UKE Baking Expert, Sophie Johnson gives us the latest from the week’s GBBO!

Prancing peacocks, portly pies and petulant knots.

From biscuits to baked marzipan, it was quarter finals in the Great British Bake Off tent and that can only mean one thing m’dear…. Time for Tudor week.

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Who baked all the pies? Why our bakers did of course. Tudor week kicked off with a pesky pie Signature. Individual savoury pies, shaped to make a picture as pretty as a pie can be. Andrew set the wheels in motion with his Da Vinci inspired moveable piece. Potato, chicken and pork sausage filled his cogs, whilst moist apricots kept things moving. (Probably literally afterwards!) Jane was our Tudor rose with her sausage, bacon, chicken and cranberries stuffed inside golden brown hot water pastry petals. Like Mr Kipling himself, her beautiful blooms were ‘exceedingly good.’ Candice’s finished bake was a little bit fishy, with under baked pastry and questionable textures, even the oysters couldn’t turn the judges on.

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As Benjamina set her sights on a Mexican Sun, Selasi stayed ahead of the ‘game’ with his meaty man-pies. Guinea-fowl, rabbit and venison oh my! What a lot of animals to bake in a pie. Benjamina’s black beans were bursting with flavour, simply stunning, a pie to savour. Pie-faced and pleased, our bakers were done.

Time for a Tudor technical, but which one?

Sugar and spice and all things nice. It was a Tudor Jumble for Paul’s technical challenge. 12 freshly baked biscuits, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, just like Mr Hollywood himself (too much hair gel perhaps?) Two designs with no instruction, a knot ball and a Celtic pattern. The bakers were set to the grind with traditional Tudor processes, pestle and mortar anyone? As Andrew gently ground his spices, Selasi put his muscles into it. Aniseed, mace and caraway, folded into soft biscuit dough. Too lose and the shape would not hold, too dry and the jumbles would crack open like a chocolate egg on Easter morning. Pale, soft and pudgy, Janes messy biscuits did ‘knot’ impress, while Selasi’s flavours were good enough to place him firmly in the middle (which is where the majority of British women would like him to be! Naughty!) It was teacher Candice’s cleverly crafted Celtic knot that put her top of the class, a gold star to the top pupil.

A marzipan maze with a moist apple sponge, lightly spiced and sumptuous. Simple cake, swords and swans. Fantasies and fruity flavours. A showstopper fit for a King. Cake, marzipan and the Tudor treat of marchpane, grilled, baked and moulded into shape. Jane’s delicate sponge sent the judges nutty, with a light walnut Genoise resting underneath a tableau of swans and roses. Andrew’s knights stood to attention in more ways than one, bring a smile to those icy blues. Unfortunately, his currant sponge was softer than his jousting stick and his clumsy decorating failed to rise to the occasion. A simnel cake for Selasi, lightly spiced and soft on the inside. Not unlike the man himself. Although his crowning sword needed some attention (any offers?) his marchpane was lovely and biscuity, putting him in favour of the court.

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Candice pouted with pride at her peacock, her pink lipstick as delicate as her flavoured marzipan. Lemon, rosewater and mild mint. Hues of blue. Her preening won the judges over with incredible work, ‘exceptional!’ Fantastic flavours, fiddly feathers and fake florals, she fluttered into the front to win Star Baker.

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It was Benjamina’s stodgy sponge and makeshift maze that failed to impress and like Anne Boleyn she lost her head. Her tears were touching as she said goodbye to the infamous tent.

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And then there were four……

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Semi finals week is just around the corner and I can smell pastries baking.

You better believe it, it’s patisserie week.

Crumbly, buttery, perfect. I’m daydreaming already.

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Sophie Johnson, 28, Proud mummy of Bea, 4, Expert Baker, loves all things cake, UKE’s resident baker.

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