Bake Off 2020 – Pastry Week: Bastardised Samosas

Noel and Prue seem to have made the bizarre choice to swap outfits 5 minutes prior to filming.

Ah yes, at least there’s one wholesome tv show that hasn’t had a brush with Nazism…

Oh.

It’s pastry week and if there have never been anything more telling of an inevitable elimination that Linda bounding into frame full of all the vim and vigour in the world declaring that pastry is her game because all moms can make pastry! It’s hubris that rivals even that of Kenneth Branaugh.

Video Pasties

The first challenge of the week was for the bakers to create 8 pasties – the specifications of which are fast and loose – they can be any shape, any filling, weirdly exactly 18 cms???? and MUST INVOLVE CRIMPING – like literally the most iconic part of a pasty because without it, it’s just a pie. Or a samosa…

Marc-with-a-C (boy am I regretting this schtick) is feeling particularly pressured because he is a Cornishman and so is trying to honour the county with a monkfish, asparagus and samphire filling – which is absolutely peak Waitrose and I for am shocked that it wasn’t Laura who managed this – she has an outdoor pizza oven that has featured in more of her VTs than her husband.
Paul does not help Marc-with-a-C’s nerves by looming over him and asking him how many crimps a proper Cornish pasty is meant to have. Marc doesn’t know and as it turns out, Paul doesn’t bleeding well know either, flip-flopping between 20 and 21 – WHICH ONE IS IT MASTER BAKER, PAUL HOLLYWOOD? In the end his pasties were just that little bit too anaemic

And weirdly decorated with a satanic symbol? He was not the only one stinking the tent up with fish as Peter was simmering haddock away for his kedgeree stuffed pasties that he was making in the shape of fish

I fully expected his cute little pastry fish to turn into ungodly deep sea creatures in the oven but they actually managed to keep their shape

and the judges thoroughly enjoyed them – although Paul was concerned about the double carbs – but did not have the same qualms with Mark-with-a-K’s aloo gobi stuffed pasties, which he rather adorably was very worried about making too spicy and agonised over how spicy too make it and seemingly made something that was less spicy than Loriea’s bust of Miss Lou that lest we forget made Paul wheeze like he had just swigged tabasco sauce.

Spice was the call of order for the day with Dave, Linda and Hermine also going for bold spicing. Dave with a Thai inspired chicken filling and accompanying his pasties with a dipping sauce that got such a stern side eye from Paul that I think unhinged Dave even more – it’s always heartbreaking when you disappoint your heroes. Hermine decided on a Moraccan lamb tagine filling

but more curiously was winging it completely on a FrankenPastry that fell halfway between a rough puff pastry and a shortcrust – God bless her being the only person having a truly magical 2020 – it’s what she deserves, although she did fall a little bit behind and had to take her pasties out of the oven a couple of minutes earlier than she would have liked meaning they were just a touch pale, but nowhere near the pasty pasties of Marc.
Then there’s Linda, inspired by her trip to Goa, she was going to make triangular pasties, filled with a chicken curry, and if you are thinking “That sounds and looks a lot like a samosa” – you would be correct

because Linda just stopped reading the brief halfway through and missed off the bit in bold capital letters that said “MUST BE CRIMPED”. She also did not have the time (or patience, energy or desire) to do the stencilled Karma symbol on the top and just pulled a Lottie and tipped half a jar of nigella seeds over her triangular pasties samosas

But if you thought Linda making bastardised samosas was the weirdest affront to a culinary institution you would be wrong because Lottie has decided to deconstruct the Toad in the Hole by shoving two sausages, some onion gravy and a lump of mashed potato into a pasty

I’m not even that precious about Toad in the Hole (I find it to be a slightly unpleasant slimy mess, which I suppose is why it’s called toad in the hole?) but this is an arrestable offense, and if you’re still on the fence, she then decided to serve them like this:

They look like alienoid frogs carrying egg sacs on their backs, which at the rate 2020 is going is the next logical development in our Modern 10 Plagues – get excited for it.

Luckily Laura was around, apparently heeding the warning from The Brownie Disaster of 2020 and making a batch of very ordinary, very basic cheese and onion pasties

And she’s also “pulling a Dave” and deciding to use a recipe from Paul Hollywood himself which is why I’m even more baffled by the praised heaped upon her and then not getting a Hollywood Handshake – not that I really want to encourage it but it does seem weird.

An Arbitrary Ranking of The Pasties

  1. Laura’s Simple Pasties
  2. Hermine’s FrankenBaking
  3. Peter’s Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box
  4. Mark’s Curried Pasties
  5. Dave’s Thai Breakers
  6. Hell Comes to Frogtown
  7. Marc’s Cornish Eviction Notice
  8. Linda, those are samosas.

