Great British Baking Show Episode 8 Recap: Dessert Week

Great British Baking Show Episode 8

The bakers get extra sweet this week as the semifinals approach.

Hello and welcome back to The Great British Baking Show recap! It’s week 8, the quarterfinals, and it’s all about desserts. The bakers embark on mini cheesecakes, suet and citrus puddings, and jelly cakes! Who will stay firm on the course to the semifinals? And who will flop like unset gelatine?

This week’s signature is 12 mini cheesecakes. They’ve got to be baked with a cheesy filling and feature a baked crust. Peter goes for ginger and lime filling, to which Paul comments that’s giving him Key Lime pie vibes (a Paul Hollywood favorite flavor). Marc aims for a New York City-style cheesecake with … apricot? As a New Yorker, I can confidently say that cheesecakes with apricot are not our thing. I fear Marc’s not off to a good start. Hermine, Laura, and Dave are feeling the love for passionfruit, and each set off to bake cheesecakes highlighting the tangy fruit.

The bakers each have their methods to cook their cheesecakes. Most opt for molds or tins. Hermine stuffs her bakes into mini jam jars and cooking them in a bain-marie. The bakers tread carefully, for they want to avoid cracking the cake, ending up with a crater, or undercooking and leading to a pile of mush. Laura, Peter, and Marc seem to have the most issues with the bakes – Laura’s are still warm when she plates, Peter’s cakes all have craters, and Marc’s look overbaked and have cracked tops.

Great British Baking Show Episode 8
Mfw I’m ready for the jelly. (Screencap: Netflix)

It’s judgment time. Dave’s cakes are delicious, even if he used gelatine to help set both the passionfruit topping and cheesy filling. Hermine’s cakes look pretty, but the filling is stogy due to sweating in the bain-marie. Marc’s cheesecakes were too big, too thin, and lacked flavor. Peter’s cakes tasted lovely but looked too messy. Laura’s cakes had a nice base to height ratio and tasted delicious. Marc, Peter, and Hermine seem to be off to a bad start this week. Dave and Laura started strong, but can they keep the momentum?

Next up is the technical, set by Prue. She went back to the 1700s and tasks the bakers to make two Sussex pond puddings. A Sussex pond filling features a suet crust, filled with brown sugar, butter, and a whole lemon, all accompanied by a Crème Anglaise. The puddings get steamed in a mold, hopefully remaining intact so when they’re cut into, the fillings pour out and mix beautifully with the Crème Anglaise. Adding pressure to the challenge is that the bakers are given the exact amount of every element, so there are no extras to help them out if they make a mistake. 

Back in the tent, most of the bakers are over this suet crust. Hermine asks, “Who uses suet in 2020?” I enjoy the challenges that are blasts from the past, showcasing bakes from centuries ago, and seeing the bakers use their instincts in the tent. With minimal instructions, they all knead their dough and treat it like a regular pastry dough. 

The Sussex pond technical. (Screencap: Netflix)

When it comes to filling and covering their pudding molds, they’re all wondering if they need to crimp the tops or leave it “uncrimped” to help steam escape. Most seem to crimp or seal their puddings. They then tackle the instructions to fold the foil covering, tie a string around said foil, and create a handle so they can pull their puddings out of the steamer. 

Laura seemed to have the right idea to fold the foil in a way that lets the foil expand as steam escapes the pudding but remain tight enough to trap the steam in the mold so it continues to cook. 

It’s unveiling time, and it’s pretty disastrous for everyone. They all seem to have leakage or breakage with their puddings due to undercooked crust. Paul and Prue rank the bakes, and they comment that it’s one of the harder technicals to judge since everyone had issues. The bakers are ranked the following order: Dave (5th), Peter (4th), Hermine (3rd), Marc (2nd), and Laura (1st). Marc and Hermine have improved since the cheesecake signature, so they’re feeling better about the looming showstopper. Dave and Peter know they have to pull out all the stops to survive the next challenge. 

You might feel cheated in that the bakers spend less time baking and more time designing gelatine with this quarterfinal showstopper. But the end results of each baker’s jelly toppings are spectacular. 

The showstopper for these quarterfinalists is a jelly art design cake. Each cake must feature an eye-catching gelatine topping or covering, and each must contain a baked sponge. Marc’s going for a chocolate and strawberry mousse cake with an apple jelly design. Hermine is also hopping on the chocolate and strawberry flavor train, and seems to be after Prue’s heart with sponges soaked in alcohol. 

Laura’s hoping to design a koi pond jelly pond on top of her sponges. Peter must love winter because again this week he’s creating a snowglobe jelly cake featuring reindeer and a Christmas tree. 

Dave’s going for a beach scene with a sunset over the ocean, creating the opportunity to discuss classic film Point Break (which seems like a perfect segway to mention The Spool’s Filmmaker of the Month is Kathryn Bigelow, famed director of Point Break). Perhaps Dave isn’t so bad after all!

Everyone’s sponge bakes seem to progress fine. It’s the jelly part that has them worried. Well, I should say almost everyone is worried. At one point Dave takes a snack break, chomping down on an apple as he waits for his jelly to set. It’s stressful watching them all try to get the gelatine out of the molds. The good news is that they all achieve success getting their jelly tops on their sponges, avoiding a repeat of last week’s melting ice cream cakes. 

Great British Baking Show Episode 8
Paul and Prue at the showstopper. (Screencap: Netflix)

You might feel cheated in that the bakers spend less time baking and more time designing gelatine with this quarterfinal showstopper. But the end results of each baker’s jelly toppings are spectacular. 

Each baker brings their cakes to the table for Paul and Prue to judge. First up is Laura, who’s koi pond design is impressive, and the cake in both flavor and decor is “perfect.” Dave is next, and his beach design is astonishing, but his sponge was too dry. Both Paul and Prue have issues with Peter’s snowglobe design, claiming the colors weren’t vibrant enough. 

Marc’s floral jelly design was nice, but the jelly was rubbery and his strawberry and chocolate mousse weren’t set properly. Hermine’s poppy design was “absolutely gorgeous” and tasted beautiful.

At the end of the episode, it’s Hermine who gets Star Baker this week. She may have had some issues with her cheesecakes, and landed in the middle with the technical, but Paul and Prue had to force her to take her showstopper away from them as they kept eating bites of her cake. 

Sadly, the baker departing this week is Marc. Like departing bakers before him, he’s proud that he made it this far, and felt he grew as a person during the competition. Like Laura, I too was sad to see a “real gent” like Marc leave the tent.

Predictions and Other Notes

  • Lovely to see Hermine get Star Baker again this week! Can she repeat it next week? I think she can.
  • Breaking with tradition, I sadly think Peter might be going home next week. I don’t want to see him leave, but I think he’s had some rough bakes, and I think that’s going to weigh on the judges in their upcoming deliberations. And while I’ve repeatedly said Dave will go, I guess he’s just consistent enough to squeak by. 
  • Revising my top three predictions: Hermine, Laura, and Dave. 
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Ashley Lara

Ashley is a writer, producer, and avid karaoke fan living in New York City. She co-produces/co-hosts She Makes Me Laugh, a monthly female and non-binary comedy show. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @smashley_lara.

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