While not quite as terror-inducing as Bread Week, Pastry Week brings with it its own set of challenges: impressing a stony-faced Paul and Prue while also contending with soggy bottoms, leaking rinds and underbaked pies.
“I actually like pastry. I find it quite therapeutic,” Nicky says at the start of the episode, but she might be the only one. This week, the challenges including making 12 individual picnic pies, a Dauphinoise pithivier and a display of decorative sweet pies: enough to make the remaining contestants crumble like poorly-made shortbread. Here's our round-up of the best moments.
Rowan is the king of the offhand one liner, and so it proves here. “I never feel confident about anything in my life, and pastry is no exception,” he says right at the top of the episode (before proceeding to cock up his picnic pies).
The next selection of clangers come when the Technical is in full swing. Looking at his collapsed pie, Rowan is scathing – “I’ve seen neater poos, to be honest with you”, he tells the camera – while Alison is agog at Dan’s offering. “Look at the size of Dan’s, it’s like he’s got a body in there,” she tells Noel.
Lucky baker of the week
Hats off to Dana: she chooses to make a Dauphinoise potato-inspired picnic pie for the Signature, only for the Technical to be… Dauphinoise potatoes (in a pithivier pie, this time). “I love the fact you’ve made it, and you didn’t even know it was [the Technical],” Alison tells her; that does explain Paul’s slight eyebrow raise from the first challenge. Needless to say, Dana does very well and nabs second place in the Technical.
Soggy bottoms and little pricks
Rowan’s penchant for putting his foot in his mouth gifts us with yet another clanger as Paul comes to inspect the lids for his pork and sweet potato pies. “Have you got a hole in the lid?” Paul asks him; the answer is no.
Naturally, Rowan freaks out. “I might do little pricks around it,” he tells Alison, who quickly responds with: “Get a little prick in there.”
And sadly, there are some actually soggy bottoms when it comes to the picnic pies. Rowan’s pies end up rather moist – “they’ve never been soggy before,” he says – while Saku greets news of her pie’s soggy bottoms with a sad “heartbreaking.”
As the Signature swings into gear, there’s of course still time for Paul and Matty to start laughing like little boys. “How are you using your plums in the pie?” Paul asks Matty. “I’m going to stew these down slightly,” Matty says, before he starts to giggle. Once again, it’s down to Prue to put an end to things with a firm: “Stop it boys, enough.” A thankless task if ever there was one.
Shout-out to Rowan’s Showstopper, or at least the idea of it: he chooses to make three pies (lemon and blueberry; frangipane and chocolate; and cherry) “based on my favourite sitcom: Absolutely Fabulous.” Patsy and Eddie duly make their appearances as pies, even if Rowan’s work is duly trashed by the judges for being sloppy and underdone; sadly, they’re more flabulous than fabulous.
One a more positive note, Cristy’s trio of delicate autumnal pies do very well. Served on wooden stumps and the apple, cinnamon and sultana, raspberry and frangipane, blueberry, it looks and tastes gorgeous. “I’ve never had frangipane with raspberry before,” Paul comments, but it works.
That’s followed by Josh’s flower-themed tribute to his grandma, which Prue describes as “a work of art” – “this is what we’ve been looking for,” she adds. Hooray.
Most wholesome moment
Wholesome by proxy, but the most heart-warming moment in the tent comes when Alison and Noel are discussing who’s going to go home with the judges – complete with cries of, “Saku can’t go!”
“I’m in love with all of them, I want them all to do well,” Alison says. “They’re becoming quite a tight little gang,” Noel adds; apparently, so close that they have a big WhatsApp group. All together now: aww.
Most stressful moment(s)
While not as stressful as Chocolate Week (a high/lowlight for the series thus far), the toes curl when Dan announces that he has not, in fact, managed to turn his oven on to bake his picnic pies. Not great, but not as bad as Cristy, who starts tearing up over the fact that she’s overfilled hers. “I told myself, 'Don’t care',” she says. But she does, but the pies are a triumph anyway, phew.
Later on, there’s yet more drama as Rowan and Dana’s pies spring a leak (Rowan euphemistically describes it as “a bit of spillage”). “It’s quite severe,” Rowan adds, and things go from bad to worse; when he enlists Alison to try and pull the pie out of its case post-bake, it breaks completely. Saku then drops one of her pies upside down, Dan’s pie starts leaking. When the time comes to an end, it’s almost a mercy.
We’re back on the handshake train this week: Paul proffers his digits to a stunned Cristy for her creamy leek and mushroom pies. “You’re so clever, you made a creamy sauce, and it just holds the whole thing together,” Prue tells her.
“It’s beautifully moist inside, and crispy… it’s because you’ve managed to achieve the moistness, and the flavour,” Paul adds. All in all, Cristy is left on cloud nine – only to be brought firmly back to earth when Noel asks her, “What was it like grabbing a big bunch of sausages?”
Given her handshake this week (and her excellent work in the Showstopper), is it any surprise Cristy is named Star Baker? She nabs the crown from Tasha for her excellent pastry work, neatly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with. We're interested to see where she goes from here...
Who went home?
For every Star Baker, there has to be somebody who leaves the tent, and this week (thanks to Tasha's illness last week) two people get the boot. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's Nicky and Rowan, who both performed rather poorly – RIP Rowan's pithy quotes, we'll miss the way they brightened up the round-ups. "It’s been a blast," Nicky tells the camera afterwards. "It’s been like a bag of pants this week and you can’t stay in after a bag of pants, there’s no way." Indeed, Nicky – but at least this way you get to avoid Paul Hollywood's harsh judgement as the competition reaches the halfway point.
The Great British Bake-Off airs at 8pm on Tuesdays on Channel 4