Mary Berry succumbs to Mat’s sausage and bacon as Alvin predictably exits the Great British Bake Off, by Jim Shelley

It wasn’t the most spectacular night on the Great British Bake Off.

In fact it was the least eventful, most understated, episode of the series so far – even though last week’s included making pitta bread.

Alvin’s fate as the contestant to be sent back to the kitchen (at home) had been on the cards (or on the menu) for so long it was inevitable.

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Heading home: Alvin was the latest casualty of the Great British Bake Off kitchen on Wednesday night

Heading home: Alvin was the latest casualty of the Great British Bake Off kitchen on Wednesday night

And even the Star Baker Mat’s creations were underwhelming. For the final challenge, vol au vents didn’t leave much scope to be breathtaking - more like a Showstopper in miniature.

On the plus side, GBBO connoisseurs were treated to their first ‘soggy bottoms’ of the series as Pastry Week saw the seven remaining bakers tackling vol au vents, frangipane tarts, and flaouna.

As you do...Well as not even the Bakers do actually.

Tricky challenge: For the Technical Challenge the contestants were tasked with making flaouna, ‘a cheese-filled pastry from Cyprus eaten to celebrate the end of Lent’

Tricky challenge: For the Technical Challenge the contestants were tasked with making flaouna, ‘a cheese-filled pastry from Cyprus eaten to celebrate the end of Lent’

Even Mary Berry had not heard of flaouna, ‘a cheese-filled pastry from Cyprus eaten to celebrate the end of Lent’ and definitely not available in Greggs.

None of the contestants had ever used the key ingredients ‘mehlepi’ and ‘mastik’ which was ‘a crystalised tree resin’ with an aroma as pungent as the adhesive of the same name.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe didn’t help much either – or at all. It deliberately didn’t say which side of the pastry they should coat with sesame seeds or how long they should bake them for.

‘I think that’s totally unfair,’ gasped Mary, admiringly.

Going in blind: None of the contestants had ever used the key ingredients ‘mehlepi’ and ‘mastik’

Going in blind: None of the contestants had ever used the key ingredients ‘mehlepi’ and ‘mastik’

No wonder Alvin, who had consistently had what they diplomatically called ‘timing issues’, produced something more akin to ‘Cypriot pizza.’

Tamal’s was even worse than Alvin’s while the best that Mary Berry could say about Nadiya’s effort was: ‘It tastes alright.’

Even Paul Hollywood’s teacher’s pet Ian was slapped down for making something closer to ‘Cornish flaounas.’

For the Signature Challenge, as usual Ian tried to upstage the others, ‘casually’ mentioning ‘my little twist of the day, which is that I’m using eggs from one of my guinea fowl.’

Well we’ve all done it...

Favourite: Even Paul Hollywood’s teacher’s pet Ian was slapped down for making something closer to ‘Cornish flaounas'

Favourite: Even Paul Hollywood’s teacher’s pet Ian was slapped down for making something closer to ‘Cornish flaounas'

Impressive: Nadiya’s impressed more in the Signature challenge flavouring her frangipane tart with ‘Bengali bay leaf infused with rong tea and arrowroot

Impressive: Nadiya’s impressed more in the Signature challenge flavouring her frangipane tart with ‘Bengali bay leaf infused with rong tea and arrowroot

Mistake: Those who chose to blind bake their tarts, like Flora, suffered in the Signature Bake

Mistake: Those who chose to blind bake their tarts, like Flora, suffered in the Signature Bake

Mind you his pear and raspberry frangipane – with Calvados – did look delicious. He was (typically) confident that most of the others had blundered.

‘For a frangipane tart, I don’t think you do blind-bake,’ he smarmed.

As it turned out, he and the other blind bakers Paul and Flora, all suffered as a consequence.

Nadiya’s looked more promising, flavouring hers with ‘Bengali bay leaf infused with rong tea and arrowroot.’

‘It’s very subtle,’ she warned them, anxiously. ‘Right...’ murmured Hollywood not very encouragingly.

Mary was certainly smitten by the results. ‘The appearance is really, really lovely,’ she cooed. ‘It’s very professional. It is subtle but the perfume is definitely not over done underneath.’

In trouble: Inevitably, Alvin had struggled from the moment he told the judges what he had planned

In trouble: Inevitably, Alvin had struggled from the moment he told the judges what he had planned

Trust Paul to spoil things, pointing out both gleefully and grumpily: ‘ooh bit of a soggy bottom there.’

Inevitably, Alvin had struggled from the moment he told them what he had planned.

