GBBO series 7: Episode 6 review
By Izzy Brimeau
Were you in awe when Botanical Week was announced? Did it have you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation? Did you shout out every single flower you could think of while imagining beautiful floral creations? This week marked another first for Great British Bake Off, and once again, we see why.
It feels like Mary and Paul were clutching at straws for inspiration. Perhaps its from the stress of the whole BBC/Channel 4 debacle. Regardless, week six had our final seven contestants feeling pretty with everything foral.
The signature challenge: meringue pie
The contestants are required to make a meringue pie with a crispy, well-cooked base, a citrusy centre and perfect meringue topping. The bakers could use anything that grows in the garden to add in a twist.
“Citrus meringue pie is pure heaven” said Mary as she licked her lips in fondness. Mary and Tom are certainly not cut from the same cloth (or pastry) as Tom, once again, dared to be different. This week he went for savoury short crust pastry, while everyone else went for sweet, for his blood orange Halloween pumpkin pie – standard Tom.
Selasi, in his appropriately floral t-shirt, went for grapefruit flavours and spoke about meringue kisses – exciting the nation. Benjamina rivalled Selasi with the exact same flavours and claimed it was her idea first – sure, you keep telling yourself that.
Jane rambled on about her husband and the lime and coconut song. She eventually explained that, that was why she chose those flavours – couldn’t have told us that from the get go? Candice went head-to-head with Jane by using the same flavours and shocked us all with her natural look – lippy lady no more.
Neither Jane, nor Candice, made the cut with both pies lacking in the visual department though both received compliments on the taste of the curd.
Rav had a disaster with soft, weeping meringue that spilled over the pie. Tom had underdone pastry and Benjamina’s pie turned out far better than Selasi’s – which she acted very maturely about her feat and did not gloat at all… ahem.
Tom’s Halloween pie was a horror (excuse the pun) with undercooked pastry, no citrus flavours and a less than perfect meringue.
The technical challenge: fougasse
Paul took it away with another technical challenge and when I say took it away, I don’t mean like Channel 4 took GBBO away. I mean he gave the contestants another simply strange, yet easy-to-go-wrong challenge – the French herby, leaf-shaped bread – fougasse.
If you don’t know what it is, it’s bread that you should look at and think ‘fou poked holes in my bread?’ – yes, that pun was intended. So Paul asked for two of these holey breads and left the contestants with this advice: “Be patient and remember the shaping” – cheers Paul, a great help as always.
It’s obvious that most of the contestants were out of their comfort zones with this one – a glazed look spread around the group while they estimated their way around kneading, proving and baking.
Tom revealed that fougasse is his favourite cinema snack – reminding us that he’s possibly not the most dateable guy on the show. We all know who takes that title. Oh look, here he is…
Some contestants used the steam cooking technique and Selasi (the smooth operator) lay on the floor, in those crucial final minutes, waiting for his bread to cook. Perhaps too smooth for his own good as he ended up last in the tasting with what Paul described as a ‘flour bap’.
Most contestants got the leaf slices wrong, despite the 40 odd minutes they had to figure it out. One can only assume that they have never seen a fougasse before, or a leaf for that matter.
Tom stole first place with perfectly crisp bread and great flavours – the victory had him almost in tears.
The showstopper challenge: a spectacular floral cake
This week, the judges actually picked a challenge worthy of stealing the show – a cake that is at least three tiers and uses floral designs or flavours. Flowers could go in, on, around, or completely cover the cake. The contestants were allowed to go as flower-crazy as they liked but “they’ll have to be careful,” Mary warned.
The kitchen was full of mess, challenges and regrets – much like after the announcement of Paul signing on for three seasons with Channel 4.
Jane threw her first cakes out as the oven was too hot. Rav regretted his decision of piping his own flowers – he’s not a floral guy. And Candice was back at it again with challenging herself – this time by making four tiers, rather than three.
Each of Candice’s tiers represented a season and she used her nan’s recipe to make a winter themed cake. It’s gran’s recipe love – you can’t mess that one up. Can you?
Tom went with genoise sponge layer cake with three different tea infusions and Paul judged the book by its cover by wondering if that would really blow his mind. What does blow your mind Paul? Channel 4 apparently.
At T-minus 30 minutes the contestants were looking weathered, stressed and unconfident. Jane’s white chocolate collar was put on her cake wet, Rav was desperately trying to pipe flowers and Andrew piped random blobs of icing on his very simple cake.
The camera panned the room and we caught a glimpse of Candice’s stern pout – slightly less effective without the lippy. Her cake was seen as a little over the top but, thankfully, she did her gran’s recipe justice.
Andrew went wrong on all three tiers. Benjamina’s naked icing didn’t impress and only the orange layer was worthy of Paul’s taste. Rav’s cake looked a bit like a dog’s breakfast and Mary exclaimed that it wasn’t very creative. Jane’s face said it all – Paul described her cake as mashed potato (you know how to kick a girl when she’s down Paul!)
Tom impressed us all “very good sponge” said Mary with the cake all over her face – get it in ya gob darlin’. But it was Selasi that stole the show with his impressive ombre layer cake. “It’s very, very moist – it’s good” said Mary. I’m sorry, does anyone else cringe at the word moist?
As another week draws to a close the sixth Star Baker is crowned or, in this case, Tom is once again awarded for his great bread making skills and not being ‘Too Much Tom’ about his cake flavours.
While Tom rejoiced, and tried not to have an emotional breakdown, Rav was announced as the weakest link – a defeat that he happily accepted. He actually looked quite relieved to be leaving.
So goodbye to botanical week, the strangest week of them all, and hello to next Wednesday – dessert week… we’re salivating already.