The Great British Bake Off – Week 9, All Things French

Hop on board the Bake Off train, destination The Semi Finals!!

I remember the night all of us Bakers got together before the first weekend of filming and I know for a fact we were all wondering how far we’d get and who would be with us on the journey.  My aim was to get past week 1 and then just take each week as it came along…and before I knew it I was in the Semi Finals with three baking sisters!

Leaving the Quarter Finals the previous week was very emotional and it was difficult picking myself up again and ploughing on with practice for the Semis, but it needed to be done.  I don’t think I slept much that week and practiced as much as I could, tweaking recipes to make sure that I was happy with all my bakes and I went into that tent feeling good and just tried to stay focused.

French week kicked off with savoury canapés and although it was the Signature Challenge, it felt like all the challenges were Showstoppers that weekend and we all needed to pull out all the stops for all the challenges. I had decided upon making a Beetroot Choux, filled with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Cream, Walnut and Stilton Macarons and Welsh Rarebit Tarts.  I had considered different versions of the canapés, for example creaming the stilton rather than having a disk, but I liked the look of the blue veins and was happy with how it tasted.


 A batch of freshly baked Walnut Macaron shells.

It’s fair to say that both Paul and Mary weren’t enamoured with my canapés which saddened me greatly, but I wouldn’t have changed anything in hindsight, especially in the time frame we had.  I took on board their comments and moved on to tackle the technical challenge.  In that tent, there’s no time and no point dwelling on what had just happened as there was still two more challenges ahead.

The Technical Challenge was a Charlotte Royale…..exactly!!  I had never made one, but had a vague idea of what it looked like, especially after Sue said it looked like a brain!  I remember thinking that we didn’t have much time and thought halfway through that we must get to finish the challenge off in the morning….sneaky Bake Off production team!  Anyway, I cracked on with the sponge and the jam, everything going to plan, then I made yet more custard but this time we had to add gelatine leaves and raspberry puree to turn it into a Bavarois.  I lined the bowl with clingfilm to make it easier to turn out, then carefully sliced my swiss roll into equal pieces and lined the bowl with the sponge.  I was happy with the swiss roll, but as soon as I’d put the custard in I knew I should have pressed the swiss roll in tighter so that the bavarois wouldn’t have leaked through as much as it did.  Too late by that point, and time was seriously running out!  I think we were all finishing putting the final piece of swiss roll in at the same time and got them into the fridge just in time too!!

The following morning, we were all dreading turning out our brains and wondered what else we needed to do to finish the challenge off! Having successfully turned out the swiss roll creation we then had to make a glaze using sugar, water and arrow root which turned the liquid into gloop…for want of a better word!  It was tricky to work with and I have no idea how I managed to glaze it but I did!  The finishing touches were some piped cream and strawberries and that was it.  Bless Ruby had a few issues with her Charlotte and came 4th then I was placed 3rd.  I knew then that I was in danger and needed to bake like I’d never baked before in the final challenge and wasn’t going to give up without a fight!

And so it was down to the Showstopper, a 10inch Opera cake that would blow their mind and secure me a place in that Bake Off final.  The flavour combination I went for was a Banoffee style Opera cake which consisted of a banana joconde sponge, a rum syrup, banana buttercream, toffee buttercream and a dark chocolate ganache.  Once again, having made the cake 2 or 3 times in the week, I was happy with it and thought it worked well.  I had a few people taste it and asked for their honest opinion and they all liked it.  I did not stop throughout that challenge as did all of the bakers, we were all hungry for a spot in the final and did everything we could to get there.  The fact that all 4 of us turned out 4 Opera cakes in 2 1/2 hours is amazing, but it seemed that all of us had some not so great comments from the judges but I feel that mine was the one that took the brunt of the punches.

Whilst we waited for the judges to decide our fate, I knew that although I had done everything I could to stay in, it was going to be my name that was said at the end.  I had reached the Semi Finals having lost out on the Star Baker accolade and I think that coupled with my flavours not quite hitting the mark with Paul and Mary resulted in my departure.

Kimberley thoroughly deserved the Star Baker that week as all of her bakes were outstanding.  Her flavour combinations and style is out of this world and she thoroughly deserved a spot in that final.  Frances pulled some amazing bakes out of the bag that weekend too and even got a Paul Hollywood handshake, if that doesn’t seal your place in the final I don’t know what will!  And finally Ruby, what an amazingly talented natural baker.  I’m not sure that many people know that she has only been baking for about 2 years and she turns out these amazing bakes and flavour combinations.  She didn’t have the best of weekends, but she had done enough to claim the third spot in the final and had also won Star Baker 3 times.  Well done ladies, I’m very proud of you all and it has been a pleasure to bake in your company for 9 weeks in a tent in the middle of nowhere.

