Floating islands, a staggered technical, and a gateau showstopper test the bakers’ skills on the wobbly culinary treat.
After last week’s Halloween episode, this week’s episode of The Great British Baking Show showcases one of the scariest and most controversial sauces: custard. It’s the first custard week of the show—and it might also be the last as there’s hardly any baking involved. Then again, the sauce is often used in baked treats, so there’s an argument to be made that it’s just as important as any cake or pastry, or bread in the tent. Kevin appears to be a custard stan, listing a bevy of treats to be made with custard. He’s had a few weak challenges in previous weeks. Perhaps he’ll stand out this week?
The first challenge is a floating island signature. A French dessert, Paul and Prue are looking for 8 individually poached meringues floating in a pool of custardy creme anglaise. The bakers have an hour and a half to create some “beautiful floaters” in the words of host Matt. There’s a lot to go wrong with this challenge – if the custard is too runny, the poached meringues won’t float, but if it’s too thick, the texture of the dish will be off. There’s also the difficult task of poaching a meringue.
Regardless of who wins or loses, I think it’s safe to say there’s plenty of booze for the bakers should they need a drink after a tough challenge.
As Paul and Prue make their rounds, it’s clear that some of the strongest contenders have issues with their floating islands. Maxy’s anglaise needed to be thicker to support her meringues. Sandro’s double booze proved to be too strong. And poor Kevin, custard’s biggest fan in the tent, had issues with his fruit puree watering down his custard, in addition to a deflated meringue due to prosecco. Among the bakers who earn high marks are Syabira (her mojito flavors were strong, even if her encrusted meringue looked like a chicken patty) and Janusz (his floating islands both looked and tasted the part of a vanilla latte).
Next up is the technical challenge, with a twist—the bakers will start on staggered intervals to create six identical pistachio ice cream cones. This will prove a particular challenge for Sandro, who had a confessional where he admitted his process in the technical usually involves watching the other bakers to make sure he’s on track. Without other bakers in the tent for the majority of his challenge, his instincts will be put to the test.
The biggest challenge and trick of this technical is testing which bakers opt to cool their custard in the refrigerator, and which go full freezer. The trick is that those who use the freezer – Syabira and Janusz – will thus increase the temperature in the freezer, meaning later on, their churned ice cream may not have enough time to become properly set. There is at least a semi-baked element, as the bakers have to create waffle cones.
The blind taste tests are staggered as well, Paul and Prue sit with their backs to the room as Noel and Matt bring up trays of cones. The rankings of the technical are as follows: Syabira (6), Janusz (5), Adbul (4), Kevin (3), Maxy (2), and Sandro (1). Poor Syabira and Janusz ended up with soupy ice cream. Abdul’s cones were a bit burnt. Kevin’s cones had messy chocolate decorations. Maxy’s ice cream was good, but Paul and Prue really would have liked to see two scoops. Sandro hit all the right marks with ice cream (double scoops!) and cone preparation, even taking an extra step to coat his cones with chocolate. A rogue move that wasn’t part of Prue’s instructions, but the product of strong instincts, as both judges appreciated the attention to detail.
Custard week’s final challenge is a set custard gateau to be made in 4 hours. The custard elements of the treats must be the star. The bakers can use any baked element they want to ensure the layers of the gateau, but custard must be the star. It is a particularly tough challenge, as they must deploy proper time management and make sure their custard sets in time. It’s also challenging as there are many ways to prepare a custard—gelatine and flour are other common stabilizing ingredients—and the temptation may be to add too many stabilizing agents, rendering the finished custard inedible.
As the showstopper nears its end, poor Kevin again has issues with his custard tiers. They’re very wobbly, unable to stand in three tiers like he originally planned. In a moving scene, Maxy, Syabira, and Janusz rush over to his station and help him assemble his gateau. Bakers helping other bakers always pulls at the heartstrings! Everyone else has standing gateaus, so on appearance alone, Kevin appears to be in danger.
At the judging table, Syabira and Sandro come out strong. Sandro’s always ambitious, and he created three tiers, of which Paul and Prue loved two. Syabira’s gateau was full of piña colada flavors, and even covered in a layer of custard (as opposed to icing), and the judges were blown away by her gateau. Unfortunately, Kevin and Janusz were at the bottom of the bakers with their showstoppers. Kevin’s thyme, bay leaf, and honey custard did impress Prue and Paul, but his tiers just were too wobbly. And Janusz has professional-level decoration; however, his custard texture was in Paul’s words, “wallpaper paste.”
At the end of the episode, we see Syabira crowned Star Baker. Her showstopper really impressed the judges. As she was last week’s Star Baker, she seems pleasantly surprised to be at the top again. Poor Kevin is the baker who is eliminated in this episode. Like many eliminated bakers before him, he’s proud of the progress he’s made and counts himself as part of the talented bunch of bakers.
Predictions and other thoughts
- Love that Syabira got Star Baker! I know Sandro was really close to getting it again this week, and I would not be surprised if he gets it next week.
- While Janusz had an off week, I still think he’s in it for the long haul. I predict he’ll still be in the final three, along with Sandro and Maxy.
- I predict the next eliminated baker will be Abdul. He’s a lovely guy, and I think he’s stepped it up in the challenges, I think the other bakers in the tent are just a tad bit stronger in their skills.
- Not gonna lie, I appreciated there was no scripted cold open! The show instead opened with short and sweet clips of the episode, a teaser of the drama to come. More of this, please!
- In case you missed it, Prue apologized for the offense caused in this season’s Mexican Week. In the same article, she mentioned she wrote romance novels.
The contestants’ confusion at the thought of frozen custard made me chuckle as a St. Louisian.