‘The Great British Baking Show’ Recap: The Sinking of the Botanic

(Credit: PBS)

Warning: This recap for Episode 5 of The Great British Baking Show contains spoilers.

Botanicals Week finds the bakers dealing with herbs, aromatics, and flowers. If Harry Nilsson and Hawaiian shirts are your speed, this is the episode for you.

The Rundown

Tom makes a serviceable citrus meringue pie for the signature, but ends up on top for the technical with a stunning fougasse, and infuses his Genoise sponge with tea flavors — that the judges were initially skeptical of — to take Star Baker. Rav’s solid technical bake couldn’t overcome a wet meringue and a three-tiered cake that lacked the variety of his competition, so he left the tent this week.

(Credit: PBS)

The Other Baking Flower

In honor of Botanicals Week, Selasi, Jane, and even Mary bust out their best floral Hawaiian shirts. It’s a display that would make Bruddah Iz blush with pride and perhaps even sing a few bars of his classic cover, “Somewhere Over the Raised Dough.”

(Credit: PBS)

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

Of course, someone had to reference the classic Harry Nilsson “Coconut” song — multiple bakers used those flavors in their citrus meringue — but for Jane, it’s something of an inside joke for her and her husband. Well, about as “inside” as “that’s what she said” is an inside joke. But if you were to picture just one of the bakers singing that song at karaoke, could you possibly see anyone else doing it?

Visualize Swirled Peas, er… World Peace

Candice starts out with a good idea — paint the inside of her pastry bag to get a striped pattern in her piped meringue; even Paul is for the idea. But she gets coconut caught in the nozzle and things go downhill very quickly. As a last-ditch effort, she swirls her meringue kisses into a single mass, but it turns into a streaky mess. “It just looks horrendous,” she remarks sadly. Her sugared mint leaves come out looking wilted, completing the sad display. Fortunately, Candice nails her flavors. “Close your eyes — it tastes really good,” is her suggestion.

(Credit: PBS)

Queen of Side Eye: Benjamina

Benjamina, in classic British fashion, is reticent to call people out verbally. But her eyes speak volumes. She and Selasi are close, so she feels free to dish out a little bit of ocular smack talk when her grapefruit meringue receives high marks from the judges and Selasi’s comes out dry.

Best British Pronunciation

One of the many oddities of American English is why, so often, we don’t pronounce the ‘h’ in words like it’s spelled. The answer is that it’s easier to pronounce many words without the ‘h’ so, over the years, it’s left us. Hearing Brits speak the ‘h’ — and here, Sue turns her ‘herbal’ into a full body production — is a bit like seeing that odd quirk that your spouse does reflected in their parent. Oh, so that’s where it came from.

The Late Bake Flop

Waiting is the hardest part — especially when it’s coming down to the wire. Selasi gets his fougasse dough in with just enough time to bake and, with nothing left to do, he lays down in front of the oven like a schoolboy who’s been sent to his room. If it were possible to will a dough to bake faster, there’s no doubt his herb loaf would have been spot-on — sadly, he comes up just short.

(Credit: PBS)

Tom Is a Savory Maniac

Tom is always pushing to add savory elements to everything — even cakes. In the technical, it is nearly his undoing; the pumpkin overwhelms the blood orange in his pie to the point that Mary doesn’t even really consider it a citrus meringue at all. He soldiers on, though, crushing up flowers to steep in his butter. Rav had problems in a previous week with matcha, but Tom is convinced that jasmine and camomile will win the day for him. And it does. He infuses just the right amount of flavor and his perfect Genoise sponge proves that great execution can sway even a pre-judging judge.

(Credit: PBS)

Queen of Empathy: Mel

Until now, Rav’s superb use of flavors have balanced out his tendency to be a messy baker. This week, though, when delicate decorations are the order of the day, Rav collapsed. In an attempt to cover up his weakness for detail work, he decides to pipe tiny flowers. He admits that he hates it and that’s what causes Mel to gasp in concern. Soon, he’s spinning out of control and his final show stopper is not only sloppy, all three tiers of his cake are, in Paul’s words, “Same-y.”

(Credit: PBS)

Stone Cold

The trope of judges looking angry before revealing they’re actually quite happy is a standard in reality television, but Paul and Mary have turned it into an artform. In this picture, they are tasting Selasi’s cake, one that took him from dead last in the technical into contention for Star Baker — that’s how good his cake is. And yet, judging by their faces, Paul and Mary could be about to tell a mother her child had been torn apart by hyenas.

(Credit: PBS)

Not for Children’s Eyes

In the U.K., anything airing before 9 p.m. must be family-friendly — it’s called the watershed. That means a limit on violence, profanity, and sex. And as Benjamina herself stated, her cake is semi-nude, so Sue and Mel are forced to cover it up so as not to harm the British — and now American — youth. Shocking!

(Credit: PBS)

The Great British Baking Show airs Fridays at 9 p.m. on PBS.

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