TV Reviews - - by Amaliah Marmon-Halm

The Great British Bake Off – Botanical Week

The Great British Bake Off – Botanical Week IMAGE: independent.co.uk

Now that we’re in week 6, you already know that stuff is getting real! That also means that we only have 6 more weeks of our beloved BBC-edition of Bake Off, 6 more weeks of Mel and Sue innuendos and 6 more weeks of Mary and Paul being the King and Queen of Bake Off. That bittersweet feeling just continues to grow and grow. But let’s brush away our impending sadness and celebrate the fact it’s Botanical Week. Another first for Bake Off, the bakers had to focus on the more floral and natural flavours in life. Flowers, herbs and fruits are key flavours this week. Many of the bakers were getting into the floral spirit. Selasi and Mary’s floral shirts were bloomin’ lovely indeed.

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Credit: Mark Bourdillon/BBC/PA Wire 

For the signature bake, the challenge was to make a wonderfully sweet and tangy citrus meringue pie. The fruit could be anything, as long as it counted as a citrus and the meringue had to be sweet and stiff. Stiffness was very important. The only thing that could bring a true look of disappointment from Mary was an unbaked meringue, that had only been stiffened by a blowtorch. Blow torches over ovens, unthinkable! There did seem to be a real sense of competition amongst the bakers, as many seemed to be created version of their same thing. Candice and Jane went for a green, limey tang and Selasi and Benjamina seemed to be facing off with their grapefruit creations. It’s definitely a case of citrus fruits at dawn!
This week’s signature highlights were Jane’s lime and coconut Swiss meringue pie, Benjamina’s grapefruit and ginger Italian meringue pie and Andrew’s tangy lime and ginger pie. As a pumpkin pie lover, I was holding some hope for Tom’s pie but it just wasn’t quite there.

For the technical challenge, the bakers had to make the perfect fougasse. Two of them to be precise. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a fougasse before, they are essentially thin, herby pieces of bread, with the likeness of a leaf. The outside must be crispy and the inside must be nice and fluffy. As usual, it’s not so hard once you’ve explained but in true technical form, the bakers only have the most basic of instructions. Bread Week star baker Tom was in his element, as he seemed to be one of the only bakers that seemed to be not fazed by the challenge. Of course, as Selasi is the Zen Master of Baking, he took his time to pose in front of the oven, contemplate the meaning of baking and life and watch his bread bake. I think we can all learn about the power of baking zen from Selasi.
The winner of the challenge was Bread Man, Tom, with Selasi coming in last! No, not our Selasi!!!

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The showstopper challenge was a very pretty one indeed. The bakers had to make a minimum three-tier floral cake. There could be flowers in it, flowers on it, flowers around it and even have a delicate floral flavour. Most importantly, the cake must be something special. When it comes to floral flavours, you would expect to see a lot of tea flavourings, delicate flower flavouring and maybe the odd touch of fruit. As along as the bake was pretty and delicate, then you were on to a winner. Unfortunately, that seemed to be read out of Rav and Andrews grasp, as Rav just couldn’t do fiddly and delicate at all and Andrew too the meaning of subtle a little too seriously. You really did feel for the lads this week. As well as being Mr Cool and Collected, Selasi seemed to also be a master of rosette piping, who knew?! The standouts for me were Tom’s floral tea cakes with genoise sponge (cake and tea in on form, together at last), Selasi’s beautiful piped floral ombré cake (he is a skilful man) and Candice with her going-the-extra-mile 4-tier 4 seasons cake. If only I could eat them all!

As a lover of floral cakes, this seemed to be the week that I just couldn’t take my eyes off! There were a lot of very strong bakes this week, but star baking went to the true comeback kid, Tom! I think after he gained some confidence by winning the technical, he really gave the showstopper his all. Unfortunately, Rav had fallen one too many times and flowers were his downfall. Really is a shame, as he did have a few great bakes! We’ll miss that smiley face!

Next week, it’s desserts, so sweet toothes the nation over will scream for joy and dieters will weep. And I’m sure a few bakers will be losing their marbles, but that’s why we watching this, isn’t it? Oh, and for the baked loveliness!

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