Last week I made the bold admission that my enthusiasm for The Great British Pastry Fair seems to be running out of steam lately. It’s not The Great British Pastry Fairthe fault, in itself. It’s just that the show has been so successful – so overwhelmed by imitators – that the cuteness that was once unique to the show has become too pervasive. Add a fairly fixed battle for favorite status, and as good as this season of The Great British Pastry Fair on Netflix was, I was also, uh, a little, hmm… bored?
That was before seeing this week’s brand new episode, “Pastry Week,” and finding out that the series still has some excitement for longtime viewers. There have been tragic disasters, incredible rallies, and a whole new Star Baker. Thank God The Great British Pastry Fair the gods decided to shake things up in the tent. This crazy “baking week” was just what the franchise needed to rekindle this fan’s passion.
The Great British Pastry Fair has been almost too good this season. By what, I mean from the outset, the show established that two charming and talented “daddy” bakers would likely work their way through several Star Baker wins to the final. Giuseppe Dell’Anno and Jürgen Krauss have dominated this season of The Great British Pastry Fair like few other pairs in Pastry shop the story. Even their plagues receive the compliments of the judges. So, he was starting to feel like the show was just following movements in a narrative way. Only Chigs have given any sign of being able to beat the best guys for a Star Baker award. Each episode was aimed at reducing the competition until only the two chosen ones – Jürgen and Giuseppe – reached the end. He was getting… stale.
Until “Pastry Week”.
“Pastry Week” often provides an opportunity for wilds to soar and favorites to flounder. The Great British Pastry Fair attempted. This season was no exception. While Giuseppe and Jürgen remained strong and stable (and predictable), chaos reigned over the cooking of the other five competitors. At first, it looked like Crystelle might be in trouble, with George and Amanda going through the middle. Lizzie was shocked when she did well on the Chouxnuts challenge, which essentially gave the Liverpudlian a panic attack. While Chigs continued to advance like a solid third down the middle. Then the Technical Challenge turned everything upside down.
Knowing that she was in danger of returning home, Crystelle attempted to arm herself and tackle the extremely difficult technique head-on. In this case, it seemed like the right strategy. Crystelle took second place in the challenge, narrowly beaten by Jürgen. The “win” was exactly what the London-based pastry chef needed to boost her confidence ahead of the Showstopper. Once again, Crystelle has worked her proverbial buns, using a curry inspired by a loved one. She kept her cool when cracks in her pastry appeared and used additional decor to cover them. In the end, Paul and Prue loved the baking so much that Paul gave her an unusually rare Hollywood handshake for her Showstopper. Crystelle’s Showstopper was so good it earned its Star Baker and rocked the current pack of bakers for good. It’s one thing that a dark horse like Chigs wins a victory over Jürgen and Giuseppe. Now we have two bakers in the tent who are still in it to win it all.
But all was not a success this week. Unfortunately, two bakers – Amanda and George – made a fatal mistake with their pies. They both waited too long to put the pastries in the oven, doomed them to collapse later. It was like watching the Titanic heading for an iceberg. Amanda and George knew they were flirting with danger by waiting too long to start cooking. When George later decided to remove his pie from the oven and replace it, he spent a little too much time pondering his choice with the oven door open. Chigs literally whispered to him to shut the door! Amanda and George both knew that starting late wouldn’t have time to chill their pastries. So when the two broke up it was like watching a Greek tragedy. You knew it was going to end badly from the start, but it still hurt to see the wreckage in real time.
Ultimately, the judges sent Amanda home, narrowing the field even further. And honestly? I’m kinda happy to see if Chigs and Crystelle can continue growing in the tent next week. I also want to see if Lizzie keeps getting better week after week and see if George can pull everything together to bid for Star Baker.
Above all, I can’t wait to see if The Great British Pastry Fair may still surprise me. Will it boil down to Jürgen vs. Giuseppe, or can someone shoot a spark of creativity from himself and make another cake worthy of a handshake. Crystal did it this week? Who’s next?