Choux dares wins?! After a taster earlier in the competition, the five bakers returned this week to pastry, that real menace in the kitchen for any home baker!
With the bakers instructed to create 24 cream horns (what a name!) for the signature bake, they quickly set about their task. Ian, being Ian ‘Mr Smug Roadkill’ Ian, declared the task to be easy. Despite this, the other bakers seemed slightly flustered by the challenge of puff pastry. The real debate seemed to be over ‘rough’ puff and ‘full’ puff and of course Flora had to be special by having a go at the full puff whilst adding some unnecessary tuiles into the mix.
Joining the battle of the over-complicated pastry, Ian (and his ego) decided to go for two types of puff pastry: a regular one and a chocolate one. In terms of the other bakers, nobody went too out there with any unusual flavours (although they did attempt to build up Flora’s butterscotch and almond horns for some reason).
Of course, the drama in the baking revolved around whether or not the horns stayed together or fell apart. Charlotte and I prayed for at least one of Ian’s horns to fail…but of course they all came together perfectly, despite his “they look alright” comment to attempt to show some humility!
For everyone else, the pastry showed mixed results although nobody really suffered an epic fail (or so it appeared initially!). With time pressure on, Flora showed that if you make your bake really. really complicated and add unnecessary elements, it might just go wrong, as it did for her when her horns decided to leak. Other than this the drama was limited!
With Nadiya managing to fill her horns nicely and get the pastry nice and buttery, her attempt was heralded as an exemplary horn! Paul (who managed to really go under the radar until the judging part) managed to mess his flavours up as his banana horn lacked punch. He also failed to fill up his second set of horns adequately.
Tamal drew praise from Mary for NOT COMPLICATING the dish. Please take notice of this Flora! Flora was rightly told that it was cream horn week, not make a tuile week! Despite initial appearances, Ian had failed to bake his horn pastry and had made the pastry far too boozy. Could Ian and Flora be the early people in trouble this week!
For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to make nine identical mochateens. With nobody really sure what to do here (showing that the technical has once again levelled the playing field), the real debate (at least for Paul) was what sponge to make for this fiddly dessert.
As an audience, we were kindly advised that the correct sponge was a genoise and the challenge was now on to see if any of the bakers could work out how long to put it in the oven for! With Paul being picked on by the cameras, the clear implication was that he was in trouble. The real question was who would be joining him…
With Ian declaring he was going all out to win the technical challenge, it was up to Tamal or Nadiya to make sure he didn’t – although neither looked confident that they were on track to win. The fondant icing was the next struggle, and the bakers all struggled to get the right technique in place to get the mixture correct. Most seemed to hope that covering the bake in nuts would at least go some way towards hiding what had gone wrong!
Ultimately, Paul and Mary weren’t overly impressed! Fortunately Ian’s bake was fairly well ripped apart and Nadiya seemed to have hit the brief, meaning that she had continued her strong start to this week. As predicted, it had all gone wrong for Paul (shock) but I was sad to see that Tamal had not quite managed to pull it off either. With Paul getting fifth place, Tamal fourth and Flora grabbing third, it looked like Ian was about to somehow win the technical challenge (despite the earlier criticisms from Paul and Mary) until Nadiya snuck in and stole his dream! Well done Nadiya, my faith in Bake Off is restored!
With the showstopper on the horizon, Nadiya looked nailed on to win star baker and Paul looked nailed on to leave the show, unless Flora failed to up her game and Paul made the right choux fit(!).
Having tried to make choux pastry before, it really is a fun thing to make (if it goes well!) and to make a tower of éclairs is a challenge that will prove a real test of all the bakers’ skill!
With the bakers desperate to find a way to strengthen their éclairs, the choice of flour for the pastry and the solidity of the fillings seemed to take precedence over the taste, which seemed a shame. Oh and another shame was Ian announcing that this was his dream challenge (yawn).
Nadiya went for a bubble gum flavour (I always thought that bubble gum was flavoured with something else?) and her flavour combination (her other choice was peppermint) meant that she seemed to be producing the most interesting bake. Paul had opted to go for bananas again after his earlier failure.
Nobody had an immediate issue with their choux pastry after baking it, and so the attention started to turn to the creation of pastry layers and the daunting task of assembling the tower!
In the end, everyone got there and it came down to piping cream over the towers and hoping that the tower could stand the two hour break whilst Paul and Mary had a cup of tea! At this point I must confess I truly felt for the bakers as this must have been a horribly nervous moment!
Tamal was up first and had done alright but nothing more than that. Nadiya had suffered a little bit of a collapse for which she was scolded. Despite this, her overall approach was commended but her hope of being named star baker had certainly taken a bit of a beating. Next up was Paul, a man who had little to lose! Sadly (and therefore ending interest in who was going home) his tower had collapsed. There was some lip service paid to the taste and the banana extract but the nail was in the coffin for Paul. Flora did at least attempt to create some interest in who was going home with a lack of flavour in her bake but it still wasn’t bad enough to send her home. Ian did well and looked smugger than his bake deserved.
Moving on swiftly from Ian, the judges tried to instigate a debate regarding who was going. All in all, they realised that it had to be Paul and also, despite her flavour failure, Nadiya still appeared nailed on for star baker.
Naidya (deservedly so) won star baker for the second week in a row and, shock horror, Paul left us, showing that whilst he is clearly an excellent baker, he had reached the end of his bake off journey.
With the highlight of the week now over, we can only hope that next week (how is it the semi-finals already?!) is a bit more competitive than this rather obvious episode.
Categories: Food News