The Great British Bake Off: Series 6: Episode 4

Welcome to desserts week, everyone! It’s one of those times when we all pretend that ‘desserts’ isn’t being spread out to cover four different episodes. The definition is so loose that even Diana’s pastry triangles might make the grade.

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The ‘here’s what will happen in this episode’ makes the classic tiers/tears joke, so we’re off to a good start. Other than that, we just get Mel and Sue – standing in Sue-and-Mel order to confuse my friend Hannah – under umbrellas in the rain. While this is at least played for comic effect, you’ll see the poor bakers in similarly damp conditions throughout the rest of the episode, with no obvious reason why they couldn’t simply do the interviews indoors.

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"...why?"
“…why?”

Some lovely folk got in touch to confirm that they do, indeed, value and appreciate Blazer Watch. And… here they are! Mary outdoes herself; Mel and Sue return to form; Paul – even in the rain – refuses to don a blazer.

He's sent blazers to blazes, as it were.
He’s sent blazers to blazes, as it were.

The first challenge is making creme brulee, which seems custom-designed to wreak havoc with my finding-accents-on-my-computer. Well, GBBO bosses, you underestimated how lazy I am. So we’re going to get ‘creme brulee’ throughout this segment, and you can imagine the correct French. Just borrow one of At Home We Have An Aga’s cookbooks, if necessary.

The bakers get out bowls, break eggs, and look important – while, baffingly, Mat wags his finger at the floor.

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Incidentally, my biggest surprise this series is how little they’re making of the fact that Mat is a fireman EVEN in a week where fire is mentioned plenty. Could it be because he looks a little like Postman Pat? Could it?

Paul and Mary tell us about creme brulees outside – where it has miraculously stopped raining – and Mary declares that there weren’t such things as blow torches when she has a wee lass. As several people have pointed out, blow torches go back to 1791, so… yup, this adds up.

"Of course, fire wasn't invented until I was in my 40s."
“Of course, fire wasn’t invented until I was in my 40s.”

As with Madeira cake, I’m off the traditionalist opinion that creme brulees should be creme brulee flavoured, and there’s no need to mess around with other additions. That being said, I’m a sucker for coconut and lime at any time.

Which Mat is apparently baking in conch shells.
Which Mat is apparently baking in conch shells.

Then again, I really love liquorice, but the idea of putting it in a creme brulee is anathema to me.

Four or five different bakers tell us that the cream/eggs mixture shouldn’t be too hot, and we’re treated to shots with this finesse:

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That’s Ugne’s hair, by the way. She is using some fermented fruit from Africa that is basically Bailey’s, and Mezza immediately threatens to get off her face on it. Anxious Alvin, meanwhile, has been trialling his creme brulees on hospital staff – who have been merrily criticising it, apparently. Colouring Pencils Man gets a bit off with perspective, and it looks like Alvin will be serving his with some red fungi.

And - sigh - gold leaf. Stop it with the gold life, people.
And – sigh – gold leaf. Stop it with the gold leaf, people.

He’s also apparently left some edible pansies on the train, and is waiting for them to arrive. How? Is some poor production skivvy been sent off in a taxi to hound the good people of First Great Western until a box of crystallized flowers rematerializes? Or did some bright spark, knowing how often edible pansies would appear in this episode, thoughtfully fling them out a window?

Nadiya is making something she’s tried before “without success”, and then says it was “fun”, with this expression on her face:

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The cameraman has borrowed Tamal’s shaking hands, and we get an aptly wobbily shot of him pouring custard into ramikins. The shaking does make it feel like we’re stalkers peering through somebody’s kitchen window – which, given the camera’s propensity to linger behind shrubs, is at least consistent.

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“It’s all down to the poaching,” says Paul. Is it? Poaching surely something different you do with eggs? Am I missing something?

Meanwhile, Mary is finding more alcohol to down.

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Apparently a bain-marie is used to stop the custard being heated at more than 100 degrees (as that, of course, is as hot as water can get). Wouldn’t putting the oven at 100 degrees have the same effect? I don’t know.

Much talk of made of ‘wobble’, and there are desperate attempts to make this sound euphemistic – most awkwardly in an exchange between Mat and Ugne which, thankfully, Ugne doesn’t seem to hear. She just says “hot hot hot”.

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Sue gets Sandy to demonstrate the perfect wobble, and my heart just wishes Nancy were in this clip instead.

