Richard Burr discusses Victorian week on Great British Bake Off

By
Richard Burr
Added
17 September, 2015

Our resident GBBO baker gives his verdict on the highs and lows of Victorian week.



Nadiya summed it up at the start of the show when she said she hadn’t made many Victorian recipes – who has?!

The main difficulties are that we’re around 150 years on from this type of baking. However, something as delicious as a raised meat pie doesn’t age badly at all. Gelatine seemed to be a bit tricky across all of the challenges – it can take some getting the hang of. With the timescales in the tent, you usually have to use more gelatine than at home in order to get things to set quickly. Game can be pretty hard to work with too as it’s naturally low in fat, which means that unless you add something fatty to it, it’ll dry out. Good to see the use of bacon and pork and lamb mince for this purpose. With hot water crust pastry, the secret is balancing having a thin enough crust with maintaining structural stability so that your pie doesn’t collapse. The other difficulty they were up against this week is just being plain knackered! By week seven, fatigue is setting in. I don’t think I made it to bed before one in the morning once during the 10 weeks of our filming! This also seems to be the most gruelling week so far in terms of the lengths of bakes too – poor things....


Without a shadow of a doubt, Tamal was the star baker this week.

As Paul said, he’d been cruising close to the top for weeks and this time he nailed it! I really liked the way he used his minced lamb to bind and moisten his filling on the signature. Balancing his spice to Mary’s taste and then getting a ‘Hollywood handshake’ certainly sent him in the right direction for this weekend. The delicate rose work with the hot water crust turned out really well. In the showstopper, when they cut into his Charlotte Russe I gave an involuntary “cor!” at home – it looked perfect.


I’d love to have a crack at a Charlotte Russe and my wife’s already put in a request for one for her birthday.

In our series we didn’t really get to do any giant mousse-y delights, and I’d love to get to grips with one. Flavour-wise, I loved Tamal’s rose and cardamom and Nadiya’s raspberry and mango. I think this week our kitchen is going to be stacked high with ladies fingers and swimming in fruity jelly and bavarois!


Paul had a tough one this week. I reckon he dodged a bullet really, with Mat just edging him for last place.

His decoration was a bit too modest on the signature, and he seemed to have a general lack of focus. Maybe he’s coming to the limit of his ability in the tent. The constant need to practice can catch you up especially if you work full time and can’t get in the kitchen as much as you would like. His bakes seem to be well worked out, but just a bit less polished than the others at the mo. Let’s hope it’s just a blip and he’ll come back fighting next week!


Poor old Mat. That technical just got the better of him didn’t it?

I think a lack of experience showed here, but then again who does have experience of Victorian cooking? I did sympathise as for me, baking is about bread, pies and pastry and when I was on the show I had less experience of making different icings too. I think just a bit more practice was all that was needed for him; a bit more polish on the signature – which looked beautiful – and frankly a full overhaul on the showstopper. I liked the simplicity of his showstopper flavours, but if you’re going simple you need to turn out a mistake-free bake. He knew it was his time though and I really felt for him when that Charlotte Russe just wouldn’t shift off its board in one piece. It was a shame really because i have really enjoyed watching him over the series. He has had a great attitude in the tent; taking criticism with good humour and putting his best foot forward on bakes he was unfamiliar with.


Nadiya’s use of Italian meringue to add stability to her Charlotte Russe was a real touch of class, and the raspberry bavarois sounded just magical!

I really like mango in a pud, and it looked like it fitted perfectly here – the different coloured layers looked wonderful when it was cut into. I didn’t mind at all that her fingers weren’t ladylike enough for Paul and Mary; I thought the overlapping design was quite innovative.  As usual, she’s the one I rate when it comes to baking and her flavour combinations always make me want to pile in for ‘telly seconds’!

 

Savoury pies are one of my favourite things to make, especially now we’re heading into the Autumn.

I have a whole chapter on them in B.I.Y.! My favourite is a recipe for a very decent steak and ale. It has rich thick gravy and juicy tender steak; I’d probably have gone for something similar, but with venison, fig and mushroom these flavours go really well, and I’ve always liked a pie with plenty of juice in it. For juicy pies you do need to keep an eye on the thickness of your crust so it doesn’t collapse, but when done right they taste delicious. Practice makes perfect and no one usually complains if you want to make endless practice meat pies!


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