Great British Bake Off 2016: episode five recap

Great British Bake Off 2016: episode five recap

by Howard Middleton 22 September 2016

With the tent’s bakers tasked with making filo from scratch, Danish pastries and a classic Bakewell tart, they’ve certainly got their work cut out for them. Howard Middleton tells us how they did.

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients. He now demonstrates his creative approach to gluten-free baking at numerous food festivals and shows and by teaching baking classes around the country, including at corporate events, commercial promotions and private parties. Howard continues to entertain audiences as a public speaker, compere and broadcaster.

Roll up, roll up for another thrilling night under the Big Top. With ringmaster Paul bearing down, our eight remaining bakers are under pressure to put on the greatest show on earth – in pastry.

Mary adds to the tension by striding into the tent in a white jacket. The crowd gasps as we wonder if she’ll escape in pristine splendour with no more than a little greasepaint on her collar.

For their first challenge, the bakers must produce twenty-four Danish breakfast pastries. Mary claims that a bad breakfast pastry can be ‘as dry as old boots’. Be warned – you don’t mix your metaphors with Mary.

Selasi kicks things off with his pineapple and coconut pinwheels and rhubarb, mango and ginger plaits, whilst Rav is plaiting pecans and walnuts and swirling cinnamon with lemon icing.

Benjamina is taking her Danish on a US excursion – with peanut butter and banana pinwheels and pecan and maple syrup swirls, complete with rashers of candied bacon. The fillings are a success but some of her pastry is raw.

Andrew’s baking journey is closer to home as he recalls the fact that his dad always kept dates in the glove compartment. (Legal clarification – that’s the dried fruit, not an accusation of some very restrictive extra marital affairs.) Baking date swirls with maple icing and poached pear and chocolate pinwheels, he admits he has a neat corner butter obsession – ‘if that means a little bit of hand fudging, that’s fine with me’. I’m not entirely sure what ‘hand fudging’ is but several minutes later he looks very red faced.

Tom's Danish pastries contained Weetabix-infused milk – but didn't impress the judges
Val ran out of time to give her pastries a proper prove

Val says her pecan and maple syrup pinwheels should have an hour of proving, then adds ‘bless them, they’re going to have to have ten minutes’. She’s using dental floss to garrotte her apple, sultana and cinnamon swirls into clean slices.

Mathematical skills vary considerably – Benjamina has a formula for lamination, telling us that layers of lamination equals f plus one to the power of the number of turns, where f is the number of folds. Rav miscounts and is one plait short of a full batch.

Selasi risks missing more than a pastry as he carelessly chats away, peeling a mango with a ridiculously sharp knife towards the palm of his hand. He escapes unharmed but some of his flavours are judged to have escaped too.

Like a master perfumier striving to capture the essence of a suburban breakfast, Tom’s aiming to recreate the exact taste of milk at the end of a bowl of Weetabix. With consummate skill he takes a Weetabix… and adds milk. Despite a hint of vanilla and an apple glaze, Paul’s not impressed. Tom’s maple syrup and granola spirals manage to be both dry and raw.

Jane’s baking orange and cardamom pain aux raisin and a batch of raspberry, chocolate and almond Danish with cinnamon dough. They’re judged to be delicious but overfilled. The verdict on Andrew’s pastries is that they’re too close. I imagine that’s just how dates feel in a glove box.

Mary says that Candice’s apple roses are ‘totally original’, which must be slightly miffing to Mary-Anne in series two and even Tamal last year whose blooming bakes got there first and have now been forgotten. Candice’s Croque Monsieur-style kites contain porcini mushrooms, thyme, pancetta and a béchamel sauce. Her pastry gets a ‘dry’ assessment but the fillings are delicious.

Rav’s eleven plaits win praise for their tasty nut filling but his cinnamon swirls are dismissed as ‘bread with bits in it’.

