The Spool / Reviews
Great British Baking Show Episode 4 Recap: “Chocolate Week”
The contestants endure some balmy babkas in a sweltering series of chocolatey challenges.
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The contestants endure some balmy babkas in a sweltering series of chocolatey challenges.


Welcome to week 4 of The Great British Baking Show! Week 4 is usually a wildcard, with past topics ranging from “Dairy” to “Desserts.” This year, it’s Chocolate Week! We’ve got an episode featuring a basic signature, a twisted technical, and a white chocolate showstopper. Another theme for this episode could be “hot and messy,” as it’s deep in the summer, with a rising temperature perfect for cooking up chaos in the tent. 

Up first is the signature challenge. The bakers have to make 18 chocolate brownies in 90 minutes. They must be that perfect combination of a fudgy center with a crisp top. Brownies might be basic, but as Paul Hollywood states, “If you can’t produce a decent chocolate brownie, there’s going to be problems.” I love when the show throws a classic bake at the contestants, almost as if they’re subjecting them to a psychological test to see who has the wits to bake under pressure. 

At least with this challenge, the bakers all have made brownies, and seem pretty familiar with the classic treat. However, they all get a bit in their heads and start throwing all sorts of toppings and flavors in the mix. As the bakers discover, these extra ingredients cannot mask raw bites and overcooked trays. Poor Sura fared worst of them all when she accidentally dropped half of her brownies, and only had one tray of mini-brownies to present to the judges. The challenge is perfectly summed up by Hermine: “What a hot mess.” 

Noel provides some thoughts on baking.

Onto the technical, as set by Paul Hollywood. The bakers have to create a chocolate babka, a classic Jewish twisted and plaited bread with a chocolatey, nutty filling. Most of the bakers have no idea what a babka is. At the blind judging table, it was split between bakers who didn’t prove their dough long enough and those who couldn’t figure out the plaiting. The rankings were: Lotting (9th), Dave (8th), Sura (7th), Marc (6th), Hermine (5th), Peter (4th), Mark (3rd), Laura (2nd), and Linda (1st). Linda rose to great heights with the proper proving of the dough and a great flavor. This is the second week in a row that Linda has placed first in the technical. Could she be this week’s star baker?

After a chaotic day with brownies and babkas, it’s onto the showstopper. Each of the bakers has to create a two-tiered white chocolate celebration cake in four hours. In addition to the layers, the cake should have professional-level quality white chocolate decorations. Adding to the complicated bake is that this day is particularly sunny, meaning the bakers will be in a mad rush to complete their decorations before they melt in the tent. The heat is on!

The bakers get on with the task, with a lot of them baking anniversary cakes to celebrate weddings. Switching things up is Marc and Linda, both bakers creating cakes to celebrate their respective daughters. Peter is celebrating his brother again with a graduation cake. And Mark is making a birthday cake for his wife. As predicted, they run into issues with melting chocolate decorations when the temperature reaches a balmy 25 degrees Celsius (which is like 77 degrees Fahrenheit). Most bakers avoid complete disaster and can affix their smudgy decorations to their cakes. 

Paul and Prue judge the cakes as Noel and Matt look on.

Time to face Paul and Prue. The bakers either hit the mark on design or flavor; only a couple of bakers came close. Mark’s cake was great in design and texture but lacked a “hero” flavor. Peter came pretty close to hitting the mark with his graduation cake, featuring a fun mathematical motif and consistent flavors. Poor Sura had a raw cake that Paul and Prue couldn’t eat since it was severely underbaked. The most shocking moment occurs when Prue tastes Hermine’s cake and shivers with delight. As a fan of GBBS for years now, I’ve always wondered what Prue’s version of the Hollywood Handshake would be. Perhaps, as Matt put it, the “Prue-gasm” will catch on.

Back at the judges’ table, Prue and Paul discuss the contenders for Star Baker. Peter and Mark had strong a week and fared pretty well in the technical. They don’t bring up Linda, but her showstopper was lacking that professional-level decoration. Lottie and Sura are at the bottom of the bakers. They both had issues with every challenge this week. Noel offers to leave so both Lottie and Sura can stay, but Paul and Prue reject the offer. I love Matt and Noel’s banter with Paul and Prue at these deliberations, knowing the right moment to cut the tension with a joke.

They adjourn back in the tent. This week’s Star Baker is Mark. Sure, his babka could have used a better plait, and maybe his showstopper needed a “hero” flavor, but overall his bakes had great texture this week. The baker sadly leaving the tent this week is Sura. She struggled with every challenge, serving some inedible bakes this week. Sura seemed a bit relieved to be exiting, vowing to never eat chocolate again. 


  • Last week I predicted Mark would be next in line to get a Hollywood Handshake. Paul didn’t dish out any handshakes in this episode, so this could still ring true. And considering Mark got Star Baker, I’m calling last week’s prediction a win. I also think Linda will be Star Baker next week. She has two technical challenge wins thus far and I hope she gets the coveted Star Baker title next episode.
  • While it wasn’t too surprising to see Sura leave after some bad bakes this episode, I was sad to see her leave since she brought some fun flavors to the tent. I do still think Dave might be next to leave. He has had some good bakes, but I haven’t seen anything that’s wowed. 
  • As a resident New Yorker, I took umbrage with Prue’s disdain at the Big Apple’s babkas. Prue, please hit me up the next time you’re in NYC! I would love nothing more than to go on a babka tour of the city and show you the best we have to offer!