How am I doing?  Don’t get me wrong, I was gutted to get so far and to fall at the final hurdle, but these things happen for a reason and if anything it has been one heck of a character building exercise!  What an amazing experience and one that I will never forgot.  The main thing for me is that this whole crazy thing hasn’t burst my Bake Off bubble or more importantly my passion for baking…it will take a lot to stop me from baking and I hope this won’t be the last you see of me!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my Bake Off journey (oh no, she used the j-word!), and I would particularly like to thank my loving husband and gorgeous mini-me daughter, my amazing parents, my very proud Nan who is one of my baking inspirations and my lovely and honest brother and his lovely little family.  Diolch o galon am eich holl cymorth a chariad trwy gydol y flwyddyn dwethaf.

Enough of that nonsense now – next week it’s the Final of The Great British Bake Off…and I can’t WAIT to watch it!


43 responses to “The Great British Bake Off – Week 9, All Things French

  1. You were really brilliant, absolutely loved watching you every week. So much respect for all of you involved, I would be a wailing mess given most of those challenges! Onwards and upwards, glad that you’re so proud of how far you got, you should be!

      • Diolch am chwifio’r faner dros Gymru, a dangos ein bod ni’n genedl o ‘fwydwyr’. Roedd yn dorcalonnus eich gweld yn mynd allan o’r gystadleuaeth wythnos diwethaf, ond ‘rydym ni mor filch o’ch llwyddiant yn dod mor bell yn y gystadleuaeth. Ymlaen, . Beca!!

      • Diolch Ann! Dwi mor browd o sut nes I yn y gystadleuaeth a filch bod bwyd bendigedig Cymru wedi cael cyfle I ddisgleirio ar rhaglen mor fawr a’r Bake Off! x

  2. Totally gutted for you, seemed to me as soon as Mary and Paul heard you say banana opera cake they decided they weren’t going to like it. You are a phenomenal baker and a lovely bubbly person who I will miss seeing next week in the final. Good luck in the future, I will hear about your recipes through twitter xxx

    • Thank you for your support! Definitely not the last you’ll hear of me and lots of recipes and blog posts still to come, so stay tuned!! Xxx

  3. Becca, I thought you were brilliant, and I was so sad to see you go! I thought your rarebit canapes looked delicious! Surely tasting boozy is a good thing! That Hollywood bloke does not know what he is on about 🙂 You made me laugh every week and I look forward to reading more of your recipes (and trying them!)

  4. Beca, I was lucky enough to pick you in the Ideal Home magazine GBBO pool, and have been cheering you on ever since. We all love you and your cooking, which has just got better and better as the weeks have gone by, but most of all your fantastic spirit and personality. You should have made the final, and in our hearts you have! You got lots of fans at Ideal Home, so if you’re ever in South London, come and say hello. Hope we’ll se lots more of you in future xxx

    • Hi Isobel! Thank you for your lovely comments and your support throughout the bake off! I’m chuffed to hear that you guys at Ideal Home magazine are fans and I very much hope to keep going with this baking nonsense, so watch this space! I may see you guys at one of the many foody/lifestyle shows over the coming months! Thank you once again! Becs x

  5. It doesn’t help that to look at you remind me very much of a colleague (who is also a very keen baker) so I’m doubly sorry to see you go! We are full of admiration for the way you cope with the pressure week after week. Very best wishes for the future!

  6. I will really miss you on the Bake Off! You added a nice bit of humour and I enjoyed your Welsh creations. All the best with your baking and well done for getting so far in the competition. You were the Macaron Queen!

    • Thank you for your lovely comments and your support! Watch this space as I will hopefully carry on with this baking nonsense!!

      Queen Becaron x

  7. I loved your sense of humour throughout it all and I cannot begin to guess the pressure you and the others were under and you kept the quips coming even so. Congrats to you for getting this far and I envy your family the results of your baking talents. No waistline watching there I hope!

    • Thank you June! Funnily enough, I lost weight doing the bake off…probably because of the stress! Thank you for your support too, it means a lot to hear from other people who love the show as it is one of my favourites too! Take care and watch this space! x
      ps: we never watch our waistlines!

