Warning: This recap for Episode 4 of The Great British Baking Show contains spoilers.
The stress of Bread Week is behind us, but now it’s onto Dough Week and Yorkshire puddings: A traditional British pastry that has some of the same pitfalls of a soufflé. An odd and ancient form of pancake flummoxes many, but it’s the churros that really test the consistency of the bakers.
A first in the technical round and a “You’ve cracked it!” from Mary Berry on her show-stopping churros make Benjamina a shoe-in (choux-in?) for Star Baker. Kate, who has been on the bubble more than once, is sent home, though Paul notes that she’s not the weakest baker — just the weakest today.
Mel and Sue are masters of what we in America call “dad jokes.” Sure, anybody can “accidentally” confuse a sports batter for a dough batter (never mind that we’re on a baking show), but the puckish duo turn it into a dramatic skit — complete with Sue hopping up and down on her cricket bat like Daffy Duck — worth of the great Irish poet W.B. Yeast. Sorry, Yeats. W.B. Yeats.
Most British phrase
Both Mary and Val say, “In the lap of the gods,” to describe the temperamental nature of Yorkshire puddings. The batter has to be poured into hot oil and left alone in the oven. If done correctly, the dough will rise pillowy and soft; a single misstep and the entire thing falls flat. We might say “hands of the gods,” but doesn’t lap sound so much friendlier and quaint?
“At least it can’t get any worse”
If you hear someone in a movie utter that phrase, you can be guaranteed things will get worse. So you know that when Candice says, “I just want things to work this week and be spot on,” she’s going to drop something. “I didn’t want to use that one anyway,” she says, walking away as if that weren’t some ill omen from above. Like many of the bakers’ this week, her puddings came out a bit flat, but the flavors — she did a deconstructed Beef Wellington — were indeed “spot on.”
“I like the idea of pancakes,” says Paul. Though, based on what he’s calling pancakes, he could be wrong about that. We think of pancakes as hearty and filling, but Paul’s idea of pancakes is more like … lingerie? Imagine ordering a foot-long sub and getting something that’s two-thirds full of holes. That being said, one of the wonderful things about this show is that even the most bugnutty crazy pastry actually still probably tastes pretty great.
When you stare into the abyss…
“How hard could it be?” you think to yourself. “They’re given the recipe.” Well, take a closer look at what those recipes consist of:
For the batter
1. Make a pancake batter.
2. Pipe 12 heart shaped lace pancakes
3. Serve us 12 apart from your one tester
You’d get more information out of a Russian spy during the Cold War.
A few contenders this week. Jane’s “meat and two veg” refers to a traditional British meal but is also slang for a man’s bathing suit area. There’s Selasi’s pencil heart, which Mel swears is “just a pair of buttocks.” This time, though, the award goes to Paul, not so much because of what he said — “You toasted your nuts” is perfectly innocuous — but because Andrew is trying so hard to stifle a laugh, it’s a wonder he didn’t suffer an aneurysm right there.
The Fonzie award
The coveted Golden Fonzie goes to the coolest baker in the tent and, once again, it’s sexy biker dude Selasi. When every other baker quails and refuses to try flipping the pancake — resorting to the most timid of dainty spatula caresses — there’s Selasi tossing his up in the air without a care in the world. Half of Great Britain must have sent him wedding proposals by now.
The use of pork fat is more widespread here in the U.S., but the Brits are no stranger to it and Paul is absolutely mad for the stuff. Val uses drippings instead of oil for her puddings and Selasi fries pork skin to make cracklings for his that earn rapturous praise and only the second handshake of the season from Paul. It gets to the point that Sue is feeding him cracklings like a baby and Paul can’t get enough.
How do you spell relief? On The Great British Baking Show, you spell it N-O-T-G-E-T-T-I-N-G-K-I-C-K-E-D-O-F-F, and that’s what’s all over Val’s face after her showstopper is good, but not great. If you’re not sure who you should be rooting for, figure out which baker lets out a sigh at the same time you do while watching.
Most British pronunciation
It can be hard to tell sometimes when Mel and Sue are pronouncing something the way other Brits pronounce it or they’re being silly and pronouncing it like a cartoon character would. This time around, it seems like CHOOR-oss is the correct British/European pronunciation, whereas in the States, it’s usually CHOOR-oze. Either way, they’re delicious, but probably should never be shaped like bunnies.
The Great British Baking Show airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on PBS.