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Great British Bake Off: choux challenges

17 September 2014
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After surviving last Wednesday's double elimination, Kate and Richard set foot in the tent, once again, to battle to stay in the Great British Bake Off competition.

This week, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry asked the contestants to bake twelve savoury pastry parcels in one and three quarter hours, for their signature bake.

nancy duck
Nancy created spicy duck pasties

With the option of using shortcrust or puff pastry, Paul insisted that time was of the essence. 

"No excuses, it must be done in time," demanded the male judge, while Mary asked said that "the seasoning, timing and bake must be right." Both Chetna and Kate chose use Indian flavours, ranging from crispy lentil kachoris to samosa-inspired spinach parcels, respectively.

Other pastry parcels included Luis' childhood beef and chorizo, deep fried empanadas, to Nancy's spicy duck pastries, to Martha's mini beef Wellingtons.

The sealing of the pastries was essential in order to avoid leaks, a skill which Richard overcame by crimping the edges of his lamb and mint pasties.


In judging, Nancy's lack of filling and underbaked pasty failed to impress the judges, as did Kate’s pale samosa and Luis’ dry empanada.However, Richard and Martha were congratulated for their good bakes while Chetna’s flawless pastries had "great colours and perfectly flaky pastries," according to Mary. "The volume of spices is staggering... that’s lovely," said Paul, praising Chetna’s range of flavours. For their technical challenge, the culinarians were asked to create Paul’s recipe of twelve traditional Kouign-amann pastries in three and a half hours.

The traditional Breton cake is a buttery, crispy and flaky bake consisting of butter, sugar, salt and yeast.


 Paul compared the bake to have the texture of puff pastry but with more structure. He also highlighted that a minimum of three turns was essential before adding the sugar as adding it too soon would make it dissolve. Timing was another factor that challenged the hopefuls as Kouign-amanns must be well risen but also rested correctly.

However, the most challenging part of the bake was the fact that, not only did nobody in the tent know what the cake looked like but neither did they know what it was. As always, the bakers struggled with the sparse recipe, especially with the lack of timing for the prove, forcing the contestants to read through the instructions several times.

martha recipe

With limited time, many of the bakers took out their doughs early and began folding the butter into the mixture while Chetna seemed confused with her fellow bakers' haste and decided to leave her dough to prove for longer. In the recipe, Paul instructed that the contestants add sugar between one of the layers but didn’t state which of the layers to add the sugar to, or whether to add them to all three. While many of the bakers added sugar to all three of their doughs, Richard and Martha correctly sprinkled the sugar in the final layer of the bake.


Richard and Nancy's bakes impressed Paul and Mary, with Paul even comparing them to closely resembling his own cake, while Chetna and Martha seemed to have struggled with their timings.

In the end, Nancy was given second place before Richard was crowned winner of the technical challenge. For their final bake, the remaining hopefuls were asked to create twenty-four different, two-flavoured eclairs, using choux pastry, in four hours.

"If they can’t produce a good éclair in that time, they shouldn't be in the tent," said Paul. Kate, Chetna and Luis opted to flavour their pastries while the other bakers remained faithful to the classic plain choux flavour.


Eclairs ranged from Chetna's chocolate and mango, lemon meringue bakes, to Kate's Neopolitan and chocolate lemon meringues filled with lemon curd mousse.

Meanwhile, Nancy decided to make savoury and sweet pastries, while Martha opted to create a rhubarb and custard bake and a maple syrup and bacon éclair.

Luis, Nancy and Richard decided to make fruit jams to cut through the flavours of the their fillings, with last week's bottom two contestant, Richard, surprised by choosing to make lavender and blueberry and rose and raspberry eclairs. When Paul and Mary came to judge the bakes, Nancy was congratulated on her light, delicate and crispy eclairs but Paul noted that she needed more seasoning.

Other inspiring bakes included Richard’s uniform 'stair eclairs' and Luis' colourful shiny pastries.

rich sta

"You've really cracked i," Mary praised Luis before tasting Chetna’s indulgent meringue choux pastries. "Very well thought out and well-executed," said Paul after seeing that Chetna had accidently created an extra pastry than was needed.

While many of the bakers wowed in the show-stopper, Martha's lack of design and Kate’s messy chocolate eclairs failed to impress Paul and Mary.


Ultimately, Richard rose from the bottom last week to being crowned Star Baker this week, while Kate was sadly bid farewell.

As the competition heats up, the contestants face the quarter finals next week and will have to create a fruity signature bake and show-stopping doughnuts.

Tune in next Wednesday at 8pm on BBC One.

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