Previously on The Great British Bake Off: We went back to the 19th century for Victorian week and learned that the Victorians really loved gelatin and ate something called tennis cake. Tamal rocked it, while Mat floundered.
It’s the quarterfinals, folks, and things are getting tense. Everyone gathers in the tent and is told they need to make cream horns. Two flavours, twelve of each flavor. Off they go. Nadiya remembers her last grapple with puff pastry and says she really needs to not screw this one up.
Paul prefers a full puff pastry (as opposed to rough puff) for a cream horn. Mary needs her horns really full of filling.
Baker Paul is using rough puff. I’m a big fan of rough puff—it’s fab for pie tops. Seems like most of them are doing rough, though Flora and Tamal are going full puff.
Paul is surprised and disapproving that Tamal is only using plain flour in his pastry, instead of a mixture of plain and strong. Eh, I don’t think it’ll make that huge a difference. Strong has more protein and forms a bit more gluten, but plain should still work. He’s making lime and mascarpone horns and malt and honey cream horns. Give me all those malt ones, please!
Ian’s doing a plain and a chocolate puff. He’s doing a Mont Blanc horn with chestnut cream and a black forest gateau horn. They both sound pretty yum. The black forest one is going to be striped plain and chocolate pastry.
Baker Paul is doing a banana horn, which gets points with Judge Paul because he grew up getting banana custard for a treat. He’s also making a coffee one.
Over in Flora’s area, she’s working on peach, lemon, and thyme horns and butterscotch and smoked almond. Interesting.
Nadiya is doing rose, pistachio and white chocolate and mocha hazelnut horns. Paul reminds her that rose can be tricky, but we know Nadiya can typically handle her flavors. Paul tells her to just stay calm and cool, no matter what happens with the pastry.
Pastry is rolled and folded, then cut into strips and wrapped around horn molds. Flora is forgoing doing her horns just now so she can bake some tuiles. Sue wonders why she’s focusing on that instead of shaping the actual pastry she needs to make as part of the challenge. The others chill their pastry, then put it in the ovens. Flora finally gets some pastry in the oven.
Horns begin coming out of the oven, second batches go in. It’s a mixed bag: some look ok, others have come out different sizes.
Time is ticking down fast. Mel figures Tamal only has about 30 seconds per horn to get the filling in and asks him if that’ll be enough. He briskly tells her it’ll have to be. Shaky hands start piping fillings. Flora’s horns are leaking chocolate all over. She tries to throw them in the freezer to stop it but the freezers are full. One of Ian’s horns falls on the floor and he whimpers that he’s not ok just now.
Everyone manages to get their horns presented, but it looks like a close thing.
Up first is Nadiya. Her horns look good to the judges. They start with the rose one and declare the flake and bake nice and Mary likes that she’s got cream all the way to the bottom. Flavour’s quite delicate. Well done. The mocha is ‘quite something’ according to Mary.
Paul’s twists are really well done. Judge Paul whines that the banana flavour’s not strong enough. The coffee and vanilla one has a filling that’s too thick and didn’t make it to the bottom of the horn.
Tamal’s puff is really good, despite only using the one type of flour. Told ya. The lime one is nice and so is the malt.
Flora’s highly complicated horns are fun but messy. The puff isn’t flaky enough and it’s insufficiently peachy because so much of the filling leaked out. Mary tells her to stop making things so damn complicated and just make a cream horn.
Ian’s twisted pastry didn’t really work, because the two types didn’t bond. The pastry’s raw inside and he used too much cherry liquor in his black forest.
Afterwards, Flora says she’s super gutted. Nadiya’s just relieved she got some pastry out.
Sue is on hand to tell us about how a group of nuns in 18th century Nancy started baking and selling macarons. Mel gets to go to France to see how these things are made—apparently there’s only one baker who knows the exact recipe the nuns used. By 1930, a Parisian baker refined the recipe and created the filled macaron we now know and love.
The Bakewells get to face down another French classic for the technical: nine identical mokatines. A mokatine is a genoise raised only with eggs, with buttercream in the middle, chocolate at the top and some lovely fiddly piping.
Genoise sponge is made. Paul has never made one and realizes that’s a bit of a problem. Nadiya, on the other hand, just made one last week, so no big deal for her. It’s really important to get the eggs nice and light—apparently, if you can make a figure eight in the eggs and it holds for a few seconds, it’s ready. Paul loses it and just starts beating whipped egg whites into other ingredients. It looks terrible. It’s not going to rise at all.
Sponges start coming out. Paul’s didn’t rise, as I suspected. Flora’s has sunk in the middle. They slice their sponges in half and then into smaller squares. Paul realizes his cake is raw in the middle and he starts making another one.
A coffee buttercream goes into the middle. Tamal worries that his sponge didn’t rise enough. The sides of the cakes are iced with buttercream as well, then dipped in chopped nuts. Paul’s second cake is still flat. How did he not notice what everyone else was doing and basically copy them? Tiny rosettes are piped around the edges of the cakes. Flora bewails the mess she’s making. Finally, a fondant icing is poured on top of the sponge. Mary’s looked like it was a chocolate fondant, but most of these look super anaemic.
