It’s “Caramel Week” on The Great British Bake Off—the bakers are nervous and I am nervous for them. Though caramel is one of the most delicious substances known to man, it’s also one of the most volatile. It turns to a bitter lumpy mess in a second, causing grave injuries even more easily. Only Giuseppe seems relaxed; apparently, having an Italian wife prepares you for volatile sugary substances.
The signature challenge is to make highly decorative caramel tarts, which YUM! But it’s a stressful atmosphere and the lovely twinkly bake-off music seems at odds with the mood.
George is going classic with the flavors that worked well for him on last week’s signature; Lizzy’s flavors sound incredible again, with some caramelized pineapple; and Crystelle is adding miso to caramel again. Chigs’ design is ambitious and he seems extremely unsure of himself, with his voice getting shaky. At times, he seems on the edge of a full blown panic attack.
Lizzie’s lacks finesse but her flavors are there. Chigs has the opposite problem, with stunning presentation but a bitter caramel. Jürgen’s offering is very disappointing on both fronts, with a nutty toffee that has Paul staring laser beams at him. The standards always seem higher for our favorite German, a victim of his own success. George was in a weak position coming into the week; he has definitely not redeemed himself with a curdled custard, melted cream and dire presentation.
For the technical, the bakers are making 10 chocolate shortbread caramel biscuits, which, for rights reasons, they can’t call Twix. A few of the bakers are using the machines for the shortbread, which seems like a rookie mistake—stand mixers that over-mix your dough and are never the route to a crumbly shortbread. Noel describes Jürgen as “the main puppet in Labyrinth mixed with League Of Gentleman,” and it cannot be unseen.
Giuseppe is in an unflappable league of his own and George continues to seem to be dead baker walking—just in a constant state of crisis. His Twix attempt nearly causes some dental injuries; Paul seems in a state of shock, and Giuseppe lands right at the bottom. Lizzie barely does better with some biscuits that are like bubble gum. Giuseppe is the best, even though Paul stops a round of applause from him to say his weren’t particularly good.
For the showstopper, they are tasked with making highly decorative caramel desserts that must include a transparent sugar dome or sphere. The bakers have to include multiple bakes and set elements. Jürgen is being extremely ambitious with a 107-step recipe to create “caramel contrasts.” Lizzie is thinking outside the box by creating a sugar bow filled with layers of apple cake, topped with peanut brittle honeycomb and toffee pastry roses.
Once again Crystelle is being sentimental with a sort of sugar terrarium filled with a cactus garden inspired by her late granddad. George is keeping it simpler with hazelnut meringue layered with chocolate ganache and salted caramel which honestly sounds divine. To give George credit, he doesn’t seem to have given up even with the odds stacked against him.
Chigs remains pretty highly stressed throughout, with gelatine proving just as tricky as the caramel. Crystelle is the only one who can’t manage to get a sphere to work and only has something to present thanks to an intervention from Lizzie and a balloon. Her resulting dessert is easy on the eye but the judges aren’t impressed, saying her layers are too thick and gelatinous. Jürgen absolutely floors them with a triumphant, many-layered dessert and a crystal-clear dome.
Giuseppe’s textures aren’t quite right even if it does taste lovely. Chigs’ results are kind of a mess but it’s “absolutely delicious.” George surprises absolutely everyone with a cake that is stunningly beautiful and highly refined, lovely chunks of honeycomb around a crystal-clear dome. It’s a little dry for Paul but Prue could eat a lot of it. Lizzie finally nails the finesse in her presentation, but it’s too dry and stodgy on the inside.
The bakers remain on edge; it genuinely feels like anyone could get star baker or go home. Prue and Paul agree that its Lizzie and George at the bottom, but with such a mixed bag of results, anyone else could be star baker. Jürgen manages to win star baker and George is heading home. Even with a good showstopper, he couldn’t save himself. It seems the right call and in a way, it’s nice that his final bake was one he could be proud of.
The final five are a pretty solid bunch. For all the Lizzie catastrophes, she could make it all the way; her flavors have usually solid and her presentation has come a long way. Crystelle and Chigs seem on about even footing: two high-energy people that get a little overwhelmed, but can handle highly complicated bakes with lots of technical elements and a very chic modern aesthetic. Right at the top, there’s Jürgen and Giuseppe with two and three star baker wins, respectively. Giuseppe has to be the most consistent of the bunch, and has rarely put a foot wrong in a single challenge, but Jürgen is the more ambitious of the two.
Next week is “Free From Week,” which seems an incredibly broad choice.
- Crystelle has done 3 miso caramels in 2 episodes. Seems like overkill.
- Chigs has never looked better than he did this week. He should wear plaid and be nervous more often.
- It’s funny watching them all in jumpers and cardigans, despite it being shot in the summer. Truly cruel that after many, many months of pandemic misery, this year the weather gods gave England one of the most cold, wet, miserably summers in living memory.