It’s semi finals week for the Great British Bake Off and our four plucky bakers are Richard, Luis, Chetna and Nancy. Their penultimate set of challenges revolve around patisserie, and first off is the signature bake where they have to make baklava (ba-klava / baaaaklaaava?). As you no doubt are aware, that involves making a filo pastry so thin you can see the tablecloth underneath through it – a tough challenge.
Chetna immediately invokes the raised eyebrow of Hollywood with her chocolate based filo. Nancy also causes raised eyebrows with her ‘breakfast baklava’ filled with muesli. I don’t think anyone’s dentist would be too happy with their clients having that for breakfast.
Luis – as usual – makes beautiful bakes, but this time Paul and Mary don’t believe they are truly baklavas. Chetna’s chocolate baklava do rather resemble pork pies, but Nancy’s muesli ones are a surprising success. However, Richard’s baklava are generally adored.
Next up, for the technical challenge, a cake that surely no one in their right mind would ever, ever, ever choose to make? 20 layers of sponge cake, alternating between lightly golden and darkly golden in colour, topped with chocolate ganache. It doesn’t even sound that nice. Surely that must be one dry old cake? Even Paul’s doesn’t look particularly special (do him and Mary really like those technical bakes that are supposed to show ‘how it should be done’?).
We probably shouldn’t be surprised that when judging the technical challenge, Paul actually does count every single layer – Chetna falls short with 17 layers, and Nancy also hasn’t baked enough. Luis comes first with a version of the schichttorte which looks better than Paul’s, and Richard comes a close second. At this point in time, it’s looking decidedly dodgy as to whether Chetna will get through to the final.
And we finish off the semi finals with two types of entremet per baker. These are fancy patisserie of the kind you would see gracing the top of an afternoon tea tray, and all four bakers have some spectacular sounding offerings. Each baker combines sponge, jelly, mousse and chocolate and biscuits to make intricate patisserie.
It’s a bit disconcerting to see Richard decorate his sponge with something which resembles chicken pox, but the end result is spectacular and his two flavours (grapefruit, and hazelnut and chocolate) are a success. Unsurprisingly again Luis produces amazing looking entremets, which also taste perfect. Nancy’s apparently taste great but Paul and Mary are less impressed with the appearance of her cakes. Chetna seems to have recovered from her coffee mousse not setting and does quite well.
But who will go? No surprise (to me at least) that Chetna has to leave (Mel looks like she’s going to cry when she announces it), but there is a surprise when Richard becomes star baker for a fifth time (last week’s fourth was a record). Surely, surely, surely he’s going to win?!