So far on The Great British Baking Show, the bakers have tackled bread, dessert, biscuits and cake. Now, they must prove their skills during the indomitable pastry week. Here’s our recap of episode 6 of Season 3 — soggy bottoms be damned.
Signature Challenge: Frangipane Tart
The bakers are tasked with creating an open-topped frangipane tart made with shortcrust pastry. Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are looking for a crisp, golden pastry, full-flavored fruit, and none of that soggy bottom business.
To start, the bakers need to make a good shortcrust. The butter and flour must be carefully rubbed in, then rested for a short time in the fridge. The frangipane (almond-flavored paste) is then placed inside the tart, with a design and the fruit showing on top. Some of the bakers decide to do a blind-bake, and pop their tarts in the oven without any filling to avoid a soggy bottom.
Alvin has the most trouble with the challenge; he runs out of time with his bake, and his plums do not end up baking. Despite that, the judges think the tart’s flavors are good. Mat’s piña colada tart sounds like it could be the most fun, but the flavor is a bit bland. Flora has some trouble with her bake as well, getting a painful critique from Paul (Mary: “It is over-baked, but it isn’t bitter, and it isn’t burnt.” Paul: “It IS bitter, and it IS burnt. Thank you very much”). The judges are the most impressed with Tamal — still our favorite — whose spiced pear tart isn’t the prettiest, but Paul says, “the whole thing is a classic frangipane. Spot on.”
Technical Challenge: Flaounes
For the technical, the bakers must create flaounes – a cheese-filled pastry which hails from Cyprus. Never heard of flaounes? Neither have the bakers. Mel thinks it sounds like an airline. Nadiya thinks it sounds like an insult. (They’re both right.)
Again, because Paul is a masochist, the bakers are given very little instructions. For this pastry challenge, they’re using a few unconventional ingredients: crystallized tree resin, yeast, and ground-up sour cherry pits. Once again, the bakers are thrown off. At one point, Tamal addresses someone standing slightly off-camera, his eyes desperate for answers.
Meanwhile, a smirking Paul is in the judges’ tent showing Mary what flaounes actually look like. If he was Wario, he’d be twirling his demented mustache right about now, because they appear to be crispy hot pockets with sesame seeds on top. The blind tasting goes surprisingly well for most of the bakers, who get the overall look and flavor. Tamal, who placed the sesame seeds inside his flaounes instead of outside, is placed last. Alvin, who is having a really disappointing day, is second-to-last. Mat wins what is probably the weirdest pastry challenge to date.
Showstopper Challenge: Vol-au-vents
Vol-au-vents are set as the showstopper. The bakers must make their own puff pastry from scratch and have two different sets — 24 each — so 48 vol-au-vents in total. They have three hours and 45 minutes.
The judges are looking for 48 even vol-au-vents with a light and flaky pastry, and well-filled. When creating vol-au-vents, layers of butter and pastry must be added and folded into each other; they must also ensure that both butter and pastry stay cold and don’t melt. To be honest, it looks like a great workout for #armday.
Most of the bakers decide on savory fillings for their vol-au-vents. Both Alvin and Nadiya are making theirs with passed-down family recipes. Tamal is pulling inspiration from “one of the top two sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life” and he is absolutely still our favorite. About 15 minutes before judging begins, we see that a few of the bakers might be in trouble. Some vol-au-vents aren’t rising evenly, and a few people are running behind time.
Onto the judging: Paul and Mary flip out over Mat’s His ‘n’ Hers vol-au-vents. They look stunning, and the flavors are gorgeous.
Mary calls Flora’s decision to add chocolate to her puff pastry “exceptionally brave.” The judges are also a fan of Tamal’s pulled pork sandwich-inspired recipe. Those who didn’t do so well: Alvin, whose vol-au-vents lacked the pizazz necessary for a showstopper. Ian took a risk with squid ink, and the flavor profile didn’t turn out so well. Nadiya gets a straight-up “Oh, dear…” from Paul. Unable to finish her vol-au-vents, Nadiya is forced to present the fillings — along with the empty pastries — in bowls. Thankfully, the flavors are on point and the judges don’t think it’s enough to send her home. Instead, it’s Alvin who is shipped off in this episode, while firefighter Mat dominates pastry week to win Star Baker.
Mel: “This is a recipe close to Paul’s heart, just nestling underneath the chest hair.”
Mel (on Paul’s lumpy dough): “There’s quite a lot of lumps. It’s a bit like a cellulite-y thigh.”
Paul II: “Look at Mat’s [vol-au-vents] — look at them! They’re straight soldiers. Mine have been drinking.”
Mary double-punches Mat in the stomach while congratulating him for winning star baker.
Join us next week for recaps on Victorian and Pâtisserie Weeks.