Bake Off 2021, Pastry Week: Bacon-eating Cat Burglar

In order to save himself from elimination George uses an ingenious disguise to cloaks himself as Prue Leith.

It’s pastry week where obviously we have to ignore the years of general advice being “just buy the ready made stuff, Jus-Rol has perfected the artform.”

How About Deez Chouxnuts?

For this year’s Pastry Week signature the bakers were tasked with both making two batched of chouxnuts (6 filled and 6 unfilled) but also to say the word “chouxnuts” as many times as they possibly could within the 2 hours so that the Oxford English Dictionary has no choice but to add the word to the Dictionary this year. All they are is choux pastry that’s piped into a doughnut shape and then deep-fried, which did of course mean the health and safety manager had one Hell of a form to fill out with there being 7 deep fat fryers in the tent all going off at the same time.
Nobody was quite dreading the frying process more than Lizzie who was trapped in a sort of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly style showdown with her fryer

and she’s also averse to the very concept of choux pastry and spent the entire round only referring to chouxnuts as “the Devil’s doughnuts” which every food technologist is kicking themselves over for not thinking of first for this year’s spooky season. Don’t worry guys, you had Santa’s Yumnuts last year.
As for Lizzie’s Dreaded Choux, her filled batch were flavoured with raspberry liqueur and hibiscus. Rather sadly in her quest for finesse Lizzie had chosen not to make her chouxnuts look like a choir of extremely surprised Sophie Ellis Bextors and instead went more subtle and classy, or as subtle as an eye-searingly pink raspberry glaze can be

she gets highly commended for balancing her flavours, I think she should have been given a little more praise for her presentation of them, her hatred of the maligned chouxnuts meaning she didn’t have much of a gimmick for them, instead merely opting for a display piece that looks like Barbie’s Dream House Church Pew

I want an entire post-series episode based around quite where the bakers keep finding these incredibly niche looking pieces of carpentry.
As for her unfilled bunch, like many of the other bakers she had just decided to play it fairly safe with a classic looking batch of toffee chouxnuts (she says like there’s such a thing as “a classic chouxnut”)

they’re not overwhelmingly interesting but they look good and Prue was pleased she could taste the toffee, which I suppose is the modus operandi of a toffee chouxnut.

With Lizzie playing it subtle, it did mean her Bowl of Many Colours was left unguarded and apparently Jurgen was feeling a little nostalgic for the hideous murky sorbet colours of the 70s

granted the purple Ube filling was always going to be purple because that’s just what Ube is but he made a choice to create that shade of orange and pair it with a sprinkle of the least green pistachios I’ve ever seen. My favourite thing about them was the fact Prue clearly absolutely hated every second of having to taste the Ube and yet felt compelled to only compliment it. Once bitten by Japanese Week Discourse, twice as shy.
Rather than continue his Hideous 70s Interior Décor theme, his second batch were continuing with Japanese flavours, glazed in sake and yuzu

we don’t often see sake being used in baking so that was a nice change of pace and apparently Jurgen is here to outdo the professional pastry chefs on Bake Off: The Professionals because there is not a single complaint about how much yuzu he used. Cherish Finden was probably banging on the tent flaps demanding a retaste.

Following in Jurgen’s booze-y footsteps was Fellow Continental Father of the Year Nominee: Giuseppe who was lacing his filled chouxnuts with so much limoncello that it gave Paul the same reaction to Freya’s brandy snaps that had so much coffee in them they could have revived the dead

meanwhile Prue just gleefully went in for seconds.
His second batch were Sesame and Almond Nougatine and in true Giuseppe style, both batches looked utterly professional if maybe a touch unexciting

I would quite like a full background check on Giuseppe, just to confirm he isn’t some sort of technologically advanced automaton being operated by a whole host of professional pastry chefs sitting in the bushes behind the tent. Or if he has a very intelligent rat nestled safely in his curls.

While Giuseppe’s chouxnuts came out looking like what I imagine a textbook chouxnut would look like if there was such a thing as a textbook chouxnut, Crystelle didn’t have quite as much success as she put them in the fryer without putting her timer on and so just had a stab at how long they had been in there. Her concept of time apparently not being great and they all turned out a little under-baked and a little bit like someone had sat on them

her flavours were at least interesting as she kept Jairzeno’s Hotel Breakfast Fruitbowl Robbery flame alight with her filled batch being filled with mango and passion fruit. Her unfilled batch were a complete Waitrose delight, raising salted caramel to new aspirational middle class heights by flavouring it with miso instead of Himalayan Sea Salt to give it more umami undertones – “Umami Undertones” is the name of my new faux-punk band.
The judges do commend her flavours which practically sets Crystelle up nicely for a monthly feature in the Waitrose Food Magazine once this is all over – her and Martha Collison can be bitter, bitter baking rivals.

