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GBBO’s Semi-Final Showed Why Patisserie Takes a Lifetime to Master

A graveyard of choux buns and sugar glass boxes

GBBO’s Steph on Patisserie Week 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; Henry went home on Pastry Week, and now Patisserie Week is here for the GBBO semi-finals. Strap in.

00:00: Patisserie week. Ooh. La. La.

For the last three weeks, there has been some kind of dessert game in which songs are transformed with baking puns, but this is the semi-final, it’s serious now, there is no time for friv—

00:00: Choux —> you is basically a free hit, so, no embarrassing choic—

01:00: Spaghetti is just not patisserie. Intro watch: there’s a sports car. Reasons unknown. Maybe Paul’s having a mid-mid-mid-mid-life crisis.

02:42: They’re all wearing ties, in honour of Henry, the people’s favourite. Paul Hollywood says “je ne sais quoi” — half the county swoons, half vomits. Brexit, isn’t it.

05:19: Alice is going for mocha, orange, and hazelnut; David is making an Aperol Spritz tart, but no-one is allowed to name any brands, so he’s making an Italian Spirit Tart. Rosie is doing gin, lemon, and raspberry, which sounds a little Pimm’sy, sorry, British Summertime Fruit Cup Number Oney. Steph goes for lemon, raspberry, and white chocolate. The Henry memory gets someone’s goat:

Paul’s mad for chocolate and hazelnuts. Wait:

07:49: The traditional freezer stage starts, as contestants’ compulsion to open and close doors gets the better of them. Noel’s asking Rosie about castration.

09:28: It’s dome assembly time. Everyone’s getting nervous. But ... The bakes look good, and there have been no Foolhardy Manoeuvres That Will Likely Backfire As Soon As They Are Mentioned this week.

17:21: Signature challenge tiers

  • Nearly perfect but for piping tier: Alice
  • Nearly perfect tier: Steph
  • Sponcon tier: David
  • Crème flat tier: Rosie

23:47: Prue: “This is very difficult to make look good.” Grammatically and syntactically, shaky. Semantically, empty. Gâteau St Honoré is the reveal behind the cipher: crème chiboust the filling, which doesn’t even sound like it’s real.

27:12: Rosie is having a bit of a nightmare. The atmosphere is kind of flat, really, given everyone is so focussed on the technical. GBBO has deliberately eschewed the MANUFACTURE DRAMA curse of so many reality shows, but with a lack of interesting analysis on the bakes and — not to be unkind — less personality in the tent than previous years, whisper it but: things have gotten a little bit dull.

29:40: Steph says “butter seepage” and things are redeemed. Rosie’s choux melts for the second time. She refers to “the graveyard of choux buns.” The puff’s gone wrong too. The gods of bake off (TGoGBBO) heard the prayers for ritual sacrifice and have delivered.

33:41: Technical challenge tiers

  • Risen from the choux graveyard tier: Rosie
  • Not perfect tier: Steph
  • Not not not perfect tier: David
  • Not not not not not perfect tier: Alice

39:12: Rosie rises from the choux graveyard to take the technical. She, rightly, finds it hilarious, given she was absolutely done about 3 hours ago (or 5 minutes in TV time.) Some are not pleased.

43:17: They have to make a f---ing cabinet out of sugar. This is madness. Paul says “anything from a banana, to a raspberry, to a coffee.” A wide range. Alice is representing the fragility of the oceans, with a cake. David is making a beetroot, parsnip, and apricot cake inside a terrarium. Steph is doing an opera cake. Some scepticism, and some dreaming:

That’s simply not how it works.

47:10: It’s isomalt time. Noel realises that Rosie’s vet experiences are more interesting than the show he’s fronting. Oops.

53:19: David’s throwing it back to week one, when he put butternut squash in a cake and everyone asked why.

55:02: It’s assembly time. There are boxes made out of sugar. It’s quite the show. Then... Then Alice reveals that she is making a ... ... A chocolate starfish... Let’s hope she doesn’t make a limp biscuit too.

57:01: Showstopper challenge tiers

  • Very neat very tidy very Steph tier: Steph
  • Not patisserie tier: David
  • Chocolate starfish tier: Alice
  • Boring tier: Rosie

Judging tweet:

Judgey tweet:

Judgment tweet:

Star baker: Alice

Going home: Rosie

Running theme: Choux drama / boredom.