Baking GBBO

GBBO Episode 5 - Pastry Week: 'Grievous Butterly Harm...'

Many thought that age would triumph over youth this week as the level of technique and expertise required to perfect some fiendish bakes was ramped up by a gleeful Paul and Mary. The hapless bakers were required to tackle a trio of cholesterol- packed pastry challenges which inflicted ‘grievous butterly harm’ on the tent’s remaining eight.  But in the end, innovation won out over experience, and the chickens finally came home to roost for one of this year’s most likeable and more mature bakers...

Breakfast Pastries – Stay Cool

Mary told us straight. “The pastry needs a high proportion of butter and if it melts out it’s as dry as old boots.” Well, we were warned. Much was made of the fold. Envelope fold or book fold – both were employed by different bakers. Each was intended to put the highest number of layers into the pastry. Using industrial quantities of butter that must have emptied cows and dairies for miles around, the bakers whacked and rolled, with gusto.

Val had a secret weapon – dental floss. Not as daft as it sounds – it makes a nice clean cut in dough, and a little tip, it can be used to slice a sponge in half around its middle too. “How’s the flossing going?” asked Sue. “Have you found any cavities?” Well, sadly despite the clean cut dough Val had timing issues with her pastries. “They should have an hour of proving, bless them, they’re going to have ten minutes,” she mourned.

Rav was living on borrowed time. “Last week was such a disaster I sometimes wonder if I am worthy of being here,” he said, smiling through in his usual upbeat way. Rav has a lovely way of not taking it all too seriously – he understands that if his bakes fail, no one is going to die. He only managed to put up 23 of the 24 pastries required, but at least they were edible. Sadly Tom could not say the same. Paul and Mary prodded and poked, but tasted very little. “Dry as a bone,” pronounced an exasperated Paul.

Andrew employed precision engineering to re-create flavours that would please his parents – dates in a glovebox – who’d have guessed it?  But it was Candice whose ‘absolutely delicious’ savoury pastries had Mel’s seal of approval. Seen leaving the tent with a half dozen of Candice’s Croque Monsieur Kites she declared she was taking them home to her family. “They love a savoury puff,” she explained. Don’t we all Mel.

Home Chef Can Help…

Baking parchment - Famed for its non-stick qualities we’ve seen the bakers use plenty of this over the weeks. Pastry week saw it being employed to create a sandwich for butter battering. Pop some rolls into your Home Chef shopping basket.

Lemon squeezer - These divide opinion. Many designs have been invented and experimented with over the years. In the end it comes down to what suits you.

Bake Your Bakewell Well – Says Mel

Rather startlingly Paul referred to Mary as his ‘bezza’ at the beginning of the technical this week. Very ‘informal’, I would guess La Berry would make of that. They were obviously in cosy mood however, because she parried well with “What was that about your diet?” The baking queen knows how to keep a cheeky Hollywood in his place.

The challenge was “classic and classy,” according to Jane, and indeed it did look as if the more mature bakers would triumph. “The winner will be age,” said an unusually ungallant Selasi, while Benjamina was confident Val would take top spot. “I think she knows exactly what she’s doing. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t come first,” she sighed.

Val indeed did seem to know what she was doing. Despite only using one sheet of the recipe provided, she seemed confident with her mix, and declared “I bake one of these every week.” Sadly, as we all know, pride comes before a fall, and Val just could not resist tweaking Mary’s recipe – never a wise move. The result was the only soggy bottom of the day – Paul and Mary seemed almost pleased to have found one!

Candice was “channelling my Nan,” whose photo she keeps on her bench. Cue a hint of more tears from the pouty one, but this week Candice showed her mettle, and created a crisp bottomed, well-formed and delicious Bakewell tart without losing her cool. Andrew was too cool – his tart was left in a cold oven for 15 minutes. The other bakers sympathised with horrified glances and a chorus of  “oh no’s”.

Home Chef Can Help…

Baking beans - Banish soggy bottoms with these useful little pearls of clay which are ideal for baking blind. Just line your tart with a piece of the ubiquitous baking parchment, pop in the beans and bake blind in the oven for crisp pastry cases.

Fluted tart tin - The best pastry tarts and quiches are created in a metal tin which transfers the heat to the pastry so helping to bake it crisp. It’s also a good idea to heat a baking tray till hot in your oven, and then place your ready to bake quiche or tart in its tin, on top of the hot tray. This means your pastry gets an extra whack of moisture reducing heat.

Filo Amuse Bouches? – It’s Not Funny

The words ‘filo pastry’ can strike fear into the hearts of even the most confident of professional chefs. It’s fiddly, it’s delicate and it’s temperamental. And not only did the bakers have to make their own filo pastry, they had to make 48 miniature ‘amuse bouches’ which required the filo to be cut into tiny little squares and circles, layered and filled, and baked to perfection. Truly tricky.

Candice had the idea of the week which helped her to create perfect filo parcels and clinch Star Baker. She cleverly decided to feed her pastry through a pasta machine to achieve the required thinness and transparency. It was a brilliant idea. “A girl after my own heart you see – not too much work,” said Mary admiringly.

Everyone else struggled with rolling pins and their hands, to create the required texture. Val was having a nightmare – her filo was about as delicate as a suet pudding. “It’s awful,” she sighed.

However, comeback kid Rav was having a barnstorming finish to what had been another poor week for him. “I’m very jealous of your pastry,” said an admiring Tom, and Rav himself was pleased with his progress. “I’m actually done with a few minutes to spare,” he said as he stood back to admire his beautifully proportioned tarts and samosas.

Undeterred by previous efforts, Tom once again tried to impress with strange flavour combinations. His steak and spiced chocolate mousse cups (yes, you did hear right) did not get the Hollywood seal of approval. What’s more they were pronounced ‘informal’ – Mary’s shorthand for a complete mess. “They look like they’re on a night out,” he agreed reluctantly. Paul dropped the d-word. “I’m disappointed,” he said gloomily. Oh dear oh dear.

But it was delightfully dotty Val who took her final bow in pastry week. She left emotionally, admitting that she had done as much as she could, and reminding us that proper baking, the type that we do on our own at home with only our family to enjoy it, is all about love. “I stir love into it, I knead love into it, so it’s special.” Well said Val – we bake because we want to please our loved ones. There’s no better reason.

Next week we are promised the closest bake-off yet. It’s botanical week. Really? I’m looking forward to that!

Home Chef Can Help…

Pasta machine - Well Candice’s innovative use of a pasta machine was a revelation to us, but we’ve always been convinced that if you like pasta, then you will love creating  your own shapes and flavours with a pasta machine. 
Pastry brush - Brush a little buttery lubrication between the sheets of your filo, or add a golden glaze to your pies with a slick of beaten egg. Choose a pastry brush from our selection at 

Feeling inspired? Check out our Popular Pastry Recipes to put it all in practice.

Follow our GBBO blog every week on the website and on our Home Chef Facebook page – @HomeChefUK. Don’t forget to post your ideas and comments on the unfolding Bake-Off story, we’d love to hear from you!  

Photo credit: slightly everything via Visual hunt / CC BY

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