The Great British Bake Off 8:06 Pastry Week

Rich and well coloured. No, not Paul Hollywood, it was Pastry Week. The Signature Challenge was simple enough; four savoury pies focusing on the intricate pastry work. Careful with the moist fillings though.

As usual, Yan showcased her nerdy qualities with her ‘Geek Chicken Pies’ which were dedicated to British scientists. Decorated with binary code and helix's, she even included a scientific equation for the ratio between filling and pie then employed a vacuum sealer. Despite all that precision they looked unevenly baked and the filling was dry. Steven opted for not one but TWO shortcrust pastries for his ‘Fleetwood Mac’ inspired pies including lingonberry jam and mash which strangely impressed Paul. Kate created ‘Vegetarian Pie Faces’ that obviously included her fellow Scouser, John Lennon. The faces were indistinguishable, the filling uninspiring and featured dreaded soggy bottoms; boring.

Julia’s week did not start well as even her theme of ‘Pies from the Tree’ was debated (grapes grow on vines). She hopefully put her sausage meat and stuffing filling in raw and hoped it cooked. Thankfully it did but was overpowered by the smoked paprika, Prue disagreed with the addition of baking powder into the pastry and it was all a bit disappointing. Another risk-taker was Sophie as she blind baked her ‘The Four Seasons’ pies then filled them with blue cheese, spinach and roasted squash which worked for a crisp finish and a balanced flavour.

If you hear the term ‘very Northern’ being uttered by Paul it can only be a good thing. Stacey’s ‘Love Theme’ pies were a little vague but the red pastry was a nice, bright touch. The mince was quite gluey but not too wet, spot on for Paul. Liam continues to impress and his ‘Standard FC’ pies filled with chorizo, feta and sweet potato, came across rather like a colourful, hipster Meat ‘n’ Tato pie. Paul even overcame his distaste for Liam’s choice of football team to label it ‘a bit of a triumph’. High praise indeed.

The technical challenge saw the return of rough, puff pastry, this time paired with custard for 12 Portuguese Tarts. They surely would have practiced this, right? Alas this was Kate’s first go and Julia looked a bit lost throughout while Liam and Stacey managed to roll their pastry the wrong way. Kate’s were burnt on top which led to some well executed side eye aimed at Paul. Steven’s custard was solid yet Yan’s was perfect which got her top spot and Julia’s were too tough leaving her last.

The Showstopper was a hot water crust on a family sized hand raised savoury pie topped with glazed fruit. These had better look good and most of them did. Game Pie is usually a popular option and Sophie went for minced pork belly, venison, rabbit, guinea fowl and mushrooms topped with glazed forest fruits. The game meant she had to lovingly syringe out some of the juices to keep it moist but prevent leakage, delightful. The pastry was deemed too thick but the filling worked well.

Christmas came early for Steven with turkey, pancetta, Brussel sprouts and chestnuts topped with glittery cranberries. Neat, well coloured yet ended up surprisingly bland. Stacey went spicy with her Indian Hand Raised Pie with Mango filled with paneer and red lentils. After it eventually emerged from the mould she remembered some baking parchment was still hidden in the bottom. Kudos for admitting that but it looked comically lopsided meaning that the mango cubes kept falling off. Not great.

Both Liam and Katie lobbed some turmeric into their pastry for a healthy yellow glow with the latter going for a potato curry filling with a mango and chilli glaze. Though it sounded rudimentary, there was a consideration of the mango complimenting the curry which Paul clearly enjoyed. Liam also married his spicy pastry with curry for his ‘Nan’s Sunday Dinner’ Pie, namely curried goat and fried plantain topped with a mango and avocado salsa. Liam himself had gone off piste with his pastry method, debating to shape his using the inside of a mould rather than the outside as did Yan for her Chequerboard Pie filled with chorizo and chicken, black pudding and spiced sausage meat. As if to confirm her pie redemption and crown his week, Prue called both of their efforts ‘wonderful’. With his expert use of flavours on full show, Liam was crowned Star Baker.

Julia also joined the Inside Mould Pastry Rebels and eventually concentrated on her filling, specifically a blue cheese sauce which would hold the outlandish flavour combinations of asparagus and pear salsa then shredded chicken topped with honey glazed pears for her dubiously titled, ‘Special Occasion’ Pie. With the pressure on, would the risk pay off? When it came to unwrap the dough it took her by surprise you could simply unlock the mould, she had had one of those weeks. The chicken was dry, the asparagus was overcooked and the pastry was undercooked. All a bit thoughtless which meant Julia’s time was up.

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