It’s the halfway point of the season, pitting the bakers against a pudding signature, pie technical, and mousse showstopper.
After last week’s awkward episode, it’s nice to see the return of dessert week in The Great British Baking Show tent. Yes, every year it’s met with cries of “how is this really any different from previous weeks?” Sometimes, you just have to let the theme wash over you like the custard accompaniment to your warm pudding. As Matt chimes in, “desserts” spelled backward is “stressed,” so this week will be tense for the tent!
Speaking of puddings, it’s the signature challenge set this week. Each baker must create 8 individual steamed puddings in 2 hours. Their “pudds” can be in any style or flavor and must be served with an accompaniment (just say fancy sauce!). The steamed pudding is a UK classic, and we love that for them – take your moist dessert puddings and live your best life, UK!
Most bakers opt for traditional English steamed pudding, placing their sponges in molds and cooking them in boiling water in the oven. Kevin decides to celebrate his Scottish roots and makes “clootie dumplings,” which look like scones that are wrapped in cloth and boiled. Love celebrating one’s heritage, but Kevin’s humble boiled dumpling might fail to wow in comparison with some of the other bakers who are creating dumplings with boozy drizzles, candied pecans, and lychee custards.
As the judges make their rounds to critique the signature, it seems that Carole fares worst of them all. Carole’s puddings were underbaked and collapsed when removed from the molds, as she failed to heat her water sufficiently before placing her pudds in the oven. Kevin’s also a bit worried as his clootie dumplings were deemed wrong for the challenge. The reigning star bakers Janusz and Maxy both got mixed results – Maxy’s cream melted on top of her puddings, and Janusz went overboard with coconut flavor in his pina colada-inspired puddings. Sandra held things steady with his cherry and apple crumbly puddings, with a boozy drizzle. Perhaps Sandro can pull out a Star Baker win this week!
Next up is the technical. Prue sets it: her favorite pudding. She’s tasked the bakers with creating a lemon meringue pie in 2 hours. She’s left the bakers exceptionally paired down instructions, in that the only instruction is “Make a lemon meringue pie.” It tests the bakers on how well they know how to create a pastry crust (and blind bake to prevent a soggy bottom), a lemon custard, and a meringue top. The bakers should already know how to create all three elements by heart, so why give them a recipe? It’s a very diabolical move, but what else would we expect from a woman who admitted to drowning kittens as a kid?
As the technical progresses, some of the bakers make basic mistakes. Syabira, who’s never made a lemon meringue pie, fails to double-blind bake her pie crust. Dawn, who’s made hundreds of lemon meringue pies, doesn’t make enough lemon custard to sufficiently fill her pie. Abdul’s pie accidentally cracks when he removes it from the oven. Janusz seems to be the only confident pie maker, spouting out facts and methods as everyone else flounders about. Perhaps Janusz will get another Star Baker this week?
It’s technical judgment time, and the rankings are as followed: Syabira (8), Dawn (7), Carole (6), Kevin (5), Sandro (4), Maxy (3), Abdul (2), and Janusz (1). Syabira’s not that surprised at the low ranking, as her crust was woefully underbaked. Dawn’s disappointed that she failed to make enough filling. Carole is feeling the pressure, as she’s hasn’t wowed the judges in any challenge yet in this episode. Sandro’s aiming for a spectacular showstopper to win over the judges. However his biggest challenges, Maxy and Janusz, also did well in this challenge, and it’s going to take a lot to get the star baker title this week.
The showstopper for dessert week is a mousse-based dessert. Their showstoppers must also feature 3 further dessert elements, of which one must be baked. Their desserts must also feature a surprise element inside so that when the judges slice into it, it reveals an image. It’s a tricky challenge as most of the bakers will be using gelatine, and could risk their desserts being too rubbery or too watery, if not properly set. The bakers have 4 ½ hours to create their visually spectacular mousse desserts.
The big reveal for the bakers is when they remove their cakes from the molds. If their desserts didn’t set properly, they’ll risk collapsing.
Dawn runs into issues with her jelly, as it failed to set properly and her flower “surprise” element won’t be set in time. Dawn attempts to then create a toadstool surprise element by layering mousse on top of jelly … needless to say it’s not going great for Dawn. Syabira’s running behind as her honey bee topping broke out of its mold, the suspended bits of honey bee free-floating in gelatine mixture as she attempts to move it to the fridge for setting.
The big reveal for the bakers is when they remove their cakes from the molds. If their desserts didn’t set properly, they’ll risk collapsing. However, it appears most bakers have set enough time to allow their cakes to set without any major failures. Right off the bat, Sandro, Maxy, Janusz, and Abdul have the best designs. Poor Dawn’s cake looks a mess, her mousse is set but probably could have used additional time as it seems a bit deflated.
It’s time for the bakers to bring their showstoppers to Paul and Prue for judging. There were desserts with too much gelatine (Abdul, Maxy, Carole). Syabira needed stronger flavors. Kevin’s mousse was heaven, but his cake in his surprise element was too tough. Dawn’s textures were off. Janusz and Sandro seemed neck and neck, as they both had lovely decor and dessert elements in their showstoppers.
At the end of the episode, it’s Sandro who is crowned Star Baker. His spherical planet showstopper did really wow the judges. Sandro’s tasted the glory of winning Star Baker, and he’s loving it. Sadly, the baker to depart this week is Carole. She’s not surprised to be going home but remains proud that she made it this far in the GBBO.
Predictions and Other Thoughts:
Finally, Sandro cinched the Star Baker title! I do think next week he’s going to have to step up his technical game if he wants to win again. However, Abdul seems to be improving his skills as well, so I’m going to go for Abdul as next week’s Star Baker. I’m also holding fast that Sandro, Janusz, and Maxy will still be the final three.
Sad to see Carole, the neon-hued shop clerk/composter/baker depart this week, but I think the challenges were getting to be a bit advanced for her laisse-faire baking attitude. I think Dawn this week just barely squeaked by, and I think she’ll be the next to leave the tent.
Next week’s theme is Halloween. I predict it will be less scary than Mexican Week. I’d also bet the cold open will feature a bit where Paul, Prue, and Matt appear in Halloween costumes, and Noel, clad in a darkly gothic ensemble, will reply “It’s Halloween? If I would have known, I would have dressed up.”