Another new theme for GBBO, the semi-final saw tensions rise as the bakers wrestled with chocolate tarts, soufflés and centrepieces. But did the right bakers get through to next week’s final? The By Book or By Cook team share their thoughts… (Warning: spoiler everywhere!)
Sophie: Hooray! Ian made it through to the final by the skin of his teeth, which, more importantly, meant that I get to hold onto my place in the GBBO sweepstake for another week.
I was a big fan of the chocolate well even if Paul and Mary didn’t think it was complicated enough. It’s a working well made of chocolate, what more do you people want?
I can’t help secretly hoping that Nadiya pulls it out of the bag next week though. I can’t begin imagine the previously undiscovered heights her eyebrows would reach if she actually won. Also that chocolate peacock was inspired. I will never again have a dinner party without the nagging feeling that I’m missing a chocolate peacock centrepiece.
Jo: Chocs away and what a week! Hats off to the Bake Off team, who have delivered more acceptable New Things this week, this time in the form of the first ever time-trial bake off technical challenge. The tension was high from the outset when we learnt from Paul Hollywood that any mistake in chocolate semi-final week could prove fatal. FATAL? Wow, they really have upped the ante this series. The soufflé relay was great TV, made all the better by the undercurrent of commentary from Nadiya, whose hilarious asides were the star of the show last night. I, for one, would rush to buy a copy of her brand new book Things To Never Bake Again. *commissions immediately*. Chocolate centrepieces were suitably silly (because who hasn’t had a dinner party finished off with coffee and a chocolate peacock?), and proved a good test, designed to see who would put the temper into tempered chocolate, and who would go into melt down. Nadiya and Tamal made worthy finalists, with Ian and Flora battling to be a bit less rubbish than each other in order to go through. As Flora wiped away her tears, viewers across the country turned to each other to ask how can it be the final already, and see how many previous bakers from this series they could actually name…
Alice: Well, I did NOT see that coming (mainly because I had been told be someone that Flora won the whole thing, thanks for nothing cousin Duncan). Chocolate week was filled with drama, from Ian’s soufflé meltdown to Flora’s near carousel collapse. The chocolate centrepieces were a great challenge that brought out the best in the competitors: Nadiya’s creativity; Tamal’s flavours; Ian’s precision and Flora’s flair for design. Sadly for Flora, if your chocolate carousel looks pretty but tastes bad your number is up. I think we have the right 3 finalists and it’s impossible to predict who will finally win out. Whatever happens, it’s bound to be thrilling!
PS A thought about tempering: when Tamal’s took us through his process – melt chocolate carefully over a bain marie to a precise temperature then add pre-tempered chocolate – was I the only one to think “oh, so you can buy pre-tempered chocolate? Why not JUST USE THAT???”
Julia I think Chocolate Week was a brilliant success, and those chocolate tarts were seriously to die for. I was very excited to find Nadiya’s Chocolate Salted Caramel and Peanut creation recipe online, but stunned by just how many elements were involved! The soufflé challenge seems to be the closest to a school exam Bake Off has ever got, with even Ian desperately wondering how on earth to make a creme patissiere from memory. Goodness only knows what the technical challenge for the final will be after that one. Despite the distinct lack of baking involved in the centrepieces (bar Flora staunchly sticking to cake and Tamal’s token shortbread) I loved this challenge and was blown away by Ian’s Chocolate Well (seriously did Paul say he wasn’t sure it showed enough skill? Although maybe the skill was more in the crafting of the moulds than pouring chocolate into them) but the concept was fantastic. I thought the carousel was really gorgeous, and Nadiya’s Peacock was absolutely stunning. If the position of winner could be awarded jointly to Nadiya and Tamal that would make me happiest, but if I have to pick one my bet is on Nadiya, Tamal has a quiet confidence that she lacks, but she does seem to be in the stronger position.