  8. Loved you on Bake-Off, Beca. You had a great attitude and brought some fun to the show each week. Loved your operetta with Mel – when’s the album coming out?

    • Thank you Sue! Glad you liked the signing with Mel! Both her and Sue were amazing to have in the tent and were needed when things started to get stressful!! No plans for an album I’m sorry to say, these days singing is reserved for choir and drunken karaoke booths on hen weekends…and the odd stint on national TV! x

  9. totally gutted that you didn’t make the final. in my humble opinion you didn’t deserve to go. your BIG personality will be missed in the final.

  10. Congratulations on getting that far, still an amazing achievement! Must be hard for you to watch back though. How far in advance is it filmed?

      • Oh longer than I’d have thought! So you finish filming everything before the series even starts on tv, that must be very hard to keep everything secret!
        Do you have any plans for your baking future? A welsh recipe book maybe?!

      • It was easier than you think to keep the secret! Plans going forward are looking at teaching at a cookery school, potentially some TV & radio work and maybe a book….depends if my ideas fit the already flooded cookery book market…watch this space! x

  11. You were amazing throughout and should be very proud of your achievement. I wish you well in your future baking career. xxx

  12. I was backing you to win Beca, and was gutted to see you go. You were fabulous m’dearie. xx

  13. We were rooting for you all the way over here in Brooklyn (dodgy internet feed and all) – you might not have made it through, but know that you won the coveted “Baker we’d most like to be invited to Christmas by” award (USA edition) – Bake on! And in my best google Welsh – Gall Llefain ennill gwobrau. Pobi Llawen ennill calonnau!

    • Hey guys! I’m touched that you were rooting for me from across the pond! I have a big family in the Midwest in St Louis and Chicago, so it means a lot to me to know that I have other fans in the States other than my family!! You’re welcome to join in our Welsh Christmas festivities anytime and I very much appreciate your Welsh words via the power of google!! I have been to NYC but not for several years, but hopefully we’ll be out again soon and I will come and kind you guys in Brooklyn!! Lots of Welsh Love from your Baking Sister Beca! xxx

      • Please do! We will show you a fantastic time – we even have one of the best bakeries in Brooklyn in our building!

  14. Sorry that you didn’t make the final but taste is such a subjective thing to judge. I would hate some of the flavours that the judges rave about. I wonder how much notice do you get to decide on those elements that you choose yourself?

    • Thank you Sue! I think at the end of the day, all you can do is do your best and create food you like to eat. If the judges don’t like it for whatever reason then you can’t do anymore than that. We don’t have much time, a couple of weeks, but so much is happening that everything seems to go by in a blur!!

  15. Being of Welsh descent and cheering you on from Canada, I was raving about you on Facebook. Only to find we live in a small world as one for my cousins was your school teacher in Cardiff.

    You make the Welsh baking tradition look easy and accessible. I’ll be following your blog and look forward to seeing you grow and gain even more success.

    • Such a small world and your not the first person from Canada to contact me! Who’s your cousin? Thank you for your support, it has been the most amazing experience and I feel proud that I’ve been able to bring some traditional Welsh dishes to the rest of the world. Definitely keep an eye on the blog and twitter, I have a few busy months ahead! x

      • HI Beca: My cousin is Teleri Gray, we’re from the Welsh Gypsy family of harpists and storytellers.

        So you know, we didn’t get GBBO here in Canada, but America had GABO, which ran for one season before cancellation. We have a Food Network, TLC and HGTV that all run celebrity chef shows, as do TV stations in local markets. I wish you good wishes for the future. You’ll land on your feet, I’m sure. Frances

      • Hi Frances, Thank you for your message and what a small world! Teleri was one of my favourite teachers in primary school and she also use to live opposite us when I was little, so we knew her family very well. Thank you for your kind words and I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas. Beca x

  16. Beca, my husband and I were totally gutted to see you go!!!! You were our favourite throughout the whole series (fantastic baker, funny lady, gorge green shoes, what’s not to love?!?! 😉 ), and the final just won’t be the same without you! Big congrats on how far you got, and all the very best to you in all your future adventures (both baking and non-baking!!). Lots of love from big fans in Toronto! xoxoxo

    • Thank you so much Natalie for your lovely message! I had a blast filming the series and have made some amazing friends along the way. I seem to have quite the fan base in Canada as you’re not the first Canadian to message me! Thank you for your support and glad you appreciate my humour and green shoes…I love those shoes, so comfy and they’ve had lots of comments!! Keep an eye on the blog as I will be updating it often with what I’m up to!

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