Rough Puff, Gooey Choux And A Pastry They Just Made Up: The Great British Bake Off Episode Seven

We’ve not been this excited about parcels since the arrival of the ASOS delivery truck…


by Lauren Bravo |
Published on

We’re over halfway through the competition now, and order has been restored to the Marquee of Dreams. Everyone is friends again, nobody went home last week, and now they’re even feeling cheerful and enthusiastic about pastry; Satan’s carbohydrate. Richard is looking mellow by a small waterfall. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was just a Bake Off episode like any other.

But whoah there, hang on a butter-squishing minute! Mary is deploying MAXIMUM BOMBER JACKET. Just when you think all is calm and predictable, Bezza drops the bomber bomb! At first I thought it was covered in swans (being as the Queen is the only person in the land allowed to eat them, it would be fitting if the queen of baking is the only person in the land allowed to wear them across her chest) – but on closer inspection it turns out they’re actually STORKS.

Is this Mary’s way of discreetly telling us she’s defied medical science and has a bun in the oven? Nope, it’s her favourite margarine.

Pass the parcels

This week’s signature bake is pastry parcels, in all their national guises: empanadas, Cornish pasties, samosas… and cows in blankets, which is what I call it when I peel the casing off a sausage roll and wrap it around a lump of cold cheese.

Last week’s star baker Chetna is wearing the sheriff’s badge, which is fitting because there’s a new enemy in town y’all… and he goes by the name of ‘leakage’. Cousin of soggy bottom, sister of murky puddle, leakage has come to seep all over your hopes and dreams. Or at least down Paul’s open neckline.

Martha is making mini beef Wellingtons, Kate spinach and paneer samosas and Nancy spicy duck pasties with little flowers on top. After a couple of weeks on the bench, Luis’ Spanish heritage is coming in handy again – he’s making orange zest and paprika pastry, for the beef and chorizo empanadas he remembers eating as a child. Across the country, harried parents must now desperately scour the Ocado website for beef and chorizo empanadas with orange zest pastry for little Tarquin’s packed lunch.

READ MORE: The Cupcake You Can Make In 3 Minutes To Treat Yourself This Afternoon

Suephemism alert! “I’m in a rough puff kind of a mood.”

As the final five minutes whizz by, there’s more crimping than a late 90s primary school disco.

'When it gets to this point I can hear that music,' says Martha. 'The music they play at the end… do do do do do…' Shh Martha, don’t tear down the fourth wall! Cameras, what? TV? You’re dreaming it love.

With his nicely browning pastries Luis is officially Fryer Tuck, while Kate’s fryer luck has turned to… well, something else that rhymes. 'It’s turned itself off!' she wails, poking forlornly at her anaemic samosas. Don’t worry Kate – if your parcels are late, you could always claim they were delivered by UPS courier.

Onto the judging, and Paul’s primary concern is colour. Apparently it’s not good to have a pasty pasty, which is a pun that only really works out loud. Richard’s lamb and mint parcels are a return to form after last week’s mishaps, while Luis’ empanadas taste great but look are too big and pale for Paul. Nancy’s duck parcels are understuffed and underbaked, while Kate suffers a right royal Hollywood scolding for her pallid pastry.

Meanwhile Martha earns the third highest Mary Berry compliment, 'I’ll go for that.' (The second and first are 'That’s a bit of alright' and 'Phwooar I’d take that behind the bike sheds and get it pregnant'). Chetna’s crispy lentil kachoris look like an angel’s pillow and she’s praised for her 'staggering' volume of spices, while Mel is left staggering under the weight of everyone’s pastries in her pocket.

Joke corner 'Waiter, waiter, this pasty keeps singing Kiss From A Rose!' “Don’t worry sir, it’s just been well-Sealed.'

It’s Britney, bitch

Usually I’ll defend the boring historical segment to the death, but even I will admit this week’s isn’t a classic. If you need a wee or a tea break, it’s perfectly acceptable to wait for ‘How Cornish People Went to Mexico and Inspired a Mexican Thing Like a Cornish Pasty’ to come out on DVD instead.