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The camera pans jerkily towards Mat drinking a cup of tea; Nadiya makes helpful comments to Paul-the-baker (“are they meant to crack?”); At Home We Have An Aga has decided to make tuilles as well as creme brulees, for no clear reason. With dim memories of Hula Hoops presumably in mind, Mel mocks up tuille cuffs – and is sternly chastised by Paul and Mary.

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We see various bakers sprinkle sugar on their brulees. While Alvin does this, a background shot makes the eventual judging make much more sense.

Yes, Sandy has confused the freezer with the oven.
Yes, Sandy has confused the freezer with the oven.

In Ugne’s long line of creepy things to say to camera, she turns and says simply “burning flesh!”

Sandy does an impression of David Attenborough that sounds, as always, exactly like Victoria Wood.

Despite my reservations regarding creme brulees having unusual flavours, the spread does look very impressive. Some people have scrambled eggs; some people have runny custard; some are heartily congratulated on their consistency. Tamal does a little victory fist shake that he instantly thinks better of, and it forms a perfect three-second portrayal of embarrassment and regret. Guys… I made an animated GIF! The future is now.

Tamal_s_awkwardness

Paul tells Ian that he has issues with his pomegranate – somebody’s been reading their Greek myths – but the harshest criticism is reserved for Sandy. She insists that her runny creme brulees were in the oven for the right length of time. “Was it on?” replies Paul, in the closest thing to wit that he’s ever achieved.

Once Paul has had a couple of hours to lie down, to recover from his Wildean parry, we’re ready for the technical challenge. Mary advises them all to read the recipe carefully and visualise what they should be creating, and Sue sends M & P off to an inter-generational foam party in Woking – which, against my better judgement, does make me snigger. Not so much their puns on ‘wind’ – they’re making Spanish Wind Torte. They’re really running low on actual real things to bake, aren’t they?

It has Italian meringue and French meringue, I think. In conversation with my bestie Mel about this, we wondered whether every country had its own meringue. “Is there a British meringue, and a Spanish meringue?” queried Mel. “Merengue is the Spanish meringue,” quoth I, wittily.

This is apparently what it should look like. Pay attention to those violets; they will become the only aspect that Mary gives a damn about.

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“Have you ever seen a violet?” Sue asks Alvin.
“I think it’s a flower,” he responds. Good luck, matey.

Paul-the-baker, meanwhile, just says “violet violet violet violet” over and over to himself. You might call that speech ultra-violet. Thankyouverymuch.

“It’s the most feminine version of plastering you can imagine, isn’t it?” says At Home We Have An Aga – and, somewhere, Richard from Series Five is yelling “I’M A BUILDER!” at his TV screen.

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This dimly reminds me of that awful 100-layer pancake-cake from last year, only it looks a darn sight more appealing. The structural integrity of all the tortes is impressing me. Everybody seems to have made nice meringue layers and sturdy towers. Yes, Sandy put her cake stand in the oven, but what of it? Why wouldn’t she put her cake stand in the oven? Think of it that way.

She’s also decided that the best way to make a disc is to break it in half. I didn’t catch the beginning of this process on my first watch, and thought it had cracked by accident – but, no, she has deliberately sabotaged her own torte.

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She doesn’t even give a good reason for it. “It should be slightly… shppsh,” she says, shrugging her shoulders. And then she rams it into the oven tray, like so:

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This time it’s apparently not deliberate, but the line between the things she does deliberately and the things she does by accident is so blurred as to be non-existent.

The same could be said of Sue, who gives Alvin an aggressive massage that can’t possibly be pleasant.

He takes his usual tactic of ignoring her completely.
He takes his usual tactic of ignoring her completely.

Mel makes an awesome “Meringue, m’lord?” joke; Sue points out to Sandy that discs tend to be flat; the whole brass section of the orchestra pomp pomp to their hearts’ content, and the line-up of tortes are ready for inspection.

For some reason, Sandy’s cracked disc doesn’t bother Paul and Mary at all – “interesting lid” is all the comment it gets – and then we spend the next few minutes hearing Mary obsess about the shape, size, and delicacy of the violets, to the exclusion of all other criteria. The word ‘violet’ lost all meaning for me in the middle of this segment. (Incidentally, where did the fondant come for these? Could it have been… shop bought?!) Alvin comes last, followed by Nadiya and Mat. The top three are At Home We Have An Aga, Ugne, and Paul. Even Paul only gets “a good attempt at the flowers” from Mary. She really cares about those flowers. Like, time-to-call-an-intervention cares.

