Last week offered up yeasted cakes, a vibrant green Princess Cake that seemed too fiddly for words and a frisson of danger as the contestants played around with molten sugar. Despite all the drama, it was almost inevitable from the start that the judges would send no-one home after bin-gate, and this was indeed the case. Richard and Kate, both have an uncharacteristic ‘off’ week, were saved to fight another round. Chetna, anointed Queen of Spices, was rightly crowned Star Baker, with bakes including a delicate orange and cinnamon savarin.
Given an extra week to see more of these talented bakers, week 7 of the Bake Off therefore started with the sure knowledge that one of them had to go this time around. And between them and the quarter-finals stood Pastry Week.
First up, savoury pastry parcels. Determined to minimise leakage, the bakers were on form with this challenge. Chetna blended a range of seven spices in her lentil kachoris whilst Luis visited the Mediterranean with his Spanish empanadas. Others went for pasties, with Nancy’s Chinese Duck filling and Richard making Minted Lamb – described as great flavours, great pastry, great bake. However, it was Kate who stumbled, after failing to deep fry her paneer and spinach samosas for long enough and serving up undercooked pastry.
The technical challenge saw the bakers making something that none of them (and possibly few viewers) had ever heard of. Kouign-Amann. I admit I had to check the spelling. A Breton classic, it transpired that these were a little like croissants, done in a different shape and lightly sugared. After, last week’s technical mayhem, cue many shots of bakers sitting and waiting, as their dough and butter slowly fused in the fridge. Buzzing excitement it was not. Once dough and butter were folded together, all the bakers could do was wait. And wait. And wait. All whilst musing on when exactly to fold in the sugar. The point of all this folding was to get even, crisp layers through the dough once they were baked. Richard built on his pasty triumph, adding sugar in the last fold as required and getting an even-layered, well-risen, caramel bake. Chetna, with limited layers and an overbaked offering, came last.
The final challenge of the night gave the bakers all the scope they needed for free éclair love. 24 choux buns filled with two different flavours. Martha revealed she’d written 8,000 words on the subject of choux, surely she’d know her stuff? But this was eclairs plus. Eclairs with meringues on top. Eclairs with basil, lavender, rose, mango. Oh, and Nancy made salmon and horseradish. You might be one of my favourites Nancy, but no, no, no, that’s just wrong. Luis stole the show with his Americana inspired flavours, including peanut butter and jam. Richard, pencil firmly back behind his ear, presented not just eclairs but an éclair stair. Martha proved that knowing your theory doesn’t necessarily translate in practice, with runny fillings and collapsing choux. But it was Kate, with a ‘messy’ Neapolitan number and no hint of the promised basil who was in the firing line.
And so it was a sad but fond farewell to the baker from Brighton as Kate was eliminated. Meanwhile, Richard started to break records with his three times a star baker. Onwards now to the quarter-finals and whispers start of who will make the final three. See you next week!