Richard Burr discusses dessert week on Great British Bake Off

Richard Burr
27 August, 2015

Dessert week always has a few pitfalls, and this one was no exception.

The main thing to watch out for with the crème brûlées is judging the wobble. A simple thing really, but the characteristic by which the whole pudding is judged. As long as you don’t put too much extra liquid in your mix (either fruit or booze) and you evenly caramelise the top, then you’re good to go. 

Creme brulee

For the technical, I reckon the conditions couldn’t have been worse.

Making French meringue on a rainy day is bad enough in your kitchen, let alone in a humid tent, considering the main aim of the bake is to dry out the meringue. That aside, I would have loved to have had a crack at this one, and will be mucking about with it in my kitchen very soon!

For the showstoppers, I think they had their work cut out for them.

Four and a half hours to do baked cheesecakes is quite a tall order – I usually leave mine to cool in the fridge for at least four hours. Structure is the main challenge here for me. You need to make sure you get a bake that will stay up, but not be overcooked and dry. With still relatively unfamiliar ovens, this can be quite a gamble.

I was really impressed with Tamal.

His ginger and rhubarb crème brûlées were right up my street, and perfectly - baked to boot - and his cheesecake looked magnificent! Ian’s innovative flavour combinations must have been truly spectacular to have knocked Tamal off of the top spot.

I would have loved the technical this week. 

Apart from the fab crème brûlées and Mat’s brilliant chocolate bar cheesecakes, I know the first chance I get I’ll be building giant structures out of French meringue, then rendering them with Swiss (and eating a fair amount of meringue fresh from the piping bag too!) I can see plenty of ways to muck about with flavours and colours here and can’t wait to have a crack at them.


Plenty of people had their share of nightmares this week, and with four bakers down, the opportunities to hide behind other people’s mistakes are slowly diminishing.

I reckon Alvin needs to find his mojo again if he’s going to stay in the running, also Ugne needs to show some more refined skills to stay up there. It was good to see Paul dust himself off after a disastrous signature to nail that technical – that ability to shake off disappointment and crack on will hopefully serve him well in weeks to come.

Oh Sandy! I have loved watching her in the tent from the very moment I saw her.

Her constant chortling away and ability to treat success and failure with the same happy smile have been brilliant. But this week was just not her week. It looked like she just never managed to get the hang of those ovens, as pretty much everything was under baked. A shame at this stage, but everyone else has managed it, so under baking becomes more and more unacceptable. I really felt for Alvin when she was announced; his ‘dodged a bullet’ expression was heartbreaking.

My personal showstopper? It’s a toss up between Mat’s chocolate bar inspired cheesecakes and Ian’s fascinating combinations.

Mat must have been quaking a bit following Mary’s discontent at his use of desiccated coconut, but I’m glad he stuck to his guns, because I’d pile right into any of those cakes he turned out. Ian’s flavour combinations just looked so sophisticated and intriguing that I would have real trouble walking past any of his offerings. He is really turning out to be the one to watch.

Creme brulees are very popular in our house, so much so that our favourite made it into BIY.

They’re for orange blossom crème brûlées, inspired by one I had in Paris the day after running the marathon there, when I feasted like a king! I like to keep it simple, so I’d make my orange blossom crème brulee perfectly and try my best not to harvest too many before the judges could get their hands on them. Sometimes simple is best.

Find our GBBO-inspired dessert collection, including Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall’s foolproof crème brulee here.

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