Back in the tent, the technical challenge is Breton pastry kouign-amann – or ‘Coo, Maman!’ if you’re me on Google with some vague GCSE French.

None of the bakers have ever even heard of it, and we’re one step closer to the inevitable end I’ve been predicting all along: Paul and Mary making up imaginary technical challenges by pulling Scrabble tiles one by one from a bag at random, swigging Cointreau straight from the bottle and cackling. 'A druid shhmoogelpof! Make me a druid shhmoogelpof you chumps!' they will cry. Just give it a couple more seasons.

A kouign-amann, it turns out, is a little muffin thing made from buttery pastry and sugar – one of those health food gimmicks the French are so famous for. Paul’s recipe is deliberately obtuse, and nobody knows if they’re folding it right, proving it long enough or putting their sugar in the right place. It’s like The Crystal Maze of baking puzzles, but with no discernable excitement.

Then there’s some long, very boring waiting around, some poking and some crouching in front of ovens. You can see why kouign-amann never really took off over here, while choco-marshmallow fridge cake did.

Finally, FINALLY, they’re ready! Chetna and Luis are victims of over-sugaring, Kate and Martha have fallen flat, but Richard scores big for his perfect lamination. This means his buttery layers are distinct, and has nothing to do with coating his pastries in wipe-clean plastic – so we’ve all learned something today.


Time for the showstopper challenge – and before the show can be stopped, we need to get it going again. This week’s final round calls for that favourite dessert of maiden aunts in books from the 1930s: éclairs. Putting aside my disappointment that Paul Hollywood doesn’t pronounce ‘éclair’ the same way Cilla Black would pronounce ‘éclair’… it’s all aboard the choux choux train!

Richard is deliberating over the consistency of his dough: 'In the words of my Dad: not too thick and not too wet.' He sounds like another Noel Coward, mate. Mr Brick the Builder is also hoping to impress the judges with a homemade presentation staircase ¬– because you’re taking your éclairs to another level, right Richard? Hive five

Ever keen to bring some youthful innovation to the Bake Off tent, Martha is sprinkling her maple pecan éclair with candied bacon pieces. You feel Mary might prefer her cream cakes pork-free, but of course she wore the natty bomber jacket and now she must deal with the consequences.

There’s something oddly soothing about the sound of a wooden spoon beating choux pastry dough in a pan. They should play it at spas instead of pan pipes and whale music.

Less soothing, though, is the final stretch, as the bakers divide into two clear groups – the choux-offs, who are delicately arranging their éclairs on pedestals and hat stands and suchlike, and the poor-chouxs, who are flapping about with piping bags up till the very last second.

READ MORE: Caramel Castles, Continental Drift And The Princess And The Pea-Green Cream Cake: The Great British Bake Off Episode Six

A woman’s right to choux

For an episode that’s been relatively light on innuendo, the judging is heavy on long things filled with cream – so that’s a relief.

The other bakers may have helped, but they couldn’t save Martha’s bacon. Her forlornly drippy eclairs are more ‘nooo-gahh’ than nougat and she has a little cry after the judging. Kate’s Neopolitan eclairs are a wet mess too, although what do you expect when you use the world’s most disappointing ice cream as a reference point?

Nancy is cruising right down the middle, while Chetna’s chocolate and mango creations are good enough to redeem her after a failure in the technical. Luis’ chouxy isn’t chewy: it’s perfectly crisp, filled with peanut butter and a consistent six inches across the board – which pleases Mary.

But it’s Richard that’s done the best across the weekend. Despite appearing to have piped a hashtag on his Granny-perfume-themed eclairs, the stairmaster is a choux-in for star baker. 'You haven’t over-lavendered,' praises Mary, as the ghost of Norman flits briefly across the marquee.

And then it’s time to bid farewell to the most beautiful curls in baking since… um, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, as Kate leaves the tent. Goodbye, lovely Kate. Your baking may have been up and down, but you always gave great earring.

Next week: It’s Advanced Dough! Serious dough! No amateurs here! Oh no, wait.

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Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenBravo

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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