TUDOR WEEK (GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF RECAP)
My dear baking babies and fellow Anglophiles, sorry for the delay. It’s been hard to get my butter together and write these recaps. Let’s travel back in time together--both to Tudor time for the baking challenges, and back several weeks to when this episode originally aired--and see which of our five remaining bakers will make it through to the semi-finals.
It’s TUDOR week! Not TUBA week! Silly Sue.
Sue Plays Tuba is the name of my new polka band.
We’re down to five bakers--Benjamina, Selasi, Andrew, Jane, and Candice. I feel that Andrew is pulling ahead, and has quite a good chance of taking the prize. However, Jane’s been consistently good, and Candice often impresses with her risk taking. It’s still anyone’s bake-off.
Their quarter-final signature challenge is a display of individual, shaped, savory pies. Andrew can’t quite recall whether or not he’s studied the Tudors in school, while Selasi has been researching the period and has quite an impressive array of dates handy.
Paul is dreaming of tables laden with hot water crust game pies, and wants his bakers to aim to impress him the way Henry the Eighth’s chefs did. But Paul doesn’t have an ego problem, no. Mary is dreaming of top notch pies with tasty filling, thin pastry that doesn’t let filling leak out, and that hold their shape when cut into.
Jane is creating sixteen pies filled with chicken breast and sausage that will create a Tudor rose design. Mel makes a stunning “Jane Seymour” pun.
Andrew, like other engineering bakers before him, has constructed another elaborate display for his bakes, involving Da Vinci inspired gears, creating moving, interlocking pies. Paul’s not quite sure he’s on board for Andrew’s ambitious display, though.
Benjamina is struggling with overly wet pastry while everyone else wraps theirs up to rest.
Candice is making meat pies with ox cheek and oyster, as well as macaroni and cheese pies, which sounds like every drunk’s dream. Two pies, two fillings, two different pastries, about eighteen to twenty two pies total. Candice just can’t make it easy, ever.
Selasi is staying true to all the research he’s done and making game pies with guinea fowl, vension, and pigeon (did he get them from the verdant fields surrounding the tent, perhaps?). He’ll be shaping his pies into a bouquet of flowers.
Benjamina’s pies will be Mexican inspired, and arranged in a sun design. She decides her dough is simply too wet, and starts all over with her dough.
While she’s doing that, the other bakers start filling their molds. Pastry first--not too thick, Andrew, I don’t care if you like thick pastry, it’s not about YOU--then their fillings. They want to fill every nook and cranny of the pastry, without any gaps. (Isn’t that all anyone wants out of life?) Mary and Paul want a firm filling that holds when it is cut. FIRM.
The bakers put their pies in the oven. What they’re trying to avoid now is LEAKAGE and burning their pastry or undercooking their filling.
Sue makes idle conversation with Selasi at his bench with sprigs of herbs up her nose, and when Selasi finally notices it is the cutest most pure thing that’s ever happened in this world.
THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART. The bakers are all pretty much fretting that their pies won’t be baked in time.
If you’ve ever had to remove anything from a mold, you know the terror that the bakers are facing when it comes to unmolding their pies. Andrew sounds a little bit like Julia Child when he says “It’s a little bit sticky!” while unmolding one of his pies.
We have a mess of leaking, broken, unbaked pies, and even Selasi seems nervous, while Andrew calmly places his gear pies on his elaborate display. Paul, the pie pervert, passes by and gives Jane’s pies a pinch. How impertinent!
Finally, time is called and we’re all put out of our misery. Onto the judging.
Jane faces the judges first. Lack of leakage, good filling that tastes delicious, a resounding “delicious!” from Mary. Benjamina’s look rushed, but the filling has held together. The flavor is “stunning” but poor, clumsy pastry. Candice’s macaroni and cheese pies have a good flavor, but the pastry isn’t crisp enough and the textures are too similar. Her meat pies are oozing, but it tastes amazing; Mary particularly likes the oyster in the meat pies. Overall, not bad for Candice.
Selasi has excellent filling, and his pastry is overall well done. Andrew and his gears are impressive, and the bake looks right from the outside. The pastry is crisp and the filling tastes good.
Andrew mentions the curse of the star baker, so good on Sue for making that happen.
The technical challenge is to make twelve “jumbles” which are essentially weird ass cookies in twined shapes. Paul’s shitty advice is to “Follow the pattern carefully.” Thanks, Paul.
The jumbles Candice knows are different than these. WHAT JUMBLES DO YOU KNOW CANDICE?
