Baklava, entremets and a 20-layer schichttorte challenge, this week saw the contestants take on fiddly layers and intricate designs in patisserie week…
For those who have made it this far in the competition this is the most frightening week - the last time that anyone will be eliminated. No one wants to fall at the final hurdle and the pressure was really on for the bakers as they took on the complex challenges – this week it was all about the layers…
The signature challenge
Making baklava doesn’t sound too terrifying, until you’re told that you have to make your own filo. No one makes their own filo. No one. Queen Mary Berry herself has said ‘it takes so much effort, time and skill’ you’re better off buying it. But skill is the name of the game and our bakers were asked to demonstrate theirs by making two types of differently flavoured and shaped baklava.
Chetna was the only baker to flavour her dough, adding cocoa, an addition that Paul Hollywood always warns against as it makes it more difficult to judge when the pastry is properly cooked. She filled her chocolate pastry with a delicious mixture of chocolate and pistachio, to go alongside masala chai flavoured baklava that were, unfortunately, judged to be a little dry.
Luis demonstrated his design skills by making beautiful, flower-shaped cups from layers of filo pastry stars that he filled with rose and unusual barberries, a tart little berry common in Persian cooking. He served this with carrot baklava drenched in a saffron syrup. Sadly the judges said that the stars were dry and didn’t have the desired layers. I must admit, I was worried when Nancy said that she was filling her baklava with muesli – oats can go gluey if they sit in moisture for too long. I needn’t have been concerned, of course, because her breakfast baklava had a ‘good texture’ and her chocolate and coffee baklava were similarly praised. Richard chose traditional flavours for his signature bakes. His rose and pistachio baklava were perfectly executed and the walnut and almond version, though under baked, were well flavoured.
What would Kimberley do…
I would have flavoured my first batch with candied orange peel and almonds in a cardamom syrup, while the second lot would have featured pistachio and dried apricots with an amaretto syrup.
The technical challenge
This Technical Challenge was a pedant’s dream. A schichttorte is a version of the German ‘Tree Cake’. This treat is popular in German Christmas Markets where they are served cut into cubes and drenched in chocolate sauce, eaten from a paper cone. In the challenge the bakers were tasked with creating 20 alternating light and dark layers of this grilled cake, before covering it in chocolate glaze. They needed to be focused, organised and meticulous, bordering on obsessive, to get this right. To achieve even layers they had to weigh out the batter, divide it by the requisite layers and allow a little for the small amount inevitably left in the bowl and on the spoon. If that wasn’t enough they then had to make sure that the cake and glaze were at the right temperatures to properly coat the cake and not run off. Oh, and not burn any of the layers.
Chetna failed to achieve even layers in her cake, which Mary put down to problems with the batter. She also managed only 18 layers. The outrage! At the other end of the scale Luis’ schichttorte was ‘pretty faultless’ and he came top of the challenge.
The showstopper *spoiler alert*
Entremets are intricate desserts designed to really show off a pastry chef’s skill. Elaborate and complex, they are real test of the baker’s time-management skills. Going into this stage Richard and Luis were in a strong position, having both done well in the signature and technical challenges, and both were highly praised for their entremets. Richard’s hazelnut, chocolate and coffee cakes were ‘delicious’, and though his almond and grapefruit cakes lacked flavour, his joconde sponge looked very professional. Luis’ pomegranate and pistachio, and chocolate and cherry entremets were described as ‘sensational and elegant’. Nancy and Chetna had some work to do.
Nancy’s bid for place in the final looked shaky when the appearance of her lime and passionfruit cakes was criticised. However, the judges were very impressed with the square of verbena jelly running through the centre of her almond and chocolate desserts.
The flavour was felt to be lacking in Chetna’s chocolate, orange and hazelnut cakes and her cappuccino cake ‘could have been neater. It was clear at this point that she would be the baker we’d be saying goodbye to.
What would Kimberley do…
I would have tried a ‘textures of chocolate’ dessert for one of my entremets: a dark chocolate disc, chocolate sponge, white chocolate and tonka bean mousse, feuilletine, in a chocolate glaze, topped with a dentelle shard. And something fruity for the second one, as a contrast. Perhaps a cylinder of pastry or biscuit filled with a fresh strawberry mousse, topped with a layer of lime jelly. It would probably have made me cry.
Kimberley’s star bakers…
For sheer ingenuity and style I though Luis was deserving of star baker this week. His baklava cups were intricate, beautiful and original and his entremets apparently without fault. On the night, though, Richard received his fifth star baker accolade and goes into the final seemingly invincible. But Paul and Mary insist that they base the final decision on the results on the day so it is all still to play for. Good luck all!