BATTER WEEK (GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW RECAP)
Welcome to batter week, which is a new challenge for the GBBO, and something I think Sue and Mel must have campaigned for because of all the rich pun possibilities the word “batter” provides.
The signature challenge is Yorkshire puddings, twenty four identical pudds in two hours. (This week’s drinking game: every time someone says “pudd”, “in the lap of the gods”, or makes a batter pun. It won’t take you long to get your first shot in because Sue says “Mind over batter!” when describing the brief.)
A Yorkshire pudding is typically served with roast and gravy, but our bakers can fill their pudds with any savory filling they like, and can flavor their batter if they so choose--although this could be a dangerous decision.
Mary gives her point of view on what makes a good Yorkshire pudding: it needs to be well risen, curled up, and with a “lovely” dip to take a filling. Once it’s in the oven it’s in the lap of the gods. Paul tells us, prophetically, that the rise comes from the eggs alone, and while you can add things to the mix, the more things you add, the denser it gets, and that makes it harder to rise.
Everyone in the tent seems to have their own recipe for Yorkshire puddings, with differing ratios of eggs, milk, and flour. Tom uses eight eggs and adds that weight of milk and flour; Andrew uses four; Val uses five. Such maths. So eggs. Wow.
Val is from Yorkshire, so making a proper Yorkshire pudding should be a “doddle” for her. That’s a lot of pressure to put on poor Val. Val’s pudds will have spicy chili in them.
Candice is making deconstructed beef wellingtons to fill her pudds, and is adding horseradish to her batter. She just wants things to work and be on spot on this week, she says, before dropping a fork.
Andrew’s filling his tapas pudds with a chicken filling with spanish flavors, topped with toasted almonds. He’s adding mustard powder to his batter, having gotten a tip from a Yorkshire friend that her mum used to make it that way.
The bakers can make as much batter as they want, but the consistency is key--not too thick, not too thin. Jane seems to be cursed when it comes to Yorkshire puddings. Hers are always misshapen with a dip on the wrong end. She’s making a Sunday roast yorkshire with pea puree, roasted potatoes, and horseradish.
Rav’s added a lot of spice to his Yorkshire mix, and will fill it with panang curry with tofu. Paul has a huge loathing for tofu like some kind of overgrown gray haired child, so good luck with that, Rav.
Tom grew up vegetarian and ate Sunday lunch at an Indian restaurant growing up (because of course he did) so he’s filling his pudds with a sort of aloo gobi mixture. He’s also adding nigella seeds to his mix and using chickpea flour, which is a total scandal.
Many of the bakers are letting their batters rest, which is something I’ve seen done quite a bit with batter recipes (try it with your pancake batter and see if you can tell a difference! Or if you want to get really wild, try these raised waffles--a batter with yeast in it, you leave it at room temperature overnight and magic happens). While their batter is resting, they’re working hard on their fillings.
Selasi is filling his pudds with pork tenderloin and pork crackling, which excites Paul to no end. “I love crackling!” he cries with glee, to which Selasi replies, “Awesome.”
Kate’s making Christmas dinner Yorkshire puddings, with turkey, cranberry sauce and sausage stuffing.
Benjamina’s filling hers with red onion and bacon jam and brie cheese, which sounds amazing, and her batter has a few herbs and mustard in it. “I’d normally have this in a sandwich,” Benjamina says, and Mel retorts, “Batter the devil you know.” (Drink.)
“There’s a pudd in the hood and it smells good” is the forty five minute warning cry. Thanks, Sue.
Yorkshires need hot oil to rise properly, and the bakers all have different oil preferences. Andrew’s using sunflower oil while Val insists on “traditional” beef drippings. Rav heats his oil in the oven for ten minutes to get the heat going.
Most of the bakers agree that the oil needs to be very hot, practically smoking, to get the Yorkshire off to a proper start. A hot oven also gets steam going, which helps create air pockets.
For a challenge that requires uniform sizes, a lot of the bakers have a really sloppy approach to filling their muffin tins. Kate is being the most precise, with prim ladlefuls. Tom’s oil is not smoking, which Mel comments on; Tom seems unconcerned as he flings his chana batter into his muffin tin with the gleeful arrogance of a star baker.
Val, who didn’t have much money growing up, sits down to watch her Yorkshires rise, which I’m sure is a traditional family past time. “It’s in the lap of the gods now!” she says. (Drink.)
