn't cracking rubbish jokes every so often. I particularly enjoyed the hosting duo's nods to Nordic Noir during the opening Danish pastry round including telling the bakers to make a killing. It's a shame that Mel and Sue are leaving the show as I felt that they warmed up what was an uncharacteristically dull episode of the Bake-Off with the final eight contestants all seemingly having an off week.

Signature Bake - Breakfast Pastries 

The phrase breakfast pastry was an interesting one as I'm not sure how many people get out of bed and immediately wolf down an apple and cinnamon Danish or a pecan and walnut swirl. In fact I applaud Tom for being the only baker to actually theme his breakfast pastries by adding breakfast cereals. Unfortunately the fact that Tom used granola squares and a very familiar brand of 'wheat biscuits' meant that the final product he presented to the judges was deemed to be incredibly dry. One of the things it'll be interesting to see when the show comes to Channel 4 is if the hosts still have to use phrases like wheat biscuits rather than just call them Weetabix like everyone else. Most of the other bakers were playing it safe with the traditional maple, pecan, apple and cinnamon varieties although a few went of the beaten track. Selasi presented a tropical theme to both of his pastries whilst Benjamina added candied bacon to her pecan and maple swirls. However Candice was the only baker to present a savoury pastry which was filled with mushroom and pancetta. The risk paid off and Candice garnered a large amount of praise for Mary and Paul for her savoury pastries whilst Mel stole half a dozen of them to take home to her family who apparently love a savoury puff. The critiques on this first round were quite underwhelming with almost all of the bakers producing one fantastic pastry and one that didn't quite hit the spot. The curse of star baker reared its ugly head with both Benjamina and Tom presenting the weakest offerings during this first round. Meanwhile Jane was the only baker to garner universal praise for her breakfast pastries which to be fair did look amazing.

Technical Challenge - Bakewell Tart 
When Mary Berry demands sheer perfection you know you're in trouble and her recipe formed the basis of what I would consider to be one of the easier technical challenges. Selasi offered up a rather ageist comment early on saying that it would be the older contestants who'd have more of an advantage in this challenge. To be fair Val cracked on at such a pace that she missed the first page of the recipe and just decided to go off on her own making the same Bakewell tart she had for years. The biggest catastrophe during the technical belonged to Andrew who, wondering why his tart wasn't baking, was shocked discover that the oven wasn't actually turned on. This led to him getting his tart out of the oven late and as a result struggled to ice any part of it. Oddly though, Andrew's creation only landed him second from bottom with Rav bringing up the rear for the third week in a row. Meanwhile Val was placed seventh as her decision to go it alone resulted in that biggest of all sins - the soggy bottom! On the other side of the coin both Candice and Jane continued to do well garnering the top two spots going into the showstopper.

Showstopper - Amuse-Bouche 
This final challenge saw the bakers try to tackle that trickiest of all the pastries; filo as they made what were meant to be 48 tiny bites of perfection. That is unless you're Val whose mincemeat parcels and goat's cheese and onion cups were apparently going to be 'Yorkshire gobful' sized. Going into this round Rav was convinced he was going home but tried his best to impress with Chinese prawn tartlets and spiced white chocolate samosas. In fact his filo pastry did look to be one of the best in the tent especially when compared to Val's, which Sue likened to something out of a John Carpenter film. I personally felt that Candice may be setting herself up for a fall by attempting to be too fancy as she combined sausage, black pudding and apple into bitesize apple-shaped pieces. Once again Tom was pushing the boat out for his savoury offering by coating sirloin steak in cocoa something that felt like a last chance gamble. Tom's final product did really split the judges with Mary praising both of his offerings whilst Paul criticised everything put in front of him including the chocolate steak which he described as bitter. Both Benjamina and Rav redeemed themselves especially in the latter's case as he garnered some of the biggest positives he's received so far in the competition. Whilst the flavour of Jane's amuse-bouche was praised, her sweet offerings were criticised for their size as they presented a challenge for anyone who wanted to eat them in one go. This cleared the way for Candice to win the weekend as her savoury apples looked to be a hit all round as were her banoffeewhisky cups. But it was Val who seemed to have gone wrong on in every aspect even to the extent that Mary felt that she'd made shortcrust rather than filo pastry and I feel at this point the writing was on the wall for one of the nation's favourite bakers.

Star Baker: Candice was a deserved winner in my eyes as those apple balls just looked absolutely delicious.

Eliminated: Val finally went however her closing speech brought a little tear to my eye and there's no denying that we've definitely lost one of this series' biggest characters.

Next to Go: While his showstopper definitely saved him this time, I think that Paul now has his eyes firmly set on Rav and I don't think it'll be long till he leaves the tent.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Andrew sitting down in front of his oven before checking that it was actually, you know, on.

Innuendo of the Week: I should really rename this the Candice award as she was at it again during her showstopper as she told us 'it's good to get your hands in and give your sausages a good squeeze'.

Next Time: According to its slogan 'anything that grows, goes' in the intriguing Botanical Week.


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