The Great British Bake Off/Baking Show – Week 6 – Botanical – Recap

Last week saw a double elimination with both Nicky and Rowan going home. This week the theme was botanicals: bakes with spice, herbs, and floral hints.

Signature: 12 spice buns in 2 hours and 45 minutes

Swedish cardamom buns by Stephanie Wise author of Comfort Baking

Saku’s lovely twisted Swedish cardamom buns received good comments; Tasha’s Yuletide cinnamon, nutmeg and clove buns with a mulled wine glaze were deemed festive with good flavors; Matty made rum drunk hot cross buns that needed more fruit and were too dense; Cristy’s maple, pecan and cinnamon spiced buns were pretty consistent and the flavors were lovely; Dan went to Greece with his saffron and star anise Chelsea buns and his flavors were good, Josh’s lemon curd blueberry buns had nice color but not enough blueberry, and Dana’s cardamom, pistachio and orange buns with rose petal garnish were not consistent and lacked cardamom flavor. Overall, almost all the bakers were dinged on consistency. It seems to me that delivering twelve identical buns would be very difficult – I know I’ve made buns before and sometimes the baking gods just work in mysterious ways and only a machine can make everything identical – or least that’s my story.

Darcie: As Prue and Paul noted, getting botanical flavors just right is tricky, and it is easy to have too much of a good thing. When you go overboard, the results can taste medicinal or soapy. The bakers didn’t get too crazy with their flavors, and I noted that none of them chose lavender, either in this challenge or later in the showstopper, which rather surprised me, as it seems like an obvious choice for botanical week. I agree that getting identical sizes is a challenge, but when I watched as Dana put her shaped buns into the proving drawer it was obvious they weren’t the same. I think the people who were most consistent weighed the buns precisely.

We have 238 online recipes for sweet spice buns and 82 online recipes for savory spice buns. We have 43 online recipes for Chelsea buns and 295 for hot cross buns.

Technical: Prue’s lemon & thyme bundt in 1 hour and 30 minutes

There were many comments about the color of the cakes or the lack of thyme. Judging saw Tasha in 7th; Dana in 6th; Saku in 5th; Matty in 4th; Dan in 3rd, Josh came in 2nd and Cristy received 1st place.

Darcie: The timeline was tight for this challenge, but doable. I have that exact Nordic Ware pan and it is one of the easiest to unmold. Most of the bakers did not have a problem with that, but they were all over the place with the decoration. The challenges this season seem much more reasonable than the past couple of years and they showcase how much of baking success comes down to experience and knowledge of ingredients and methods.

For this challenge I would have been tempted to use a reverse creaming process for the time savings. One of my favorite cakes is this Flo Braker Lavender-lemon bundt cake from Williams-Sonoma. I have a bunch of lemon thyme in the garden and after seeing this challenge I’m contemplating revisiting that recipe but substituting thyme for lavender.

Jane’s translation service: This is the first time in this series I have felt I should step in with my UK to US expertise. And it’s something non-baking – keepy-uppies (as mentioned by Saku and Noel). To Brits this is keeping a football from touching the ground for as long as possible (by tapping it up from your foot). And by football I mean a round ball that is kicked with the foot, not an elongated ball that is thrown with the hands. Sorry, but even after 24 years living in the USA, I still don’t know why they call it football!

Showstopper: A floral dessert in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

I thought most of the bakes were beautiful especially Tasha and Cristy’s (even though Cristy had a set back with her white chocolate ganache and her mold). Saku’s bake was impressive but lacked flavor. Dan’s massive showstopper was imaginative but had too much floral flavors and deemed very perfumey. Matty’s was simple and his custard was rubbery. Dana’s beautiful sugar box couldn’t save her from a cake that lacked floral flavors and a very dry sponge.

Darcie: I predicted Matty would go home after his dessert failed to impress with both off-textures and a lackluster presentation, but he squeaked by, even though Dana’s showstopper looked a lot better. She may have been able to save herself by using a soaking syrup on her cake to prevent it from drying out. All of the floral jellies looked amazing and definitely added pizzazz to the desserts. Bravo to Cristy for not giving up and pulling together a last-minute replacement. As Paul said, others before who faced similar challenges tossed their bakes in the bin. If she had done that, it might have been her leaving the tent. I was glad to see Dan being a little risky with the flavors, there was too much elderflower in the showstoppers.

In the end Josh was named star baker and Dana sent home.

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  • KatieK1  on  November 5, 2023

    Thanks for posting the recipe links.

  • Fyretigger  on  November 6, 2023

    I’m really getting intrigued by the jelly work. I’ve watched some videos online to supplement what I’ve seen on GBBO to make sense of the technique. Now, I really want to try it myself and I’m looking at starter kits online.

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