It was all about beautiful rings and soggy bottoms (and one top!) in this week’s episode of The Great British Bake Off. Week four brought us pies and tarts with even more custard, and one baker was sent packing.
There was a definite chill in the Bake Off tent after last week’s escapades. Who could forget Deborah’s dastardly tactic of pinching Howard’s custard, or the elimination of two bakers? As Sue and Mel informed viewers, this week, no one was safe.
Drama aside, the bakers were presented with their first take: a Signature Bake of a double-crusted fruit pie. GBBO fans up and down the country shivered in unison at the mention of “fruit”. Fruit means liquid, and liquid means, wait for it, soggy bottoms. The pastry could be sweet, shortcrust, contain any fruit you could think of, but it must, without question, maintain its shape.
“If you do not know how to make a sweet pastry or a shortcrust pastry you shouldn’t be in that tent,” said Paul Hollywood, with that familiar glint of expectation in his eyes.
Kimberley was the first to get in a “soggy bottom” jip: “The terror of a soggy bottom has been keeping me up all night,” she confessed to the camera. “If my bottom is dry today, all will be right with the world…”
In a bid to avoid moisture/damp/wet/drips, the bakers called upon their own unique tricks including semolina, icing sugar, cornflower and a bottomless tin. Sue helpfully commented to one hopeful, “I think that brown stuff is burn,” and then swiftly departed.
Tasting time, and Beca and Rob managed to avoid the sin of sogginess. Howard’s Apple Pie with Sage Pastry was far too crumbly, and no one even sabotaged it. Not content to just, you know, make a double-crusted fruit pie like everyone else, Frances produced a James and the Giant Peach-inspired Peach Pie in the Sky. Beautiful? Yes. Tasty? Not so much: “It’s very, very bland and dry,” said Paul, labelling her baking more style and no substance.
And then, out of nowhere, came something far worse than a soggy bottom and a new description in the GBBO repertoire: a soggy top. The culprit? Last week’s star baker, Christine, who produced an Apple, Plum and Cinnamon Country Pie.
This time it was Sue who took us on an historical detour with the origins of the recipe book and custard tart. Though, this week the segment was so short, you could literally blink and miss it.
Next, the Technical. The bakers looked on in horror as Mel and Sue explained that 12 custard tarts were required. Not only that, it was a Paul Hollywood recipe. Fabulous. “Baked well, there is nothing better than a custard tart,” said Paul.
The hopefuls watched each other’s every move. Should the custard be heated before it goes into the pastry? How thick should it be? How high? Once cooked, how on earth do you get them out?
Custardastrophe ensued. Weak pastry, raw custard and soggy bottoms (again). Miss “style over substance” Frances won the challenge with her “nice” best-of-a-bad-bunch tarts.
It was down to the Showstopper to convince Paul and Mary who should stay and live to whisk another day, or return home for a piece of humble pie.
Filo pastry was required and, according to Mel, it was all about breaking those pie boundaries. Comments about wonderful wrist techniques followed as the bakers made their pastry and went about shaping it. Even the queen of cakes gave it a go, wielding Ruby’s pastry like a fire dancer in Thailand.
As always, Howard faced danger as he struggled to get his pastry out of its dish. Calling upon the help of Mel and Sue, who brandished their utensils like bandits, freedom was achieved, and the trio clashed their spatulas together in a fashion akin to the Three Musketeers. All for one…
Kimberley’s “absolutely beautiful” Chicken, Bacon and Butternut Squash Pie won her star baker, while Ali’s two-metre snake cake failed to impress the judges. He knew it was coming. WE knew it was coming. Howard cried. That’s enough liquid for one week.
Episode five brings us biscuits. Crumbs.
The Great British Bake Off is screened on BBC2 every Tuesday, at 8pm.