Truth or Éclair?

After a brief foray into savoury baking it’s back to the sweet end of the spectrum with the technical in which the bakers must make 6 eclairs (ECLAIRS LINDA, ECLAIRS) – 3 of which have a salted caramel filling and 3 of which are filled with raspberry creme pat. Seems simple enough? Oh just you wait.

I know the instructions are always vague in the technical, and I get that it makes it interesting and adds drama but I do feel like this is biggest area in which Bake Off has shifted from its original MO – I think it’s weird and a little cruel to expect them to all know how to make a choux pastry from scratch without any instructions and only a vague allusion to the ingredients and I think it reaches a point now where it’s not fun to watch? I didn’t get any enjoyment watching Linda attempt 3 batches of choux, getting increasingly further from what choux actually is

sitting at her oven watching her slugs slowly cook into oily masses

only for it to fail 3 times and end up with a batch of very sad churros that Paul picked up, snapped, tossed back onto the plate while his only critique being “terrible.” like he was an actual 3 year old being told to eat broccoli

They’re amateur bakers, they’re hobbyists and sure, they have a talent and passion for it, but I think this expectation that they be “the best amateur bakers in the country” and encyclopaedias of baking knowledge and method is unhelpful and somewhat ruining the fun.

Despite this, the other bakers faired reasonably well, or at least managed to create eclairs that could actually be described as eclairs. Their sizes varied but most of them managed at least 6 that could be filled, bar one of Marc-with-a-C’s which deflated in his hand like an advert for erectile dysfunction

It was the raspberry crème patissiere that caused the most problems with it splitting and looking like a surgical mishap in Lottie’s case

Or just a bowl of runny yogurt that Dave then begrudgingly tipped into his pipping bag in the vain attempt to fill his eclairs with a watery liquid that gushed out the moment they were cut and was enough to put me off food for a good 12 hours

Hermine and Peter led the pack – I apologise for every questioning whether Hermine was bluffing or not about her French Patisserie skills – turns out, she excels. Hers were apparently a bit too big (aint not such thing as too big an eclair) but Peter was the baby bear of the group and his were just right and weren’t filled with sweet scrambled eggs.

The Eclair Report:

  1. Peter’s Baby Bear Eclairs
  2. Hermine’s Daddy Bear Eclairs
  3. Jenny Eclair
  4. Mark By Virtue of Everyone Else’s Failure
  5. Lottie Being This High Is an Indication of the Level of Failure
  6. Dave’s Petit Filous Eclairs
  7. Laura Mummy Bear Eclairs
  8. Marc’s Frankly Eclair, I Don’t Give a Damn
  9. Linda. Those are churros.

Caged Tarts

Coming into the rather baffling, bottom of the barrel-of-ideas showstopper, it’s Linda who is in desperate need of a miracle, divine intervention, a bribe, some sort of deal with the mafia to save her hide. Her only option was to out bake Marc-with-a-C who after shaming his home county (or country if you’re reading this in 2030 for some reason).

The task is to create some sort of sweet tart and then make a pastry cage to put over it – because they really needed a low hanging fruit innuendo with “Caged Tart”. There were two schools of thought when it came to making their cages, some moulded it as one piece over a bowl or obscene amount of tinfoil, while others opted to do it in a flatpack style in separate pieces and I think it was the second way that was the least stressful and most guaranteed success – but for some reason felt like it was seen as less of a feat in the eyes of the judges.

By sheer coincidence both Lottie and Dave decided on a pyramid shaped cage, Dave being inspired by The Louvre, which was referred to on the show only as “A Parisian museum” as though they weren’t able to clear copyright on The Louvre??? Lottie was merely opting for triangles because she was housing a triangular tart (very IllumiLottie),

which Paul questioned the validity of because it had no pastry sides and was merely just layers of pastry, fruit and caramel, a lot like a Mille feuille, but Lottie, managing to masterfully out pedant even Paul Hollywood told him that the word “Tart” comes from a French word meaning flat pastry SO SOD OFF.
I did spend the entire challenge just waiting for Lottie’s choux pastry pyramid to collapse in on its self but out of sheer spite it stayed up and was really quite incredible

Sadly the tart inside did not match up and was already leaking itself into a stodgy mess. Dave’s was a much more successful tart as he bothered to decorate it

The last of the flatpackers was Hermine making a lemon meringue / tarte au citron FrankenBake that she put in a very beautiful pastry box

That Paul then broke into a million pieces with his galumphing gorilla hands

But on top of her intricate cage work she somehow managed to find the time to make a batch of macarons

and I don’t believe they gave her enough credit for how much work she managed to do and the level at which it was executed. She is being severely underrated and I am mad about it.

