It's already pastry week on the Great British Bake-Off and things are getting tough (and teary), says Emma Sleight...
Flaky pastry, the return of the custard and the war of the
Sofiacoppola Helicopita Spanakopita. We were all praying to Christine's God of Crisp this week as Mary and Paul took us back in time for pie week. As Headmaster Hollywood said: "If you do not know how to make a sweet pastry or a short crust pastry you shouldn't be in that tent." Sir, yes sir!
The first double crust pie challenge was a bit like a Pampers advert. We learned that the threat of a soggy bottom interferes with Kimberley's sleep and only a dry bottom can keep her smiling. The only thing missing was a motherly wipe on the rear from Mary Berry or someone pouring a tumbler of blue water on to some kitchen towel.
Glenn's Vermont, New England pie resembled one of Mrs Lovett's pastry abominations. The murderously red leaves and disappointing custard filling earned him a stern, must-do-better finger wag.
Frances, queen of the beautiful-on-the-outside bake, produced a James and the Giant Peach pie that looked as though it should have ropes around it and charge an admission fee. Unfortunately it was less Roald Dahl deliciousness where "The walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling" and more Brother's Grimm. The Wicked Witch of West Hollywood gave it a firm drubbing on tasting.
Then there was Ali fabulous he Ali Abawa, a hater of pies who refused to try his cooked fruit, blitzed his pastry with the unusual textural addition of cling film and narrated his own destruction when Sue called 30 minutes to go and realised that his pie took 40.
Custard Gate came back to haunt Howard and the eggy trauma continued as the bakers were set the technical task of producing perfect custard tarts. Paul and Mary wanted Hollywood tarts: perfectly formed beauties with golden bottoms and just the right amount of wobble. What they got were half-masticated, Ugly Sister tarts and it was only Frances who managed to save her bacon from the slaughter house by producing a faultless dozen.
The signature bake introduced Spanakopita, the hardest to pronounce pastry ever to appear on screen and saw Mel and Sue come over all Chuckle Brothers as they helped Howard wield his hefty feta filo with their very own 'to me to you' sketch.
Kimberley used a traditional oklava – that's a broomstick if you're Beca – to produce a golden-hued filo ring of power and was finally able to pin on a merit badge to become head girl star baker.
At the other end of the scale you could almost see the word "bugger" flit across Ali's face when he realised that Glenn's pastry was a success and he was up for the cut. The tears were already flowing before it was announced and Ali was sent back home with the naughty note of elimination pinned to his beanie.
Emotions were running to Glenn's thermonuclear oven levels for everyone this week as one by one the bakers succumbed to the tears.
Only scientist Rob, who has evolved beyond the need for human emotions, remained unmoved with his Hobbesian philosophy of self-preservation and rather-him-than-me attitude. It must be hard to have room for tears when your eyes are full of Matrix code and Pythagoras' theory.
This week left me emotionally exhausted. It's an outrage that student Ruby is forced to bake without the proper equipment and Christine's tears almost had me phoning Help the Aged to report cruelty to grannies.
It's biscuits next week and, as we lardily lurch onto the halfway point with emotional control stretched to Tuile-like transparency, I'm not sure how much more the British viewing public can take.
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