The Great British Bake Off, episode 7, review: Choux pastry week sees Kate meet an undercooked end

She had been a favourite from the very start, but one baker failed to regain her confidence after a tricky first round

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The Independent Culture

The high drama of European cake week – complete with collapsing domes, uneven icing and some questionable sugar work – saw absolutely no-one go home.

But choux pastry week was not nearly as forgiving, ending in a shock exit for one contestant whose show-stopping éclairs were declared a sickly mess by a scornful Mary Berry and a disappointed at best Paul Hollywood.

It all started so well, too.

The savoury parcel round saw a smattering of soggy bottoms and a couple of leaks, but all-in-all, the contestants impressed with their punchy seasoning, pleats and moisture.

Luis’ “most attractive” Spanish-inspired beef and chorizo pasties were particularly popular, while “flavour Queen” Chetna once again hit the mark with her Indian lentil parcels.

Kate’s “pale” spinach and paneer samosas, however were not so successful – she’d committed the cardinal sin of serving uncooked pastry.

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“If you have any negative comments in your first bake, going into the technical that afternoon is really hard and it colours your whole day,” she told the camera sullenly after the round, before slinking off, apron flowing, to tackle a technical challenge not one of the bakers had ever even heard of – a first in the show’s entire series history.

Their task? Tackling Paul’s advanced pastry recipe for the Kouign-Amann – the very uttering of which saw a collective look of horror stretch across the faces of the contestants as they struggled to work out how the mythical Breton cake was supposed to look, and how to pronounce its name.

“I’ve never even seen one!” Chetna cried, placing her head in her hands and staring ahead in horror.

The key to Kouign-Amann success, Hollywood outlined, was the “lamination” of the layers. Which has absolutely nothing to do with plastic coating machines, and everything to do with the “dough butter dough butter layers”.  Ultimately, the ever precise (you can tell by the permanent ear pencil) Richard triumphed with the shiniest, structured bake.

The show-stopper – a whopping bake of 24 éclairs, two different flavours –  brought out the wild combinations in everyone.

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Martha – the only contestant to have written a 8,000-word essay on choux pastry (she kids you not) saw fit to put candied bacon atop her maple and pecan buns, which ultimately suffered from a runny filling. “Terrible, absolutely terrible,” shesaid as she gazed down at her messy pastries. “I’m a gone-a.”

Richard built an entire structure – the inexplicable “éclair stairs” – to display his dangerously soapy lavender and rose cream confections, while Luis was praised for his “precise, clean and sharp” all-American 'Stars and Stripes' concoctions filled with peanut butter and jam.

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Chetna’s counting stirred a laugh from the judges – she’d made 13 of one batch, not 12 – but aroused suspicion in Kate, who’d also made a lemon meringue éclair.

Tensions arose when Mary failed to detect the aftertaste of basil running through her bake, while Paul’s eye glinted cold when he looked down at her Neopolitan pastries and declared them “a mess”.

She had been a frontrunner from the very start, but Kate failed to regain her confidence after undercooking her pastry – a costly error that ultimately led to her sad Bake Off departure.

The competition, it seems, has been left wide open.

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