The Great British Baking Show Episode 6: Botanical!

July 17, 2017

Allison Robicelli will be recapping each episode, week-by-week. Catch the next one Monday, and tune in to the show on PBS.

It’s botanical week, everyone! What better than an hour of fragrant, flavorful flora for getting into a very chipper British mood after last week's snoozefest? Then again, droll snoozefests are pretty British, aren’t they? I mean, Colin Firth keeps making movies and someone out there is watching them.

Signature round: Citrus Meringue Pie

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One of the loveliest parts of watching this show in America is that oftentimes we’re exposed to a recipe we’ve never even heard of before, much less tasted. This is what we thought was an American classic—the bright yellow lemon meringue pie that sits atop diner counters from coast to coast. But we were wrong, because our hubris has been unchecked for centuries. 2017 is a really bad year for us, but a great year for comeuppance.

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“That's a terribly privileged position to hold. If you had an accent that she found disagreeable and made fun of you for, it wouldn't be so enjoyable would it?”
— Matt

The contestants have a pretty good handle on this, which makes their little tableside chats forced and pathetic. Rav is making his pie with mandarin orange and a bit of tequila, which raises Paul’s eyebrows as if this was a startling development. “Wow, tequila. Tequila’s going to be fascinating,” he says, as though he hasn’t gotten ripped on margaritas while chilling on a yacht in the Mediterranean. If you are over the age of 19, you have gotten ripped on margaritas, whether it’s on a yacht, in an inflatable pool in your backyard, or in the bathtub.

Then shit gets crazy because Andrew tells us he’s using FOUR limes! Can you believe that?! He's obviously not fucking around this week. Know who else isn’t? Tom, who once again decided to make a recipe that is altogether unnecessary: blood orange pumpkin pie. Another non-surprise: it’s not good. It’s like he WANTS to get kicked off the show or something.

Technical round: Fougasse

Finally something I can’t pronounce! I’ve had this bread before, and maybe you have too, but I’m not positive any of us knew what it was called. Even if we did, the way the British murder some of these foreign words is so remarkable that it sometimes take a few minutes before I have any idea what they’re actually talking about, like with last year's “pidda” bread challenge (pita), or any time they make a “gen-oh-ease” (genoise). Fougasse is flat bread that is cut to resemble a leaf, and is very similar to a “foh-cat-cha” (focaccia). It also contains herbs like “oar-ay-gah-no” (oregano). I spent the entirety of this round making fun of everyone’s accents, and trying to figure out how in God’s name Rav has no idea what a leaf is supposed to look like.

Tom wins, which is good, because now he has a little breathing room to do something stupid in round 3.

Showstopper round: Three-tiered Floral Cake

Now THIS is what we need from our showstopper challenges: not tiny little appetizers or perfectly identical churros, but huge over-the-top creations with a solid probability of disaster for us to participate in. No one is jumping up and down on the couch because they’re worried about churros being a little undercooked.

We’re certainly going to see some lovely floral decorations, but it’s also imperative that there’s strong flower flavor inside the cake. That means rose, lavender, elderflower—basically anything that smells like your grandmother’s bathroom.

The only person who seems to have any grasp on what “showstopper” means is Candice, who asserts her dominance by doing a four tiered cake, with each layer representing one of the four seasons. An utterly brilliant concept and an utterly brilliant cake. She has a great bake, as do Selasi (who kills with his beautiful piping skills), and our old buddy Tom, who executes his three tea-infused cakes perfectly.

Everyone else's cake is some sort of disaster, not because of toppling or timing, but because they're just flat out shitty. Andrew flavored his cake with elderflower, but completely overdid it so it didn't smell like a grandma’s bathroom but like an actual grandma instead. After the judgement he finally cries, which is something I’ve been waiting for all season long, because I’m a terrible person. Now that I’ve seen it, I can start rooting for the kid. He really is adorable.

Rav’s cake is awful and he goes home, which makes me happy because, even though his flavors were occasionally spot in, he was like a boring black hole sucking everything interesting out of the tent. When I remember she's even on the show, I cross my fingers Benjamina goes home next.

NEXT WEEK: Desserts! That could mean anything, so Tom is going to probably do something spectacularly stupid you won’t want to miss!

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Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated food writer, a Publisher's Weekly-starred author, and lots of other fun things. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she currently lives with her two sons and four cats in Baltimore, Maryland.