There’s a ball and a knot, and your balls are denser than your knots so maybe don’t bake them together. The sugar goes on before baking.
The instructions say, “Make ye biscuit dough.”
Andrew’s really excited about the mortar and pestle.
There’s some spice bashing, some mixing, some kneading, some dough fractions, some weighing. MAKE SURE THE BALLS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME WEIGHT. That’s what Paul probably said.
There’s a lot of rolling, measuring, folding and dough wrangling. My head hurts just watching them try to knot these balls. Mel wanders about, making up completely fake yet supremely plausible stories for the symbolism of the jumble shapes.
It looks like Vonnegut’s drawing of a cat’s asshole. Right?
“I hate technicals,” says Selasi, which is the most perturbed I think we’ve ever seen him. Everyone hates these jumbles. These jumbles are the worst.
Everyone ends up doing fairly well on the technical, or at least equally bad, I guess, despite the trouble everyone seemed to be having. No one did super great on the shaping, though, Although Candice had “nice ball shapes.” We end up with Jane, Benjamina, Selasi, Andrew, and Candice takes first place. It’s the first time Jane’s ever been last in the technical.
The Tudor showstopper is going to be a 3D, completely edible, marzipan centerpiece. They have 3.5 hours. “What we’re asking the bakers to do is really go to town on marzipan.” Yes, Paul. Yes you are.
There’s an older type of marzipan that is baked and more brittle; modern marzipan is softer and more pliable. The bakers are free to use either or both types of marzipan.
The bakers hustle to get their cakes in the oven, so they can have as much time as possible to decorate with their marzipan of choice.
Benjamina is going to create a maze out of marzipan for her showstopper. It won’t be a complicated maze, of course. I mean, what the hell do the judges expect from a cake maze? David Bowie’s bulge in the middle of it? Give the girl a break.
Jane is making a walnut genoise topped with intricate swan and rose designs.
Andrew’s fruity spiced cake is going to have knights on horseback, complete with jousting poles. The bake off illustrator must work from the finished product, because they thoughtfully included Andrew’s crotch based jousting poles.
Andrew needed some more accurate references to work from.
Selasi’s design shows off a lot of his in-depth research. Every piece represents a piece of Tudor history. Then he mentions a kirsch glaze, and Mary lights up.
The micro three act romantic comedy we didn’t know we needed.
Candice is making a Game of Thrones inspired peacock. She’s making three flavors of marchpane, which, again, come on Candice. Come on.
Once the sponges come out of the oven, the shaping of the marzipan begins in earnest. Andrew cast molds out of horse figurines. Selasi made templates from a plastic cutting board. It’s all very fascinating.
The grilling of the marzipan seems very intense. The modern marzipan can tend to melt and lose its shape, while traditional marchpane can get too brittle and break. There’s no way to win, it seems like. When pulling her peacock’s tail out of the oven, Candice exclaims, “I just lost the tip!”
Now the marzipan is applied to the cake. Why Andrew is applying his soft marzipan in pieces and not a large sheet, I’ll never know. You’re an engineer, Andrew! WTH! “I don’t think Mary’s going to want to see any cracks.” You don’t know what Mary wants, Andrew. You don’t know at all.
There’s a flurry of decorating, and Andrew makes several attempts at making caramel. He finally succeeds, and his knights have their weird little penis shards for everyone to enjoy.
Judging begins with Jane. Her cake looks very Tudor and the decoration is neat and good. The cake tastes amazing. Well done. Andrew is next, with his questionable jousting pole placement. Overall it is a bit clumsy, but his currants have gone to the bottom, but the overall flavor is good.
Benjamina’s maze is mocked again. The marzipan tastes nice, but the cake is doughy. Candice’s peacock gets a “Wow!” from Paul right off. Her cake is full of blueberries, and the sponge tastes good. The marzipan tail is also tasty. “Exceptional!” Selasi’s cake is a bit of a mess inside, but Paul likes the crown. The cake needed a bit more time to bake, but the marzipan in the middle has a beautiful flavor. Overall, pretty good for Selasi.
Benajmina and Selasi are in trouble after the showstopper, while Jane and Candice are getting high marks.
The star baker ends up being Candice, and the person who ends up going home is dear sweet Benjamina, who will be missed by everyone, but especially Selasi--she was the only one that thought he was really funny.
Next time we’ll be in the semi-finals with a passel of patisserie! Until then, may all your balls be dense and your love life loaded with kirsch.