The usual anybody-could-be-in-danger interview with Paul and Mary, and we’re onto a three-tier cheesecake challenge for the showstoppers. They should be sweet, not savoury, says Sue – which is (a) something that should be taken as read, and (b) quickly disregarded by the bakers. For instance, Ian is making ‘spicy and herby’ cheesecakes. NO. NO. NO. This madness must stop.

NO.
NO.

Rosemary does not belong in a cheesecake, to clarify. Tamal is also going the rosemary route – the FOOL – and has apparently kept some violets from earlier.

He calls himself a doctor, yet he aids her addiction like this.
He calls himself a doctor, yet he aids her addiction like this.

Alvin knows what’s up. He’s using lemon, berries, and other cheesecake flavours. Good man. Nadiya has made her flavours from boiled-down fizzy drinks, which is… good, I guess? Paul has stopped listening to people at this stage, and just says “good luck” automatically to every baker when the people around him have stopped talking for a bit.

Paul-the-baker is adding brandy and vodka. Mary dribbles at the thought.

Apparently Sue, Paul, and Mary have never heard the word ‘ombre’, which is baffling. Ugne explains that it is often found in relation to hair dye; Paul makes a joke about Mary’s, and she responds simply with ‘careful’. It’s glorious. She can be stern when she needs to be.

At Home We Have An Aga is making three elderflower cheesecakes – unlike everybody else, as they’re using as many flavours as humanly possible. Being At Home We Have An Aga, she decides to whip together some macarons to enhance her bake. Apparently those ingredients are just lying around.

"Oh, these? I just had these on me."
“Oh, these? I just had these on me.”

We haven’t had a lot of Mary Berry Reaction Faces this episode, but she gives a good’un when Mat explains that he wants his cheesecake to ‘explode a little bit’.

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We get a montage of bakers taking cheesecakes out of tins, which culminates in Alvin apparently taking an invisible cheesecake out of his.

"Well, it's very light..."
“Well, it’s very light…”

Cheesecakes are piled on top of one another, some with pernicious bits of plastic wedged in between layers. Sandy opts for covering one in silver foil (why?) and leaving one on the side. Tamal does her best to help her, but…

There are some impressive looking cheesecakes, folks. Ian’s and Tamal’s look lovely. but I refuse to condone the herby/spicy approach to cheesecakes. Not on my watch. And one of Tamal’s layers looks curiously like it’s made of tuna.

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Paul gets to his ignore-them-and-they’ll-go-away peak during the backstage pre-elimination discussion.

"I hate you so, so much."
“I hate you so, so much.”

Star baker – well, it looked like it should be Tamal, to me, but it’s…

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And, going home, not very surprisingly after a pretty shoddy week, is…

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I will never have the opportunity to decide whether or not she is a Nancy-impersonator.

Hope you’ve enjoyed dessert week – see you next time!

36 thoughts on “The Great British Bake Off: Series 6: Episode 4

  • August 30, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    Lovely stuff Simon! I’m in the same camp as you when it comes to cheesecake – rosemary? peppercorns? tarragon? Nooooooooooooo!!!

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:50 pm
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      What were they THINKING?! It’s just not right.

  • August 30, 2015 at 6:54 pm
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    Am enjoying your posts as we usually don’t get to see this programme across the pond.
    Keep up the great work, please!
    Thank you! ?
    del

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:50 pm
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      Thanks del! Will do :)

  • August 30, 2015 at 8:07 pm
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    I’m not sure, but you’re re-caps may be over taking GBBO as the highlight of my week. Tamal was robbed! Robbed i tell you. He was meant to be star baker this week. Besides, Ian has never even been star baker of his village! And he went savory with his cheesecake.
    PS I can’t wait until your GIF of Tamal goes viral.

    • September 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm
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      >Besides, Ian has never even been star baker of his village!

      Not even *male* star baker of his village. Apparently, despite there being only forty houses, they have star baker categories. England is a wondrous place.

      • September 4, 2015 at 10:45 pm
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        My parents’ village (well, the one next to it) has a glorious competition where there are so many categories and so few people that often a category only gets one entrant – but if the judges don’t consider it good enough, it’ll only get 2nd or even 3rd place.

        • September 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm
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          OMG. Imagine coming second or third when you’re the only entrant … What do you say? I had strong competition?

