The remaining seven bakers feared for their lives this week as the wrath of the soggy bottom returned to Bake Off. This week the contestants were tested on their knowledge of pastry; Frangipane, Flaouna and Vol Au Vents to be precise, but which bakers’ puff pastry rose to the challenge and who’s hit the pan?
First up was the signature Frangipane and immediately the bakers were faced with some crucial decisions – to blind bake or to not blind bake? Flora, Alvin, Mat and Tamal blind baked whilst the rest of the bakers chose against it. Now half way through the culinary competition, it seems to of had sparked a slight epiphany for some bakers. Ian realised he was in a spot of bother last week so needed to hatch a plan and hatch it fast, luckily his guinea fowl had his back as it started laying eggs just in time to create his pear and raspberry frangipane which impressed the judges. Nice one guinea fowl. Meanwhile after Mat’s basic arctic roll-gate last week he knew he needed to up his game, “I’m making a Pina Colada frangipane” he says while swilling a jarful of rum under Mary Berry’s nose, if that’s not bribery then I don’t know what is. However he didn’t swill enough as Mary labelled his tart as “bland”. Trailing behind was Alvin who over-baked his blind bake, his frangipane was still raw, the base was too thick and had a soggy bottom and Paul told him, “your plums aren’t cooked either.” Apart from that, it was a good round for him.
You know you’re in trouble when even Mary Berry has never heard of this week’s technical challenge. A Cypriot Flaouna. A cheesy pastry eaten to celebrate the end of Lent and yet again the cryptic instructions led to more nail biting decisions, to knead the yeasty dough, or not? Sesame seeds on the inside or outside? How far to fold the pastry into the middle? How long to bake it? Nobody had a clue. “It’s all in the hands of the oven” said Alvin, hoping the oven would cradle him in its arms. And the result? “That… tastes like a flaouna” was just about the highest praise the bakers received from Paul Hollywood. Overall it was an deflating round filled with a lot of Flaouna look-a-likes and many unimpressed comments from Paul, well what were you expecting when the majority of the British nations’ pastry knowledge stretches just about as far as Greggs?
In the previous round Alvin came sixth out of seven. So ‘what needs to happen for Alvin to be saved?’ asked Mel Giedroyc before the Showstopper Challenge. ‘A miracle,’ declared Mary. Oh… In the final round the bakers had to make 24 perfectly laminated, exquisitely filled, 70’s throwback Vol Au Vents. Tamal based his creation upon a pork with fennel and rosemary sandwich he had a few years ago, describing it as “one of the top two sandwiches I had in my life. I think about that sandwich quite a lot.” How sweet Tamal. Nadiya had two attempts at making her puff pastry resulting into the second batch failing to bake on time so she had to slop her filling in a bowl and let the judges construct their own Vol Au Vont, but it was her deliciously flavoured filling that saved her. Mat’s smoked trout and horseradish, and full English breakfast pastries stole the show as Paul described them as “amazing” and “beautiful”, are you going soft on us Mr Hollywood?
Due to his successful showstopper and coming first in the technical, Mat won Star Baker for his first time, but what about Alvin I hear you say? Did that miracle happen? Miracles never happen, see you later Alvin.
It may not be as challenging as a Flaouna, but why not try our Spinach and Feta Parcels recipe?
Prep time: 15 mins
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 bunches English spinach, ends trimmed, washed, shredded
150g feta, crumbled
2 sheets (25 x 25cm) frozen puff pastry
- Preheat oven to 210°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the spinach, tossing until wilted. Set aside to cool slightly. Squeeze out excess moisture amd chop finely.
- Lightly whisk 1 egg in a bowl. Stir in the spinach and feta. Season with pepper.
- Whisk the second egg in a small bowl. Divide the filling among the pastry squares. Brush the edges with egg. Fold in half diagonally to enclose the filling. Pinch the edges to seal. Place the parcels on the prepared tray. Brush with egg. Bake for 20 mins until puffed and golden.
You can sho our Bake Off edit here