John Whaite’s GBBO recap: episode

John Whaite’s GBBO recap: episode

By John Whaite

It was the quarter-final in the baking vortex and the bakers were figuratively transported – on magic carpets woven from Mary Berry’s old bomber jackets and Paul’s gel-ridden hair clippings – to Paris for patisserie week.

Was anyone else saddened to realise that cream horns aren’t British? I suppose to most people it would be fairly obvious that they were a French invention, but growing up on cream horns, I came to assume they were a part of our own culture. Damn those French, they always come up with the best ideas.

For cream horns, a puff pastry of some description is required – either full puff or rough puff. In all honesty, it really doesn’t matter; I find both to be just as successful in their flaky yield.

But the big bad Hollywolf had such a bee in his bonnet about flour: he nagged Tamal like a crazed fishwife, all because the poor chap elected to use plain flour instead of strong. Again, it doesn’t really matter which flour you use. Strong flour gives a more resistant dough and so enables the rising pastry to stretch as the butter melts, forcing the layers apart. There’s a slight risk that with a plain flour puff, the pastry layers will crack as it expands, but it’s a minimal one.

Filling the baked pastry horns seemed tricky for a few folk. Ideally, a filling to the same consistency as double cream is best– somewhere in between Flora’s oozing, watery puddles (in the horn Flora, not under it), and Paul’s crème pâtissière, so thick it might actually be able to glue the male judge’s mouth shut. He used enough cornflour to manufacture infinite supplies of bioplastic for the entire world.

Poor Paul (baker Paul that is) didn’t manage to save himself in the technical round; his mokatines were very flat. He didn’t even know how to make a genoise sponge. I’m sorry but this is the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off; if you don’t know your pound cake from your Genoese, you’re not welcome here.

Having said that, the folksy one (Ian) admitted he wasn’t very good at making cakes. It’s a good job Mary Berry wasn’t in earshot or she’d have leapt over the worktops and dragged him to the nearest bus stop. You just can’t say things like that in the tent; that’s blasphemy. But as he always does he came good, finishing second to Nadiya.

Finally, the bakers were asked to construct a religieuse a l’ancienne – a towering monstrosity of éclairs. As if the challenge wasn’t hard enough as it is, the bakers – after they’d battled with garishly coloured icing and softening choux pastry – were asked to leave for two hours before the judges’ critiques.

After lunch they returned to the marquee to receive their fate. Tamal and the folksy one managed to maintain their erect towers, while Paul, Flora and Nadiya’s towers toppled.

Flora elected to remove a layer to try and save hers; Paul’s was just a disaster; Nadiya’s had more of an angle than the leaning tower of Pisa – really she should have been awarded the Stirling Architecture Prize. Instead, she had to settle for star baker, even though her flavours were, according to Mezza, a big mistake.

Who do I think will make it through to the final? Nadiya, Iain and Tamal.

(All images from BBC)

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