Baking GBBO

GBBO Episode 9 - The Semi-Final

Zut alors it was hot! The temperature rose, the chocolate melted, the challenges challenged and the bakers were tested to their limits - and beyond. The semi-final was upon us.  As the fab four were put through their patisserie paces by an exacting Paul and Mary, Mel and Sue administered first aid in the form of brow mopping, hugs and morale boosting bon-mots. In fact, all was just as we like it in the semi-final of the bake-off. Tension and tears, traumas and triumphs were all delivered in unique bake-off style with huge amounts of charm and affection. Never has the creation of cake been so gripping and so endearing.

Palmiers – Puff Pastry Perfection

Selasi tempted us with a vision as the semi-final commenced. “I had a dream that I made it to the final and I baked in a dress,” he pronounced. As the viewing public en masse crossed their fingers and prayed his dream would come true, we watched with bated breath as the coolest, most interesting of this year’s bakers set off with intent on his semi-final journey.

Palmiers were the first of this week’s tricky patisserie challenges. Proper puff pastry was required and Andrew was having a right old battle with his first batch. It was dry and un-rollable, and showing true grit he decided one hour in to start again. Amazingly he pulled it off, and his finished Palmiers were “very, very good,” according to an impressed Paul.

Candice meantime was surprisingly calm and focussed about the whole thing. “I’m not worried actually,” she announced. Mel was worried though – where was Candice’s signature lipstick? “It’s all come off,” said the lippy queen. Mel was quick to come to the rescue, whipping out this week’s strawberry shade and reapplying it herself to the now famous pout.

Meanwhile Jane was feeling the pressure. “I’m feeling a bit queasy,” she said. “The last batch I made failed spectacularly.” Selasi was not taken in “She’s always ahead of the game,” he observed enviously. He was right to be worried. His Palmiers were raw in the middle and didn’t meet with judgely approval – one challenge down for the nation’s favourite baking pin up.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Vogue Baking Mats - Perfect for lining your baking sheet when making biscuits – or Palmiers. Your bakes won’t stick and it’ll help save on the washing up.
  • Oven Liners - Stick one of these on the base of your oven and then all you need to do is lift it out and wipe clean. No more scraping the bottom of your oven. Hallelujah.

Savarin – Prove Yourselves Bakers

Paul seemed rather keen on stating the blindingly obvious this week. “It’s got to taste good and look good too,” he intoned seriously at the start of the technical as if imparting priceless pearls of wisdom. “Paul we’re keeping you from an appointment at banalities ‘r us,” said a rather brisk and frisky Sue.

The bakers were tasked with making a yeasted cake – a cake which needed proving like a bread. Much kneading and resting was required, and the decoration involved piping white chocolate letters into a dark chocolate disc. Candice showed herself once again to be this year’s artistic baker with her beautifully piped Savarin label.

Jane struggled with caramel. Not once, not twice, at least thrice did she manage to crystallise or burn her sugar and water mix. Andrew who had had the same struggle in previous weeks, was on it like a car bonnet. “This time I’ve made sure to sift the sugar and clean the pan beforehand,” he said in an aside to the camera. Obviously it worked, as his caramel did its molten, golden thing, whilst Jane’s sadly never got past the crystal stage.

Nearly all of the finished Savarin were pronounced overproved and underbaked. And sadly Selasi sank to the bottom yet again. “Coming last in the technical is very risky,” he correctly observed. “He’s going to have to pull his socks up,” said Mary, spot on as always.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Piping Tube Sets - Pick up a set of different piping tubes so that you always have the right shape and size to hand. Use them with disposable piping bags – so useful, and no fiddly cleaning out – just pop in the bin and move onto the next one.
  • Curver Cake Box - Having made your beautiful cake you’re going to want to take it round to a friend to show it off and share. A cake box will keep it safe in transit.

Fancy That – Fiddly Fondant

And so to the showstopper. It was hot, hot, hot in the tent and as the temperature rose the bakers began to crack. “This is actual insanity,” announced Candice. Mel was required to lead Jane in a reassuring chorus of “It’ll all be alright,” and Sue continued to wipe the brow of a sweaty Selasi. However – this may have been more for her enjoyment than his.

This was the final chance for Selasi to make good. “I really want you to do well mate,” said an encouraging Paul. But it was not to be. Despite re-making his sponge after a picky Mary pointed out he had not sifted his flour, a despondent Selasi found fondant too fiddly for his man-sized hands and struggled to create the neat little packages required. However, he stuck to the task to the bitter end in true bake-off spirit. “We don’t give up in my household,” he declared. Good for you Selasi - we all love a trier.

Andrew, however, with smaller, neater fingers was orchestrating a masterpiece of fondant frippery. His Philharmonic fancies complete with icing bow ties played well with the judges and received rave reviews. “The presentation is stunning,” said Mary. “Good jam, good sponge and good flavour,” said Paul.

Crumbs were Jane’s downfall. Her fancies had smooth tops but crumbly sides, so they didn’t look the part. But it was Candice who stole the show in this challenge, with “two cracking fondant fancies.” Mary was so moved she attempted to say so with a northern accent. “There’s nowt wrong with that,” she pronounced surprisingly.

So the end was nigh, and there was little doubt who was in for the chop. He took it like the champion we know him to be. “A massively great achievement. Splendid, splendid,” said the much admired Selasi. “What a character, what a baker.” Well summed up Mary.

Next week – the final final of the bake-off as we know it. Get the tissues ready.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Vogue Potato Masher - Not, you might think, the most obvious tool for a baker, but Jane very niftily used one to dip her fancies into their fondant. Genius!
  • Vogue Plastic Funnel - Just useful. 

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!

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