The Great British Bake Off: Botanical
September 28, 2016 5:55 PM - Season 7, Episode 6 - Subscribe

It's week six of The Great British Bake Off and just seven bakers remain. This week, for the very first time on Bake Off, it's Botanical Week.

There are three challenges inspired by nature. The bakers can reach for anything that grows to give their bakes maximum botanical taste.

The bakers start with a signature challenge with a twist, that demands sharp citrus flavours and perfect peaks. Hidden under the gingham cloth is a leafy technical challenge set by Mr Hollywood. And finally, the botanical showstopper is the biggest challenge of the series so far - not one, not two, but three tiers of elaborately decorated cake.

Paul and Mary are looking for beautifully flavoured sponges and to be wowed by stunning floral designs. Three challenges, three chances to win star baker, three chances to avoid leaving the tent.
posted by everybody had matching towels (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
whoops forgot to add description via bbc iplayer
posted by everybody had matching towels at 5:56 PM on September 28, 2016

I was kinda hoping to see some more uncommon ingredients for Botanical Week, just for the sake of getting ideas. I'm not sure what exactly, but dandelion and burdock cake or something hey? I suppose they're restricted by the season.

The cakes were all impressively successful given that a tiered cake has been a final challenge before, and Selasi especially pulled that icing out of the bag.
posted by lucidium at 8:23 PM on September 28, 2016

I would eat Tom's cake, I love tea-flavored stuff. (My favorite personal shortbread combination is shortbread with 2 Tbsp ground black tea and the zest of 1 lime to flavor.)
posted by andrewesque at 6:51 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Tom's was the most impressive to me in terms of meeting the brief.

The remaining bakers seem pretty tight as a bunch, skill wise. They've all had their ups and downs. Before this week I'd have said Jane was a lock for the final, but if she has another week like this I don't know. Bejamina, Jane, Candace, maybe? Tom's best at flavors but the technique hasn't always been there, Andrew's best when he plays it safe and I'm not sure that'll be enough. And Selasi is a bit of a wildcard --- always seems to raise his game just enough to hang in. Of course, the three woman have each had a bake or two go badly pear-shaped, and if that happens on the wrong week it could mean a knock out.

I feel like I don't have a clear favorite this year personally, either.
posted by Diablevert at 7:07 AM on September 29, 2016

I was kinda hoping to see some more uncommon ingredients for Botanical Week,

I was also a bit disappointed in the flavor choices the bakers made this week. I hoped for something incorporating more herbs and flowers and not so much citrus. I would like to try Tom's cake and really liked the idea of Candice's four seasons cake.

I watched the first episode of The Great Australian Bake Off last night after GBBO and I have to say it just didn't have the same charm. Getting the host / judges exactly right is difficult and when it works it is magical (a la the soon to be gone team on GBBO) and when it doesn't work the whole show can be ruined. The Australian show failed with that test mainly with the female judge and it makes me worried for Bake Off going forward with only Paul Hollywood and unknown replacements for everyone else.
posted by Julnyes at 9:07 AM on September 29, 2016

Also I'm loving the Selasi-Benjamina friendship/sass, and that moment when Benjamina was like "mmmm OK" when Paul was making a comment about her bake (it escapes me at the moment which one it was) I was like YES YOU GO GIRL #teambenjamina
posted by andrewesque at 9:49 AM on September 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

YES also loving the Selasi-Benjamina friendship. I saw some folks on twitter claiming that Selasi was robbed, but he came in last in the technical, while Tom was 1st there. However, I think it would have been a fine reason for the special commendation to make a second appearance (S6 Paul's bread lion being the first).

I had never seen or even heard of a fougasse before this challenge!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Really rather sad to see Rav go. He always seems to have such a sunny attitude.
posted by peacheater at 3:24 PM on September 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I come to bring you all the important breaking news that Val is now on twitter.
posted by ariadne's threadspinner at 7:44 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

kanata, there has been some use of rose flavouring (and lavender) on the show before, but Paul always mentions the soap thing when they're doing the rounds before judging, and it usually doesn't go very well.

I am also without a clear favourite, although I like Benjamina and Andrew a lot. I'm not really sure who'll end up in the final 3 at this point, since everyone had been so inconsistent.
posted by minsies at 8:06 PM on September 29, 2016

One thing I have always wondered is if rose flavouring is big in the UK

In a word: no. It's just that people keep on thinking that just because you can get rose essence flavouring it might be a good idea to try using it.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:08 AM on September 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Having made the fougasse it's definitely going into my list of Things To Make Regularly. Very straightforward (although having a mixer with a dough hook really helps) and tastes absolutely delicious.

I've been doing the technical challenges each week as an exercise in improving my baking. The recipes on the BBC website are far more comprehensive than the deliberately stripped-down ones given to the contestants and of course there's no time pressure (and it's become obvious to me how they really don't give quite enough time for some of them.) My experiences so far:

Week 1: Jaffa Cakes. Took two attempts, harder than they look if you want to avoid a total mess.

