Richard Burr discusses patisserie week on Great British Bake Off

By
Richard Burr
Added
24 September, 2015

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

Great British Bake Off Richard Burr

Patisserie is one of my favourite episodes of each Bake Off series. There is always something inspiring to see and I’m usually left experimenting in the kitchen for the following week.

The main thing to watch out for is the structure of your pastry. For the puff in the signature cream horns, the weather can be a big factor; if it’s a hot day, I’d avoid making puff – the butter laminations can take ages in a hot atmosphere as you have to return your pastry back to the fridge after each fold (up to a maximum of seven folds). This will take ages and leave you pressed for time to do the rest of your bake. Similarly, the structure of the choux pastry was vital to the whole of the showstopper. Well-baked and fully dried-out choux are key, and this takes some practice in your own kitchen, let alone a tent with a time limit! Also, the fillings for the showstopper need to be firm – no slack custards here please; they will soak into eclairs and the whole thing will collapse into a mushy disaster. Any of these issues are potentially fatal so it made for a tense weekend’s baking!

I’m inclined to agree with the judges this week on star baker; Nadiya made such a strong start in the signature, especially with that cracking rose and pistachio horn, and then she nailed the technical.

A bit of a misfire on the flavours for the showstopper still didn’t knock her off the top spot. Personally, I love a bit of Willy Wonka sweet shop madness when it comes to flavouring, but you need to know your audience when you’re doing the Bake Off and it was always going to be a hard sell getting Mary to appreciate bubble gum flavoured custard! Still, this was a win based on the mistakes of the other bakers, rather than being perfect in every section – not the end of the world though – it was a tough week after all. I had a lot of love for Flora’s peach filling in her cream horn, though it was a shame she spent so much time mucking about with all the extra stuff that she didn’t set her fillings properly.

If I were going to attempt them at home, I’d combine Nadiya’s rose and pistachio cream horn and Tamal’s malt and honeycomb one for a fantastic afternoon of flaky goodness. 

I love playing with flavour combinations, and I try to fit malt into loads of bakes with varying degrees of success, so this bake really appeals. Nadiya’s rose syrup just looked so inviting – my main problem would be saving enough filling to pipe into the pastries once I’d started tasting!

I think Flora is definitely in trouble next week. If Paul hadn’t had such a nightmare with his bananas, she would have gone.

She is clearly a talented baker who has a massive repertoire of bakes at her disposal, but her time management seems terrible! If she could calm down in the tent and have confidence in the quality of her bakes (which is often good) then she wouldn’t feel the need to add so many unnecessary additions to her bakes. The times where she has avoided extras and concentrated with the task at hand have been successful, but she hasn’t seemed to learn her lesson. Two episodes to go now, so there’s no time to leave lessons unlearned.

Poor old Paul! I reckon you can make it to the final of the Bake Off with about 80% of your bakes nailed – this allows for the odd dip in form, or bad decision.

The trouble is that if you have a whole weekend where each bake is part of your weaker 20%, then it’s game over for you. This happened to Paul, which is a massive shame. The fella is a solid baker, great in the areas he’s comfortable, and capable in the areas he’s new to. I think his biggest problem was lack of practice. When you work full time during the Bake Off (as I did) it can get pretty exhausting by this point; you start to go into the tent slightly off-balance and need to wing it a bit. Banana was a bad choice this weekend – it can be difficult to get a lot of flavour through without using essences. Also his stiff fillings for the cream horns meant he had trouble fulling filling them. Not having made a genoise sponge before certainly knocked him on the head in the technical and slack fillings and just-cooked choux for the showstopper was always going to send his Religieuse a L'ancienne south. A tough week for him, but overall an excellent performance in the show. Lion bread, anyone?

I thought Ian’s showstopper flavours were excellent. Once again he provides the sophisticated palate in the tent.

Coffee and cardamom sounds like such an intriguing combination that I can’t wait to have a crack at it in my kitchen. Any bake that makes Mary swoon with delight is well worth the effort, and that passion fruit crème pat did just that! It is such a shame that he had such a terrible day for the signature because I reckon he was just an average cream horn away from getting star baker. His showstopper structure stayed up and remained neat. I thought the decoration was subtle and understated, and in good keeping with the flavours he used. All in all I would have been very satisfied to have turned out that bake by week eight of the show.

Cream horns are a real fun bake to pile into if you have a free afternoon and a few moulds to play with. 

Even if you don’t have the gear, you can go for Flora’s ice cream cone wrapped in tin foil method (good idea there!). If I was doing this bake in the tent, I’d definitely go for a hazelnut liqueur Italian meringue buttercream filling – I reckon a bit of light nuttiness would go down brilliantly, and you can never go wrong with Mary if you add a bit of booze! Just to seal the deal, I’d probably ice it with a Kahlua-coffee drizzle and some grated chocolate – yum! For the second cream horn I’d probably go for a rhubarb and custard filling – the classic balance of sharp rhubarb, reduced down to an intense thickness and a light creamy vanilla custard would act as a real contrast to the velvety booziness of the hazelnut cream horn. In fact the more I think of it the more wistful I get about good times in the tent. If only I could get the memory of pears wrapped in pastry out of my head…

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