'The Great British Bake Off': week six review

Kuchen, torta, kak, taart – most were present and correct on this week’s ‘GBBO’. Read on if you have no idea what we’re talking about, or even if you do…

by Natalie Hammond

‘Bake Off’ paid homage to its continental brethren this week. Each challenge was based around a famous European cake and showed ‘GBBO’ at its baking best – no tears, no bin action, just bloomin’ hard cakes to make and Mel and Sue doing their best Dutch accents for the duration of the episode.


The signature challenge was a sponge inspired by the great cakes of Europe, with the stipulation that it had to be leavened with yeast instead of baking powder. Nancy – with a savarin bathed in a tropical fruit syrup and decorated like a naff parade float – missed the mark for perhaps the first time in the competition (the flamingos did it), while Richard’s gugelhupf didn’t have a shine to its glaze or the right texture. There was talk of the ‘star baker curse’, getting the accolade and bombing the week after – could Richard be its first victim?  


Paul heaped the praise on Martha’s heavenly combination of bitter chocolate and sweet almond brittle and Chetna proved she can finesse her flavours with an orange-flavoured savarin filled with pistachio cream.


The technical challenge was the most epic headache in ‘Bake Off’ history (and that’s saying something after last week’s mini pear pies) – Mary’s Swedish princess cake.  A layered cake of Genoese sponge, creme patissiere, jam and a dome of whipped cream, all encased in peppermint-green marzipan, decorated with elegant swirls of chocolate and topped with a pink rose. Mistakes? They were numerous. Kate and Chetna both had to start their sponges from scratch when they failed to rise and Nancy referred to Paul as ‘the male judge’ after forgetting his name…


Considering the recipe had 26 ingredients and 14 steps, the bakers’ princesses were a relatively presentable bunch, some almost fairytale and others slightly Shrek-like. Kate brought up the rear for sticking on her marzipan in hodgepodge sections and having a runny creme pat, while Richard came fifth for his thick layers and shocking piping work. Hang on a sec, Kate got star baker last week…THE CURSE! It’s real. Nancy was crowned first for her enchanting princess and Chetna pulled it out of the bag to score second.


The bakers had an intimidating five hours allotted for the showstopper, which was to bake a contemporary version of the dobos torte – a Hungarian sponge cake layered with buttercream and topped with elaborate caramel decoration. Madness ensued as each baker had at least 10 layers of sponge to make and batches were flying in and out of ovens. Luis’ worked his caramel into walls of a tower that surrounded hazelnut, vanilla, coffee and caramel buttercream – swoon. While Mary said it was ‘monumental’, Paul found the flavours ‘washy’. The male judge is such a stickler for detail. With such precision and planning required, this challenge was Richard’s for the taking. His two tiers had different sponges but, topped with a sad nest of sugar and a caramel bird, the overall effect was underwhelming. Kate impressed with three layers of different sponge, while the caramel-dipped grapes stuck to Chetna’s cake got Mary smiling, as did the perfectly cut edges of Nancy’s chocolate and praline confection. 


So to crunch time. After reversing her fortunes so splendidly in the technical and producing near perfect layers to her dobos torte, Chetna scooped star baker. The bottom bakers were Kate and Richard – confirmation that the curse exists; unlucky Chetna – and the judges reached an impasse over who to eliminate. Richard’s layers simply weren’t distinctive enough and though his sugar work was extensive it looked rather ham-fisted. Kate, on the other hand, had three tiers and excellent layers throughout, but fell down on hit-and-miss flavours and only showing one skill with her caramel pistachios. Nail-biter! Kate and Richard looked crestfallen, Mary and Paul looked, well, normal, and after a pregnant pause Sue announced…neither was going home! We should have seen it coming with Diana’s premature departure, but are nevertheless thrilled Kate and Richard will live to bake another day.


Some delicious European cake recipes you're going to love...

German stollen 

Italian pandoro cake

Austrian linzertorte

Scandinavian Christmas cake

Streusel plum pudding


And don't forget to check out our cheat's guide to this week's recipes.


Image: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

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