GBBO9: Triumph and Tragedy

October 24, 2018 9:25 am Published by 1 Comment

It’s semi-final week and the superlatives are out in force. The baking is going to be Intense. The judging, Brutal. The experience, Epic. It features The Most Complex Patisserie Challenge in Bake-Off History as well as The Longest Technical Challenge in the Tent. Thunder and lightning flash from Paul’s brow, like Zeus. Sandy can hardly speak for emotion. Kim-Joy quietly weeps. It’s genuinely gripping stuff now, real seat-of-your-chocolate-incontinence-pants stuff.

GBBO: it's patisserie week!


This week, in a final ironic twist of the knife for the departed Manon, the bakers must enter ‘the unforgiving world of high-end French patisserie’, where perfection is king. The judges are looking for finesse and precision and have been careful to allow nowhere near enough time to achieve this. To the relief of the viewers, the imposter who replaced Rahul last week has melted away. All four contestants are back on top form.

In search of 24 identical Madeleines

The signature challenge features Madeleines – and enough bonkers combinations of flavours to give a Proustian hero a lifetime of memories. Timing is key: for some of the bakers, there’s a fair bit of temps perdu. Paul becomes obsessed with the ‘hump’ of the bake, examining each biscuit for a classic, bulbous shape. Rahul is bemused by the smut. Prue twinkles at him from behind yet another new set of specs.

Tortoise settee cake

The technical challenge sees the bakers produce a torta setteveli: a seven-layered ‘indulgent, decadent beast’ of a cake. ‘It’s the kind of thing you’d see in a shop and think ‘I won’t make that’’, explained Briony.

‘We are asking the near-impossible’, promises Prue. This turns out to be true. Paul backs away from Rahul’s top layer as if he’s been stung. Like a chorus in a Greek Tragedy, Noel flits around the tent, commenting, cheering, offering to cry for the contestants. Ruby comes out on top: Rahul is back to zero. ‘As soon as something good happens, something bad comes behind it’, he remarks, paraphrasing Sophocles.

A window into the soul

With everything to play for, the bakers embark on a ‘Herculean Challenge’ of a showstopper: a Parisian ‘window’ featuring three different types of patisserie and 36 individual pastries of a professional standard. It’s a pastry marathon, in which even the winner is likely to die of exhaustion.

Rahul has carried out a lot of research in that most French of British cities, Sheffield. It’s only by sheer good luck that he doesn’t produce a selection of Chorley cakes and curd tarts. ‘How are you?’, murmurs Noel. ‘Alive’, dooms Rahul. Paul stares intently at him, trying to pierce his soul.

Those whom the Gods would destroy

The eternal summer of 2018 has burnt up the grass outside the tent. Contestants have fallen by the parched wayside. This week, Briony joins them, after an ‘epic disaster’ (which in anyone else’s kitchen would be an unforgettable triumph). The applause is heartfelt.

So now there are just three – and it’s the final next week. Will Rahul finally turn his frown upside-down? Will Kim-Joy craft an icing albatross? Will Ruby’s language make it past the censors? Will the heatwave last right to the end of the Bake-Off picnic? We’ll all find out next week. If you can’t wait that long, follow Prue on twitter.

NGF patisserie range

You already know all about our baking range, don’t you? Our fine flours, superb sugars, heavenly organic herbs and spices? You’ve seen our essences, extracts, syrups and powders – and our nuts, seeds and dried fruit – and all our options for those who are eating gluten-free and dairy-free? Check out our full baking range here. We sell to individual customers and in bulk, for those baking sessions when only 36 patisseries will hit the spot.

Stay Calm and Make Chocolate Mousse

Obviously, we’re not going to give you a patisserie recipe. Instead, here’s something much simpler – the kind of thing that can save the day in a technical challenge, and save your sanity when you need a quick dessert. This, Kim-Joy, is for you. You can stick rabbit whiskers on it if you like.


150g high-quality high-cocoa-content dark chocolate, in pieces

6 egg whites

2 tbsp caster sugar


Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water or in the microwave.

Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks.

Add the sugar to the egg whites and whisk again to form stiffer peaks. Spoonful by spoonful, add this to the chocolate mixture, stirring vigorously.

Place in your serving dishes or glasses and leave in the fridge to cool.

Serve with a dollop of cream, chocolate shavings and tears of relief.

Naturally Good Reads v2

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This post was written by Yzanne

1 Comment

  • Pauline says:

    The perfect balance of tragi-comedy which could only be surpassed by a recipe for chocolate mousse that doesn’t include raw egg whites- your dad can’t eat raw egg. Now there’s a challenge for a down moment!

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