Amanda was also trying to play with sweet and savoury flavours, opting for the classic and at this point really quite dated Maple Bacon which she was really quite proud of – it’s not 2015 anymore Amanda, we’ve done that, Hell we’ve already been and done doughnut burgers. If you want to shock anyone you’re going to have to turn a roast chicken into candyfloss. THAT IS NOT A CHALLENGE TO ANYONE ON MASTERCHEF.
As for the final Maple Bacon Chouxnuts, well the maple bacon topping was more of a paltry token offering

but it was always going to be because George was playing the part of bacon-eating cat burglar

and while her maple bacon chouxnuts lacked certain flavours, her other batch of Rose and Pistachio Chouxnuts certainly tasted of rose, a flavour that seemed to fill Paul with a deep, soul eating sadness

Everybody asks for a Hollywood Handshake but nobody ever asks for a Hollywood Hug.

While he wasn’t robbing Amanda of all her bacon, George was making two rather ordinary sounding batches, one featuring the flavours of a Sticky Toffee Pudding, sadly he didn’t decide to honour Maggie and try to bake them without using flour. His other batch was filled with a Raspberry Ripple Chantilly Cream – they aren’t flavours that particularly excite me but in fairness to George both batches looked like something Greggs would sell, which is a compliment in my eyes

his Sticky Toffee Chouxnut are very positively received however his Raspberry Cream filled batch had some issues, mostly that the filling isn’t evenly distributed, which Prue points out while sounding like the director’s commentary of a porn video

and also proving that the word “squirt” is very much akin to the word “moist” and should absolutely not be uttered outside of Watershed hours.

The other bakers had all opted to just make one big batch of choux pastry for both of their chouxnuts, Chigs however was making two different doughs, one plain for his Paris-Brest Chouxnuts and then a chocolate dough for his Chocolate and Lime Chouxnuts. The latter looking distinctly horrible while it bobbed around in the fryer

and I’m not sure they got much more aesthetically pleasing when they were topped with an icing that I can only described as Ectoplasm Green

the only critique Paul offers is a brief face pulling and an uncertain “it’s unusual but it works.” – I’m not going to make an exception for My Boy, Chigs but I just don’t support the theory that lime and chocolate belong anywhere near each other. Daylight between the two at all times please.
His Paris-Brest Chouxnuts, which were indeed a low shelf innuendo goldmine for Matt Lucas, were significantly more impressive and had surpassed The Gregg’s Display Case and entered Patisserie Valerie Territory

and he had PACKED them with his filling, I shall spare you the gif of Paul Hollywood attempting to eat them and erupting cream everywhere. I am a merciful recapper. Much like George, it’s not the most wildly exciting flavour or concept but the execution of the idea was really quite good.

An Unofficial Chouxnut Ranking

  1. Would You Like Some Chouxnut With Your Limoncello?
  2. Giuseppe Going The Full Italian
  3. Barbie’s Dream House Chouxnuts
  4. HA! Chigs said “Brest”
  5. Jurgen’s Perfect Yuzu Management
  6. Lizzie’s Toffee sans Sticky Pudding Chouxnuts
  7. Jurgen’s 70s Wallpaper Nightmare Chouxnuts
  8. Crystelle’s Bid For Waitrose Supremacy
  9. George’s Sticky Toffee Chouxnuts
  10. Chigs’s Ectoplasmic Chouxnuts
  11. George’s Unsatisfying Creaming
  12. Amanda’s Very New and Very Novel Maple Bacon Chouxnuts
  13. The Jairzeno Memorial Chouxnuts
  14. The Deep Seated Rosey Sadness

The Baklava Palaver

This week’s technical challenge found the bakers having to make an industrial amount of baklava which comes with the bonus of there being A LOT of baklava but the downside that they were indeed going to have to make their own Filo Pastry, which as you can tell from their reactions is one of life’s greatest horrors

You could almost see George retreating into himself as he realised the narrative that was brewing, however Amanda was on hand to somewhat shield him as she dropped a late stage “my Greek Grandmother” on us. Much like Jurgen’s German heritage in German Week, both of them were forsaken by their Greek ancestors and left to flounder in their baklava woes – and I can’t say I blame The Ghosts of Greeks Past given that Amanda was cutting pistachios with scissors

Amanda just continues to thrive on vaguely threatening energy.
The best part of it was that the pistachios were going to be blitzed, so really she just felt the need to get some aggression out. And the pistachios certainly came in handy as her baklava were rather under-baked and anaemic so she was particularly generous with them, to the point of turning it into a dilapidated model of The Tubbytronic Superdome

she wasn’t the only one to use The Pistachio Deception, as the bakers were given a diagram of the desired pattern

which was only 20cm in diameter while the final bake was 30 and while Jurgen was perfectly happy to take up the mantel of Extremely Boring Maths Teacher and work out the scaling for it – Lizzie and Chigs were just cutting into theirs like 2 hacksaw-happy Victorian surgeons in training

