The Great British Bake Off / Baking Show Recap Episode 9 – Semi-finals – Patisserie Week

Jane, Darcie, and I are back for another recap of what happened under the tent during the semi-finals where the bakers had to tackle three difficult Patisserie-styled challenges. Any narrative not labeled is from Jenny.

No matter your feelings about Jürgen – some love him, some not so much – this was a hard week for me to watch. During the signature challenge, Paul doling out handshakes like beads at Madri Gras except for Jürgen was wrong. Chigs said it best – the handshake meant less because almost everyone got one. Prue raved about Jürgen’s slices calling them sensational. Paul said the textures were perfect and that he “liked them but didn’t love them”. If the textures were perfect and you just didn’t like the flavor because of your own tastes that isn’t good judging.

Please know I am not saying the right person went home – someone has to go – I am just commenting on the signature challenge. I have even more respect for Noel as I watched him try to make Jürgen feel better about the snubbing.

Signature Challenge: 8 identical Patisserie-styled layered slices in 3 hours.

Giuseppe made me laugh when he said, “They looked for words that would scare the hell out of us”. Yes, indeed, visible layers, clear cut, impeccable and the descriptors went on. Giuseppe talked about making a pâte à bombe so I thought I would research that for those of us not in the know.

Pâte à Bombe: “has a close resemblance to Italian meringue. So close in fact the steps to prepare the pâte à bombe are the same as Italian meringue except it uses egg yolks instead of the egg whites. It is whipped into a light consistency that results in a very airy and fluffy concoction used in dishes such as mousses, parfaits and butter creams. It can also be used as a base for ice cream which is quite delicious as well.” From Cookthink: What is Pâte à Bombe (includes recipe).

Darcie: How can it be the semi-final already? The weeks have flown by. Patisserie week is one of my favorites because everyone presents such elegant and sophisticated desserts. These four bakers are among the most talented contestants in GBBO history, and they all rose to the occasion. Everyone’s slices looked and tasted fantastic – no one lost their cool and had a meltdown. I thought that Crystelle’s slices were too large and didn’t look as elegant as the rest of the bakes. The triple handshake had me shook – I have never seen that happen before, and I knew then that Jürgen was in serious trouble.


Tools for making slices: Adjustable cake ring; plastic ruler; silicone molds; gelatin sheets.

Technical Challenge: Sablé Breton with raspberry confiture, piped pistachio crème mousseline, fresh berries, gilded meringue kisses and chocolate curls. Set by Prue in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Chigs, for only baking a year and stating that he doesn’t know what half of these bakes are, is doing incredibly well except for this challenge. He did make me chuckle with his “What is “mousselini?” comment and the misplacement of his piping tip.

Prue said several times that the bakers thought that the cookie dough was to be shaped like a conventional tart (going up the sides) and at one point she said “flan”.

Jane: to clarify “flan” means something different in the UK than is does in the US. In the US it is a set custard originating from Spain/Mexico. In the UK it is a sponge case which is filled with fruit (it can also mean an open savoury tart, just to confuse things further).

Darcie: This is the type of technical challenge that irritates me to no end. It’s fine if the bakers need to figure out technical aspects such as how to make a mousseline, but they should not be expected to know every kind of patisserie ever made. There is no point in withholding the fact that the sablé Breton should be rolled thick – unlike mousseline, this type of sablé isn’t a common component of many desserts. You are not judging them on anything but cultural knowledge, which is not a test of their ability (nor is it fair).

Judging: Chigs, last. Crystelle, third. Giuseppe second and Jürgen first place.


Showstopper Challenge: A themed banquet display with 12 individual desserts centered around an edible centerpiece in 5 hours.

The bakers made impressive displays and received comments that ranged from “exceptional”, “very, very good”, and “interesting”. Crystelle received Paul’s praise who stated it was stunning, a work of art and flawless. He even began a round of applause for the shocked baker.

Darcie: I was glad that they were not judging the structural elements nearly as much as the bakes this time around. Entremets are a wonderful challenge and I enjoyed seeing the creativeness of all the bakers. Even though I am an avid baker, I have never attempted these beauties, despite having a couple of cookbooks with step-by-step instructions. Watching the bakers assemble them it is clear that I need to invest in silicone molds and will also need to work on my patience. I wanted to taste each and every one of the lovely desserts these bakers put together. If it had been up to me, I might have sent Chigs packing instead of Jürgen, but I cannot fault them for the decision because it was close and of course they were able to taste the bakes and I could only judge on looks. It’s too bad they can’t have four finalists because I would like to see what Jürgen could do.

Jane: Before Chigs started the showstopper he said he was “cacking it”. I won’t give the literal translation but take it that he was very nervous.


It was no surprise that Crystelle was star baker and Jürgen was sent home.

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  • Brenda515  on  November 21, 2021

    Loved Christelle’s piped roses this show. Beautiful bi-color piping. I think these are the best cooks ever in the series.

  • dgiles  on  November 21, 2021

    I was kind of sad to see Jurgen go, but he seemed to have lost a lot of steam over the past couple of episodes. Almost as if his heart just wasn’t in it after other bakers started being praised more than he was. He was a great baker, but I honestly think the three finalists will make for a more entertaining finale. And all three deserve to be there.

  • anya_sf  on  November 21, 2021

    I thought all 4 deserved to stay, but I know that’s not how the show works. They are all such amazing bakers. Although I have made opera cake, I would probably never attempt any of the gorgeous slices these bakers made, and certainly not the entremets. So impressive!

  • veronicafrance  on  November 23, 2021

    I agree that Paul’s behaviour in the signature was downright spiteful. He obviously wanted to demoralise Juergen, there could be no other reason for it. It was clear that no matter how well he did, Paul wanted him out.

    Anyway, all four of them are brilliant bakers, so choosing someone to go had to be tough! The signatures in particular looked and sounded amazing. I’ve enjoyed this series more than the last couple, all the bakers are lovely and so talented.

  • TrishaCP  on  November 27, 2021

    I agree with veronicafrance that Paul was ok losing Jurgen. This one was a shock! The baking this season has just been beyond though, so no one can afford any mistakes at this point.

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