Val said she bakes a Bakewell weekly, although her recipe differed from Mary's
Selasi kept his cool throughout the technical challenge

Technical challenge

This week’s technical is a so-called classic British tart – ‘the Bakewell’, though this version has more in common with Mr Kipling’s than the original pudding. With a saccharine layer of feathered icing to replace the bittersweet contrast of flaked almonds, this tart is set to provoke a riot in Derbyshire, and would personally set my teeth on edge.

Val confidently says that she makes a Bakewell every week, though her method differs from that required. She decides the pastry case needs only five minutes of blind baking and produces the first soggy bottom of the series.

After realising too late that his oven hasn’t been on, Andrew fails to fully ice his tart leaving it looking slightly ‘distressed’. Poor Rav’s icing shuns the warm frangipane and slides off, taking half a pastry wall with it. Once again he finishes in bottom place, with Jane crowned the queen of tarts.

Benjamina won star baker last week, but struggled with pastry in all three rounds
Candice managed to clinch the star baker title for a second time thanks to her beautiful filo parcels

The showstopper

The showstopper is forty-eight amuse-bouches, which Paul pronounces wonderfully. ‘A moo’s bouche’ he says, like Lily Savage playing the role of Edith Piaf. I could happily listen to Paul say this all day. Though admittedly I’d be equally transfixed by Paul reading War and Peace, the shipping forecast and every takeaway menu that drops on my doormat. In my experience, amuse-bouches usually consist of something like a miniature glass dome encasing a single cep in a little fog of wood smoke (I’ve had some very posh meals), or a shot glass of soup, so it’s surprising to see filo canapés and petits fours described as such, but who am I to argue? Go on Paul – please say it again.

Now I’m slightly filophobic about the strudel style of theatrical pastry stretching but I’ll gleefully and patiently roll out individual sheets for an hour or so. Mel visits a London Turkish bakery making baklava as part of the historical bit and proves this is the right way to roll.

Val’s using a broom handle to flatten her filo, though she assures us it’s a clean one. Her festive mincemeat and apple parcels and goat’s cheese and onion tartlets turn out to be more of a ‘gob full’ than a mouthful and she rolls up at the finish line with twelve pastries short.

Jane’s struggling to stop her morello cherry and chocolate horns from toppling over en route to the oven. Not surprisingly, they’re judged to be too big, but both these and her Roquefort and walnut parcels are ‘delicious’.

Candice is crafting filo apples filled with sausage and black pudding and a batch of banoffee whisky cups. She brazenly hands our Queen of Baking a big black pudding and says, ‘feel the weight of that Mary’. Mary decides Candice’s ‘scrumptious’ offering is ‘spot on’.

Making filo is hard work, as each sheet needs to be stretched so thinly it becomes see-through
Tom chose the odd combination of beef and chocolate for his filo filling, which divided the judges

Rebellious Tom is challenging the judges’ taste buds again with a curious combination of sirloin steak and chocolate mousse. Mary decides she quite likes the flavour but Tom’s wine poached pear cups are too gingery for Paul and he says he’s ‘disappointed’.

Benjamina’s pastries are also far from ordinary – her plantain and spinach samosas turn out to be delicious and her chai pear cups with almond brittle are definitely Paul and Mary’s cup of tea.

Selasi’s coffee cups and ham and asparagus cigars are not so amusing – leaving a dry taste in the judges’ bouches. Andrew redeems himself with spicy squash and chorizo parcels and baklava bites that have a ‘piquant flavour’ and ‘beautiful taste’.

Facing potential eviction, Rav’s resting his pastry hopes on a showstopper success. His Chinese-style prawn filo tartlets and spiced white chocolate and hazelnut samosas look good… and they taste good. Mary confesses, ‘that’s just the sort of surprise I like before a meal’.

As Candice is made this week’s star baker, it’s Val who is rolled out of the tent – her Bake Off dreams flattened – though she modestly admits, ‘I reached my limit’. I’m sad to see her go but relieved that Rav is sticking in there like an unfloured work surface.

But let’s leave the last word to Val’s insightful take on Danish pastry making, which could have so many other useful applications in life – ‘It’s better to be wetter than it is to be dry’. Indeed.