Time is called; bakes are presented. Mary and Paul arrive and look over it. Ian’s are a mess, though he does have a well-risen sponge with a good flavor. Nadiya’s look much better and have a good height. Mary is pleased. Paul’s, predictably, is declared flat and the icing hasn’t set. It’s also nearly raw and like rubber. Good coffee flavor from the icings, though. Tamal’s were iced insanely—it looks like a small child or a blind person did it. Good genoise, though. Flora’s is ok, though the genoise was overbaked. Last to first: Paul, Tamal, Flora, Ian, Nadiya. Looks like it paid off that Nadiya actually checked out Mary Berry’s book before she came on the show and glanced at this recipe. How is it that everyone doesn’t do that? I’d study the hell out of everything Mary and Paul ever wrote if I were going on this show.
The judges agree that Nadiya’s been doing fairly well, but it’s amazing that Paul didn’t know how to make a genoise, of all things. Flora’s in a bit of trouble.
Showstopper. They need to create a religieuse a l’ancienne: basically a massive choux in the shape of a nun, with three tiers of éclairs. That sounds kind of insane. They’ve all got massive bowls of eggs beside them for the choux. Oh, and they need to do shortcrust as well, because that forms the base of this thing, which has to be freestanding. Of course. Paul says they’re looking for a structural marvel baked to perfection. Is that all? Mary wants good, strong, crisp éclairs that don’t bend, because that would be ghastly.
Tamal is using strong flour in his éclairs. Paul approves. He’s filling them with passionfruit and mango and pistachio and raspberry.
Ian’s calling his a ‘nun with hidden passions’ and filling it with cardamom and coffee and pistachio and vanilla. There’s also a passionfruit crème pat in there. He’s using very strong flour, but he’s not worried about it being too tough.
Flora’s using half plain and half strong flour in her lime and basil and coconut and white chocolate éclairs.
Nadiya and Paul the Baker are bucking the trend and only using plain flour in the éclairs. Paul is once again doing vanilla banana. Ballsy, Paul. He’s topping that one with a red cherry glaze and filling the other éclair with raspberry and basil, with a chocolate icing. I’m having trouble reconciling those three flavors in my head, but who knows? Maybe they’re amazing.
Ian is using a star nozzle to pipe, hoping that the shape will give the éclairs a better structure.
Nadiya is doing a bubble gum and peppermint cream. Ew. Sorry, but bubblegum is an absolutely disgusting flavor to me. Mixing it with peppermint as well is just…ick.
The éclairs go into the ovens and the Bakewells get started on fillings. Flora’s worried about her lime curd, because she hasn’t tested it with the crème pat. Oh dear. Paul is going nuts with the bananas, so determined is he to make sure Judge Paul tastes it. Nadiya tastes her filling and looks slightly sickened.
Éclairs come out of the ovens. Flora taps hers to make sure they’re hollow and cooked all the way through. While those cool, the Bakewells roll out and cut shortcrust to form the bases. They bake and éclairs get filled. Some of Paul’s bigger ones start to go soft. ‘Soft is not good,’ he says. Yeah, I think we can all agree on that, Paul. Flora wails that she’s too nervous for construction. Everyone’s tense about building this thing, but you can only put it off for so long. They start gluing éclairs to pastry bases, then adding more layers on top. Tamal’s having trouble with his sugar syrup, which keeps crystallising. He tries making another batch. I’ll be honest, none of these look very good. The éclairs are a bit sloppy looking. They pipe icing in between layers, with mixed results.
There’s a two-hour break before these things are judged, because they have to prove they can stand up for a while. I’ll bet everyone will really be enjoying their lunch today!
It looks like they all make it through. Tamal’s judged first. His tower is kind of crooked and the piping is haphazard. The raspberry and pistachio is lovely and so is the mango and passionfruit. The judges are pleased.
Nadiya’s bubblegum and peppermint tower has collapsed. Good piping, though, and the choux is nice. And it really does taste of bubblegum, which Mary doesn’t love. The peppermint is ok. Paul thinks the flavourings are too strong.
Baker Paul’s has collapsed as well. Looks like the bottom layer went kaput. The choux was too light to support anything. The banana one is banana-y, but just ok.
Flora’s tower was too delicate to be carried to the table all in one piece. Paul can’t taste lime or basil in her lime/basil éclairs, and he can’t taste anything except white chocolate in the white chocolate coconut one. I’m not surprised—white chocolate’s a pretty strong flavor, and coconut really isn’t.
Ian’s tower held up, so well done there. The coffee and cardamom one is quite nice and the passion fruit is tart, as it should be. Mary gives him a slightly wicked wink. Mary!
Judgment time. Paul thinks Ian and Tamal saved themselves on this challenge. Mary thinks Nadiya’s flavors were a terrible mistake. Seriously. Flora and Paul are in trouble. Mary is disappointed with Flora’s lack of flavor, and they don’t like the artificiality of Paul’s banana (he used extract in his éclairs).
Back to the tent for the Star Baker announcement: Nadiya. Huh. Guess making hideously flavoured éclairs isn’t as big a sin as I thought. The person leaving the tent is Paul. Aww. Yeah, well, to be honest, I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did. Apparently, so is he. Flora knows she dodged a bullet there. Paul decides he’s going to go learn to make a genoise properly. Nadiya’s so excited to be in the quarterfinals she says she could actually streak down the river. Hee!