Week 2: Viennese Whorls. Easy if you have full instructions, i.e. soften the butter first and then chill before baking! Absolutely delicious.

Week 3: Dumpfnudel. For a recipe described as very challenging, I found it fairly straightforward, although I cheated by not making the accompanying sauces. Very tasty so long as you like rich, dense desserts.

Week 4: Lace Pancakes. I had a gripe about this because it was not really a technical challenge so much as an artistic one. Mine looked awful but tasted nice, but then I already know how to make pancakes.

Week 5: Bakewell Tart. I cheated a bit my using some of Mrs Clanger's home-made plum and port jam*. The result wasn't as pretty as I would have liked (hint: ice the top and then do the pink stripes immediately) but tasted amazing. I took some into work and my legal colleagues are threatening to get a mandatory injunction requiring me to make more.

*She made it two years ago and it has matured into 'port with a hint of plum'. This is not a criticism.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:19 AM on September 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

Week 4: Lace Pancakes. I had a gripe about this because it was not really a technical challenge so much as an artistic one. Mine looked awful but tasted nice, but then I already know how to make pancakes.

I don't think so - the big technical challenge there was getting the batter to the right consistency to be able to do something with it, not so much making a pretty design. Also, coming up with a design that wouldn't be burned in one part and undercooked in another (also getting the temperature of the pan right for that), along with the amount of sugar in the batter. That's why the limit of only one tester was important - you could adjust your batter consistency or design based on that one, but that's it. It wasn't really as simple as "make pancakes".

It seems like all the people who were overmatched this season have been eliminated, and we're now left with a couple folks who can do really good stuff but are generally inconsistent. It's a shame Kate went off already - other than that one week where she was eliminated, she looked like she knew what she was doing, and she probably would have destroyed everyone this week, what with her Ian-esque habit of bringing stuff from her home garden.
posted by LionIndex at 4:56 AM on September 30, 2016

I wonder if the rose flavor being slightly more common in the UK compared to the US has to do with the UK's Indian connection. It was a pretty common flavor growing up in India though I was never a big fan. My grandmother used to try to get me drink glasses of rose milk, which is exactly as gagworthy as it sounds. It is good when used judiciously in kulfi though.
posted by peacheater at 5:43 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Were there supposed benefits to rose milk? Yuck.
posted by minsies at 7:07 AM on September 30, 2016

Not really. It also had a ton of sugar so whatever benefits there were were probably canceled out by that. Here's an example recipe. It did look pretty.
posted by peacheater at 7:19 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Damn I'm impressed with myself now. I started making fougasse probably a decade ago off of a Gordon Ramsay recipe. Easy to make and delicious.

In terms of rose flavored things-mixing rose with tea is delicious. There was a tea place downtown called Sympathy for the Kettle that used to offer a tea called Dorian Grey-an earl grey blend with rose. Rose tea is rather tasty and does NOT taste like soap. Made a simply beautiful latte. I'm willing to bet using that type of tea would make a lovely cake.

I guess now I'm going to have to try and make this.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:47 PM on October 1, 2016

Omfg selasi. That piping was crazy! Why are you so blah in other challenges, esp in presentation, when you can do that??

And I was really glad to see one of toms experiments work out well lol.

Candace always does the craziest crap lol, so mad.

Was surprised to see the failures of meringue with the tarts. I've always found meringue very easy - like it works, or the eggs don't rise, there's no in between for me, so I was surprised to see so many sloppy ones. I suspect they were crunched for cooking time, though. They can take a deceptively long time. Tart pastry actually gives me way more trouble than the rest.

Lol at Mary complaining about blow torches. "they are using something far, far easier with virtually indistinguishable results. It's not fair."
posted by smoke at 7:39 PM on October 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like Mary, I loved Selasi's whimsical floral tee shirt! But I sadly missed Candice's strong lipstick--seemed like a missed opportunity on botanical week!

I definitely would have liked to try Jane's lime and coconut meringue pie. What a gorgeous bake.

Benjamina just slays me--so expressive and low-key funny. She and Andrew are definitely my favorites this year, even if they may not be the very best bakers.
posted by merriment at 8:04 PM on October 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I suspect the rainy weather/high humidity was a lot of the problem for the meringues.
posted by janell at 9:29 PM on October 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've never even heard of fougasse. I thought they were using some odd British pronunciation of focaccia for a bit. Is this a thing in the US, that I just missed, or just not something that's made it around here?
posted by smackfu at 5:38 AM on October 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Smackfu - I'd never heard of it either, so maybe it isn't huge here in the States (or I'm just not as well versed in breads as I thought)
posted by Julnyes at 7:07 AM on October 4, 2016

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