Great British Bake Off 2013, Week 7 - Pastry Week

Great British Bake Off 2013, Week 7 - Pastry Week

by Urvashi Roe 02 October 2013

As the contestants entered the tent this week, there was a tense look about them all. One man left in the competition, hopes pinned on pastry. It was really all about Glenn from the start. Urvashi Roe, food writer and contestant from 2011, gives us a recap of what happened last night.

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Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

Signature Suet

This might sound strange but I’ve never thought of suet pudding as a pastry dish before. I just immediately think of school dinners and flashbacks to stodgy concoctions containing the odd bit of dried fruit so I would not have liked this challenge. I really would not have known where to start to make it the least bit interesting.

The bakers seemed to seek inspiration from their grandmothers and rightly so with this being what Mary called ‘an old fashioned’ pudding. She was looking for a crisp, crunchy exterior and a light, fluffy interior. I’d say she’s got a co- judge who fits this description perfectly!

The spotlight landed on Frances first of all with a Fig Roly Poly Pudding and Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream. There was much talk of goats and not enough due attention to her roly poly in my opinion. Was this about ice cream or suet?

I was pleased to see Ruby opt for a veggie suet in her Plum Jam Roly Poly which sounded really unimpressive when she described it but looked really delicious as we saw it come to life. She really must stop putting herself down. Glenn’s combo was Prune and Armagnac in a baking contraption I had never seen before, Mel thought it to be a rather in vogue handbag but I think it looked more like a torpedo!

Kimberley being ‘Kimberley the Untraditional’ had something completely different for us - A Barberry and Apple Spotted Dick which was set in a pudding shape rather than a…errrrrm…’dick’ shape. Beca was the only one that gave us a savoury pudding which I thought was an inspired move to help her stand out from the crowd. She is rather quietly competitive I think. Lots of long smouldering, ponderous looks at the other contestants while baking.

They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating but I think this week it was in the wrapping of the pudding - muslin, greaseproof paper, steam holes, air gaps. The slightest error would result in the stodge factor.

As their puds boiled, baked and steamed away we had a little segway to the Isle of Mull to learn all about the Klootie Dumpling. I do love these interludes. I knew nothing about the Sottish traditions of ‘crufting’ where communities worked together to rear animals and feed their families. I wish we would do more of this today and also more of the community get togethers where this traditional boiled pudding would be eaten.

Back in the tent, the judges could not find fault with any of the contestants. All good puddings, all good textures, all good flavours so we saw a very level playing field going into the next challenge.

Technical Challenge - Choux Bun Nuns!

Choux pastry featured as a Showstopper challenge in my series and I remember poor Yasmin burning her fingers constructing profiteroles and a tearful Holly surrounded by chocolate. It was the sheer volume of choux balls they had to make on the day that was a challenge. So it was odd to see this pastry as the focal point for the technical. It’s not really that technical is it? And the bakers only had to make 16 balls, 8 small and 8 large, for Religieuse. These were to be filled with Creme Patisserie and topped with ganache.

Again not very complex for this stage in the competition. Sure the instructions were sparse and the baking times and sizes unspecified but I thought it would be a walk in the park for these bakers. They have already shown themselves to be incredibly skilled - more so than previous years dare I say.

But there were some calamities reflecting the stress these guys are under in that tent. Something you make every week, every day even can still all go horribly wrong as it sadly did for Christine this week. While we had puffy nun heads and big fluffy balls for bases from most of the bakers, Christine’s choux mixture was very runny and this led to rather flat nuns. Glenn didn’t seem on form either this week.

Runny choux which he thankfully abandoned and started again but runny creme pat too which I assume he had no time to remake resulting in ‘an ugly bunch of nuns’. I love how he is always joking off the mishaps. Nuns to make mother Mary proud came from Beca - evenly baked, lovely filling, smooth glossy ganache and neat piping. Tick tick tick! Well done Beca.

Jam roly poly
Ruby's plum jam roly poly
Choux pastry
The bakers had to make Religieuse. These were to be filled with Creme Patisserie and topped with ganache

Showstopping Pastry Puffs

The final challenge this week was tough in the time. 4 hours to make beautiful puff pastry and moreover three different types of end product - one filled, one iced and one left to the bakers’ imaginations.

Stage one was all about bashing butter - well for everyone except Frances that is who seemed as cool, calm and collected as ever. There are three components for making good puff pastry:

1. Cold, cold butter

2. A hot oven

3. Patience

I think Frances was the only one displaying any signs of the latter as everyone else including Mel and Sue seemed to flurry around her. This really paid off for her this week as she presented a stunning Edith Piaff themed platter of pastries.

I adored the piano inspired, coffee flavoured millefeuille, the raspberry cream filled French horns and the hazelnut Bass Clefs. Style and substance this time with much praise from the judges.

Kimberley too did well with perfect puff and her unusual flavours. I particularly liked pear and malt. Christine breathed a sigh of relief as her Eccles Cakes wowed Mary.

In fact they were all commended on the puff pastry. It was the lack of policy and presentation that Mary and Paul focused on. I guess when these guys have worked hard to nail flavours what else can the judges really say? And with this in mind, it was obvious that Glenn would be going. He decided to assemble a giant millefeuille which fell apart during and after construction leaving a slather of filling all over his tray.

His palmiers did not seem to rise to this challenge and he’d overdone the cinnamon again. I think he did well to hold it together as Paul let rip with his ‘feedback’ which wasn’t constructive at all.

So a predictable outcome this week. Star Baker to a very well deserved and delighted Frances. And a goodbye to Glenn. Such a talented baker and a pleasure to watch on screen. I hope we see more of him and wish him all the best for this roller coaster year to come. Good luck Glenn!