The Great British Baking Show Season 4 Recap: Tudor Week

Last year’s Victorian Week was such a hit, The Great British Baking Show is trying another historical period. Welcome to Tudor Week.

Somehow Mel’s introduction saying “Exciting times on Bake Off!” after the week we’ve had seems just… no dear. We’ve had an exciting time this week. We’re quite ready to be done with exciting times. That’s why we’re here, and not watching Maddow. Let’s have a nice, gentle time on Bake Off as we go back in time 500 years. Yes, the heir to Victorian Week is here, and it’s in the form of The Tudors! (Natalie Dormer not included.)

Tudor Signature Bake is going to be…pies! OMG Team Pie Y’all! I am so here for pies! Decorative pies! Multiple decorative water crust game filled pies that make a comprehensive display. OMG I want a pie made with a nice fatty crust and a lovely spiced meat filling. Doesn’t that sound like just the thing? With a pint of ale, and a direwolf bread for dessert.

PBS

Or maybe Candice’s macaroni cheese pies. (Macaroni Cheese Pie! For the record, I’m not the only one who wants one, Sue sneaks over and tries to get her to make extra so she can eat one.) Sue may be out of luck, she’s already planning on making 18-22 pies in three hours with two different fillings. That’s at least within theme. I love Benjamina but “Mexican Tudor” just sounds like the most bizarre pairing of pie flavor concepts I’ve heard today.

Let’s see how our top five manage with their pie displays.

BBC
  • Jane Tudor Rose Pies Pass. The design doesn’t quite read, but the pies are excellent.
  • Benjamina Mexican Adventure Half Pass. The flavor is deemed “stunning” even if the pastry is rushed.
  • Candice Cheesy Cheeky Fish Pies Half Pass. Half her pies needed longer in the oven, the other half look a mess. But the flavors are outstanding.
  • Selasi Bouquet of Flowers Half Pass. Again, baking issues, pastry is underdone and fillings are not filled all the way. But great flavors.
  • Andrew Da Vinci Inspired Geared Pies Pass. THE GEARS ACTUALLY WORK. Sue says her idea of an edible car is one step closer. The flavor is excellent and his crusts are perfect.

The Technical Challenge for Tudor week is set by Paul, who says to follow the pattern carefully. Pattern? Yes, pattern. They’re making jumbles. It’s a kind of cookie that’s piped in shapes of celtic knots. They have two shapes to make, and old-fashioned flavoring, almost a savory spice with sugar on the top.

Said spices are actually provided as they would have been in the time period, and mortar and pestles for the bakers to grind them by hand. That somehow seems extra cruel. Andrew is so irritated that he refuses to mix his dough by hand in retaliation. This is what happens when you make a muggle use wizarding baking techniques that don’t involve his Aunt Molly Weasley’s magic wand.

BBC

Five jumbles. Who will shake up to the top of the heap?

5. Jane: The shape is undefined and the sugar went on at the wrong time.
4. Benjamina: The celtic shapes are wrong, and it’s underbaked.
3. Selasi: The knots are wrong, and the thickness is uneven.
2. Andrew: Not a lot of definition but bake is excellent.
1. Candice: The knot shapes are very crisp and the bake is perfect

These are technically the Quarterfinals, which means we have a heck of a Showstopper for this week. They’re making a “3D marchpane cake.” (Marchpane = Middle Ages English for Marzipan.) Everyone is very nervous about this. Paul explains that old school marchpane was eggless, so it’s much more brittle than the softer mushier sugar dough we’re used to. It’s still sugar dough, but the emphasis is on “sugar.”

The centerpieces everyone is aiming for is over the top, from Benjamina’s hedge maze, to Jane’s Swans-and-roses design that looks less like a dessert and more like an edible sigil for an insecure house. Senasi is doing a “Six Wives of Henry VII” themed cake that wouldn’t be out of place on the set of Game of Thrones.

PBS

Candice is probably the most ambitious. She’s making a peacock. (Funny, didn’t Nadiya do something very similar last year?) She’s also mixing in some modern methods to her creation, unlike most of the others. (Andrew, notably is now doing everything in his design by hand this round, including homemade molds he made using children’s toys.)

The modern egg based marzipan can melt out of shape if baked too long, so not only do we have oven kneelers, in some cases, we have kneeling in front of open ovens in order to judge doneness with no door in the way and heat control properly.

Let’s see how our Final Five finished.

BBC

Jane’s Swans Mary declares it “very Tudor”, even though Paul sees some mushy details. The sponge is perfect.

BBC

Andrew’s Jousting Knights Marchpane Andrew’s knights are… unfortunate looking. His marchpane panels on the sides fall off when they cut in. But the flavor’s good.

BBC

Benjamina’s Tudor Garden It’s might be a simple, and fat, maze but she did deliver on her promise. Her apple cake is really good though.

BBC

Candice’s Peacock Paul is speechless. “Wow.” The whole blueberries inside, (like we see done now with “candy filled cakes’) is deemed “a proper Tudor surprise.” One that uses a modern technique with a Tudor aged ingredient, I might add.

BBC

The layers are an ombre of yellow through three shades of green to blue. It’s a stunner. Mary is bowled over: “You’ve really cracked it.” Paul too. “You’ve ticked all the boxes and then some. Exceptional.”

BBC

Selasi’s Fruity Tudor Marchpane It’s messy and plain inside, and though the cake is well fruited, it needed more time in the oven. Also the crown center bit just isn’t an impressive as it was on the page.

Candice knocked that Showstopper out of the park. There’s no one who can touch her, especially since she also aced the technical. Star Baker it is. As for who is out, I would have thought Selasi, but it turns out it’s Benjamina. (Damn. But this means Selasi is almost certainly out next week unless he really pulls it out.)

Next week: The Semi Finals!

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