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Great British Bake Off 2019: Festival Week

Great British Bake Off 2019: Festival Week

by Chetna Makan 09 October 2019

The latest of the never-seen-before themes requires the bakers to concoct three creations around the theme of 'festivals'. Chetna Makan reports on what happened in the Bake Off tent.

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Festival Week marks yet another first in the Bake Off tent. Just as we started to recover from last week’s beautiful desserts, we’re thrown into some celebratory baking with crazy, stunning and very colourful creations.

The week starts with the remaining contestants having to bake twenty-four of their favourite festival buns, with each one telling a story. They can be inspired by any festival around the world.

Steph, Alice and Michael are all baking their version of hot cross buns. Steph makes zest and spice buns, which taste great with perfect spicing and a great texture. This wins her a handshake from Paul, making her extremely happy – so much so that she tells us that she might not wash her hand again.

Alice makes lemon, blueberry and almond buns that turn out a bit homemade looking; baked well but with an irregular colour and size. Michael makes figgy buns – a sort of cross between Easter and Christmas – and though the flavours are spot on, they are a bit tough.

David is inspired by Kozunak, an Easter bread from Bulgaria flavoured with lemon and almonds. His buns are baked well and Paul and Prue both love the design, the pattern and the flavours – but still no handshake for him yet.

Henry makes a batch of Swedish-inspired chocolate Kardemummabullar, which the judges love, and he also wins a handshake from Paul. He’s so surprised by this that the first thing he says is ‘shut up’ as soon as Paul reaches out his hand!

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We then move on to the technical challenge: Sicilian casatelle. These are pastry crescents filled with a smooth and creamy ricotta, flavoured with chocolate and orange and fried until crispy and golden. Of course they need to be uniform in size and shape, perfect for a festival or party.

Everyone is given a pasta machine and I just knew that at least one of them would say they’d never used one before. They all still tried their best and it was Alice who placed last with her exploded bakes, while Rosie came out top with her neat, nicely folded casatelle.

I feel that the lovely David is always so close to the top and yet never quite makes it there, whether it be in the technicals, for a handshake or being crowned Star Baker. I do hope he will get some credit for his lovely bakes in the coming weeks.

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Next comes the showstopper, which this week was a layered Sarawak cake from the Sarawak region of Malaysia. The many layers are grilled and then cut and reassembled to form intricate patterns. Both Alice and Michael start this challenge in danger of going home.

David makes a multi-coloured cake with traditional Indonesian spices which ends up looking amazing, even if it‘s not sweet enough according to Prue. Steph makes an orange and chai-spiced layered sponge square but doesn't quite finish it neat enough.

Rosie’s rainbow-patterned cake with lemon and mixed spice is messy, although it has a great design, while Alice’s carnival cake is stunning with chocolate, orange and salted caramel – saving her from going home this week.

Michael makes a Jamaican mule layer cake with spiced rum, which is not colourful enough and ends up being claggy and stodgy. And last but not least Henry makes a lemon and lime elegant present box, which according to Paul looks like a stack of egg sandwiches but with its clever design and execution wins him the title of Star Baker.

By this time it is pretty obvious that it is Michael that will be going home. He was a joy to watch in the tent and when he says he is happy, sad and tired all at once, I totally understand that. By week seven the juggling act of baking, practicing and keeping a day job starts to take its toll.

This bring us to the quarter-finals next week, with good old Pastry the theme in the tent. I’m hoping for an exciting episode.

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