Last week’s Italian pastries pushed the contestants to the limit, leaving Stacey Hart, the contestant from Radlett, in the danger zone. Fortunately for her (and Kate — who had also struggled) Yan’s unpronounceable pastries were judged the worst and it was the Enfield scientist who left the tent.
For this week the rather obscure theme was "Forgotten Bakes"— cakes and pastries now so out of favour that most of us have never heard of them nor are we likely to again. Must have kept a researcher or two busy.
Steven mused later that the recipes were “forgotten for good reason”, although the oddly named Bedfordshire clanger — a pasty with a savoury course one side and dessert on the other — did seem ingenious.
The bakers were challenged to produce four of these snacks, once the lunchtime treats of farming folk. The obvious jokes about the 1970s TV cartoon moon creatures ensued.
Prue Leith warned that the clangers (the pastry, not the moon creatures) must not be stodgy and Paul Hollywood, still sporting a tan as dark as an overbaked tart, insisted suet would be the key. Suet, being the raw fat that surrounds the kidneys and loins of a cow, provided kosher issues for Stacey, but perhaps she used the vegetarian version.
The judges also told the bakers to beware wet fillings, which could leak. Cut to Stacey — the only one of the bakers who had opted to include a sauce in her clanger. Uh oh.
She had gone for camembert and caramelised onion on one side of her snack and apple and blueberry plus custard on the other. When quizzed by the judges she admitted it had not gone well. “I’ve had some leaky clanger issues over the last week,” she confessed.
Liam, who was to have his worse week so far, took inspiration for his filling from pizza. His insistence that the Italian dish is served with dipping sauces raised Hollywood’s eyebrows so far they almost disappeared into his silvery hairline.
Sophie had chosen Chinese-flavoured pork for her pasty; Kate a Mexican bean filling, and Steven, like Stacey, cheese (feta in his case) and onion. The sweet ends were a range of apple and banana-based fillings.
Predictably, disaster struck for Kate when she literally dropped a clanger. Her underbaked batch was deemed a “of a mess” by Hollywood. A kinder Leith praised the sweet, rice pudding-filled end.
Again, Liam did the best job presenting his chicken-stuffed pasties in a pizza box complete with plastic pots of dipping sauce. He was rewarded with a “great job” from the judges but noses were turned up at that sauce.
For once, perfect Sophie tripped up — “too thick” and “a bit dry” was the verdict on her offerings, while Steven’s (presented, to Hollywood’s obvious chagrin in paper bags) were decreed “delicious” by Leith.
The surprise was with Stacey. The mistress of self-deprecation, she had kept viewers abreast of every drip and leak from her custardy clangers. Far from being shot down for that filling, the judges swooned with delight. Leith raved about the pastry’s texture while Hollywood bestowed her with his first handshake in weeks — “that, young lady, is absolutely delicious,” he told her.
A bemused Stacey admitted afterwards they’d never been that good at home.
Next up was the technical round. Another random recipe — this time the Cumberland rum Nicky, a sweet shortcrust based tart with a rum-infused, dried fruit filling and a lattice top. Not too long forgotten, as Hollywood had shown viewers how to make it on his baking show in 2013.
With only an hour and a half to construct them and no tablespoons given to measure the rum, it was a tricky task. Steven resorted to using his paws to measure his tipple while others randomly sploshed.
Each battled with their lattice lid, and when assembled on the “gingham altar” as Hollywood later referred to it, the finished tarts were a motley crew. Much had been made of whether the pastry should run to the edge of the enamel tin. Leith insisted it should. Liam and Sophie trimmed theirs and lost marks. However, a quick google would have provided an image of the Cumberland Nicky from Hollywood’s television series with a rim trim finishing short of the dish’s edge.
Liam’s raw tart came in last place, Sophie’s over-boozey version limped into a sorry fourth place while Stacey — who ill-advisedly talked back to the judges, arguing over the number of strands in her lattice — had to settle for third. Kate managed a respectable second place and Steven — despite his losing his first lattice, took the gong.
The showstopper was a race to bake the most unappetising cake ever invented — the Victorian Savoy. Designed as a centrepiece that was rarely eaten, the challenge was as much to make it edible as make it look good.
Raised only by the air whisked into egg whites and baked in a tricky-to-release ornate cake tin, there was plenty to think about before the contestants decorated.
Stacey went for a typically over-the-top affair, clad with macarons, jelly hearts and meringues, giving herself plenty to do. Kate — aiming for a replica of Liverpool’s Liver building needed to bake each component, using a total of 60 eggs. Steven spent most of his time fashioning roses out of sugar paste while Sophie sat hers on a pile of choux pastry buns, croque en bouche-style. Only Liam kept it relatively simple — finishing early — decorating his wizard’s fort with spun sugar and butterscotch sauce.
Scoring herself the first bleep many will have heard on the GBBO, Stacey managed to pull off her oven door. “Doorgate hashtag” she laughed, having to hold the malfunctioning component in place with her shoulder. Strange that no one came to her rescue.
The final cakes were not overly impressive. Stacey’s looked like she’d thrown a pile of sweets at hers. “You were a titch overambitious” said Leith but both judges agreed her offering had great texture and flavour.
Liam’s collapsed Savoy tasted of nothing, leaving him a surprise contender for the drop zone. Kate’s simplistic structure was judged dry, confirming her spot next to Liam, while Sophie managed to claw her way back with her not-quite-finished, but perfectly shaped cake. The chocolate top was pronounced “magnificent” and the green apple filling in her choux buns got a big tick. The texture was “chewy but pleasant” but not enough to rain on her parade.
Steven was chided for spending too long on his roses, but his cake was judged “elegant and simple” and the filling went down well.
Like Italian week, it was less a case of who was the shining star, but more, who was least average. Given the difficulty of the tasks and random choice of bake, the bakers were not entirely to blame.
But what a week to remember for Stacey - not only a Hollywood handshake, but also the longed-for title of star baker, and a place in the semi-finals.
For poor Liam, it was time to say farewell, as he paid the price for his sloppy Savoy and raw rum Nicky.