And then it’s on to our moulders who can be put into two distinct camps of Those That Succeeded and Those That Crumbled Into a Thousand Pieces. Most of them also opted to decorate their latticed caged with pastry flowers (almost as if when you Googled “pastry cage” prior to this episode the first thing that came up was an Easter Lattice Cage). Marc-with-a-C and Laura both opted for a more refined and expected lattice and both ended up looking rather similar

However their tarts could not have been more different, Laura going for an American favourite of Key Lime Pie which Paul has suddenly decided is his favourite thing in the world despite never having heard about it several series ago. She went hard with her lime flavouring with it being enough to knock Paul’s face into a grimacing smile and despite once again being heaped with praise and clearly making something quite stunning, no handshake for Laura. Marc’s was slightly less successful in that his base was much too big but I was more perturbed by his pairing of blackberry, apple and chocolate

When did apple and chocolate become an acceptable flavour combination? And how do I go about stopping it? Peter also went with Blackberries but paired it with a lemon tart and a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey cage because he is ~very quirky~

I think in all honesty his was the most structurally impressive, because while Lottie’s was beautiful to look at it, she did have an industrial amount of isomalt holding it all together – nothing was tearing that sucker down, not even Paul’s gorilla hands.

Then we move on to our Pastry Palavers starting with Mark who was already putting himself ona back foot by deciding that pear and sage was a winning combination – and seemingly decided on that purely for this terrible pun

When I first saw him putting it in the oven, I did think he was making a pastry version of The Krusty Krab

Which I would absolutely wholeheartedly endorse – personally my choice would have been to recreate the iconic Eurovision performance by Hatari

You want caged tarts, you get caged tarts.

Unfortunately for Mark his pastry demoulding goes south and he ends up forlornly draping his shards of pastry over his tart like it’s an insect accruing debris in order to hide from predators.

And you would think that it wouldn’t get worse than this? Linda would like you to hold her beer because she coming in hot with umm, a… are we allowed to say “gypsy tart” on national television? REMEMBER WHEN CHANNEL 4 HAD A WHOLE SHOW THAT WAS JUST “LOL TRAVELLERS”? EXCEPT THEY JUST USED THE SLUR? Oh boy, we are a bad country. Can we be moved to the recycle bin? Just ALT, CTRL, DEL us right now. Nonetheless they proceed to just say the word. She decided that in order to really show off she’s going to make a red and yellow striped cage – like a giant circus tent and flavour it with rosewater for absolutely no reason. She also decided to put an elaborate lacey chocolate transfer onto the top of her tart, which does not go well and is only the beginning of Linda’s Tart Journey

She’s a little late in getting her cage into the oven meaning she doesn’t really have enough time to let it properly cool so, galaxy braining herself, she whacks it in the freezer, unfortunately not realising that slightly moist pastry in the freezer is just going to freeze to the bowl she is moulding it over meaning it, much like her spirit, breaks into several pieces which she is forced to prop up against her tart making it look like Angelica Pickles’ doll Cynthia

And then because we have to kick her while she’s down Prue can’t even pretend to like the taste BECAUSE WHO WOULD LIKE THE TASTE OF TART MADE SOLELY OF EVAPORATED MILK AND SUGAR? It’s a nonsense food. Her pastry is also far too thick, just to you know, twist the knife a little more.

An Unnecessary Tart Tally

  1. Laura’s Floral Cage
  2. Hermine Doing The Absolute Most for the Absolute Least
  3. Peter’s CAGE OF PURE EMOTION.
  4. Dave’s Pyramid of Wonder
  5. Marc’s Floral Cage 2: Electric Boogaloo
  6. Lottie’s Pyramid of Slightly Less Wonder
  7. Mark’s Driftwood
  8. Linda At Least Made a Tart This Time.

I don’t think there was a person in the world who didn’t know Linda was about to be eliminated (although Rowan lasted 2 episodes more than he probably should have) and may I reminder that I absolutely called this in the first episode

Lock me up in a snake infested temple because I might as well be Cassandra.

Star Baker was a little more suspenseful with both Laura and Hermine putting in strong showings and Peter also being up in the rankings but it ultimately goes to Laura – although I thoroughly believe Hermine WUZZ ROBBED again.

NEXT WEEK

Japanese Week? In a series punctuated by Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame doing awful accents? I hate it.

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