Four bakers remain in The Great British Baking Show, and this week they’re taking on one of toughest ingredients yet: Chocolate. Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood say there is no room for error. Everything the bakers do must be immaculate: whether it’s their chocolate ganache, their custard, or their creamy soufflé. Is your mouth watering yet?
Signature Challenge: Chocolate Tart
For this challenge, the bakers must create a chocolate tart, complete with chocolate-flavored pastry, filling, and decoration. Ian, Nadiya, and Tamal are using caramel to sweeten their tarts. Tamal’s working on a simple New York pie with dark chocolate and crushed pralines. Both Nadiya and Ian decide on salted caramel fillings. However, Ian is using Bay leaves to infuse his salted caramel sauce, which confuses Paul, whose facial expression tells us he is v. skeptical about the taste. (So are we, Paul. So are we.) Flora is doing a dark chocolate tart with passion fruit and decides to go all out on macaron decorations. She’s giving herself way too much to do, as per usual.
When asked what Nadiya will be creating, she explains she’ll be creating peanut powder with a type of starch she has that turns fat into powder. Sue then points to judge Mary and asks, “Can you make that[Mary] into a powder?”
Nadiya: “Oh, we don’t need Mary into a powder.”
Mary: “Thank you. You just get on with it.”
The judges end up liking the simplicity of Tamal’s tart, whose flavors are on point. Ian’s mirror glaze looks great, but the caramel is off, and Paul straight up says he missed the mark. The judges like Flora’s decorations and the tartness of the passion fruit, but her macarons taste terrible. Paul tells Flora: “If you’re gonna do a macaron, do it properly.” Ouch. Both Mary and Paul love Nadiya’s peanut butter and chocolate tart. After some quiet reflection/stewing, Paul shakes her hand and calls her tart spot on. Nadiya #cannoteven form words and instead makes an “ohhh” sound.
By the end of judging, three out of four bakers are worried they won’t make it into the finals. Meanwhile, Nadiya still #cannoteven over the lingering handshake from Paul.
Technical Challenge: Chocolate Soufflé
The bakers have one hour and 15 minutes to create a soufflé. Since this is such a short challenge, the bakers work in staggered times, which means they each have different starting points. Poor Flora is first at bat and begs the other contestants not to leave the tent.
There are two elements that must be created at the same time: meringue and a creme pat (the “posh” way of saying custard). Since none of the bakers have ever made a soufflé, they are not off to a good start. Flora is clearly verklempt. Nadiya admits: “I’ve never made one. Why have I never made a soufflé? Oh yeah, because they’re a pain to make.” Ian doesn’t know where to start, since he can’t even remember how to make custard.
Mary wants to see well-risen, level, soft soufflés that melt in the mouth. The trick to a good soufflé is to get the consistency of the creme pat just right. If it’s too thick, it won’t rise. Too thin, and it will sink. Most of the bakers do not know what consistency they must make it, which is just half the fun!
Meanwhile, during the blind tasting, Flora has no idea what the judges are saying about her soufflé. She’s leaning up against her stove and sighing like so many 1950s housewives. Next up is Ian. There’s a nice flavor and consistency but not enough volume or rise. Nadiya’s soufflé has too much meringue and not mixed in enough. The taste is fine, though. Tamal is last, and his soufflé has a good rise, there are some flecks of meringue and its light. Nadiya comes in 4th place, Ian is in 3rd, 2nd is Tamal, and Flora wins 1st.
Showstopper Challenge: 3-D Chocolate Centerpiece
For the showstopper, the bakers are asked to create a creative 3-D chocolate centerpiece. They must incorporate white chocolate and biscuit. This is the last chance the bakers have to impress the judges and move onto the finals.
Tamal is creating an epic two-tiered clock tower, replete with vanilla shortbread, a star anise biscuit, and tempered chocolate. Nadiya is making a chocolate peacock out of marshmallow puffed rice, edible blue chocolate, cinder biscuits, and a nest. Ian decides to create an interactive well, complete with white chocolate “well water” you can gather with a bucket. WHAT. Flora makes a cocoa carousel with pecan shortbread, chocolate, and white chocolate ganache horses.
Speed is of the essence with so many elements in piece. The bakers must temper the chocolate until it’s between 30-32 degrees; the slightest error in timing, and the chocolate could end up grainy and not shiny. The bakers are all running short on time, and even though there’s only four of them left, their shared anxiety takes up a lot of space in the tent.
Onto the judging. Mary calls Tamal’s clock tower a Van Gogh: pretty from far away, but a mess up close. Despite his lack of precision with the decoration, the taste of the chocolate and his biscuits impress the judges. They only wish it were neater. Ian’s well is called creative and contemporary, despite Paul manhandling the crank and breaking it off. The judges love the flavors of his biscuit and white chocolate but wish they could have seen more skills with his chocolate work. Flora’s is “wonky” and doesn’t have a glossy shine to her chocolate. Mary calls it crumbly and bitter but still says it’s very impressive to look at. Nadiya’s peacock is what really shines here…it is a beautiful piece of chocolate art. The flavors, the detailing — all the elements are working for Nadiya.
After a tough round of judging, the semi-finalist named Star Baker is Nadiya. As for who is going home: It’s a difficult decision, since all four bakers have done so well the entire season. Sweet Flora is sent packing, which means that Ian, Nadiya, and Tamal are being sent to the finals. Stay tuned, since we’ll be recapping every moment!
Mel: “Now, today’s challenge…it’s the thing I love most in the world.”
Sue: “Guinea pigs?”
Mel: “No, chocolate.”
Sue: “Bakers, 15 minutes before your ganaches hits my ganaches.”
When Paul says that Flora’s homemade cookie cutters look like dogs. (They’re horses.)