It's week eight on The Great British Bake Off and with the semi-final a mere two weeks away, Mary and Paul have set the most technically gruelling challenge yet. Hold on to your piping bags, it's pâtissière time
We've watched a preview of tonight's The Great British Bake Off episode and viewers, before you sit down at 8pm this evening, here's a tip: plan a sweet snack. You're going to need it.
This week, Paul and Mary will focus on the art of making pâtissière, which means difficult, stress-inducing recipes for bakes with names that even the most seasoned dessert-lovers at team Homemade struggle to pronounce.
Add enough fresh cream and choux pastry to induce a sugar coma, and you've got an idea of how week eight in the GBBO tent will shape up this evening.
The show starts with bakers being assigned a signature challenge to rival all of Mel and Sue's backlog of baking innuendos: cream horns. Cream. Horns. Lord help us. The traditional Russian dish consists of flaky or puff pastry rolled into a small cone and filled with whipped cream. Contestants must make 24 uniform horns with their own flavours, but will Paul and Mary like their twists on the classic?
Next up, it's time for the dreaded technical challenge. This week contestants will bake mokatines – intricate squares of light genoise sponge filled with coffee buttercream – with very limited instructions. But this is no ordinary cake and the fiddly assembling of each layer proves difficult to make with shaky hands working against the clock.
Then, it's time for the showstopper, and this week it's a tall order. Three tiers tall, to be exact. Bakers must make a towering religieuse à l'ancienne, which is essentially a wedding cake made from chocolate éclairs. Sounds divine, right? Contestants have to make enough choux pastry to create the tower, filling each eclair with fresh crème pâtissière, then use buttercream and icing to build each layer. Sloppy chouxs are not an option and each bake must look absolutely perfect.
Considering the indulgence of tonight's show, it's clear that the classic mid-week dessert of HobNobs dunked in tea simply won't suffice. Instead, have a go at making these delicious chocolate éclairs.
Yes, you have to make the choux pastry from scratch – you'll be surprised at how easy it actually is – but once that's done all you have to do is bake them before filling with fresh cream and drizzling over some melted chocolate. The only tricky bit, really, is waiting for your bake to cool before digging in.