Chigs managed to recover better by baking his baklava for long enough, while Lizzie’s was taken out just that little bit too early and the pastry, while successfully laminated, was still a touch doughy

Giuseppe joined her in under-cooked purgatory which gave Crystelle the perfect opportunity to somewhat redeem herself in the Technical Challenges – her highest placements prior to this being 5th place in The Sticky Toffee Hellscape Challenge. And she was facing greater peril than anyone else, having to roll out dough in very flappy sleeves

Can confirm, a Bishop’s sleeve is not a baker’s friend.
Her determination to succeed paid off as she got second place, her reaction would have suggested she’d just won the entire show

Careful Crystelle, you’ll be next on Jurgen’s list

Of course, Jurgen’s sudden descent into Boring Maths Teacher Mode very much paid off with a winning Baklava.

An Official Baklava Ranking

  1. Jurgen’s Trigonometry Homework
  2. Crystelle’s Well Wrangled Sleeves
  3. Chigs’s Successful Surgery
  4. Giuseppe’s Slightly Doughy Shortcomings
  5. Amanda, Forsaken By Her Greek Grandmother
  6. George, Forsaken By His Greek Grandmother
  7. Lizzie vs The Greeks

Pies The Limit

The final challenge of Pastry Week found the bakers having to try to put together an intricate terrine pie that was both ornately decorated on the outside but also reveals some sort of a pattern or design when cut through the middle. I cannot express how disappointed I am that we’ll never get to see Freya’s Vegan Horse Girl Pie – WE were robbed.

Chigs was facing a certain amount of televisually fabricated pressure, what with him being from the birthplace of Thee Pork Pie and therefor contractually obligated to making his own version of it – his trick being to add a Marcus Wareing amount of lard, chicken, gherkins and apricots to the middle of it to create what he called a pattern and I call The Lost Liquorice Allsorts

at least the outside looked a lot more impressive, at least from an aerial view and then you pan to the sides and see that he detinned his pie with all the delicacy that George deigned upon his Pavlova that he wrestled into a proving drawer like Stone Cold Steve Austin

they do like the flavours of his pie and praise him for the fact his pastry is well made and mostly structurally sound, however they were a little disappointed with the fact his cut through was barely distinguishable but I will take issue with them then calling Jurgen’s hidden gaping maw “very pretty”

it’s certainly defined – they tended to use the word “pretty” a lot during this judging and I don’t think pies are particularly suited to the word. Yes, I am gatekeeping pastry beauty standards, it is a culinary necessity for your meat pie to be ugly.
Aside from Jurgen’s pie’s alleged beautiful interior, the flavours are all good. Wanting to make up for his German Week defeat, he had based his pie’s flavours off of a famous dish from his hometown of Freiburg that the subtitlers didn’t even deign to try and caption so all I know is that it contains beef and sauerkraut. The latter very much coming to Jurgen’s rescue as his pie was rather dry with the sauerkraut providing at least a modicum of the required moistness. That sentence is cursed and I apologise for it.

The only baker to try anything particularly novel with their cut through design was Lizzie who was creating what she called Neptune’s Pie, topped with a mermaid’s tail design, which Paul of course only referred to as “a fish” because he cannot dare acknowledge anything whimsical as it is and it was pretty obviously a bisected mermaid

glad to see she managed to wrangle her Bowl of Many Colours back from Jurgen.
As for her cut through, she was inserting a line of fish-shaped potatoes, which in her previous attempts had turned to mush during the cooking process and resulted in a fun family game of Find The Potato Fish, which does sound like some sort of parlour game invented in Victorian Liverpool. Luckily for her (or unluckily depending on how much fun she finds Find The Potato Fish I guess) the fish pattern was very much visible

and the judges love her choice of flavours, carrying through the fishy theme with Salmmon paired with Ricotta and Spinach. The only real downside was that her pastry was a little thick, but you know… at least it was stable and could support its own weight.

Joining Lizzie with a whimsical animal bake, and inadvertently possibly reviving Charles Darwin’s infamous Gluttons Club, was Giuseppe with his Owl Pie, luckily not containing actual owl, which is by all accounts (of which there are thankfully few) is incredibly horrible to eat. As for the actual contents of his pie, there was a lot going on, most of it cheese

and I have to say, there’s something ever so slightly off-putting about the phrase “a circle of beef” but “a circle of beef” it was

am I slightly sad that we didn’t cut into the owl to reveal a pattern of smaller owls like some sort of strigine matryoshka doll? Yes, especially with how cute the exterior beige owl was

it’s a very clever use of textures given that it’s all the same colour and could very much have just turned out as a rather indiscernible Roman relic depicting The Green Man.
As usual, Giuseppe gets high praises for his professional finish and his extremely well blended flavours – when in doubt, ply the judges with booze and/or cheese.

