As this season of “The Great British Baking Show” draws closer to the finish line, a fan favorite is sent home.
Welcome back to The Great British Baking Show recaps! We’ve made it to week 9: the semifinals. This week’s theme is patisserie, and it’s the perfect time for another heatwave to hit the tent. Peter, Dave, Laura, and Hermine enter the tent for semifinals week. All eyes are on Hermine, the baker with a French background and back-to-back Star Baker titles. Which bakers will perfect the art of savarins and cubes cakes? And which baker will be left with an empty cornucopia in this semifinal?
First up is the signature. Each baker has to make 12 identical patisseries. Paul and Prue are looking for high-end bakes elevating the contestants from amateurs to professionals. They’re looking for neat, tidy, and precise treats packed full of flavor. Hermine and Laura bake some fruity rum babas – Hermine’s sticking with classical French flavor of apricots, and Laura’s taking a modern approach with coconut and pineapple. Dave’s opting for savarins with tequila, honey, and passionfruit. Peter’s skipping the alcohol in this challenge and making booze-free strawberry and elderflower babas.
They crack on with their bakes, being careful to mind the proofing stage since the heat in the tent will affect the rise of the dough. Hermine bakes her dough, realizes she’s over-proofed and starts over with an hour left. Things are not looking good for her. Most of the other bakers seem to get along fine with the proofing and assembly. Hermine’s second round looks slightly better, so she decides to pick and choose from both batches for her presentation.
The judges make their rounds. Hermine’s rum babas have irregular color, but they look modern and have good flavors. Laura’s bakes look pretty and have a nice color, but Paul and Prue feel she overdid it with the cinnamon. Dave’s savarins look fun and taste lovely, but his bottom layer of mango curd would have fit better as a filling in his treats and not as a base layer. Peter’s babas are delicious even if they don’t contain booze, and Peter earns a Hollywood handshake!
There’s hardly any time to savor the handshake because it’s time for the technical. Paul’s final words are that this challenge will require precision. The bakers learn they’re making a Danish cornucopia. The bakers have to bake rings of dough and assemble into the shape of a “horn of plenty,” and decorate with icing and chocolate scrolls. If you haven’t heard of a Danish cornucopia, rest assured because neither have the bakers. I enjoy seeing the bakers try their hands at relatively unknown bakes, especially in the semifinal.
Which bakers will perfect the art of savarins and cubes cakes? And which baker will be left with an empty cornucopia in this semifinal?
The temperature rises in the tent as the bakers get on with the technical. Each baker has been presented with a laminated template for which to form their doughy rings. The instructions here are, like always, a bit sparse, and the bakers are very confused about how to build their rings for the bakes. Laura is reduced to tears, fearing she lacks the logical brain to form her dough. Matt steps in and gives her a pep talk and tells her she’s going to “smash it,” which helps to refocus on the challenge. Once their rings are baked, they have to assemble them into the shape of a horn and place them atop a horn stand. This bit goes awry for all except Hermine, who’s cornucopia seems to resemble an actual horn and not, well, whatever Dave had in his mind when he assembled his bake.
They bring their bakes to the blind judging table. After some giggling, tasting, and deliberation, the bakers are ranked the following: Laura (4th), Dave (3rd), Hermine (2nd), and Peter (1st). Laura’s underbaked cornucopia put her last amongst the overbaked horns of Dave, Hermine, and Peter. As it’s the semifinal week, any little mistake can send a baker packing, so all the contestants are feeling the pressure of the last showstopper before the final week.
For the Patisserie Week showstopper, each contestant has to bake a cube cake comprised of 25 mini cubes. The cubes can be placed on non-edible platforms, but they’ll get extra points if their platforms are edible. Essentially they’re making 12 mini cakes and stacking them to create one big cake. Peter’s making three sets of cube cakes with flavors consisting of chocolate, raspberry, and pistachio. Dave’s making chocolate cubes stuffed with caramel filling. Laura’s baking Black Forest cubes, stuffing each cake with a cherry and mirror glazing her sponges with chocolate. Hermine, in a bold move, changed her recipe the day before and announces she’s baking chocolate and cherry/coffee and praline cubes.
As the challenge proceeds, the guys seem to fare better than the ladies. Peter had the better idea to make larger cakes and then divide them into cubes, whereas the other contestants use cube molds that require the bakers to destroy the molds to free their cakes. Dave’s only issue seemed to be with creating his caramel filling, but he gets to the sweet spot after a couple of tries. Laura’s mirror glaze never quite thickens and practically melts off her cakes. Hermine’s recipe change means she’s essentially blind baking, and it’s not going well for her. Her cakes are barely set in time and appear rubbery when plated.
One last judgment from Paul and Prue before heading into the finals. Dave’s up first, and his cube cakes are very neat and tidy, and serve a “triumph of taste.” Next up is Laura. Her cakes look messy, but Paul and Prue think the taste alone means they’re worth the calories. Peter presents his clever and impressive cakes, consisting of three gorgeous flavors. Last up is Hermine, who’s cakes miss the marks on both flavor and presentation, a disappointment to all.
Paul and Prue set down their judgment. This week’s Star Baker is Peter. The baker we know and love has returned, plus now he has a Hollywood handshake to his name. The baker to depart this week is Hermine. Sadly her last-minute recipe change led to a disastrous showstopper. She was disappointed to be leaving but felt that surely good things would come from her time on the show.
Predictions & Other Notes:
- I was really hoping Hermine would be crowned this season’s winner. I won’t argue that she had some bad bakes this week, but it feels like there’s an unconscious bias in the tent. I noticed Prue and Paul cautioned Hermine not to let her consecutive Star Baker titles get to her head, and then turned around and commented on how great it was to see Dave appear more confident. Is this GBBS or Get Out? Either way, can we make sure Hermine isn’t stuck in the Sunken Place?
- As Laura, Peter, and Dave head into the finals, I’m going to guess that Peter ends up crowned this season’s winner with Laura as runner-up. Peter has two Star Baker titles whereas Laura and Dave only have one each. Let’s hope he can avoid the Star Baker curse and end up on top next week.
- The Great British Baking Show Episode 10: The finale - November 27, 2020
- Great British Baking Show Episode 9 Recap: Patisserie - November 21, 2020
- Great British Baking Show Episode 8 Recap: Dessert Week - November 13, 2020