Tricky pastry, sugar-paste rackets and a whole lot of jelly made The Great British Bake Off's Victorian week a wobbly one
So, Victorian times. Stiff upper lips. The workhouse. Sooty chimney sweeps keeping rich people's fire places roaring nicely.
To be honest, it's not an era – like, say, the jazz age – that conjures up thoughts of fun, frivolity, dancing and all things delicious.
So it seemed to us a slightly odd period to pick as a theme for the TV equivalent, comfort-wise, of a slice of lemon drizzle and a nice cup of tea. But, we digress. Here's what went on in last night's The Great British Bake Off.
It's all a game
The signature bake this week took a highly technical shade: hand-raised game pies. These are really, really hard. Why? Because of the hot water crust pastry that needs to be shaped by hand, that's why.
It all started terribly traditionally – venison-flavoured with juniper from contestant Paul, Mat had a genuine antique mould courtesy of his mate Dan's mum, Sheila. Until, that is, Tamal stormed in with his Middle Eastern-spiced version and Nadiya revealed she would be stuffing hers with a blend of five spices. These, Mary pointed out, were "not available in Victorian times".
Ian revealed that he's fond of picking up roadkill and cooking it – "Only when it's been bumped, not flattened" – and produced some pig's bones and trotters to make a super-historically accurate jelly.
On to verdict time, and the judges were all about Tamal's rose-littered and spiced number. Nadiya's game was overpowered by all the ingredients she whacked in, and Ian's guinea fowl-shaped creation wasn't ornate enough. Despite having wings, feet, and eyes made of pastry. Some people are just way too hard to impress.
Rackets at the ready
Hands up who's ever heard of tennis cake? No, us neither. But it was a classic, obscure technical challenge this week, as selected by Queen MB herself. Essentially a rectangular lump of fruit cake adorned with a sugar paste tennis court, pastel piping and an actual 3D net, it's hard to understand why, oh why, there was ever any need for such a thing. But 'need' isn't exactly the focus of Bake Off, is it? …
When is a trifle, not a trifle?
Why, when it's a Charlotte russe, of course. The showstopper was a blend of sponge fingers, bavarois cream – a sort of custard set with gelatin and whipped cream folded in for silkiness – and lavished with a jelly topping.
Flora's idea sounded sexy: champagne jelly, pomegrante seeds, a white chocolate bavarois. But Paul's dislike of the little pink seeds came to the fore. "They'll add grittiness, when the whole idea is to make something smooth," he said. Gulp.
Ian had a special tool to create uniform sponge fingers (9cms each, to be exact). Please could someone sound the smug alarm? There's a serious incident over here.
Tamal casually decorated his with macaroons, and Ian got to work topping his with a magnificent sponge finger crown – just in the nick of time. Applause from his fellow bakers ensued.
Rivers of jelly
Judging came around and, sadly, horribly, contestant Paul's jelly topping was an un-set fruity river that cascaded down the rest of his Charlotte in a sticky trail of regret. Ian's was "purely magical" said judge Paul, Nadiya's expertly defined layers were praised, and Tamal's precise tower of pudding was cooed over non-stop.
And on to the big news …
It's star baker announcement time! Tamal – oh beautiful, kind, Dr Dreamy Tamal – finally took the accolade. He was chuffed beyond measure, and immediately made a call to his mum who gave him exactly the reaction he was after by promptly screaming down the phone.
On to the sad news. Mat, cheeky chappy, fireman Mat, left us. "It was definitely the right decision," he said.
What a gent.
Farewell, Mat …
Liked this? Then try these:
- Why Tamal has got Twitter's knickers in a twist
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- Why the GBBO is the best thing to happen to TV
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