mary F. July 24, 2017
I look forward to these recaps, love Allisons take...and her candid sense of humor!!!!!
HalfPint July 20, 2017
I always have the captions on for any British show. GBBO is no different. Great review. It's such a slow grind to the end.
Lindsay-Jean H. July 19, 2017
Hi all, we wanted to let you know that we hear you all. Foul language and dirty jokes are par for the course with Allison (as she warns us here: We encourage supporting a wide range of voices on Food52, if this isn't for you, we have a lot of other content for you to explore.
Mrs. M. July 19, 2017
That is a lame excuse for a potty mouth. Not all "voices" are ethical or able.
Matt July 22, 2017
So you're defending a woman who enjoys watching contestants cry and makes fun of people who speak differently than her?
Matt July 22, 2017
That's a terribly privileged position to hold. If you had an accent that she found disagreeable and made fun of you for, it wouldn't be so enjoyable would it?
Mrs. M. July 19, 2017
I get the feeling the site is now on autopilot and the owners are not paying attention anymore. How could anyone with a discerning ear and sense of language have allowed such a petty, vulgar review? Food52 was a respite from the oversexualization, vulgarity and just plain coarseness of this world - no more. Time to move on. Looking for a blog where the writer's sense of sense allows him or her to use vocabulary that reflects actual candle power.
SDMfoodie July 19, 2017
Exactly my sentiments. People should contact the site directly & complain to them instead of being offended here. I don't know if these writers get paid for these reviews/articles. If that's the case this foul mouthed Robicelli who wrote all this garbage needs to be fired!!!
infoedge July 18, 2017
Wow, what a bitchy review. Totally NOT in the spirit of GBBO. I agree with one of the other commenters who observed that this type of "article" is out of character for Food52. The appreciation for this site just took a big hit.
mollydunkncrumble July 18, 2017
I love these recaps. That is all.
George H. July 18, 2017
This season's show has the weakest contenders so far. Not sure if most should have been here.

Is the British out of talents, or Mary and Paul have had some fatigue?
djgibboni July 18, 2017
Took me 10 minutes to figure out that Paul was saying "cuts" talking about the fougasse. Sorta sounded like "cooots."
Nomadikfoodie July 18, 2017
Is it really necessary to use so much foul language for a review of a cooking show? Surely there are more creative and appropriate ways to recount the show and express your opinions.
MarinA July 18, 2017
Wow you are really rude. I can't believe I just read this article on food52.
Making fun of how British people pronounce things? Seriously??
Mrs. M. July 18, 2017
What's wrong with you? Using vulgar words like s&@t and f$(#ck? Seriously? Grow up and write like an adult.
SDMfoodie July 18, 2017
To the writer of the you really need to use your "street" language here? This is a food site right?
Matt July 17, 2017
In case anyone was wondering (possibly the author seeing as how she likes to make fun of the way people speak), I've gone to an online dictionary and copied and pasted the pronunciations for oregano and focaccia:

[foˈkat͡ʃːa]) (There's only one pronunciation guide for this, since it is an Italian loan word.)
US: /ɔːˈrɛɡənoʊ/ or /əˈrɛɡənoʊ/;[1] UK: /ˌɒrɪˈɡɑːnoʊ/ (There are two pronunciations for this; one is Standard American English, the other is Received Pronunciation.)

Instead of pretending to be on a high horse, maybe you could use this article as an opportunity to educate others and more importantly yourself. Different dialects and different languages mean that words are pronounced differently across the world, and pretending that you're correct when you're actually wrong is poor writing.
Jessica K. July 17, 2017
I don't think this write-up is in the spirit of GBBO. The drama is in the bakes - we should celebrate that they haven't Hollywood-ed the show up with fake and petty drama between the contestants. In fact, everyone is quite supportive of each other and I love seeing the camaraderie!! So what if the conversations are tedious/boring? It's exciting watching the bakes!

Similarly, GBBO is not just about making something utterly ridiculous like a five-story gingerbread building with movable parts - it's also about baking ethnic foods that many people have never made before!! That's why the churros were so exciting in my opinion; few people got it perfectly right!! (And who wants a soggy, oily churro?!)

I honestly don't believe this writer is the right audience for an uplifting and cheerful show like GBBO; it sounds like the melodrama of Iron Chef or Chopped or Kitchen Nightmares are more up their alley. GBBO is perfect just as it is.
Doris July 17, 2017
But it's just the British version of a reality baking show! How realistic is it too bake a lemon meringue pie in two hours?
Danuta G. July 17, 2017
For all of Paul H's worldliness as far as baking is concerned, he's got a very parochial point of view when it comes to flavours. I can't remember if it was earlier in this season, or perhaps it was the last season, he was rather obnoxious about a banana and peanut butter flavour combination. Just because he hasn't heard of it or doesn't like it, doesn't mean it's awful. That being said, I can't wait for Candice to be booted off...can't abide her whining nor her twitchy, tight-lipped expressions.
Matt July 17, 2017
My fav gaffe that he made this season is when he tried to correct Benjamina by telling her her babka was wrong. He called it a couronne. Which besides be wrong from a technical standpoint (couronnes are round and Benji's cake was a loaf) it also is reductivly culturally ignorant of the baking styles of the Jewish diaspora and Anti-Semetic.

If he ever gets off his high horse to travel to NY he'll be very surprised to see what a babka actually is.
Sarah H. July 17, 2017
My sister mentioned that Andrew just looks like a concerned puppy dog all the time and now I can't unsee it!
familydinners July 17, 2017
I LOVE your recaps - so funny. I'm hoping Tom or Andrew win, but Candice seems to be doing the best. I feel like she's on the show just so she can sell a cookbook after it airs. Not a huge fan of that.