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GBBO’s Judging Jumps the Shark on Pastry Week

Tarte tatins, whitewashed pastry, and some incredible — literally — judging

GBBO judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. Channel 4

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2019, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Sandi Toksvig, and Noel Fielding return to the tent for the 10th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns.

Cake week kicked off GBBO 2019; episode 2 tackled biscuits; bread week brought in tear-and-share loaves, baps, and a lot of scoring; and dairy week was all about crying over spilt milk. Episode 5 inadvertently summoned Cthulhu for 1920s/Retro/Great Gatsby/What Even Is This Theme Week, and dessert week was all bombe and no bombshell. Henry told Paul to shut up on Festival Week, and now it’s pastry week:

00:00: It’s Pastry Week. A real, baking-adjacent theme that challenges baking skill, rather than adherence to Paganism or an understanding of how Paul Hollywood separates Christmas. Rejoice! No, not like that.

For the last two weeks, there has been some kind of dessert game in which songs are transformed with baking puns, it can’t possibly be renewed for a thir—

Like The Thick Of It’s “sweary woman of Whitehall”: It’s a pun. Not really punning on anything, is it.

01:00: Intro Watch: Weak. Where is the punning. Where is the fun. Where are the costumes.

02:40: Okay, it’s savoury tarte tatin. Okay, why? Total appreciation for the attempt at innovation, but a lot of the deep caramelisation-meets-structural-integrity of an apple tarte tatin is lost when the filling is something less able to withstand intense Maillard reactions. There’s also the unevening of the playing field by allowing free choice of toppings.

02:42: Henry is doing a crab tarte tatin. How do you caramelise crab? Steph is doing shallots and cheese. Shallots caramelise really well. It makes sense. Alice is getting a nod to tradition in with some apple; David is doing carrot, which also sounds pretty wise. His nuts are “a treasured gift.” And with all this talk of pastry and tarts, right on cue ...

05:19: THERE IT IS. “No-one wants a soggy tart,” says Henry, totally innocently.

What Is This, a Crossover Episode?

07:22: David’s tarte tatin with carrots, cumin, and sumac honestly sounds very good indeed. Others are taking it as a cue to riff:

11:12: Tense Oven Waiting Music arrives for perhaps the first time this series. It’s exacerbated by the heatwave, and a soporific stress atmosphere has descended over the tent. Alice is struggling with the sog. It’s now Turn Out Tension Time. The pause offers some time to reflect:

and ...

17:00: Signature challenge tiers

  • Crispy bottom and therefore top tier: Henry
  • Caramelised bottom and therefore top tier: Steph
  • Soggy middle and therefore middle tier: Alice
  • Bone dry tier: David
  • Soggy bottom and therefore bottom tier: Rosie

21:23: Sandi finally calls Paul’s technical challenge advice out for what it is: BS. The Unbearable Whiteness of Bake Off then kicks in. “If anyone has heard of this, I will get naked.” Everyone in Morocco. “I saw this on a travel show.” Okay. Warqa pastry; pastilla; bastilla; b’stilla. Moroccan staple. Folks. Do some research. Please.

23:40: The pastry assembly is not going well. Steph weeps. She’s been probably the best baker throughout. An Australian comedian, Adam Hills, appears out of nowhere. Harissa is too hot for the bakers. Paul and Prue can’t stop squawking MOROCCAN PIE, MOROCCAN PIE, MOROCCAN PIE.

26:39: Noel and Sandi are throwing citrus fruit around the tent. Rosie looks angry at the site of fun. The commitment to filling time on a culinary tradition no-one in the tent knows anything at all about is at least admirable.

27:42: Henry’s collapses. Rosie’s collapses. Steph’s collapses. Everyone looks deeply traumatised. The impossible phrase “Moroccan pie” rears its head for the twentieth time.

33:20: Technical challenge tiers

  • Filling’s good and pastry’s good tier: David
  • Filling’s good but pastry’s weak tier: Steph
  • Filling’s weak but pastry’s good tier: Henry, Alice
  • It exploded tier: Rosie

39:12: Despite these tiers, Henry is bottom, and Rosie is second, despite having no base and an exploded pie, while Alice is third for soggy pastry and Steph is fourth. This judging is a little whack honestly. David is a deserved winner. Here’s Conspiracy Theory of the Week:

42:17: Now it’s time for ... a Vertical Pie. A Tower of Pies. A Leaning Tower of Pies. A Piescraper. Call in London’s pastry deviant Calum Franklin.

43:10: Alice is making a Pie Treehouse. David is doing a nautical “open pie,” which is a tart. Steph is taking the carousel route, while Rosie admits that her husband eats “nothing spicy at all.” Rosie: Get rid. Hers has 9 (nine) pies.

48:19: Henry is doing an upside down chandelier, which sounds frankly dangerous. The next 90 seconds is just Paul Hollywood leering creepily over Henry and Alice’s shoulders like a lamination-focussed pervert.

49:02: Halfway mark. Pies are going in the oven. Rosie’s nine pies are looking increasingly like Foolhardy Manoeuvre That Will Likely Backfire As Soon As It Is Mentioned Of The Week. Until, Henry realises that there are 60, and not 90 minutes left, and he is consequently in a pie of peril.

51:15: Everyone is tense about their rims. That is all for the ridiculous pies.

Mid ad-break, someone contributes to a hashtag with around 30 new tweets per second:

51:01: Showstopper challenge tiers

  • Nailed it tier: Steph
  • Incredible design, poor execution tier: Alice, David
  • Scared of moisture tier: Rosie, Henry

Judging tweet:

Judgey tweet:

Judgment tweet:

Star baker: Steph

Going home: Henry, somehow, honestly.

Running theme: Some completely ridiculous judging.