Still reeling from Peter’s departure last week (well ok, nobody is surprised), the bakers now number ten, and yes, it’s tart week – but there are no excuses to slack on the pastry preparation just because tarts rely heavily on decoration (ooh er).
The first bake is a ‘classic’ tart tatin. If you’re ignorant like me, I’ll help you out by telling you that this is another one of those ones where you bake the tart with the fruit (and caramel, in this case) at the bottom and the pastry on top and then serve it upside down. The contestants can use any fruit they like.
Danny admits that this is the kind of thing she makes at home, quickly sickening anyone like me whose idea of a home lunch is a pot noodle and a bag of Quavers. People actually go to the effort of baking this stuff for actual meals? For their families? Crikey.
James is putting lavender in his tart, so it can double up as a room-scenter if it all goes wrong. And he’s not the only one putting in weird ingredients – Victoria is putting peppercorns in hers. Mary Berry looks worried, and quite rightly if you ask me. Watching this one cook is essential, as the trick is to avoid the pastry being burnt but the fruit inside being undercooked and mushy – for any fans of soggy bottoms, there’s a good chance of some here.
Sarah-Jane needn’t worry though, as Mary specifically congratulates her on her dry bottom. Victoria’s tart is accused of having an identity crisis, which isn’t surprising as it looks like a pizza and contains peppercorns – the gamble didn’t pay off. Cathryn also has spice in her tart, but it’s the more pedestrian ‘five spice’, and she is (once again) highly commended. Ryan also seems to be back on form this week, and John, who is surely looking like a favourite to win the whole thing, is also praised. Oh, and if you were worried about James’s lavender, his bake was apparently ‘delightful’.
Anyway, on to the more exciting bit – the scored technical challenge. It’s a treacle tart with a woven lattice top, and it’s Mary Berry’s recipe. Paul Holloway asks Mary why she’s picked the treacle tart, and her answer is basically that it’s a complete bugger to bake. Just to make it even more fiendish, she has specified that the contestants must interweave the lattice as well. Has she learnt nothing from the botched attempts at plaiting dough last week?
Naturally, this request for perfection has got the contestants anxious. Manisha is measuring her pastry with a ruler, and poor Stuart, who is surely on shaky ground after his performances so far, has lost half of his lattice to his treacle. He’s also misread the recipe and put nowhere near as much golden syrup in as he’s meant to. He tries to rectify this by pouring some in after the event. I get the impression this won’t end well.
Controversially, Sarah-Jane has twisted her lattice, which looks to me like it makes things a teensy bit easier, and it doesn’t seem to be in the Mary Berry recipe – will Mary be as furious at someone pimping her recipe as Paul Holloway was? Well, she’s not too miffed, but both she and Paul agree that she Sarah-Jane hasn’t interwoven her lattice, and neither has Ryan. Stuart and his last minute golden syrup miraculously avoid detection, and it’s Manisha who comes last, with James’s tart being judged best.
The showstopper challenge this week is a massive fruit tart, intended to be as elaborate and ornate as possible. The Big Fat Gypsy Wedding of tarts, if you will – although in this case there should also be some semblance of taste. Any fruit can be used. There’s quite a lot going on here – if I mention that James’s cake ‘includes’ macarons, and Stuart’s contains a fortune cookie, you’ll get the general idea.
Manisha’s has got a layer of coconut sponge in it as well – could this make up for her poor performance in the technical round?
The judges deliberate, and James does well again – his rose maracon combo apparently tastes like turkish delight, and John is once again applauded. Kathryn, who has done a rectangular tart, also gets the seal of approval. Manisha seems to have redeemed herself. Brendan, who has somehow slipped under the radar a bit purely by being consistent but never amazing or terrible, has impressed this time – and, surprisingly, Stuart – whose tart is amazingly pretty and precise, also gets the judges’ compliments. However, it’s James who is duly awarded Star Baker for this week.
With the newly improved Stuart seemingly earning his place this week, it’s Victoria who has to go. As she was Star Baker in the first week, she’s got to be kicking herself a bit, but she takes her defeat very graciously. Brendan looks worried and relieved at the same time, so he’d better pull out all of the stops next time.
Next week they’re doing both crème caramels and whopping great meringues, two things virtually guaranteed to go tits up, so make sure you tune in to see everyone’s efforts wobbling optimistically then.