Some bakers are getting a really good rise this first go round, and others are finding themselves sorely lacking in the rise department. Selasi’s pudds are amazingly puffed, while Val’s are flat. Candice’s are flat, too, and she starts over. Jane’s are also flat. “These are not the Yorkshires you’re looking for!” she says, trying to Jedi-mind trick us into not seeing her pudds of shame.
Tom’s are the worst, while he insists that they worked at home. They might have; I also suspect his oil and oven just aren’t hot enough. Jane, Tom, and Val all start over with their puddings.
We get the thirty minute warning, and Tom’s second batch are just as bad as the first. He can’t figure out why, although if you listened to Paul you, dear viewer, know why. Seriously, Tom, the first time it didn’t work, you should have changed course. If you would have tried something different for your second go round, you might have done so much better!
“If you can finish in ten minutes it will be batter for all of us!” Mel says. (Drink). Everyone begins furiously filling their pudds.Tom is piling filling onto his sad crispy discs; Val is slinging hot chili; Jane is piping pea puree.
Sue shouts, “Five minutes left! And don’t throw them, that’s battery!”
The bake is called, and Andrew is first up for judging. Paul says, “I like the way you’ve toasted your nuts.” PAUL. Andrew’s are well baked, and they like his filling. Very well done.
Kate’s Christmas dinner Yorkshires are too small and not risen, but the flavor is good.
Jane’s look appealing, but her puddings are small. The taste is unbelievable, but for a Yorkshire pudding challenge, her actual pudds have fallen short.
Candice’s needs more seasoning in Mary’s opinion, but her puddings could have used a better rise. The batter might have been too dry. Paul says the flavor is absolutely beautiful.
Benjamina’s are dainty, with a good texture, and a good flavor. Nice big air pockets.
Selasi had a beautiful fluffy bake on his puddings, and the filling was good. A few size inconsistencies, but overall delicious enough to get a Hollywood handshake.
Paul even likes Rav’s tofu puddings. “I’ll have another one of them! All around good Yorkshire puddings.”
Tom’s are awful looking. Like Cronenberg movie awful. His Yorkshire pudding is more like a biscuit. A well baked biscuit, sure, but a biscuit when you’re asked for Yorkshire pudding will just not do.
Again Mary says that the flour was a bad call, and what did he expect, with such a heavy flour? No matter how many eggs you put in it, it’s going to make it difficult to get a good rise.
Val has a proper Yorkshire pudding, despite some differences in size. A beautiful texture, and Paul likes the filling. He says the chili and the puddings work well together.
With the pudd judging out of the way, it’s time to move on to the technical.
The brief is lacy pancakes. Specifically, twelve heart-shaped lacy pancakes. The bakers can make one test pancake, but the subsequent twelve must be presented to the judges.
Honestly, this is one of the least interesting technicals we’ve had on the GBBO. I mean, it’s making pancakes. Yes, in a lace design, and I’m sure that’s not easy, but...anyway.
Here’s the recipe, clear as mud.
“I think a good pancake is a thing of beauty.” Well, this is true. The consistency of the batter needs to be not too thick and not too thin, otherwise making the delicate design will be too difficult. Paul also wants them to put some sugar in their batter to give the finished pancake a bit of color. Rav is very confused and just puts ALL of the sugar in his batter. Good luck with that, Rav.
Honestly I’ve made pancakes from scratch a bunch of times and I don’t think I’d be able to remember how to do it under pressure. So, good on you, bakers.
Once they’ve mixed their batter they start considering the design. Several of the bakers seem to have no idea what lace looks like. Are you all not British? Your royals love lace! WTH? Candice has the laugh line of this bake with her quip, “I don’t even have any lace pants.” Which my captioning prudishly captioned as “pans” but no, closed caption person, she’s talking about underwear. Do they want lovely lace? Squiggly lace? LACE. MAKE SOME LACE FOR THE LOVE OF BATTER.
I’m surprised Andrew the engineer has so much trouble making a design. He does something that looks like graph paper which, I guess, makes sense.
Despite all the hand wringing, all the bakers manage to eke out twelve heart shaped pancakes that have at least a passing resemblance to lace.
After the judging, we find Rav’s over-sugared pancakes dead last, with Selasi and Kate rounding out the bottom three. Jane is third, Candice second, and Benjamina comes in first. It was a close call between Candice and Benjamina, but Benjamina pulled ahead with her design and flavor.
Showstopper day! The bakers are tasked with making thirty six sweet churros. They need to be identical. They can be filled or not, and the bakers are free to add a dipping sauce.
Brown crispy exterior, lovely soft interiro. If you put too many in the fryer at a time, they become oily. Mary wants them to think out the box and elevate this simple street food to an elegant showstopper.
