The Great British Bake Off 2016. Episode four: batter

Cathryn Dresser, GBBO series three contestant and baker extraordinaire, takes us through series 7 with an expert eye… she’s flippin’ great.

So it’s week four and you’d batter be ready for some surprisingly un-bakey bakes, some flipping good lace in the technical and some poor hot-cross-bunnies! Challenge one was Yorkshire Puddings (24 savoury filled) in two hours. Now, I’m just saying, but my mum knocks these out with her eyes closed at the same time as making a huge roast dinner and they are always blooming good (if you like Yorkshire puds that is...which I don’t...shhh)!  So I was thinking that this should be one of this series’ easier signatures. The request by the judges to make them identical, however, did seem both tricky and a little unrealistic; the only identical ones I have seen have come from a bag in the freezer.

My not-so-secret favourite baker Val is a Yorkshire lass, and she had her mum’s traditional recipe for ‘proper’ beef dripping puds at the ready – I had every faith she’d pull it off.

I loved the variety and creativity of the fillings, but noticed a distinct lack of gravy. The trick with Yorkshires is a hot tray with hot oil, and a hot oven.  I always throw an extra egg in after the mixture has rested, too, for an extra rise. Like Jane I will confess these are never my finest bake, but they don’t need to be; I don’t like them and my mum, auntie and big brother all make amazing ones, so I don’t really need to bother.

Last week’s star baker, Tom, used chickpea flour and nigella seeds which spelled disaster for his puddings – the judges described them as dry and biscuit-like. Andrew, Rav and Benjamina all did well with their Yorkshires (the main part of the challenge) as well as their fillings.

The technical was ‘Paul’s lacy pancakes’ - not too difficult (or bakey). I enjoyed watching this challenge and seeing all the bakers do a very respectable job, but I didn’t enjoy the idea of a lingerie-style pancake; give me a big Bridget Jones pants-style pancake please, that will hold in all the fillings. I liked Candice’s declaration that she was a “tosser all the way” and relaxi-Selasi being the only one nonchalant enough to give his a flip. Other than design and an extra 30 seconds in the pan, there was little in it, but Benjamina was top of the pancake stack and Rav ended up at the bottom.

Showstopping churros were the final bake of batter week. I LOVE churros and think they are showstopping simply as they are, when they are hot and fresh and covered in cinnamon sugar. The bakers opted for different shapes, sizes and flavours and I would happily have eaten any of their offerings, probably leaving Tom’s, Rav’s and Selasi’s until last! A good churro should be crisp outside and fluffy inside - something Benjamina executed perfectly. Kate, sadly, didn’t pull off the churros she had hoped to and her poor little bunnies were “oily” and “sad”. Selasi also didn’t quite nail it – it seemed a mistake to fry from frozen, meaning they were too dark in colour (not burnt) and undercooked inside (not raw).

So, as is the way with GBBO, we lost unlucky baker Kate, who was in fact really, really good, but who just had a bad week. Benjamina told us right at the start that she “had a good feeling” about this week and she was right – star baker was hers and she earned it! Next week is pastry week and I can’t wait already.  All eyes on Andrew, who seems to me to be doing a consistently good job.

I have deliberately not mentioned all the week’s GBBO news, as the speculation will continue after this series has finished, so for now let’s feast on what we’ve got.

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