The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show – Week 5 – Pastry – Recap

Last week, due to Tasha’s illness, no one was sent home during Chocolate Week. This week is all about pastry and two bakers will be sent on their way. Jenny: I set up this week’s recap but was under the weather Saturday and Darcie finished it off.

Signature: 12 individual savoury picnic pies with a hot water crust in two hours.

Darcie: Hot water pastry is not common here in the US, which is a shame because it’s wonderful for handheld pies or these ‘picnic’ pies. The biggest pitfall is that it’s easy to make the crust too thick which will make it stodgy and soggy. That’s what happened to Saku. Her inclusion of a quail egg was a nice touch but unfortunately, her lovely filling didn’t make up for having a thick crust with the dreaded soggy bottom. I was surprised that Dan’s pies turned out dry since lamb usually has a lot of fat to help it stay moist. I cringed when Rowan put the raw bacon on the top of his pie before he sealed it because I don’t like flabby bacon. However, the judges didn’t seem to mind that and only criticized his crust. Although Nicky’s pies were a self-described disaster, I really want a set of those molds because the pies looked fantastic. Cristy received a coveted Hollywood handshake.

Technical: a Dauphinoise potato and caramelized onion pithivier with a blue cheese sauce set by Paul Hollywood; in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

A pithivier is a round, enclosed pie usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry, with a filling stuffed in between. It has the appearance of a hump and is traditionally decorated with spiral lines drawn from the top outwards with the point of a knife, and scalloping on the edge. There are 76 different pithivier online recipes in the EYB Library, such as the Pithivier of chicken, squash and sage pictured above, if you’d like to try your hand at making one.

Darcie: Things started off rocky for the bakers who didn’t know what to do with the grated butter. They needed to roll it in between the layers to achieve the flakiness and lift needed to make the pithivier rise. As Prue said, “by now, our bakers should know about rough puff pastry.” Only about half of them used the proper technique, including the top three finishers (Tasha, Dana, and Dan).

This was the best technical challenge so far because it really did test the bakers’ knowledge instead of it being just a race against time. Dan had to re-do his pastry because he grated his knuckles yet he still landed in first place. Dana’s choice of signature bake (that had basically the same filling) served her well because she landed second. Nicky’s bad day continued because she didn’t use the right technique; her pithivier ended up flat and she was in last place. Josh and Matty were also at the bottom with their flat pastries.

Showstopper: A stunning display of decorative pies with at least three pies in a sweet pastry; in 4 hours.

Darcie: I’ve always been confused by what the term “shortcrust” pastry meant (we don’t use that term in the US, at least not where I’ve lived), so this challenge was illuminating. It looks like what I would call a tart crust or a cookie crust.

Now this may be a controversial opinion, but to me what those bakers made weren’t pies. They were tarts. Perhaps this is one of those biscuit/cookie differences between the US and the UK, but pie to me means a flaky crust made in a pie tin (or perhaps freeform), but not in a scalloped, straight-sided tin with a removable bottom. And, dare I say it, when it comes to sweet pies, Americans are better at making them than the Brits. (I am bracing for the blowback.) But you have to admit that many of these “pies” looked terrible. The crusts were thick, the designs were clumsy, and many of the fillings were a disaster, especially Rowan’s.

Now this is a pie

Josh redeemed himself after a poor showing in the technical by making an attractive display, simple but extremely well executed. Cristy continued to impress the judges with both the look of her pies (sorry, they’re tarts) and her flavors. I’m definitely stealing her raspberry frangipane idea. Saku also did well although one of her fillings was undercooked. Matty’s performance wasn’t stellar but he did enough to remain in the tent for another round.

It was a sad week because two bakers were sent home since no one was eliminated last week. It wasn’t a surprise to learn that Nicky and Rowan were leaving; both had utterly disappointing bakes throughout pastry week. Cristy was named star baker, and deservedly so.

Jenny: Nicky kept saying that she gave the judges a “bag of pants” for those not familiar with the term pants – pants is slang for rubbish in the UK – so she referred to her offerings as a “bag of pants”.

Post a comment


  • janecooksamiracle  on  October 29, 2023

    I’ve always thought that if it is fully enclosed with pastry then it’s a pie. 🥧🥧🥧🥧 If it has no “lid” it’s a tart.

  • veronicafrance  on  October 30, 2023

    I agree with Jane. These were a kind of cross between a pie and a tart — with a top, but cooked in a tart tin. I could see why they did that, since Paul said they had to present them unmoulded. Much more difficult to get them out of a pie dish than a loose-bottomed tin. I thought most of them looked great. The challenges this season are so much more sensible than last.

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!