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Great British Bake Off 2016: Week 4

A new category of bakes was introduced this series for week four in the Bake Off Tent: batter! But could the bakers cope with this new territory?

From a Great British classic to a Spanish classic, this week’s challenges were all about the simple ingredients that form a batter… just with much more pressure. We heard the words consistency and uniformity many times this week, which left us thinking – When have you ever made a uniform set of Yorkshire puddings? Do your pancakes come out of the pan perfect? and Have you ever been given a pot of churros to eat that are identical in size and shape? NO! NEVER! Paul and Mary were definitely setting the bar high this week. The only thing left to do, was to get battered!

The Signature Challenge

It all kicked off with the baking challenge that all Sunday Roast cooks face, the Yorkshire Pudding. Most people are usually worried about achieving any rise at all. You’ve got to get the batter to the right consistency, leave it to stand, pre-heat the oven, get the fat very hot, then add the batter without letting all the heat in the oven escape. And, of course, once the oven door is shut you’ve just got to keep your fingers crossed, and, in Val’s case sit on the floor, watch them rise in the oven (hopefully). With something that is practised by so many in our country so often, you would expect consistency – yet a perfect batch is never necessary. There’s always one that’s risen out of control and one that didn’t have enough mixture!

Plus, this challenge had the controversy of adding a filling. Now a classic roast dinner and gravy is one thing, but can the nation handle the idea of Rav’s Tofu Thai Curry or Val’s Chilli Con Carne in their Yorkies?! According to Twitter there was somewhat of a divide! For Val the pressure was on even more… being from Yorkshire!

Selasi making Yorkies!

Second attempts were needed by Jane, Candice, Val and Tom as the first batches didn’t rise. Candice and Jane didn’t quite get the rise they were after with their next batches, but won out with classic flavours; Candice made a deconstructed beef wellington with horseradish, and Jane had a meat and two veg filling. Val retained entry to her home county with her next go, which weren’t uniform but described as having a beautiful texture and great taste by Mary and Paul. Also impressing the judges, was Benjamina with her red onion, bacon and brie filling, Selasi who had a beautiful bake resulting in massive Yorkshires (if a little uneven) and a ‘spot on’ pork tenderloin, crackling and apple sauce filling, and Andrew with his Spanish chicken filling and fairly uniform bake.

Unfortunately, Tom’s second attempt did not rise at all – his use of chickpea flour and nigella seeds in the batter was just too heavy. He ended up with blinis rather than Yorkies!

The Technical Challenge

Benjamina’s perfect pancake piping

Lace pancakes turned this family classic into a technical challenge that most of the bakers had never seen or heard of! The useful instructions of ‘make a pancake batter’ and then ‘create a lace pattern’ with it, wasn’t very detailed to say the least. The bakers had to guess the amount of sugar to use to get the correct amount of caramelisation needed in the short amount of time frying, they had to get the right consistency and they had to pipe a brand new design. Paul offered the wise advice of practicing their pattern first, but only allowed one tester pancake – with the next 12 set for the gingham alter!

We saw some lace, and some more grid like patterns, but most of the offerings did fairly well. This time it was Rav, Selasi and Kate that it didn’t come together for, with undefined patterns, some cooked more than others and too much sugar. Though we must applaud Selasi for being the only baker to attempt flipping… and completely nailing it!

Up at the top, was Jane who took third place and Candice who came second. But it was Benjamina that kept her cool under the time pressure and carefully piped out 12 perfect lace pancakes!

The Showstopper Challenge

Jane impressed with her churros

36 Churros with dipping sauces was the final test this week. Facing the dilemma of piping the batter straight into the hot oil (the traditional method) or piping them out on greaseproof first (to ensure precision), the bakers felt the pressure of perfection!

Both Jane and Val opted for filling their churros. Jane received praise for her pistachio and white chocolate flavour, but unfortunately Val’s chocolate orange churros were just dough in the middle. Tom had a bad week after the glory of Star Baker, and left Mary and Paul unsure with his fennel and rosewater churros in the shape of a snake.

Selasi ran into some trouble after attempting to deep fry his churros from frozen so he could form a basket shape for his filling to sit inside. But this error left his churros with a burnt outside and a raw centre. Rav also struggled with his Japanese inspired matcha churros that were very uneven, had soaked up too much oil and didn’t taste great. However, it was Jane who felt the final blow this week as her hot cross bunny churros batter just didn’t work – leaving her with crispy, oil filled, run-over looking rabbits! It was Jane who left The Great British Bake Off this week.

In contention for Star Baker again this week was Andrew, after showing consistency across the challenges! But his churros weren’t perfect and he was pipped at the post by Benjamina who had an outstanding week, finishing off the day with her coconut churros with passionfruit and mango sauce. We’re so pleased to see Benjamina, who has been in the middle of the pack so far, pull away to take the lead!

Next up Pastry Week! If you can’t wait that long for more #GBBO, check out more Bake Off content

Images © Love Productions – Photographer: Tom Graham