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Bake Off 2019: Choux and Shoe People in semi-final

This week in the Bake Off tent, a bunch of Brits butchered the French language as they took on patisserie week, which featured words such as religieuse, gateau St Honoré and chiboust.

I’m not judging. I sound like Del Boy every time I try to say something even slightly exotic. Think “mange tout, Rodney, mange tout”.

Thankfully, the judges seemed to know what they were talking about (and how to pronounce it) as they briefed the bakers for the penultimate episode. First up – eight domed tarts.

It turns out, domed tarts look rather a lot like boobs, as many of the bakers pointed out throughout the episode. Even more so if, like Steph (pictured below), you top them with raspberries.

“They look like little implants,” said Sandi.

Steph, who has been star baker four times, in the Bake Off tent

Steph’s domed tarts also featured a white chocolate mirror glaze, raspberry jelly and lemon mousse, while David went with an “aperitif” (read: Aperol) flavoured creation. Rosie also went boozy with lemon, raspberry, mint and gin, while Alice offered the only one I was really interested in – mocha, orange and hazelnut tarts, made more exquisite by their size.

“They’re quite big,” she said. “You get more yumminess that way.”

Apart from a spot of messy piping, the judges were thrilled with Alice’s giant tarts. Paul and Prue also nit-picked when it came to the rest of the judging. David’s tasted good, but the nuts around the bottom weren’t chopped finely enough, Rosie’s crème pat was too runny, and Steph’s was too soft.

“They’re judging quite harshly today,” said David (pictured below). It’s like it’s the semi-final or something.

David and Sandi Toksvig in the Bake Off tent

On to the technical and there were more things I could not only pronounce but also not spell as the bakers whipped up a gateau St Honoré in honour of the French patron saint of bakers.

For those not in the know, the gateau comprises layers of puff pastry, choux buns filled with a crème chiboust (like crème pat with added egg whites) and topped with caramel and cream. Or, as Paul described it, “diabetes on a plate”.

Although a difficult task, David, Steph and Alice took it in their stride. There was even time for a spot of nostalgia for David, who asked: “Do you remember The Shoe People? I loved that programme.”

I also loved that programme. Although explaining it to people who don’t know what it is makes you seem a bit off. “So, there’s the cobbler shop and when the cobbler closes a door, a big cloud of dust brings all the odd shoes to life,” I say. Still, it’s less off than Button Moon – where a family of spoons go to the moon in a rocket that looks suspiciously like a Heinz baked beans can. But I digress.

Rosie, meanwhile, had no time for nostalgia. She did have time for near tears and self-doubt though. It was hard to watch. At one point, I thought she might quit. Thankfully, she persevered, making a whopping three batches of choux buns to get the right consistency.

And, although nobody expected it, she nailed the technical, coming first, followed by David, Steph and Alice, who suffered issues ranging from chiboust like scrambled egg to overdone caramel.

Rosie, Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding in the Bake Off tent for the semi final

It was all to play for going into the penultimate showstopper. The judges wanted to see a sugar glass display case with an edible depiction inside of something the bakers held dear.

“We’re looking for an artist, an architect and a baker,” said Paul. No pressure, then.

Steph whipped up an opera cake in ode to her beloved grandpa Derek, while Rosie stuck to the patisserie brief with a trio of desserts centred around the theme of spending time with loved ones. David created a terrarium with a buttercream cactus-topped cake, while Alice sought to hammer home the environmental message with a coral reef entremets. David Attenborough would be proud.

It was all rather tense. Until Alice said: “I’m just making a chocolate starfish.”

I nearly spat my tea out. For those of you who don’t quite get the reference, I simply suggest you don’t Google it on your work computers. IT may have a few questions.

The entremets was a hit, even if the flavour wasn’t as strong as Prue or Paul would have liked. When judging Steph’s work, Prue declared: “You’re a very good baker.”

David did not receive such high praise as the judges deemed his parsnip and beetroot creations as not quite delicate enough for patisserie week, while Rosie’s items lacked flavour.

Despite coming top in the technical, Rosie (below, left) was sent packing as Alice (below, right) was crowned star baker, securing her spot in the final alongside David and Steph.

I think many people believe Steph will take home the crown, particularly as she has been awarded star baker four times. But let us not forget Richard Burr from 2014’s season who, despite winning star baker five times, was pipped at the post by Nancy Birtwhistle. I’m still not over that.

Rosie exited the Bake Off tent leaving Alice, David and Steph to go through to the final

Here’s a few titbits based on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Steph

Should have gone home: Rosie

Most fun to watch: Rosie

Quote of the week: “I’m just making my chocolate starfish” – Alice


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