The tent was a hive of anxiety this week as the bakers took on pastry and one very strange technical. We reflect on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off (Warning: spoilers everywhere)
Jemima: This week wasn’t my favourite week, if I’m honest. I just couldn’t get on board with the whole vol-au-vent thing. Vol-au-vents stuffed with tuna and sweet corn (which are actually delicious) was the dinner my mum used to make when I was little and when she didn’t want to cook. A vol-au-vent is not a showstopper and never will be, so it was bound to be slightly underwhelming . . . and it was. Even the bakers who did well produced something a bit dull and wonky looking.
It was certainly Alvin’s turn to go. I like him, and his complete lack of sense of humour is, ironically, hilarious. But he’s been hanging on by the skin of his teeth for a few weeks now. Next week it’s going to start getting really interesting as all the weak bakers (and by ‘weak’ I mean ‘a million times better than me’) have been culled and the remaining contestants could all, in my opinion, win it. Tamal is still my favourite. He’s funny and self-deprecating in a way Ian has not mastered AT ALL. But something tells me smug Ian is going all the way . . .
Julia: I watched the whole of pastry week and still can’t fathom why anyone would make their own pastry when shop bought is so good? But that aside, I definitely will be making Paul’s Christmas Frangipane when December arrives (with shop bought shortcrust pastry, obviously). I’m a huge Bake Off fan but even I took issue with the ridiculous technical this week. When it’s obvious none of the bakers will have heard of the recipe before, and have no idea what the end product should look like, surely it all just becomes a game of chance rather than skill? Just hearing anyone pronounce Flaounas made the whole thing ridiculous. And it seems particularly cruel to place Tamal last simply because he went with putting the sesame seeds inside rather than out? Mean judge Paul. Having had serious issues with Mat’s Pineapple Frangipane (eugh) I was delighted to see him win the technical.
Who knew vol-au-vents could cause so much stress? Poor Nadiya, she really should have just held her nerve and gone with the first batch of pastry, trying again at that stage was never going to produce something good. But her incredible fillings seemed to save her. And Flora seems to be coming back again, her showstoppers were absolutely perfect looking. Tamal’s daydream about a sandwich from a few years ago was my absolute favourite moment of the show, although the return of the Soggy Bottom and many, many innuendos this week made me very happy. I am very intrigued to see what Victorian week will be like next week!
Alice: That was a tense showstopper. There’s always something about any challenge involving puff pastry that seems to guarantee “timing issues” and frantic scrambling at the end. In this case, it seemed as though vol au vents were getting stuff right down to the wire.
I feel as though Alvin had been skating on thin ice for quite a few weeks. This might have something to do with his nerves and lack of confidence, even when things went well. And he really had to stop saying “sorry” all the time. That was annoying.
I think Matt has firmly established himself as the dark horse of the competition. He’s all breezy, devil-may-care, fry-up-in-a-vol-au-vent, but you can tell he knows his baking. And anyone who puts smoked trout in pastry is a genius in my eyes.