We're getting closer and closer to the Great British Bake Off final, with just five contestants remaining in the running to be crowned this year's Ultimate Star Baker.
Last night (Tuesday 25th October) saw the contestants in the Great British Bake Off 2022 line-up take on Custard Week for this week's Bake Off theme, but while it was as easy as pie for Syabira, who won Star Baker for the second time in a row, unfortunately for Kevin it was the end of the road, as he became the latest contestant to leave Bake Off.
Here, reigning Bake Off champion and RadioTimes.com columnist Giuseppe Dell'Anno shares his thoughts on Custard Week, Syabira's second win, and whether Abdul needs to pull his socks up as the only remaining contestant without a Star Baker accolade.
You can watch Giuseppe share his verdict on Bake Off's latest episode below (keep watching at the end of each video for more from the baker!).
Giuseppe on Custard Week
I must admit that I was slightly dubious about Custard Week to start with. I naively thought: ‘There is only so much you can do with custard, right?" How wrong was I! We had a great set of challenges, all requiring some significant technical skills and very close control over the tasks at hand.
Some sceptics might complain that there wasn’t much baking this week either, but I strongly disagree! Custard in all its shapes and forms (crème patisserie, crème mousseline, crème diplomat, crème legere just to name a few) is one of the pillars of pastry making and it fully deserves to have an entire Bake Off episode dedicated to it!
I loved, loved, loved the ice cream challenge! It looked apparently simple, but it was mined with treacherous steps. For me, making the cone would have been the most difficult bit, as I’ve never made one at home, and I would have thought that making the ice cream would have been the easiest step - it’s essentially a matter of churning a flavoured custard in the ice cream maker until it’s of the right consistency.
Nevertheless, the judges made it significantly more difficult by sneakily adding pistachio praline to it. Now, that might look like a simple addition but it’s not a trivial job: the praline had to be made, cooled down completely (or it would have melted the ice cream), ground to the right size (not too dusty, not too chunky), then folded in the ice cream without this losing its texture and then frozen again before scooping. It’s much more difficult than it looks. And many bakers fell for the fridge/freezer trick!
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They should have chilled the custard in the fridge to avoid warming up the freezer in readiness to the final chill. I have to say, however, that felt unfair for the bakers - it’s a critical step of the process which they would not have known, even if they had done it before at home, as it was mostly dictated by the time constraints of the tent. The quality of the overall outcome would have been much better had the bakers been warned about this.
However, Sandro literally smashed it! His ice cream cone was textbook quality. Beautifully made and with the perfect texture. That, to me, was handshake material, no doubt.
Least favourite bake
It kills me to say this, but Janusz’s Showstopper did not impress me. You could see while he was spreading the custard that it was too thick. That usually happens when either too much flour is added to the mix or too much gelatine, if you are using gelatine. And it’s a very easy mistake to make. The texture of the cream, in that case, turns from silky to rubbery and the judges spotted it.
Shame that somebody with his skills had a bit of a wobble this week, but I’m sure that he will pick up the pace again next week. I just hope that he does not give us another drip cake, as he clearly loves a drip cake, but we’ve seen enough!
Tip of the week: Perfecting your custard
Getting the right texture for custard is no easy feat. My recommendation would be not to be fooled by its texture when it’s freshly made, as custard sets significantly upon cooling, so even one that looks creamy and soft when warm, once left in the fridge for a couple of hours can turn into a very stiff slab.
When that happens, you may still be able to recover it by whisking it energetically with electric whisks for a couple of minutes before spreading it on the cake. But, crucially, you must make a note of the amount of flour used so you can reduce it next time. And even 10g less flour will make a difference.
Syabira won Star Baker for the second week in a row – what do you think of this?
It was really close between Syabira and Sandro this week. They both had their ups and downs and they were literally head-to-head. I felt for Sandro - he really looked disappointed that he didn’t get the accolade and I can relate to that. Even watching it from the outside it wasn't obvious who was going to get it, so from within the tent it must have been even less clear who was going be Star Baker.
Sandro literally smashed the Technical, but Syabira’s floating islands were better than his. However, what clinched it for her was her Showstopper. You could clearly see it on the faces of the judges that they were literally blown away by the texture and flavour of that cake.
Perhaps Sandro is just trying too hard! His showstopper looked magnificent – it looked like a professional wedding cake, with flawless decoration and masterful piping. Maybe if he had restrained himself just to the combination of his bottom cake, which apparently was delicious, perhaps he would have made it.
It does sound unfair however that he was punished for putting more effort into a three-tiered cake with three different sponges and three different flavour combinations, but the judges must assess whatever they’re served, and it sounds like in this case his top tier let him down. I felt sorry for him as he had a great performance this week, but I’m happy for Syabira who is now one step closer to the final.
Abdul is the only remaining contestant who hasn’t won Star Baker yet – do you think he should be worried?
Abdul is slowly but steadily shining through. His mille-feuille was immaculate and a very clever choice for a set custard cake. His cherry, orange and pistachio combination for the floating islands was nothing short of mouth-watering and, while his ice cream was not the most polished, at least it stayed up and did not melt.
Looking back, Abdul did not get a single word of criticism this week, which puts him straight up there with all the other contestants. He might not have won Star Baker yet, but he clearly belongs to the final five and, if I’m honest, I think that next week literally anything can happen.
A week in the life of Giuseppe
My book tour is in full swing so I have been travelling around the country meeting lots of Bake Off fans. It has been physically demanding, I must say, but I am enjoying every second of it. Meeting so many people with a genuine interest in Italian bakes and eager to try out my family recipes is an achievement second to none.
And it’s always a joy to find yourself in a room full of people with the same passion and love for good food. After visiting Scotland this week, I’ll be roaming the south of England next week, so maybe I’ll see you there!
To make your own show-stopping bakes at home, Giuseppe’s debut cookbook, Giuseppe’s Italian Bakes (Quadrille, £20) is available to buy now.
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