Pastry Week of Bake Off is always my favourite because I love making pastry and I always get inspired by their bakes. Despite some foul smelling spices and a few soggy bottoms, it was Mat’s turn to be Star Baker and the tent said goodbye to Alvin.
The Signature Challenge was a Frangipane Tart, a relatively simple sounding challenge but as the bakers found, timing and soggy bottoms were the enemies. Alvin fell behind after his pastry stuck to the bench and left him with raw plums and soggy bottoms, not a good combination! Nadiya got the first soggy bottom of the series but amongst these soggy bottoms, Ian and Paul managed to make attractive frangipane tarts with Pear and Raspberry and Christmas flavours respectively. Flora was also criticised for doing more than was required of her, adding Amaretti biscuits around her tart.
The Technical Challenge was to make 12 Flaounes, a Cypriot cheese-filled pastry which featured mastic and mahlepi, two unknown spices to the bakers, as well as a yeasted pastry. I would love to attempt these at home but the addition of the mastic and mahlepi has put me off. Although for Flora and Nadiya, it was the smell that put them off and we got another Nadiya face. Yay! Despite joking that he’d made them before, Mat managed to grab first on this Technical with Flora taking second. Tamal unfortunately struggled with the shaping of the flaouna and came last for the first time.
The Showstopper tested the bakers on their puff pastry skills with 48 vol-au-vents. I have to say I don’t make it often but I really love making puff pastry because seeing the layers rising up is incredibly rewarding. Flora challenged herself to make 2 different puff pastries, one for her savoury Asparagus and Parma Ham Vol-au-Vents, and a chocolate puff pastry for her Praline and Chocolate Vol-au-Vents. The flakes on her pastry are absolutely heavenly and I can imagine that Flora is proud!
Nadiya was unhappy with her first batch of pastry as the butter was still in large chunks so ran out of time as she made a second batch and was forced to serve her pastry separate to her filling and despite how delicious the fillings were, she couldn’t hold back the tears.
Unfortunately Alvin’s vol-au-vents were raw and left the judges with almost no choice to send him home, after raw plums and a soggy bottom in the Signature and a 6th place in the Flaounes Technical. Twitter went crazy over Alvin’s elimination and he will be sorely missed.
But Mat was the 4th individual baker to claim Star Baker and having marked him as a favourite early on, it’s encouraging to see that finally a baker that I like is doing well.
We had the 1970s inspired Showstopper and next week we’re going even further back in time, all the way back to the Victorian era as the bakers tackle a Signature Game Pie, a Technical Fruit Cake decorated like a tennis court and Showstopping Charlotte Russe. I know I said it before but I’m not baking along with next week!
And with just 6 bakers left in the competition, it’s time to cast your vote for your favourite: