Cathryn Dresser, GBBO series three contestant and baker extraordinaire, takes us through series 7 with an expert eye. She knows how to bake…well.


The signature bake was a real challenge this week. The judges asked for 24 Danish pastries, which are fiddly, time consuming and hard to get right. Danish pastries are like a yeasted puff pastry, which is not straight forward and has a number of steps and processes. Once again there was a nice mix of creative and varied flavours. Candice was the only person to make a savoury option. I can tell you that when you’re in the tent baking lots of sweet things, a savoury bake makes a lovely change and Mel proved this to be true loading up on the Croque Monsieur Danishes to take home!

Rav kept flavours surprisingly simple in this challenge, which didn’t work to his advantage. The bakers had lots to do. They had to prove, roll and fold the pastry, while also incorporating and sealing in the butter as well as preparing the different fillings.  Then they had to cut, twist, fill and bake them too. They all did well. Andrew "hand fudged his butter" and was seen regularly using a ruler, so it was no surprise that his pastries were very precise, uniform and neat, if a little on the thin side. Jane did really well with Paul commenting that Jane’s pastries were what he was looking for.  Tom, Rav and *wipes away a tear* Val were in a cinnamon-whirl of trouble with a selection of flavourless, dry and raw pastries.

Next was a Bakewell tart with feathered icing. This is a classic recipe and a firm favourite with my family.  I also think, despite the lack of method supplied to the bakers, that this was quite a straightforward challenge and I expected there to be eight very similar tarts of a good standard. There were in fact a few baked-not-so-well tarts. Val missed a page of the recipe and so went her own way, which turned out to be the wrong way *wipes away another tear*. Jane and Candice battled for the technical top spot, with Jane taking first place. Rav got his last-in-the-technical-hat-trick, which made him vulnerable going into the final challenge.

And then a filo pastry showstopper. I made strudel pastry in series three - it is a fun pastry to make but I admit I’ve not made it since.

This challenge once again involved lots of work and a high number of individual items, often the smaller something is to make the trickier it can be. The bakers were all went for it in this challenge. Rav was back to his creative self and lovely, clever Candice was back on form again with lots of sausage! Val *sniff sniff* and Tom seemed to be having a rough week and when it came to judging, poor lovely Val just didn’t deliver the Christmas presents promised with her thick mincemeat Santa sacks.

So who would get star baker, Jane or Candice? It was a close call but it was Candice’s day - quite to Jane’s annoyance I’m sure.

And then *wipes blobby tear drops from keypad*, it was time to say the saddest of goodbyes to valiant, vivacious, vibrant, veritably lovely Val. My absolute favourite, who will be missed from the tent *wipes snotty nose on sleeve*.  Val is what GBBO is all about, lots of skill but also so much fun and heart, she said "make it the best you can, and make it with love". Good advice I say!

So next week I will still have a beady eye on Andrew, and Selasi may get a promotion as my new favourite for sheer utter nonchalantness.

Next week is another GBBO first - it’s Botanical Week and I can’t blooming wait to see what they bake!