Saturday, 20 September 2014

Great British Bake Off: Series Five: Episode Seven (guest blog)

I have just got back from my lovely holiday in Norfolk - I'll fill you in on all the books I bought (and it was MANY) - but, first, Elaine has very kindly written a GBBO recap for me. Thanks so much Elaine! I have yet actually to watch the episode (as the TV in our cottage didn't get BBC) but I don't want to keep you waiting any longer... make her feel welcome!

I foolishly offered to fill in for Simon this week on his recap of the GBBO. I am now regretting my decision and tearing my hair out but here goes.

I like all the contestants who are left. Usually by this time I have developed a real loathing for some unfortunate because they have cross eyes or an annoying laugh or something similar, but those who are still in The Tent are all lovely and I like them all and will be sorry whoever leaves.

OK so off we go.

To start – pasties.  Chetna and Kate are both using Indian flavours and deep frying them. Healthy?  No but who cares.  Luis is also deep frying his pasties which he remembered eating as a child in Spain and is going to try and recreate the recipe.  I am pretty sure he will do so perfectly, I have never met a man more organised in all my life.

Paul sashays up to Nancy and says ‘Can the Male Judge ask what you are making?’  Ooh Nancy you will never be allowed to forget you called him that. He had a gimlet gleam there I tell you. She is doing spicy duck.

Martha is making mini beef Wellingtons and much discussion ensues about the meat being cooked beforehand or put raw into the pastry.  It is a close call to make but Martha, such a sensible child, sears the meet first to start it off.

Richard is doing lamb and mint patties and he has his pencil firmly in place this week. I am sure the reason he did not do well in the last round is because he forgot it.

Leakage is the buzz word here. There simply cannot be any leakage at all. Lots of crimping of pastry going on which all looks very impressive and then Shock Horror Kate realises her deep fat fryer has turned off. ‘It’s on a timer’ says Luis helpfully.  

Kate clutches her hair

Luis’s pasties are underdone, but there is no leakage says Paul so that is a plus.

Nancy – not enough filling but flavour is good

Kate – ‘Interesting’ says Paul when he looks at them.   When told about the deep  fryer problem he is totally unsympathetic ‘you should have watched it’.   Final damning word ‘Undercooked.

Chetna – good colour, great flavour and Paul is staggered at the number of different spices she has used

Martha – a bit of leakage but pastry is golden and flavours great.

OK enough about leakage. Please. It is conjuring up thoughts I do not want.

We now have the obligatory bit of food history in between bakes and this week we learn that Cornish miners went to work in Mexico and took their Cornish Pasty with them. Well, not the actual Cornish Pasty as it took fourteen months to get there and would have been a bit stale on arrival, but the recipe and it seems the Mexicans took to it with great gusto.  Now I have tried Cornish Pasties in several Ye Olde Original Cornish Pasty Shoppes in Cornwall and I have to admit I am not a fan. I find the pastry heavy and too thick and the filling, some of them have turnips (YUK) inedible.  The idea that you had a sweet end and a savoury end is something I prefer not to think about.

Anyway back to the Technical Challenge and this week it is ……hang on I need to go and look up the spelling of this one. It is Kouign-Amann and this is apparently a buttery layered pastry from Breton. None of the bakers have ever heard of it. Neither have I. I am expecting something spectacular.

So off they go and the instructions tell them to leave the dough to prove. But for how long and to what state? It is all guess work at this stage. Close up of Luis looking as if he is doing his maths homework on a piece of paper, lots of numbers.   Richard is bashing his butter between to sheets of greaseproof paper. ‘Relieves the tension a bit don’t you think?’ says he cheerfully.   The pencil has not moved. I really think it is superglued to his ear.

All this layering and folding is very confusing but the pastries are now in their tins and seems they need proving again. Kate decides to put hers in the fridge. NO. NO. Kate don’t do it. Fridge and yeast and prove should never appear in the same sentence. She seems fairly sanguine about it all, probably has reached the Sod it I don’t care stage by now.

All sit round on their stools looking bored. Sue wonders if it is some new form of meditation.

The end result is really disappointing. Working on this for three hours and it seems all Whatever they are Called are pastries with layers and a bit of sugar on top. Apparently the sugar is the vital ingredient and if put in all the layers can melt and cause total meltdown. Only two bakers have guessed correctly and only added it to the final layer.

Seems these whatsits have to have LAMINATION.  Yes, Lamination. I thought that was what kitchen cupboards are made out of so if he wants them to have a nice shiny glow then just say so Paul. Don’t go blinding us with science.   They certainly need something, three hours working with six ingredients to produce these. I spent three hours today painting my kitchen and tiling a wall and was well satisfied with the end result. Not sure three hours producing these pastries would have given me the same sense of satisfaction.

