Last week it was crunch time with biscuits, with the judges going cuckoo over Sian’s showstopper, which earned her the Star Baker title. But for Mariana, it was time to bid farewell to the Bake Off Shed.
This week, our 10 remaining bakers will put their best feet forward for choux pastry, baking éclairs for Signature, a technically demanding Paris Brest and a beautiful Gateau St Honore Showtopper. Unlike other pastry, choux is cooked in a pan first before being placed in the oven. Once in the oven, the initial boost of heat evaporates the moisture in the mix, and voila, the steam, along with the eggs, helps create the perfect puff pastry.
For the Signature challenge the bakers must bake 12 individual sweet éclairs. They must be iced, filled and made of choux – and of course, must be éclair shape, all in two hours. Ready, set, bake!
Janice is setting the bar high, filling her éclairs with whipped cream with homemade blueberry jam, topped with a lavender icing. Angela is also thinking creatively, baking coffee-filled éclairs, using coffee syrup. She will then ice her éclairs with dark chocolate, a coffee bean and crystallized edible violet flowers. James, meanwhile, has decided to use passionfruit. His éclairs will be filled with passionfruit juice and cream, and the outside coated in white chocolate. The two hours flies past and judges Maggie and Matt critique the éclairs.
Next up is the technical challenge, a timed bake of a recipe they’ve never seen before that will test their skills. Matt hands down the challenge of his Paris Brest recipe, a French dessert of choux pastry and crème patissiere. The dessert was originally devised to celebrate a French bicycle race so the choux is piped in a wheel shape. The bakers will have two hours to bake the choux, with Maggie and Matt blind tasting and judging the finished desserts. The judges are looking for a perfectly round Paris Brest, with a crunch and a smooth almond cream with a big hit of nutty caramel flavor. It is a highly technical recipe and the bakers have their work cut out for them. Who will have a kitchen nightmare and who will wear the yellow jersey? The judges blind taste the cakes in front of the bakers and then rank them 10-1.
There’s just one challenge left in choux week – the Showstopper. For this four-hour challenge, Maggie and Matt would like the bakers to create a stunning Gateau St Honore centerpiece, sticking as closely as possible to the original recipe but flavour and decoration can be as creative as they want. The cake begins with a puff pastry base then choux is piped at the edges, with the centre is piled high with cream, topped with profiteroles and decorated with sugar work.
Always the rebel, Meg is doing a unique take on the recipe, calling it a Gateau St Znoud, a cross between the Honore and Lebanese dessert. Her profiteroles will be filled with a cream made from bread, and rose water will flavour the piped cream and sugar work. Also stomping on the toes of tradition is Brendan. He will use raspberry, chocolate and vanilla crème chiboust (Italian meringue), with his profiteroles filled with chocolate then dipped in a dark caramel. Controversially, he’s doing a sable – a rich, short crust pastry made with ground nuts – instead of puff pastry. And Sian is using the iconic Opera Cake as inspiration, baking three layers of chocolate puff pastry layered with stripes of coffee and almond crème patisserie before topping with profiteroles.
It’s time for the Maggie and Matt to taste the 10 Showstoppers, deciding who will be this week’s Star Baker and who will be leaving the Bake Off Shed.