It was the return of the classic pastry week last night in the Bake Off tent. Pastry has felled many a competent baker; who would rise to meet the challenge, and who would be left with a soggy bottom? Let’s find out!
Signature challenge: Savoury tarte tatin
For the first pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a tarte tatin. It could have any combination of flavours, however with a classic Bake Off twist it needed to be savoury, and it needed to use full or rough puff pastry. This needed to have good lamination, and be perfectly baked.
Paul’s top tip: What they’ve got to do is to create a savoury filling. They can use cheese, they can use onions, they can use mushrooms, they can use whatever they wish. But if they add too much liquid to the tarte tatin, it will soak down and really give it a soggy bottom.
All of the bakers opted to use rough puff pastry for their bakes. There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations from the bakers for this challenge, with everyone eager to earn their place in the semi-final next week.
Prue’s top tip: A classic tarte tatin is made with apples or pears. You put the pastry on the top of the frying pan and then you turn the whole thing out. The key to a perfect tarte tatin – savoury or sweet – is the caramelisation. You need that pie to look golden and delicious.
At the end of the first challenge, Henry and David had done really well. Poor Rosie and Alice fell victims to the infamous soggy bottom – something that bakers always strive to avoid – and Steph was somewhere in between with a good combination of flavours but too thin pastry.
Technical challenge: Moroccan-style pie
Paul had picked another tricky technical for the bakers this week. The judges asked for the bakers to make a Moroccan pie using warka or brick pastry. Cue confused looks from most of the bakers – apart from David, who had heard of this one before. Perhaps this would be his chance to seize that elusive first place in the technical challenge!
Paul’s top tip: It’s a bit like making filo mince pies. You put layer on layer on layer, and build it up, then put your filling in it and fold the layers over the top. But it’s made with warka pastry, or brick pastry, and this is the difficult part.
Most of the bakers were flummoxed by their most recent challenge – apart from David, who seemed confident that he could master the unusual pastry. Steph became upset when her pastry evaporated off the hot plate, but she managed to tame it in order to present her pie. Poor Henry and Rosie both fell victim to their pies falling apart once cooked.
Paul’s top tip: Warka pastry is quite a loose batter; it’s basically made on a hot plate. You have to put it on the brush; if it’s too thin, as they’re brushing it on it will just disintegrate. If it’s too thick, it’ll act like a pancake and go splodge, and they’re not going to be able to push it around.
Surprisingly Henry came in last, followed by Steph. Alice came third, and somehow Rosie managed to secure second place for herself despite the fact her pie completely fell apart. Who knows? Maybe she sacrificed it to the pastry Gods. David came out on top – finally managing to secure that first place that has evaded him so far in the competition! As David said himself: “Finally got first place. It only took 8 tries.”
Showstopper challenge: Vertical pie
After the first two challenges, it was all to play for in the show stopper. It was impossible to predict who was in trouble! For the final pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a vertical pie. The judges wanted to see a large pie base with decoratively shaped pastry, arranged vertically supporting at least two further pies. Their fillings could be either savoury or sweet.
Paul’s top tip: What we mean by a vertical pie is we want a minimum of three pies stacked on top of each other. Whether it’s short crust or hot water crust, the choice of pastry is critical. The flavours have got to be there as well. Too much liquid in their filling can seep down. We want to be able to put the knife through and cut a wedge out and let it all hold its shape.
There were some ambitious bakes in the pastry pipeline! David sparked debate with his lidless pies, and earned a dubious look from Paul. All of the bakers went for some wonderful designs, varying between sweet and savoury flavour combinations. Rosie started stressing when her pies struggled to stack, declaring that she was the most likely to be sent home.
Prue’s top tip: The pastry needs to be thin enough to be delicious, and firm enough to hold the whole thing together.
Paul and Prue were very underwhelmed with the final challenge, as every single pie turned out to be really dry. Steph rose above them all once again to be crowned star baker, and unfortunately it was time for Henry to leave the Bake Off tent. It was tough to call after looking at all the bakes, however the judges felt that Henry was lagging behind the others in terms of skill.
It’s the semi-final next week, so the bakers will have to pull out all the stops to be in with a chance of getting into the coveted final. We can’t wait to see all the delicious bakes they’ll come up with! Did the right person leave the tent this week? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Let us know on our Facebook page!