Luis does not have enough layers and are too sweet. Chetna’s are overbaked. Martha’s are underproved.  Kate’s are flat (that is what you get for proving in the fridge), Nancy’s are not all the same size but taste good.   Richard has good layers which sounds like he keeps chickens but we all know what Paul means. He thinks they are so good that they are ‘close to mine’.   Oooooh!

Richard wins the technical with Chetna bottom and the others in the middle, obviously but don’t have all their places correctly noted.

And so on to the Showstopper and this week it is eclairs.   Now for me an éclair is choux pastry stuffed with cream or crème pat and a blob of chocolate on top. Seemple. However, it seems this is not good enough for GBBO and we have a bewildering amount of flavours to contend with.

We have lemon meringue eclairs, chocolate choux eclairs with mango filling, Raspberry ripple, Rhubarb and custard, lavender and blueberry (dangerous, Norm fell foul of the lavender and was ejected from the tent pretty quick) and rhubarb and custard.

Nancy is doing salmon and horseradish.   Pass the sick bag.

Seems Martha wrote a dissertation in her AS level and it was all about choux pastry. Wonder which university she is going to and what she will Read….

I was going to refrain from saying that Chetnas’s  chocolate choux pastry which she is piping look like turds, but then I thought, no they DO look like turds. Pretty sure from the glances from other contestants that they are thinking exactly the same.

Martha’s crème pat is all runny and she is panicking and close to tears.  She can’t work out what is wrong with it and Richard, who has just put all his eclairs on a flight of stairs, yes honestly, he made it, and Chetna rush over to help her and calm her down.   I feel a nice warm glow watching them do this. Nice.

Apparently Kate put Basil in her eclairs. Why would you want to do that?  Mary says she cannot taste it. Paul says he can.    Chetna’s look good and it seems she has made thirteen and not twelve. Luis stars and stripes eclairs look amazing and earn high praise but poor Martha’s look ‘a mess’ and she is on the verge of tears. Goes back to her seat looking distressed and Lovely Luis smiles and gives her a chin up gesture. Nice. Again.

So the power of the pencil has done its work and Richard is star baker and, I think we had all guessed by this time, that Kate is the one to go.   Cold deep fat fryer and then proving in the fridge can only mean that she is off. Shame, I liked her and I loved her mad hair.

Next week is all about enriched doughs which I cannot get too enthused about but we shall see what excitement is in store.

I know this has been a pretty poor substitute for Simon and so glad he will be back with you next week but I have enjoyed it.

Keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep Dancing

Whoops wrong show.


  1. This was brilliant - thank you for keeping the tradition going! Ooh and if you're a Strictly fan, does this mean you're going to do the same for SCD for us? Eh? Eh?

    1. I may not do every week but yes I do comment on it!

    2. Excellent, I've added your blog to my Feedly blog reader.

  2. Well done, Elaine! What would we have done without you?!?!

    Re Cornish pasties, if they're proper pasties they *all* have turnips in them. Though we call them swedes down here. Or are those different? Meat, potatoes, onions and swedes. That's all you need in a pasty. Regarding pastry, nowadays it seems most are made with flaky pastry but I think shortcrust is traditional.

    Needless to say, I don't think many of those concoctions should have been called pasties!

    1. Swede and turnip not the same thing, I don't think - in that I like swede and not turnip! But the internet is not being forthcoming about the actual distinction...

    2. Turnips ((Brassica rapa subsp. rapa) are white and round. Swedes (the rutabaga, swede (from Swedish turnip),[1] turnip, yellow turnip, or neep [as in 'neeps and tatties'] (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. napobrassica, or Brassica napus subsp. rapifera) ) are yellow and (usually) bigger and more bulbous. You can feed turnips to sheep - not sure about swedes! Mangelwurzels* are something akin but tougher and more useful as Punkey lanterns down 'ere in Zummerzet.
      *Mangelwurzel or mangold wurzel (from German Mangel/Mangold, "chard", and Wurzel, "root"), also called mangold,[1] mangel beet,[1] field beet[2] and fodder beet, is a cultivated root vegetable derived from Beta vulgaris. Its large white, yellow or orange-yellow swollen roots were developed in the 18th century as a fodder crop for feeding livestock.
      Never let it be said that the GBBO fails to spark off etymological debate.
      Thanks Elaine - an admirable 'recap'!

    3. Thank you for that, OVW!

  3. I have tasted some pretty awful ones. Perhaps I should have a go?

  4. Thank you Elaine. Very funny :) I'm Tommi, a friend of Simon's and have been following his GBBO recaps all series. Thank you for stepping in and allowing me to have my fix! And regarding next weeks show - it's donoughts!!! How can you not get enthusiastic about donoughts?!!!

    Hope you had a good holiday Simon. Although disaster at missing GBBO! There was a "Manic" Martha moment when she talked about bashing Paul's head in with a rolling pin. This is no joke. She even cackled crazily as she said it...

    Anyway, thanks guys for the weekly entertainment. Tommi x

  5. Excellent, Elaine! And yes, the less said about "leakage" the better.


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