Great British Bake Off: Patisserie Week

Shutterstock / raducm © great british bake off

Incredibly, we’ve reached the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off.

Even more incredibly, so has Laura.

According to Prue, our four remaining contenders (Peter, Laura, Dave and Hermine) are some of the best bakers in the history of the Great British Bake Off.

Best not tell that to Rahul from a few seasons back. He always seemed to be teetering on the edge of a breakdown at the best of times.

To Patisserie Week! Was this Hermine’s time to shine?

A daft question, according to Scott Bryan over on the excellent Guardian live blog:

great british bake off

Image courtesy of the Guardian.

She seemed to be feeling the pressure immediately, which could only be a good sign.

Signature challenge: 12 savarin

If this doesn’t sound familiar, just think of it as a rum baba.

If that doesn’t sound familiar, I think it’s the lost episode of that cartoon about the elephant — the one where someone poisoned the watering hole with about 12 litres of peach schnapps.


The French sponge is traditionally soaked in booze (presumably to appeal to Prue), but that route is too easy for Peter. He was probably ID’d at the shop trying to buy his ingredients.

It’s terrible when people fall at the first hurdle.

Hermine decided to flavour hers with rum and apricot, while Laura went full baba, with pineapple, kiwi and passionfruit. Dave’s love of tequila reared it’s head once again . . . as did the ubiquitous mango.

The atmosphere in the tent was a little fraught. Different people were dealing with the tension in different ways:

Temperatures were soaring outside the tent, too. As was the case for a few weeks this season, it was bound to complicate proving the savarin dough.

Queue a fair few furtive glances at the oven door, and Hermine opting to ditch her first batch entirely.

It was a bold move — and one that did for poor old Linda back in Pastry Week.

Ultimately, though, it was all in vain. Her final efforts were still underproved, and a little tough, though the flavours were good.

Laura played her greatest hits (tasty, but a mess), and Dave’s baking once again went from strength to strength.

Peter’s cardinal sin of omitting the alcohol didn’t affect him one bit. Not only were his savarin neat and delicious, he even landed himself a Hollywood handshake.

Technical challenge: Danish cornucopia

Apparently this is also called a “horn of plenty”. But I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of calling it that.

Confusion has frequently reigned during the technicals this year, with bakers left staring helplessly at Hemingway-esque instructions like “bake” or “make the dough”.

Well, this week was when the judges took their revenge, providing a set of instructions so complex they almost immediately reduced Laura to tears.

Dave seemed a little clueless, but calm. Peter looked a lot like a kid who wanders into the wrong exam hall but is too polite to get up and leave again.

Hermine, on the other hand, was fully coming to pieces. Gone was the laissez-faire attitude of last week, and in its place a kind of grim resignation.

great british bake off

Photograph courtesy of the Guardian.

The curse strikes again?

None of the horns came out of the oven particularly (who’s horn would?), so it was neatness and flair in decoration that would save the bakers skins. Or doughs.

Peter made it two for two this week, coming out on top once again (I called him a early favourite in Pastry Week, and I stand by that).

Laura described her own bake as “an abomination”, but it still placed higher than Hermine’s.

Showstopper challenge: cube cake

A cake made of tiny cubes of cake.

A bizarre one, but a great excuse for this gratuitous Star Trek tweet:

If you get it, you get it.

It was a four and a half hour challenge, described by the judges as “gruelling”. The difficulty level has definitely ramped up now that we are down to the crème pat de la crème (pat).

Dave’s decision to go with a chocolate cake is called “brave” by Prue (not exactly a death knell these days), while Hermine declared she wrote the recipe for her showstopper the previous morning, and hadn’t had time to practise it.

That is indeed a death knell.

Peter’s discussion on the plural of mousse made a former sub-ed very happy:

Laura went for black forest flavourings, but mostly wound up flavouring the table:

In retrospect, Hermine’s decision to dub her cake the “Best Of Hermine” seemed to be an incredible act of self-flagellation. Her mousses failed to set properly, and rather than chasing her tail she seemed to be somewhat at peace with the idea she’d be packing her bags shortly.

And that’s how it turned out, sadly. Her cake didn’t look great, her mousses (moussi?) hadn’t set, and it all turned out a distressing combination of melty and stodgy.

Prue dubbed it “a failure”.

Not her week, indeed.

Peter’s decision to construct his cake in blocks rather than individual cubes meant it turned out the neatest of the lot, and Paul calling his flavours “clever and complicated”. A deserved Star Baker award.

So what about the Great British Bake Off final?

Peter has to be the heavy favourite.

Dave is a bit of a dark horse, though, definitely taking the title of “most improved” over the course of the series.

And if Laura wins, we riot.

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Iain McDonald

Iain is Digital Content Editor at the "Friend", making him responsible for managing flow of interesting and entertaining content on the magazine's website and social media channels.