Cathryn Dresser, GBBO series three contestant and baker extraordinaire, takes us through series 7 with an expert eye. It’s semi-finals week, which brings the loss of a favourite...
Semi-finals on Bake Off is always a weird week. The atmosphere changes, things go a bit quiet.
The fun and drama will return in the grand final, I have no doubt, but for this week thank heavens for Selasi who stole the show - taking words from Mary’s mouth and doing a pretty good job of presenting too (Take note, Channel 4)!
Patisserie week is a big one and a tricky one at that.
The signature was 24 savoury palmier, and the judges were looking for perfect lamination, fillings, shapes and sizes.
Really this challenge rested heavily on the quality and bake of the contestants’ puff pastry. All four bakers have proven masters of flavours and so getting the puff right was crucial.
Andrew took the smart yet brave decision to start his pastry over as his dough was dry and his butter bleeding through.
Selasi boldly commented that "the key to getting your puff right is chilling". Which meant I had every faith in him, until I remembered that timings and baking were also involved.
Candice’s palmier were untidy but delicious, Jane’s oily but tasty. Andrew surprisingly "got away with it" (as noted by Paul), and my favourite Selasi’s were a little too chilled - aka raw!
Technical this week was a savarin, a yeasted, booze syrup-soaked cake, dressed up with cream and fruit before serving.
There were equipment quibbles – over which attachment would best suit savarin preparation - followed by proving and timing decisions.
All four bakers pulled out good finished bakes but it came down to the proving, soakage and fruit preparation.
Despite her caramel chaos, Jane delivered a perfectly coloured savarin to put her top, while Selasi’s syrup soaking wasn’t up to scratch, making him fourth (Which sounds good in Bake Off terms but does now mean last).
Show stopping fondant fancies were final orders of the week – 36 of them in two flavours. This is a huge ask and a very tricky challenge.
All four bakers did a cracking job on a really tough ask. Jane should have crumb coated for neatness and Candice’s finish wasn’t super-neat either, but both ladies were strong going into the semis and looked set to stay put. Andrew did really well in the final fancy challenge, producing a neat array of cakes, leaving Selasi the only baker it made sense to send home (I’m gutted).
What will finals week bring, and how will we cope when it’s all over?