Welcome back to The Great British Baking Show recaps! We’re on Episode 5, and this week it’s all about pastries! Most of the bakers seem excited at the top of this episode. I’m guessing because another week means they can distance themselves from the disastrous brownies of week 4. Will their excitement carry through the episode? Or will some succumb to, as host Matt puts it, “the perils of pastry?”
First up is the signature challenge. Each baker has to make 8 Pasties. A pasty, to us American folks, is like an elevated hot pocket. They can be any shape, contain any filling, but all should be uniform. This challenge will not only test the bakers’ skills at pasty dough but also their skills as cooks, as they have to create a savory filling to put inside their doughy treats. All eyes are on Marc, who lives in Cornwall, but then quickly reminds us that he’s actually from Northern England, so he’s no expert on the traditional Cornish pasty.
Compared to last week’s signature, the bakers fare pretty well. Some stuck with traditional pasty flavors like cheese and onion, fish, and “toad in the hole” (sausages in a savory pancake with gravy?). Others stuff their pasties with Indian, Thai, and Morrocan flavors. For the most part, they all found success with the dough and their fillings. The only baker who missed the memo to crimp her pasties is Linda, who ended up making a samosa. Don’t worry Linda – I also missed the “crimping memo.” Perhaps it was explained off-camera? No time to fret because the technical is right around the corner!
This episode’s technical, courtesy of Prue, requires the bakers to make 3 Raspberry and 3 Salted Caramel Eclairs. And again, for us American folks, these aren’t the eclairs you’d find at Dunkin. They are refined pastries, made with choux dough, and stuffed with creme patisserie (or “creme pat” as they commonly refer to it in GBBS). The bakers all seem ready to tackle this fancy bake. Laura’s not bothered by the creme pat because it’s really just a posh word for custard. One posh man’s creme pat is just another poor man’s custard, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Mark, with the help of Noel, dive into the multiple pages of instructions (what happened to pared-down recipes?!). The biggest shocker is that Dave is left-handed, and Noel drops the GBBS fact that apparently, no left-hander has been the grand winner in the show’s history.
The technical carries on and everyone seems to mess up their posh creme pat, ending up with watery custard that won’t pipe into their choux. No one fares worse than poor Linda has had to restart her dough three times. She finally sticks with her third attempt because she knows she’s out of time and has to have something to present to the judges. They present and go through judging, ending up in the following order: Linda (8th), Marc (7th), Laura (6th), Dave (5th), Lottie (4th), Mark (3rd), Hermine (2nd), and Peter (1st). This was Peter’s first technical win, and it was well deserved as he had the best choux and the best creme pat!
Now it’s onto the showstopper. Each of the bakers must create a Caged Tart. That’s right – they have to present a sweet tart encased in a structurally sound cage made of pastry. Noel drops the ridiculous “fact” that the Caged Tart was created by Nic Cage. With that crack of the tension, the bakers are off to create their elaborate pastry structures. The excitement of pastry week has waned as most of the bakers are wondering why they’re making cages for tarts. Why make cages when you can make jokes about tarts? Yes, multiple tart jokes and comments are made throughout the challenge, with contests giggling amongst each other. Ah, British humor, please never change.
Ah, British humor, please never change.
There’s a mix of pyramid, domes, and boxy structures being built to encase a variety of fruity tarts. Some bakers stick with classic flavors like apple, blackberry, and “gypsy” (a UK childhood classic that prompts Noel’s face to light up). None seems to excite Paul more than Laura’s key lime tart, his eyes sparkling at the mention of his favorite tart. No pressure Laura! They all seem to have control of their tarts, but things get tricky when it comes time to cage them. Lottie, Dave, and Hermine meld their cages together with relative ease. Peter, Laura, and Marc manage to get their domes out of the oven in one piece. Mark’s cage crumbles as he pulls it off the tray. Just when you think Linda might rebound and recover the week, her dome structure breaks, along with your heart.
It’s judgment time, and almost everyone scores well. Paul deemed that Hermine had a Prue Tart (luscious flavors!) with a Paul Pastry (a handsomely baked dough …?). Paul was absolutely in love with Laura’s amazing key lime tart, and she pulled out all the stops with her pastry dome. Peter gives Paul and Prue his “happy” blackberry and lemon tart. Sadly Linda and Mark miss the mark on both the flavors in their tarts and the structure of their cages.
It seems everyone except Mark and Linda are on the list for Star Baker. All of the other bakers rose to the occasion and presented some great bakes. The judges end up naming Laura as Star Baker, which was a sweet moment for her. She gave it her all this week and knocked both her signature and showstopper bakes out of the park. Sadly, the departing baker this week was Linda. Not the Bob Marley loving, garden pub creator Linda! She had a rough week, and even though she may be leaving, her time in the tent will be a memory she’ll cherish.
- Sure there might be a Star Baker curse, but how about an Ashley Lara jinx? Last week I predicted Linda would get Star Baker, but this week she’s going home! I’m afraid to say who’s going to get Star Baker next week! That being said … Hermine has been stepping up and impressing the judges, so perhaps next week she’ll get Star Baker?
- Also, remember when I predicted Dave wasn’t wowing anyone and he’d be going home? He’s like a baking ninja, staying silent and surviving challenge after challenge. I do still feel like his bakes haven’t wowed. I’m sticking to my guns, and I predict he’ll be next to leave.
- Now for a wild prediction: I think the top three bakers to make it to the semifinals will be Peter, Mark, and Hermine. Peter has been pretty solid throughout the competition. Mark had a rough week, but I think he will recover. And I think Hermine’s on the rise. Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to see if I’m right!