'The Great British Bake Off': week seven review

Get ready for puff, filo, shortcrust and choux in the ‘Bake Off’ tent as this week’s all about pastry. After surviving last week by the skin of their teeth, can Kate and Richard prove they deserve a place in the quarter final?

by Natalie Hammond

With quarter final places at stake and no elimination last week, the tension was sharper than Mary Berry’s bomber jacket in yesterday's episode. The bakers had mixed results in the signature challenge – to make 12 savoury pastries of their choice. Paul rather laboured the point that each parcel had to be perfectly formed, excellently flavoured and DONE IN TIME. Cue time management crises (as if by magic!) from Kate, Luis and Nancy, which resulted in undercooked pastry morsels that looked of the frozen food ilk. Chetna’s kachoris made with a carom seed pastry and stuffed with lentils were golden balls of spicy scrumptiousness, while Richard’s take on the classic Cornish pasty – stuffed with a winning combination of lamb and mint – won universal praise from the judges. We try not to be bias, but can’t deny we’re thrilled Richard’s upped his game after the last couple of weeks in the doldrums.


And if there was ever a need for a confidence boost, this week was it for the technical challenge was a pastry none of the bakers had heard of – a first in ‘Bake Off’ history – and Mel and Sue could scarcely pronounce – the Kouign Amann. This traditional Breton pastry apparently looks rather like a croissant, has the texture of puff pastry (with a little more structure) and contains yeast. The bakers chose this challenge to ignore the old adage, ‘safety in numbers’. Chetna left her mix to prove for much longer than the other bakers, Kate did her final rise in the fridge and there was much debate over whether to fold the sugar in every layer of pastry or just in the last, with Mel and Sue stoking up the drama every step of the recipe. Despite these quibbles, hats off to the bakers who all managed to carry up 12 (relatively) presentable Kouign Amanns. Paul was then the bearer of bad news – the sugar was only meant to be sprinkled in the final layer, duh duh duhhhhh – and Chetna, Luis and Kate all looked crestfallen. Richard proved his signature challenge success wasn’t a flash in the pan by scoring first with nice, high pastries that were even in size and had lovely layers, while Chetna brought up the rear.


And so to the showstopper challenge, which this week was fairly conservative compared to dobos tortes, pie towers and biscuit scenes – 24 éclairs of two different flavours. When will we learn that straightforward doesn’t mean an easy ride for the bakers? Seeing the poor souls flying around the tent, stations in a state of disarray, might do it. The good news first: Nancy’s savoury éclairs stuffed with salmon and horseradish and her raspberry ripple variety were both beautiful to behold, while Luis' USA-themed eclairs – one blueberry cheesecake and one peanut butter and jelly – were boldly executed and technically perfect – the jam hadn’t made the éclair’s base soggy and his synthesis of flavours was masterful.  


Martha completely unravelled, thanks to her runny creme patissiere. Paul was aghast when he turned over one of her maple and bacon éclairs to find stab marks where she’d hurriedly tried to pipe it in. Her rhubarb and custard ones were marginally better, with the fruit’s flavour coming through and delicate twirls of it on top. After shaky performances in the signature and technical, Kate knew she had to perform. Instead her chocolate and strawberry éclairs were a hot mess of oozing filling, sad shards of chocolate and uneven baking.


Richard’s flower-scented berry éclairs – one lavender and blueberry, one raspberry and rosewater and both displayed on a specially whittled ‘éclair stair’ – proved the builder-baker is back and means business. He nailed star baker for the third time in the competition, making him a triple threat going into quarter final. Sadly Kate’s sloppy presentation in the showstopper and pale pastries meant she got the chop. After a couple of weeks at the bottom of the pack we agree with the judges’ decision on this occasion, but we’ll never forget her majestic pork, rhubarb and prune pie tower. Bring on the quarter final! 


Some delicious sweet and savoury pastry recipes you're going to love...

Sausage and squash pasties

Salmon pastries

Coffee and hazelnut éclairs

Mozzarella and basil choux buns

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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