The Great British Baking Show Season 4 Recap: Botanicals Week

A new week, another new theme for our bakers. This time, it’s floral. Welcome to Botanicals Week.

If two weeks ago was a meta-theme with “Batter Week,” this week on Great British Baking Show, we’re going vaguely conceptual, bordering on abstract, with “Botanicals.” What in heaven’s name does that mean? Lots of fondant flowers?

The bakers aren’t completely sure either, and they’ve read two of the three briefs prior to taping. Jane thinks she has a leg up since she gardens. Rav thinks he’s screwed because he’s not the neatest in his designs. The other five are a bit more in between.

We start with an interpretation of the theme as “citrus”, which… well, yes. Fruit trees, florals, I can see it. They’ll be baking them in citrus meringue pies. But don’t just make a lemon meringue pie. Creatively in your citrus, please. Buddha’s Hand Meringues for everyone!


To be honest, there’s not nearly enough creativity as far as I’m concerned. Selasi and Benjamina are in a grapefruit head to head, while Jane and Candice are facing off in a Lime and Coconut War. I suppose medium creativity will have to do.

  • Benjamina Grapefruit & Ginger Meringue Pie Pass. Paul calls it smashing.
  • Selasi Grapefruit, Orange & Mint Meringue Pie Fail. “Too stiff and cloying” says Mary.
  • Rav Mandarin Margarita Meringue Pie Fail. It melts before they can cut it. They love the flavor.
  • Andrew Tangy Lime & Ginger Meringue Pie Pass. Crust too thick, but the curd is good.
  • Tom Blood Orange Halloween Pumpkin Pie Fail. Underdone pastry, no citrus flavor.
  • Jane Lime & Coconut Meringue Pie Pass. Practically perfect.
  • Candice Lime, Coconut & Lemongrass Sugar Meringue Pie Fail. Paul hates the color, and the meringue is mushy.

The Botanical Technical Challenge was set by Paul, which means it’s a bread. A herb fougasse, with both the leaf like shape and the fresh herbs as the excuse to tie it back to the theme. It’s not too big a stretch. At least this is one that most of those in the tent have heard of. Most just haven’t made it.

Despite this, Tom refers to this as the most he’s even been stressed over bread in his life. There’s lots of guessing at proofing, and baking times. At the five-minute call, *everyone* is sitting in front of the ovens stressing over when to pull their creations out.

Let’s see what fluttered down to the altar.


7. Selasi: Underbaked, too spongy
6. Andrew: Underbaked, but good flavor
5. Candice: Wrong cuts, not leaf-like, slightly underbaked
4. Jane: Too small and cuts aren’t leaf-like
3. Rav: It doesn’t look like a leaf, but good bake
2. Benjamina: Perfect cuts, good bake
1. Tom: Perfect bake, perfect cuts. Paul wants a glass of wine with it.

Botanical Week ends, as we knew it would, with a floral cake. The bakers can use flowers in any way they like. Bake with them, fill the cake with them, decorate with flowers, oh and they’ve got four hours.

Several of these bakers didn’t do so hot back on Cake Week, so the nerves are running high. Also, most of the guys have not done well this week at all, and are very concerned about going home.


Despite all this, some of the cake ideas are pretty creative. Tom’s idea of floral teas as cake flavorings is pretty genius, actually. So much so that Benjamina is also doing it. Candice i, as usual, the most ambitious. Everyone else is doing three tiers, she is going with four, in a Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter theme. The very top layer (winter) is actually her grandmother’s own recipe, and she brought the original hand written recipe with her to work from. The judges are dutifully moved.

Let’s see how our seven cakes of floral beauty come out.


Candice’s Four Seasons Cake “Winter Is Coming” declares Sue as the cake approaches the bench. The gran cake is declared good. Fall is rubbery, Summer is a good flavor and Spring is good gluten-free tier. It’s just all a little…much.


Andrew’s Spring Elderflower Trio Mary is disappointed by the decorations, and the layer flavors aren’t coming through. Layers are overbaked as well.


Benjamina’s Floral Tea Cake Paul calls it “unfinished looking.” Mary says it’s not quite done. And the tea layer doesn’t come through.


Rav’s Blossom Cake Paul calls it “a bit of a mess,” and that’s being kind. The icing is awful. All layers are slightly overbaked too. Mary also doesn’t think it creative enough.


Jane’s Three-Tier Floral Cake with a Floral Chocolate Collar This is also a bit of a mess, but for a different reason. The collars are a disaster. Oh and the cakes are overbaked to boot.


Selasi’s Three-Tiered Ombré Floral Cake Well baked, and beautiful.


Tom’s Floral Tea Cake It’s simple, but effective. The flavors come through really well. The judges are really impressed that the tea flavors came through.

But with so many failures over the hour, especially from the stalwarts like Candice, Andrew and Jane, the field is wide open for Selasi or Tom to take it. Selasi came in last on the technical though, while Tom won that round. That’s what decides it.

As for who goes home, it’s finally Rav’s time to leave the tent. He lasted as long as he possibly could, but it was time.


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