This week was all about pies and it was quite the rollercoaster, with most of the bakers struggling to maintain a high standard throughout the episode.
The first challenge was a signature Wellington and the dish was fitting with this series' slightly retro feel. Most contestants stuck to a basic puff pastry or a rough puff pastry but, once again, Brendan offered something different and unexpected, using a Scandinavian pastry made with both butter and quark cheese. Thankfully it paid off, once again securing a tick next to his name. Sadly he was one of only a few to get overall praise as the remaining bakers experienced problems, leaving the competition wide open…
The technical challenge was another tricky recipe. The contestants had to make hand-raised pies using hot water crust, a pastry not often found at home and one which most of last night’s bakers had never made before. In addition, they had to shape the pie in the traditional way using a wooden dolly - an acquired skill most of the contestants noticeably struggled with.
It is always a surprise to find out what the technical challenge is. In series one, the location offered us a possible clue to the challenge - scones in Scone Palace, for example. But in the current series, the only clue is the week’s theme.
Another tough element of this challenge is the delay in results which are not judged until the morning after. You can guarantee the bakers were stewing about the outcome overnight – not a relaxing evening, trust me!
Once again, the reviews were hugely varied leaving Ryan, Danny and surprisingly James at the bottom of the pile whilst Cathryn and John occupied the top, showcasing yet again a consistent level of skill - something to watch out for in this series winner.
The showstopper challenge was an American pie – think pecan or pumpkin. There were a real mix of flavours and, to my mind, the most interesting was Danny's pumpkin pie, with salted caramel, chocolate and rum. But unfortunately the judges didn’t agree.
Ryan followed his usual manic pattern, ending with a disastrous-looking kitchen yet producing a beautiful key lime pie, judged as one the best-tasting entries in the entire bake off – not something to be sniffed at!
When the results are announced you can see the emotion written all over Mel's face and it actually makes me upset to watch - waiting to hear who is leaving is genuinely stressful and agonising. This week, unfortunately, it was Manisha’s messy American pie which wasn't up to scratch, sealing her fate in the competition.