But it was Crystelle who was really gunning for that Star Baker crown as she took on the task of making a pie in the shape of her Nana’s Kenyan cottage filled with two types of curries. Usually the illustrations of quite highly designed bakes tend to only sets a baker up for failure and yet, Crystelle’s held up incredibly well

the only thing she might want to work on is the door to window ratio, or is it a well-known fact that the population of Kenya do indeed enter their houses on their bellies?
Her cut-through, while not overwhelming attractive, did showcase a rather sturdy potato insulated loft

and in true Paul Hollywood fashion he asks Crystelle if she noticed something funny about her pie and invites her to have a look, which had her seeing the gates of Hell opening up before her

and so she stepped tentatively forward to have her and her pie sins judged most harshly only to be met with a handshake

and we are reminded of the absurd rule that handshakes in the showstopper challenge are apparently incredibly rare beasts reserved only for Bread Lions and Pie Cottages.

While the previous bakers all ended up with fairly stable, if perhaps a little too leaky, pies – George and Amanda were in a two horse race to total pie calamity as Amanda wasted her time creating an army of pastry pigs for absolutely no reason and George had to desperately try and thaw out his sausage which he mostly did by fondling it and looking thoroughly upset

with their time being eaten away by bad decision making, the two of them got their pies into the oven late, but not before George waterboarded his with egg wash

and he then had to watch as the poor thing slowly began to fell apart, causing him to panic, open the oven and just rip off bits of partially cooked pastry

and having put his pie through literal Hell and so much worse, he decided to give it a bit of privacy so that it could lick its wounds and emotionally process what its poor pastry form had just been put through

sadly the poor thing still had to go through its humiliating and extremely public detinning, which admittedly went better than Amanda who just decapitated her entire pie

possibly the worst part of Amanda’s pie woes was the fact that as she desperately tried to get her very obviously doomed pie into the freezer to cool even 5 degrees, Chigs stood next to her lamenting the fact his pie had a *minor* leakage

meanwhile across the kitchen George was siphoning off an entire small reservoir of liquid from his pie

George ultimately had to deploy a crafty Knife Block Barricade to give his pie even the illusion of stability

because stable it very much was not as Paul cut into it and the whole thing just about wobbled away into itself

and then there was the fact he hadn’t properly thawed his sausage and Paul had his very own Lisa Faulkner and the Raw Scallops incident as he popped an allegedly fully cooked but still very mushy sausage into his mouth and he looked like he had just seen red

umm…. at least the cut through was… good? Mushy Sausage and all?

and with George looking absolutely like he was about to be eliminated, Amanda swooped in and said “hold my structurally unsound pie that looks like a bungalow that someone on Homes Under the Hammer bought without viewing first”

it was very cute how Chigs had seemingly realised he had lamented a very minor flaw in his pie to Amanda and as penance for this spent an inordinate amount of effort trying to help her, while Giuseppe, the probably more qualified potential pie resurrector only watched on in horror

and Chigs seemed genuinely upset that he hadn’t been able to help

Alexa, play How To Save a Life by The Fray.
With the exterior of the pie threatening to make like Taylor Swift and remove itself from the narrative post-haste, the interior cut-through was at least discernible, I mostly just love that when the pie was cut it did look like the Three Little Pigs after the Big Bad Wolf blew one of their houses down

as for the flavours, Paul likes them, Prue was averse to the paté, mostly I imagine because it reminded her of George’s sinister sausage centre and like Jurgen’s it was all a bit dry and sadly had no sauerkraut to save it.

An Unofficial Terrine Pie Ranking

  1. Crystelle’s Well Insulated Cottage
  2. Lizzie’s Pie-cific Ocean Adventure
  3. Giuseppe’s Cheese-stuffed Owl
  4. Chigs’s Contractually Obligated Pork Pie
  5. Jurgen’s Saved by the Sauerkraut
  6. Amanda Proving That Pastry Is Not Wolf-proof
  7. George’s Was Actually Probably a Worse Pie Than Amanda’s

All that was left to do was have the judges deliberate while the presided over a tiny little pie village

the contenders for Star Baker of course being Giuseppe and Crystelle, the ultimate winner being Crystelle

watch out Martha, there’s another Waitrose Goddess in town.
As for the elimination, in true George Is The New Laura fashion, he manages to claw himself a place in Caramel Week while Amanda has to pay for her pastry crimes

personally I blame Crystelle for invoking The Girlboss Gods and just completely excluding Amanda

That’s not very Live, Laugh, Love of you, Crystelle.

And so, 6 bakers advance on to Caramel Week

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