Great British Bake Off 2017: pudding week recap

Great British Bake Off 2017: pudding week recap

by Howard Middleton 27 September 2017

Puddings make a triumphant return to the Bake Off tent, but they can be tougher than they look to make. Howard Middleton takes a look at how the remaining contestants fared.

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Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

Half way through the competition and Noel and Sandi welcome us to pudding week by frolicking in a sunny field. We soon realise the problems of trying to create a Bake Off summer in the unpredictable weather of spring as the rain begins to lash at the bunting again.

Looking for a little comfort food, this week’s signature challenge is a steamed school pudding.Now being a bit of a mummy’s boy I always went home at lunchtime so I’ve never actually tasted one. Frankly it looks like I missed out – who knew that school puddings were so exotic?

Sophie’s ginger, fig and honey pudding is served with a tonka bean mascarpone cream. Paul says of the tonka bean, ‘that’s a first for Bake Off’.I doubt that’s true but the research is probably marginally more reliable than dear Mary’s belief that she’d ‘never had ras el hanout’ in three separate series.


Russian-born Julia is a new girl at the school of British puddings so she’s relying on the childhood memories of her in-laws, transforming a classic syrup sponge with black treacle and orange caramel sauce. Prue says it’s ‘not the lightest sponge but it is delicious’. Her compliments for James’ orange and ginger pud with spiced chocolate sauce are also less than steaming – ‘not great, but very good’, she says. However, it’s poor Kate who really has a tough time as she struggles to thicken the Earl Grey custard for her bergamot and lemon sponge. Time runs away as rapidly as her watery sauce and she admits her custard is ‘embarrassing’. Pithy Prue responds, ‘that’s not custard – that’s a big mistake’. Paul delivers a further blow with the comment, ‘you’ve got Earl Grey fighting against lemon – it’s going to lose every day of the week’. It’s little consolation to Kate but a useful tip if the two ingredients are ever paired in the world boxing super series.

It’s a battle of the Bakewells between Stacey and Liam, both reinterpreting the classic almondy pastry in a sponge pudding guise. Liam serves his cherry-studded lemon sponge with vanilla custard whilst Stacey pops fresh raspberries atop a pool of cherry jam. She informs the judges that she’s practised this seventeen times. In pudding terms that’s probably a ‘swotted dick’.

Steven is ensuring his lemon pudding gets an extra injection of fruitiness by literally jabbing it with a syringe of blackberry sauce. His light sponge goes down a treat; Paul says it ‘tastes amazing’ and Steven is thrilled to feel the satisfying grip of his chunky digits.

Sophie’s tonka beans divide the judges – Paul says he’s ‘still unsure’ but Prue thinks ‘that tonka taste is very extraordinary and rather good’.

Yan’s trick of using breadcrumbs to lighten the texture of her mango ‘hat’ works well. Studded with stem ginger and strewn with caramelised coconut flakes it’s judged to be ‘absolutely delicious’ and the Hollywood paw is out again. Yan grasps back to make this precious moment last and disappointed Kate comments ‘two handshakes’. Almost before the words are out of her mouth, Stacey triumphs in the Bakewell battle and makes it a handshake hat-trick.

Liam licks his little lemony wounds as Paul tells him his pud is ‘too stodgy – that’s why I couldn’t give you a handshake’. Noel offers the bruised baker a compensatory ‘Fielding fondle’.


Technical challenge

A staggering technical challenge sees the bakers working to a rota so they can each serve up a batch of molten chocolate and peanut butter puddings at precisely the right moment. Well, that’s the theory. With no indication of baking time they guess at anything from a wobbly eight minutes to a crispy thirty-five. Last week’s Star Baker Kate puts herself in danger finishing eighth, with James close behind. Sophie admits she feels ‘trepidatious’ but her puds are perfect.

The showstopper

Accessorising with clear plastic umbrellas, the bakers re-enter the tent for a showstopper of an ornamental trifle terrine. These desserts must include at least three layers of a baked element, a set custard or mousse and a jelly. They should also be sliceable. Paul calls it ‘a master class in gelatine’, which must surely be part of the set curriculum (sorry).

James returns to his childhood for a sad tale of a missed street party in 1977. Confined with chicken pox at the time, he now belatedly celebrates the Queen’s silver jubilee with a patriotic bed of blueberry Swiss rolls, Eton Mess mousse and raspberry panna cotta nestling under a fruity Union Jack in Prosecco jelly.

Meanwhile Yan dedicates her dessert to her Royal Navy dad, crowning layers of strawberry mousse and blueberries with an ingeniously crafted ‘poppy’ injected into elderflower jelly.

Steven is also flying a flag – his stateside excursion of coconut sponge, white chocolate and custard stripes and raspberry jelly is layered up alongside blue jelly with piped white stars.

Stacey channels her inner Malibu Barbie with a shocking pink sponge and matching mini meringues, tropical rum and pineapple jelly, passion fruit and lime Eton Mess and chilli and mango mousse. The searing clash of colours flaunt a fabulous flavour combination that’s judged to be ‘truly unique and tastes beautiful’.

Sophie makes Noel grin with her ‘mighty bûche’ of raspberry mousse, yuzu curd and white chocolate. The judges smile too as they taste it, agreeing it’s ‘very pretty – very high class’.


Yan’s dessert is ‘just on the wrong side of firm but it looks incredible’. Julia’s fruit-soaked sponges, chocolate mousse and Prosecco and passion fruit jelly tip the balance the other way and are judged to be ‘soggy’.

Liam tries not to panic over his panna cotta but it’s his orange jelly that causes even greater concern as it fails to set. Slipping and sliding off the upturned terrine Liam senses his time is literally running out and he hides his shame and tears in the relatively comforting folds of his buff apron. The judges call his creation of brown butter brownies and chocolate mousse ‘clumsy’, but though the jelly is ‘a disaster’ his chai latte panna cotta is ‘delicious’.

Kate redeems herself with a delicious dessert inspired by her great, great nan that includes nostalgic powdered custard with raspberry meringue cream and raspberry jelly. However James is still unable to join in the celebrations as his jubilee terrine is judged ‘too firm’ on all elements and ‘a bit sickly’.

Slicing into Steven’s meticulously executed stars and stripes, the judges are wowed by the ‘amazing’ appearance but disappointed by the solid texture. Paul says ‘I don’t like rubber’. Liverpool Latex Lovers realise they’ve lost a potential patron.

An emotionally drained pair of Julia and Liam just manages to hang on in there but time is sadly up for jovial James. Sophie is this week’s Star Baker and I give a little cheer as the preview for next week shows… something savoury! At last! I suppose it’s potentially problematic when you’re partly sponsored by golden syrup but I wouldn’t mind if someone smeared it on a glazed ham or a side of salmon. Anyway, it looks like there are meatier offerings in the form of hot water crust pies. Paul warns someone about unsatisfactory hand raising – I’d better get some practice in.