The Great British Bake Off: 7.09 Pattiserie Week

Has anyone really impressed so far? Has anyone wowed with some sugarwork? Has anyone made a face out of bread? As the show reaches Patisserie Week at the semi-final stage it was all up for grabs for the four remaining candidates.

The signature challenge was 24 deftly made, strongly flavoured full puff pastry Palmiers. One sound would define this round; that of the layered crisp crunch. Despite having to redo his pastry and Mary questioning his use of dry breadcrumbs, as soon as the judges bit into Andrew's efforts the noise was music to his ears. Paul loved his ‘Cheesy Goats Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Palmiers’ and his ‘Herby Treble Clefs’ started a musical theme that would serve him well.

Candice was arguably the front runner having been crowned Star Baker three times and she did not disappoint. Possibly distracted by a lipstick diary, her ‘Red Onion, Cambozola and Walnut’ efforts lost definition from too much filling (to the extent that Paul would not even CLASS them as a Palmier) but her combination of streaky bacon and mushrooms delighted Mary. The disaster of a soggy bottom would haunt Jane as both her ‘Pesto with Sun Dried Tomato’ and ‘Goats Cheese with Olive Tapenade and Parma Ham’ efforts were simply too oily. Thankfully for her, Selasi did even worse. “The key to get your puff right is chilling”, something he knows too well and you get the impression that he’s so laid back he’s horizontal. Salmon was always a risky filling and turned out under-baked while his 'Sun Dried Tomato, Onion, Peppers and Parmesan' were very raw. Not just raw, VERY raw.

Savarin? No? It is this high end, yeasted cake soaked moist with an orange liqueur. This week the questions were; how long to leave the yeast to rise? How thick should the liqueur be? What shapes should the fruit be cut into? In truth, no-one truly impressed. Over-baking left Selasi in fourth and Candice in third while Andrew’s was under-proofed. Even Jane struggled with her caramel and still triumphed which goes to show how the standard has dropped.

For a showstopper, 36 Fondant Fancies was a punishing finale. Every element and technique had to be nailed. The Genoise sponge had to be firm, the buttercream layer had to be subtly applied and the fondant icing delicately level. The judges were looking for perfection and very nearly got it from Candice. Yet again it looked like she had left herself too much to do but managed to pull off another neat batch. Her ‘Chocolate Praline Fancies’ had great definition and texture while her ‘Cherry Bakewells’ contained a cheeky soaked cherry surprise which Mary was impressed had not bled. Andrew was not far behind as he finished his musical theme with stunning presentation for his Irish Cream Liquor ‘Philharmonic Fondants’. Mary found them too buttery yet the definition was there. Apart from the bow ties he kept it simple for the ‘Victoria Sponge Fancies’ and Paul summed them up as “Good jam, good sponge, good flavour”. In fact, it was good enough for him to be awarded Star Baker, even if he did look visibly shocked.

One remaining spot, two contestants and the nerves got to both. For once, Jane made a few stressed mistakes including using a deep baking tin and failing to coat the sides in buttercream leaving clumpy, clumsy crumbs. At least the layers were neat for her ‘Pistachio Sponge with Raspberry Curd Fancies’ and the tang of her ‘Lemon Curd Surprises’ worked well. Perhaps proving how far the standard has dropped, Selasi had to redo his sponge as Mary pointed out he had failed to sieve the flour. This is the semi-final and a contestant has failed to sieve their flour, let that sink in. After that he was simply too pressed for time. His ‘Lime and Ginger Fancies’ had a beautiful tang but the icing was uneven and, despite the booze, Mary was not madly excited by his ‘Pink Velvet and Raspberry Prosecco Fancies’. With that he was gone, onto the final then.