‘Hello Alvin. Tell us about your frangipane tart,’ enquired Mary Berry rather personally.

‘So you haven’t poached your plums?’ asked Paul, even more. No, it was just the way he was standing.

When Alvin confirmed that he hadn’t, even Mel sensed calamity (and a cheap gag).

‘So how DO you fan your plums?’ she wondered.

Let’s not go into it.

Bad weekend: After over-baking on the blind bake, Alvin's tart was still raw and the base too thick

Bad weekend: After over-baking on the blind bake, Alvin's tart was still raw and the base too thick

Somehow poor Alvin had ‘over-baked on the blind bake.’

His frangipane meanwhile was still ‘raw’, his base was ‘too thick’ and, Paul told him, ‘your plums aren’t cooked either.’

Apart from that it was perfect.

‘What needs to happen for Alvin to be saved?’ asked Mel Giedroyc before the Showstopper Challenge. ‘A miracle,’ declared Mary.

Miracles, of course, do not happen.

The flavour of Alvin’s vol au vents was ‘delicious’ said Paul but ‘they look quite raw in the middle’ (not good).

Not impressed: Alvin's final bake failed to win over Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry after his earlier fails

Not impressed: Alvin's final bake failed to win over Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry after his earlier fails

Mary disagreed – but in a bad way for Alvin.

‘I’m not getting much flavour,’ she sniffed. ‘I’m sorry,’ said Alvin humbly, virtually crawling away.

The creations the others produced were (obviously) mouth-wateringly imaginative but so dainty they were not really Showstopping. Among the combinations they conjured up were: garlic and chilli prawn on risotto with pea puree (Paul), chocolate puff pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with hazelnut and praline (Flora), and cod and Clementine peel (Nadiya).

Tamal opted for ‘pork fried with fennel and rosemary’, which he said was ‘inspired by a sandwich that I had a few years ago. One of the top two sandwiches I had in my life. I think about that sandwich quite a lot.’

Crunch time: The contestants are nearing closer to the finish line with just six left remaining after the latest episode

Crunch time: The contestants are nearing closer to the finish line with just six left remaining after the latest episode

He spoke about this sandwich so fondly he could have been talking about his first girlfriend.

‘Mary and Paul will want to see a perfect batch of vol au vents from each baker,’ warned Sue Perkins. ‘Well risen, uniform, and vertical.’

Mary and Paul can dream on, you thought.

Tamal’s were dismissed as ‘a bit of a mess.’ Paul’s were described as ‘under-baked’, ‘a bit tilted’, ‘raw’, and looking ‘hideous.’

While Nadiya’s decision to start again meant she served her filling on the side rather than filling the mini pastries.

Tamal opted for ‘pork fried with fennel and rosemary’, which he said was ‘inspired by a sandwich that I had a few years ago

Tamal opted for ‘pork fried with fennel and rosemary’, which he said was ‘inspired by a sandwich that I had a few years ago

When Mary told her: ‘I’m not, as you know, a very spicy person, but it really is scrumptious’, Nadiya’s tears were probably a combination of disappointment, relief, and joy.

As for Ian his vol au vents had scallops, bacon, Vermouth, and squid ink.

‘Jet black food is a bit risqué,’ he enthused alarmingly.

When presented in tiny, squiggly, piles, it also looks like fox poo. Yuck.

This left Mat to take the title of Star Baker, almost by default.

Winning baker: Mat took the title of Star Baker, almost by default in an uninspiring week

Winning baker: Mat took the title of Star Baker, almost by default in an uninspiring week

Challenge master: Notoriously difficult judge Paul set a very difficult Technical this week

Challenge master: Notoriously difficult judge Paul set a very difficult Technical this week

To be honest his flaouna hadn’t been that impressive – ‘not bad’, shrugged Paul Hollywood.

And his pina colada frangipane tart had been a bit light on the rum for Mary Berry’s liking.

But his mini Showstoppers had won her over, particularly the sausage and bacon vol au vents topped with a quail’s egg.

‘They look amazing,’ gushed Hollywood. ‘The shape, the lamination, and a great size as well. The flavours are gorgeous. Well thought out and well baked.’

Surprisingly for one so genteel, Mary had other criteria.

‘The egg yolk is beautifully runny. I promise it’s dripping down my hand...’

For a moment, she sounded like a rather regal builder. 

Won over: Mat's mini Showstoppers particularly the sausage and bacon vol au vents topped with a quail’s egg, impressed Mary and Paul in the end

Won over: Mat's mini Showstoppers particularly the sausage and bacon vol au vents topped with a quail’s egg, impressed Mary and Paul in the end

 

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