The batter is basically a choux pastry, which involves making the batter over heat.
Andrew is making churros that will look like flowers, and he’ll serve them in a flower box with two dipping sauces. His batter is the most simple, as most of the other bakers are choosing to “jazz” up their churros.
Tom is making “Tom’s Fennel Churros Snake in the Grass” which is barely a sentence (Shouldn’t it be Tom’s Fennel Snake in the Grass Churros?). His custard sauce will have cardamom and cinnamon, and he’ll dust his churros with rosewater sugar. “Are those meant to be a sweet churros?” Paul asks, incredulously. You’d think Tom would start learning from all the times Paul and Mary say foreboding things to them.
Rav’s making churros with matcha, and a trio of dips, including white chocolate wasabi. Because we all know the judges love the taste of spicy and dirt. “It’s daring! It’s out there!” says Paul.
Candice is putting beer in her batter. (If I were her I’d just drink the leftovers because showstopper day is hella stressful). Her churros will be in a figure eight shape, and she’ll dip them into peanut butter mousse and crunchy peanuts. Her dipping sauces will be quite jam like.
Churros batter, like choux, is very thick on the heat, and needs some powerful stirring to reach the right consistency. You don’t want any hidden flour lumps! It needs to be stiff to hold its shape, as well as maintain the characteristic churro ridges.
Once you’ve conquered the batter consistency, they need to make sure their shapes are uniform.
Kate, sweet, adorable human cinnamon roll Kate is making hot cross bunny churros that look like little rabbit heads. Perfect for your next Fatal Attraction viewing party. She’ll serve them with chocolate custard. She’s making more than thirty six so she can choose the best.
Benjamina’s churros have coconut flavoring and will have a tear-drop shape, and she’ll serve them with a mango and passion fruit dipping sauce. She’s also making extra to pick and choose the best ones.
Selasi is making his lemon anise churros into the shape of cups, which will then hold a raspberry cream filling. He’ll freeze his cups before frying, and fry from frozen. His batter feels thinner than it was at home, which doesn’t bode well.
Most of the bakers are either chilling their churros or at least letting them rest a bit before frying.
Jane is making white chocolate pistachio churros with a filling.
Val is also filling her orange flavored churros with a chocolate ganache. Chocolate orange is her children’s favorite. Val, always thinking of someone else with her bakes.
Now the frying begins! If their batter isn’t the right consistency, now is the time where they’ll either burn their churros trying to get them cooked or saturate them with oil. The bakers all have different times-- six minutes, two minutes each side. Tom and Rav are piping their batter straight into the fryer, which is going to make uniformity a challenge. Selasi’s cups look super oily, as do Kate’s bunny faces.
As they fry, the bakers work on their sauces, and Val and Jane fill their churros. Val’s are doughy in the middle, which is how she likes them. With fifteen minutes left, there is a flurry of frying, dipping, counting and arranging of churros.
“Five minutes until we say churrios to this challenge!” No one looks happy as they furiously plate their deep fried showstoppers. They continue to look sad once time is called and the judging begins.
Val is first. Crisp, defined, but the inside is too soft. A little bit disappointing. Tom’s snake is imaginative, a good color, but overdone. Mary’s last words on it are, “If you’re fond of fennel, it’s fine, but it’s difficult to eat and tough.” Seladi’s churros cups are clumsy and burnt, yet raw on the inside. It was a good idea, but didn’t turn out. Not a good day! Jane’s churros have real beautiful flavor. Paul loves them, and the dip has a good consistency. Rav’s churros have strange inconsistent shapes, and are a bit fatty, and the flavor isn’t good. Mary likes the passion fruit dip. Andrew’s window box looks quite clever, but the churros are overcooked. The fat has “impregnated it.” Kate’s bunnies look a bit sad, and flat. They’re crisp, but totally oily once again. Candice’s have a lovely shape, but they haven’t held their ridges. They’re also a bit fatty. Benjamina’s churros are a pleasant color and well defined. Paul loves the shape. The inside is the right color. Paul says they’re beautiful and crispy.
Now for the final judging. Benjamina and Andrew are up for star baker this week, while on the other end Kate’s performance was very disappointing, as was Tom’s and Rav’s.
This week Mel announces star baker--it’s Benjamina! Those churros pulled her into the lead for sure.
Sue has the hard job of announcing that Kate is leaving this week. She had a rough week, and isn’t surprised she’s going.
Next time we’ll take on pastry! Until then, keep your bottoms crisp and your pants lacy.