Warning: This recap for Episode 5 of The Great British Baking Show contains spoilers.
Pastry Week requires a finesse that many bakers have in short supply. More important, though, it requires solid time-management skills, and there was raw dough aplenty this week as all the contestants struggled to give their creations enough time in the oven.
The bakers are asked to make 24 breakfast pastries — what we might call Danishes — for the signature, a Bakewell tart for the technical, and 48 phyllo dough amuse-bouches. Candice thinks outside the box and sets herself apart with savory Danishes, then gets second in the technical and nails the showstopper to take her second Star Baker title. Val, despite perhaps being the most well-liked person in the tent, stumbles in the first two rounds and can’t plate the full number of pastries, so is sent home.
Return of the Digits of Doom
As we saw in Bread Week, Paul’s fingers pass harsh judgment on underbaked loaves. But here they’re just downright mean, diving into Selasi’s bowl of coconut and poking around like an errant dog. Selasi smiles, but who likes to have ingredients poached in the middle of a high-stakes competition?
Ancient Secrets of the Bake-Fu Masters
You always want to keep an eye on Andrew, as his engineering background often means an interesting mathematical solution to a common baking conundrum. Here he goes with a book turn, which, unlike the letter folds of the others, results in more layers. Val, meanwhile, instead of using a knife to cut her roll — which can result in the layers being squished — uses dental floss to get a nice clean cut. While both are innovative, only Val’s proves a success when the breakfast pastries come out of the oven.
Egregious Pun of the Week: A Serial Offender
Tom incorporates granola and Weetabix (a British cereal that’s like a giant shredded wheat) into his breakfast pastry, causing Sue to remark as they leave, “Well, as they say in the breakfast-cereal world: Cheerio.” She beats a hasty retreat as Paul and Mary contain their rage with customary British grace.
Time Is Not on Their Side
Lest you believe that this is all quite easy — after all, they’re just amateur bakers — let this picture tell you a thousand words about the precision necessary to mix, prove, fill, glaze, and bake an ordinary Danish. Three and a half hours seems like a world of time until you factor in the rising and the chilling and the actual time in the oven, all while preparing various jams and sauces and making sure your butter doesn’t burst from the pastry itself.
‘Classic and Classy’
There is a deep divide this week, as many of the younger bakers roll their eyes at the very traditional — some would say stodgy — Bakewell tart they must make for the technical. “I think the winners will be the … aged,” says Selasi, and when Jane says, “It’s classic, not old,” Benjamina gives some world-class side-eye. Val is so well used to the confection that she starts making it with the first page of the recipe missing — discovering the error only well into her bake. In the end, though, Val mismanages her time, and it’s Jane who comes out on top.
Team Save of the Week
As ever, Selasi is quick to lend a helping hand — this time to Jane, who rushes to finish her presentation of her showstopper.
Most Salacious Innuendo
Everybody knows that when time is called, you put your hands up and your utensils down, but Candice continues to work on her sausage rounds. “Candice, stop fiddling,” chides Mel, and Sue jumps in with a stern “Leave your balls alone!” Sound advice for us all.
Most British Understatement
Tom knows that his showstopper is a bit of a mess — and so does everybody else. Paul gives him a raised eyebrow and says, “It just looks a bit, in Mary’s words…” and everyone else jumps in with “informal.” If you look up “informal” in the dictionary, it says, “See: hot mess.” “It’s gone on a night out, I think,” says a mildly abashed Tom.
Most Faces Pulled
Andrew is very hit-or-miss this week, and he knows it — he forgets to turn his oven on and wastes at least 15 minutes wondering why his phyllo dough isn’t browning. His reaction to Paul telling him that his pastries are too flat, but because his flavors work he “got away with it,” is wholly appropriate. Later, while working out the proper order of fillings for the Bakewell tart, he starts with a smug “Yeah,” followed by a slightly less confident “Yeah,” and a final questioning “Yeah?” A fine sentiment for many a Monday morning.
Val is the grandmother everyone wishes they had: soft and huggable, but also spry and full of vivaciousness. Her earnest exit would sound corny from anyone else. But when she says she stirs love into it, she kneads love into it, it’s hard not to get choked up along with her.
The Great British Baking Show airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on PBS.
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