Baking GBBO

GBBO Episode 6 - Botanical Week: 'If It Grows, It Goes'

It was all about girl power in flower power week. A determined rain cloud hung over the marquee, but inside the tent of dreams the women flourished, taking a commanding lead by the end of the technical challenge. The men meanwhile were slowly wilting. “I’ve never been so stressed about dough in my life,” said a harassed Tom – but he had a surprise up his sleeve for Mary and Paul. Could he save the day for the beleaguered men?

One Citrus Meringue Pie – Very Large..

Garden designer Jane was extremely happy about botanical week. “It could almost have been made for me,” she beamed, sporting a vibrant floral blouse. There were a few other leafy prints on show – Selasi somehow managed to make his flower-decked T-shirt look cool, Mel had a hint of Austrian mädchen about her with her flowery top and Heidi braid, and of course Mary was wearing the ultimate botanical power jacket.

It may have been raining outside but it was hot in the tent. A playful flirtation between Selasi and Benjamina lit up botanical week, with him holding his meringue above her head, she teasing that her citrus curd was going to be “as thick as Selasi” and both coming up with matching grapefruit meringue pies. As sweet and endearing as the bake-off itself.

Mary joined in the fun – “Haven’t you ever had a sharp edged kiss?” she enquired naughtily of Mel. She was referring of course to the sharp edged meringue kisses which adorned Selasi’s tart. Candice who caught us all out by sporting a nude pout unadorned by lipstick of any hue, curiously decided to dye her meringue vibrant lime green. “It looks horrendous,” she pronounced. Well we can’t argue with that Candice.

Tom, Rav and Andrew all had problems with meringue that didn’t have enough body and shape. Tom, once again, decided to push his flavour combinations, combining sweet pumpkin with sweet meringue, voiding the whole point of a sweet meringue and sharp citrus pie. The boy never seems to give up on the exotic flavour combos – perhaps one of these days he’ll hit on one that tastes good? We live in hope.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Chefs Blow TorchAlthough Mary made it clear that she prefers a meringue that is baked in the oven, many of the bakers decided to finish theirs successfully with a blow torch. Perfect for toasting the pearly peaks of a meringue pie, a blow torch is also ideal for crunching the top of a crème brulee and blackening the skin of peppers.

    Need a hand with your chefs blowtorch? Our handy How to Use a Kitchen Blowtorch article will guide you every step of the way...
  • KitchenAid - The king of baking tools, the KitchenAid takes the chore out of beating, whisking and mixing. All bakers dream of finding one of these under their Christmas tree.

Herb Fougasse – Leaf it Out

Yes it was fougasse – that well known cinema snack. Really Tom? Apparently fougasse is his favourite snack to munch at the movies - most of us are stuck with popcorn. But then Tom’s fougasse is bound to be spectacular. Star baker in bread week, our Tom is on firm footing when it comes to a loaf – particularly it seems, a leaf loaf.

In the technical the bakers were required to make two leaf shaped herb fougasse loaves. They made a pretty good fist of it, with only the direction of the slashes causing real debate. “From an engineering background, consecutive means one after the other,” deduced Andrew. Well you’d think so, but many bakers decided it meant side by side.

Selasi’s legendary cool finally became his downfall. “I’m just gonna keep my cool, do it in the right time and not rush it,” he declared. “You are so Zen,” said Sue admiringly. But by the end of the bake she had joined him on the floor, peering into the depths of the oven where the fougasse was baking – but sadly not quickly enough. “Needed more time in the oven – it’s more like a floury bap,” pronounced Paul, awarding a glum Selasi bottom place in the challenge.

It was Tom of course who rose to the technical top, but despite this triumph he still languished with the other lads at the bottom of the pile - he had a lot to make up for after his disastrous signature bake.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Apron - The cooks’ chance to make a fashion statement. Choose one to suit your style from the huge range at Home Chef.
  • Grater - Another kitchen essential but one that comes in many forms. Have a browse through the Home Chef range and you’ll find plenty to choose from.

Fabulous Floral Showstoppers

Mel obligingly performed a floral dance to introduce the showstopper – the late and great Terry Wogan would have been proud. A tiered cake decorated, filled and flavoured with flowers was the challenge.

Three tiers were required – so of course Candice did four. To be fair, her idea of a cake for each of the seasons was inspired, and her ‘winter’ – a boiled fruit cake to her Nan’s recipe – touched the hearts of the judges. The recipe in Nan’s own handwriting gave Sue a warm glow, “That makes me so very happy – that’s what baking is all about on one sheet of paper,” she smiled, in unusually sentimental style.

Lovely Benjamina took a risk with a semi-naked cake that exposed glimpses of sponge through the icing. It proved to be a bit too contemporary for Paul and Mary. “It looks a bit unfinished to me,” said a bemused Paul. Where’s he been? Has he not seen Pintrest recently? Even Martha Stewart is at it – the most fashionable wedding cakes are semi-naked these days, Some even go the whole shocking hog and are stark naked! Do keep up Paul.

Rav and Andrew both struggled in this challenge, but it was a teary Andrew who was the “lucky duck” and stayed and ever-happy Rav who made an exit. Even in the face of disaster the lovely Rav was able to make the most of it, “I’m leaving with a smile on my face and I couldn’t be happier,” he grinned – cheerful to the last. Bless. We’ll miss him.

And yes – Tom finally did it. His unusual use of flavours at last bringing him success, with his jasmine, chamomile and elderflower tea-infused cakes converting a doubting Paul who was “very impressed that you managed to get those flavours through the cakes.” Star baker again – he’s a real contender. Although we can’t help feeling that Selasi’s magnificent show stopper could have pipped Tom to the post – but who are we to question the mighty judges.

Next week – desserts. Plum duff? Jam roly poly? Treacle tart? It is the bake-off – so my guess is probably not.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Rotating Cake Stand - To create a showstopper you’ve got to decorate it with style. A cake stand will raise your cake so that you can get down to the serious business of making it beautiful. A rotating one to make your piping easier and smoother.
  • Acetate - Jane demonstrated the use of acetate with her floral chocolate collars on her showstopper sponges. A roll of acetate is a very useful tool if you like working with chocolate. 
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