Cathryn Dresser, GBBO series three contestant and baker extraordinaire, takes us through series 7 with an expert eye. Prepare thine lute and ruffle, and see which bakers escaped with their heads.
Please forgive the late appearance of a very important GBBO blog post, I have been on a three-day school trip of outdoor activities, which felt somewhat like a weekend in the tent: cold, tears, laughter, stress and joy!
It was the quarter finals and Tudor week. I was sad to see the judges and bakers hadn’t donned their hose and ruffs and dressed in full Tudor regalia, as this might have made the week’s weird bakes make a little more sense to me!
A bake-off quarter final is always a tough watch for me as it’s when I crashed and burned and said goodbye to the tent. I eagerly awaited to see who would do an Anne Boleyn, lose their head and join the illustrious quarter final royal family.
The signature challenge was pies: Tudor-inspired individual pies that come together in some sort of edible jigsaw puzzle.
As usual there was a (perplexing) variety of pies on offer. Candice popped the classic snotty aphrodisiac oysters in her ox cheek pies, which sat alongside the classic Tudor staple carb-fest of macaroni cheese pies.
Selasi stunk out the tent in an authentically smelly gamey fashion, stuffing his pies with wild birds and the like. He then strayed from tradition and used a ballpoint pen to shove in the top of his filled pies to create steam holes - classic Selasi!
Jane-not-Seymour opted for spiced sausage pies, Andrew made Da Vinci-inspired chicken and apricot geared pies and Benjamina went her own way, making a Mexican Tudor pie sun *confused face*.
The judges wanted neat pies with good pastry and tasty fillings that would hold their shape once cut.
Despite some frantic efforts to get pies baked on time, everyone’s tasted good. Most bakers opted for hot water crust pastry (or smelly farmyard dough as I prefer to call it). Queen Mary deemed Jane’s pies “exceedingly good”- which did make me wonder if Mr Kipling is in fact a pseudonym?!
Andrew’s pie cogs turned perfectly and were by far the best pies of the day.
The technical bake was the oddest and simplest yet: ‘jumbles’ - a basic biscuit recipe - baked mainly by school children if I’m not mistaken, then tied up in Celtic (not Tudor) knots?! The biscuit dough seemed easy enough, but for the hand-grinding of spices in the world’s smallest pestle and mortars. But the trickiest bit proved to be tying the knots, deciding when to sprinkle with sugar and getting them to brown effectively in the oven. Unsurprisingly the bakes all came out roughly the same, but Candice came out tops whilst Jane’s biscuits left her at the bottom of the jumble-sale pile.
Going into the Showstopper it appeared Andrew was the safest of the bakers, leaving us wondering who would ultimately leave. The challenge was to create a Marchpane or, in other words, a whole heap of marzipan with a side order of cake.
Candice took on reigning champ Nadiya in a peacock-off! Benjamina created a Tudor garden, Jane Seymour created an elaborate Tudor swan design, Selasi kept it simple but talked a good history talk, and Andrew hoped to joust his way to victory.
Sadly Andrew’s knight’s nut placement was a little suspect, his currants sank, and his usually perfect finish was not great, but we knew he’d gotten away with it.
Candice’s Peacock was a spectacular display and her overly-ambitious design, to which we’ve grown accustomed, paid off royally as it did with her gingerbread pub. Jane Seymour’s swans looked lovely and her flavours and finish impressed Paul, so at this point she, too, looked safe for this week. Benjamina’s marzipan maze was less of a maze and more of a neatly pruned hedge, plus her apple cake was a little heavy, while Selasi had a slightly under-baked cake, but delicious baked marzipan... so how could the judges choose?
This week was the closest I’ve seen it. Candice’s peacock won her star baker and, sadly and surprisingly, we had to bid fare thee well to the lovely Benjamina, which vexed me greatly. However, I shall not lie, I am relieved to see Selasi live to bake another week!