The Bake Off Blog: Week Four – Batter Week

6:00 – Mel is keen to remind us that batter week is a Bake Off first, and first up is the fairly unassuming task of making Yorkshire puddings with savoury fillings. Considering a good number of Brits manage this every Sunday, it should be a doddle.

11:00 – In typical Bake Off fashion we’re getting some odd fusion puds. Tom very tangentially connects Sunday lunch with Indian food via vegetarianism to justify his spicy offering, and bold flavours abound in the tent. Selasi meanwhile seem to have decided to squeeze a Sunday lunch in its entirety into his puddings, and Paul is very excited about his crackling.

13:00 – Kate’s Christmas-dinner-themed cupcakes are inspired by a bitter, batter-based feud; she’s at loggerheads with her in-laws over whether Yorkshire puds are an acceptable part of an Xmas spread (for the record, they very much are). Benjamina meanwhile oozes confidence as she gestures towards her “chutney, jam thing.”

18:00 – Oh God! The puddings are a disaster. Candice, Jane and Tom unveil successively flatter puds, with Tom’s resembling communion wafers. My Yorkshire Mother is outraged, and has declared herself Star Baker in protest.

24:00 – The consensus from Mary and Paul is that the flavours are great, but none of them have a clue how to make Yorkshire puddings. Nonetheless, Selasi gets a Paul Hollywood Handshake for his crackling, and Paul asks Rav for seconds. Despite suffering from an identity crisis as her bake veered towards disaster, Yorkshire-born Val’s offerings are declared “proper Yorkshire puddings,” so she is allowed to stay in God’s Own County.

29:00 – Time for the Technical, and Paul has got them making flimsy, heart-shaped lace pancake. The bakers have to show off their artistic sides in devising a suitable lacing pattern: Candice regrets not wearing lacy knickers for inspiration, whilst Mel unceremoniously informs Selasi he’s drawn an arse without any lacing at all.

33:00 – It quickly becomes apparent that some bakers are much better at lacing than others, but the half-arsed excuses being bandied about are terrific: Kate claims her pancakes are “shabby chic” (they’re definitely more shabby than chic), whilst Val calls her attempt “Jackson Pollock pancakes.”

34:00 – It’s come to the point in the programme where Selasi Is A Maverick. Despite sugar being about the only thing Paul’s included in his skeleton recipe, Selasi smugly tells us “I see other people putting sugar in them, but I’m not going to.” Paul’s wrath follows shortly after: Selasi’s pancakes look like “an alien’s face” and aren’t sweet enough (I wonder why), meaning he comes eight out of nine bakers. Benjamina’s pancakes are a thing of beauty, and she deservedly bags first place.

41:00 – It’s the showstopper, and they’re making churros. Everybody loves churros, but how do you make them into a showstopper?

43:00 – The bakers remain in an experimental mood. Tom’s creation is fantastically titled ‘Tom’s Fennel Seed Churros Snake in the Grass,’ which sounds like the name of a forgotten prog rock album. Paul dramatically described the fennel seeds as “taking them to the edge,” before giving Tom a look of utter distaste. Eek!

47:00 – Things are hotting up, Andrew looks in physical pain as he struggles to keep his bake on track. Kate meanwhile is quite literally being a bunny-boiler with her “hot cross bunny” churros, which would be more disturbing if they actually looked something like rabbits.

50:00 – Rav and Tom are piping straight into the oil in traditional Spanish style – with disastrously non-uniform results! Val’s churros are doughy in the middle, which is apparently just how she likes them. I’m guessing that’s not how Paul likes them though…

57:00 – It’s judgement time and things aren’t looking good. Tom and Kate’s churros are “difficult to eat” – after getting Star Baker last week, could Tom be in danger? Unreformed after he consistently burnt everything last week, Selasi’s churros are on the crispy side – though he doesn’t look like he cares. Benjamina’s churros are delicious and very pretty; surely she’s a shoo-in for Star Baker.

59:00 –Benjamina gets a well-deserved Star Baker, she’s really shone this week and is endearing enough to inspire Nadiya-like levels of devotion going forward. Despite Tom’s pancake Yorkshire puddings and ludicrous fennel-churros-snake-thing, he’s saved from a shock exit by Kate’s “roadkill bunnies”. A lot of our favourite bakers came dangerously close to departure (and I was rather fond of Kate really) – it’s all to play for next week!

Catch Pastry Week 8pm next Wednesday on BBC One (for now!). And for ‘Bake Off’ addicts like myself, there’s ‘An Extra Slice’ at 9:30pm this Friday on BBC Two which is hilarious: it features Jo Brand and a random panel of celebs chatting to the departing contestants and looking suspiciously at the studio audience’s attempts at baking. See you next week!

Photograph: Garry Knight

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