Richard Burr discusses chocolate week on The Great British Bake Off

By
Richard Burr
Added
05 October, 2015

Our resident GBBO expert discusses the highs and lows of chocolate week.



What difficulties does chocolate week present? Where do I start?

I love working with chocolate, but it certainly can be a nuisance, especially in the tent where temperature, humidity and time limits come into play. There’s very little room for error, and nowhere to hide when you’ve made a pigs ear of it! Even if you know what temperature you need it to be, getting it just right for tempering is a skill in itself, let alone creating something beautiful with the stuff. Semi-final week is a tough one; up until this point, adrenaline has been running high, but now, fear and exhaustion takes over, and you could see it in all the bakers’ faces this time.


I think the judges called it right by making Nadiya star baker second week in a row.

Although she struggled in the technical - I mean, it’s souffle, who wouldn’t? - she really pulled it back with her showstopper. Each week she seems to come up with something more intricate and elegant than the last, and when you’re at this stage in the competition, feeling the fatigue and running on nervous energy, that’s quite a feat. That moment when a tear escaped summed the whole semi final up for me; you can get so involved with your bakes, and you have just worked soooo hard to get there that one bad bake can really seem like the end of the world, but the mark of a true tent hero is when you come back the next day and nail the showstopper!  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with in the final.

 

It might be a bit predictable given I’m a builder, but I’d love to have a go at making Ian’s well - mechanical chocolate is pretty impressive!

But after the judges’ comments about the simplicity, I think I’d build it up a bit with some shortbread benches, and maybe a roof (I reckon a few tempered chocolate tiles would have looked ace!) chocolate soil and a few white chocolate flowers spiked with rose water, orange blossom and violet flavourings around the base. I’d annihilate that chocolate and peanut tart from Nadiya in a heartbeat, though! My least likely bake? After watching that lot, I don’t have a burning desire to make a chocolate souffle any time soon!

 

It’s such a close call between them all, I wouldn’t like to say who I’d pick as the winner.

It really could be any of them. Ian started off strong, and although he’s had a few bumps in the road recently, I can see him knuckling down and pulling some incredible flavour combinations out of the bag. Tamal, well, he’s all about precision and consistency - he had a bit of a shocker burning his biscuits for the showstopper, but I can’t see him letting that happen again. As for Nadiya? If she keeps her cool, I’d say that she would be the one to beat.

 

Oh Flora! I could see this one coming, poor thing.

But Paul hit the nail on the head when he said there’s no point in making macarons if you’re not going to make them well. She showed a huge variety of skill every week, but at the end of the day, sometimes you’ve got to focus on one thing, and make it truly knockout. The trouble is, if you have a bit of bad turn on the signature, it can be hard to claw your confidence back for the rest of the challenges, and you could see after the judges gave their verdict on her chocolate tart that she was struggling to stay up beat and positive. It’s terrible to leave at this stage, but she should be extremely proud of what she has achieved, and at such a young age, too. Anyone that can make vol-au-vents as beautiful as that deserves a medal!

 

I did love that edible well, but my favourite showstopper was probably Nadiya’s.

The attention to detail was incredible, right down to the cinder eggs. It’s a pretty fearless thing to make 60-odd feathers at this stage in the competition, but she pulled it off, and the judges seemed to love it. I can’t wait to have a play around with some of that chocolate myself this weekend - maybe a few chocolate dinosaurs will be plodding out of my kitchen this weekend!


Signature bake this week would have been a lot of fun.

Everyone loves a chocolate tart, so I think I’d have gone with something really crowd pleasing, like hazelnut liqueur flavoured mousse under a thick chocolate ganache. I use those flavours in the opera cake in my book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself. I’d jazz it up with some shards of hazelnut brittle, and definitely a mirror glaze – kind of a mega Ferrero Rocher!  I know Ian’s had its problems as far as Paul was concerned, but I thought that bay salted caramel sounded pretty amazing!

 


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