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Imagine ‘Great British Bake Off’ Pastry Week Giving the Bakers Enough Time to Make Pastry. Imagine!

After two years of being the best episode of the series, an old trope caused it to collapse

GBBO judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
“What if we gave them enough time?” “Nah.”
Channel 4

Welcome to the Eater round-up of Great British Bake Off 2022, as Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Matt Lucas, and Noel Fielding return to Channel 4 with the 13th series of cakes, puddings, breads, and inevitable recourse to terrible baking puns. No longer filmed in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble, Paul Hollywood’s terrible handshake is here, sweaty as ever, and the tent stands on.

Great British Bake Off 2022 Episode 8 was Pastry Week. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith judged a sweet vol-au-vent signature which induced pastry terror; a spring roll technical for some light Orientalism, and a piescape showstopper, whatever on earth that is.

What’s rougher than rough puff? Making rough puff in not enough time

A cursory look into the archives of this recap unearths the first problem of 2022’s Pastry Week. It’s the relentless march of time — as decreed by the Great British Bake Off judges. Like otherwise awful Mexican Week’s yeasted dough; every Bread Week ever; Dessert Week 2020; and many more, the contestants were hobbled by being asked to make, bake, cool, and fill puff pastry vol-au-vents in 120 minutes. A good rest for puff pastry after but one fold is over half an hour.

With the context that this is a quarter final, and the judging is likely to get as rough as the puff, it was still galling to see the bakers criticised for serving rubbish vol-au-vents largely because that was all they could produce in two hours. Not just because that’s intrinsically silly, but because this is a longstanding flaw that is easily fixed, first by something bakers might be familiar with, called “adequate time to bake,” and second by something television producers might be familiar with, called “editing.”

The Great British Cook Off continues mercilessly

Plus one point: making a dish that isn’t rooted in Western culture for a technical. Minus one point: it’s fried, not baked. Plus one point: Thorough, but not hand-holding instruction. Minus one point: Prue Leith saying “I don’t think many people make spring rolls.” Minus one point: not ranking Janusz last in the technical when he didn’t even fulfil the number of rolls, having fallen on that sword multiple times in previous series. Minus one point: it’s fried! Not baked!

Paul Hollywood accidentally reveals the ridiculousness of the whole affair

While judging something called a “piescape,” Paul Hollywood paused to take in part of Sandro’s showstopper, which was based on the excellent The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It was ice cream, a famously unbaked, pastry-absent dessert, that he had made as part of his assembly that was supposed to be a showcase of all things pastry.

Hollywood tried the ice cream after he had been savaging Sandro’s pastry and pies for being variously too dry, too hard, and over-filled, paused, and said, “If only it had been an ice cream competition.”

Sandro, who had earlier chosen his vol-au-vent filling in order to match Hollywood’s preferences and get a handshake, survived unscathed. But the fact he compelled to make ice cream, really well, as part of his already-too-short time to make, it can not be stressed enough, a “piescape” detailed enough to be instantly recognisable, just speaks to the ridiculous expectations with which GBBO weighs its competitors down.

Star baker: Syabira
Going home: Maxy
Running theme: Weariness.