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:50 pm
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      Aw, thanks Tanya! I’m still waiting for it to go viral… but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

  • August 30, 2015 at 9:04 pm
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    BURNING FLESH!!! (quote o’ the week)

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:49 pm
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      It was TERRIFYING. (Though she was quite sweet on An Extra Slice just now.)

  • August 30, 2015 at 10:30 pm
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    Sandy is obviously as mad as a box of Alvin’s frogs, but marvellously so. I cried with laughter at your description of her self-sabotage on the Wind Torte challenge. Thank you. Tamal was indeed robbed. And congratulations – I am in awe of your gif production skills.

    • August 30, 2015 at 10:35 pm
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      I quite agree about Tamal, but he may turn out to be the unexpected champion. I will miss Sandy’s antics and sense of humour.

      • September 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm
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        I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him take the crown – it’s never the person you think it’ll be!

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:49 pm
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      Thanks Peeve! Glad you’re enjoying the recaps! And I’m rather taken aback by the gif myself… I had low expectations of myself.

  • August 30, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    Though a loyal and devoted reader of your lovely blog, your decision to refer to Fiona only as “At Home We Have an Aga” is rather unfortunate. The Daily Mail poked fun at the poor girl already for having the audacity to mention having an Aga and owning 100 cookbooks, but they have since moved on to attacking the characters of Matt and Ian. The anti-posh brigade forced Fiona to go on the defensive and reveal that her family(We are just regular middle class people, honest!) rescued and restored a very old and abandoned Aga. Considering the program is called “The Great British Bake Off” it seems unkind to reduce someone to an Aga, probably one of the most British things imaginable.

    • September 3, 2015 at 8:17 am
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      Well, her name isn’t Fiona for a start, so way to go.

      • September 4, 2015 at 10:46 pm
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        ;)

      • September 10, 2015 at 8:46 pm
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        Oh dear, yes, Flora. My wife’s name is Fiona and I am 77 years old, so it is too easy to look an old fool even with good intentions.

        • September 13, 2015 at 2:26 pm
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          Don’t feel bad. I think it’s rather sweet that your wife’s name is so prominent in your mind — and Fiona is a lovely name. I remember being very taken with it the first time I heard it (despite my own English name (long story), I’m actually from East Germany and I was already seventeen at the time).

          As for Flora, I thought she looked really nice in the first part of the most recent episode (6). I liked the way she wore her hair and blue really suits her. And she completely won me over by not wanting to trim the edges of her cake because she doesn’t like the waste. (I really dislike food waste and often worry about what happens to all those cakes etc. they make on the show.)

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm
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      Oh, now I do feel bad about Flora – I’m actually very fond of her! I don’t think I can drop the nickname now, it’s too ingrained, but I’ll make it clear that I’m a fan in my next recap. Glad you’re enjoying the blog! :)

      • January 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm
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        Ha ha, your round up of this episode (yet to be aired down under) had me in stitches! Was chortling away merrily and grinning like a loon. Thankfully I was reading in the privacy of my bedroom this time and not worryingly distracting other passengers on a bus or train.

        Love the moniker Athomewehaveanaga. Don’t change it for future GBB posts. Your personality, which shines through in your podcasts is very sweet, modest, polite and lovely, and not in the least malicious so am sure your followers can discern that it is a witty and light hearted jibe at the beleaguered Flora.

        Am a new listener and reader after having just discovered you this week and have binged on your podcasts today while tapping out spreadsheets at work. Heavenly! Thank you from a kindred spirit across the miles and your latest ardent admirer….

        Too much gush??? Bahhh, meant every word.

  • August 31, 2015 at 10:20 am
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    Loved your take on the Bake as usual.Not sorry to see Sandy go ,her comedy Northerner was beginning to grate!

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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      She just couldn’t live up to the legend that was Nancy!

  • August 31, 2015 at 1:47 pm
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    Your reports are even better than GBBO itself. Crying with laughter here and you are right, Tamal should have won this week. Everything he bakes looks delicious and he really knows his stuff. Ian may be good at flavours(though I am not convinced) but Tamal’s bakes have real star quality about them.

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:47 pm
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      Haha! Thanks Xanthe :) I do hope Tamal gets a star baker badge soon – he deserves it, and it did seem the way it was going.

  • August 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm
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    Did anyone notice that Paul started thanking people at the end of their start-of-the-bake interviews?

    Plus I must:
    – agree with Jonathan that I think we must move beyond Martha’s, I mean Flora’s Agaiety;
    – put up a defence of savoury flavours (I always cheer when someone uses herbs!)

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:46 pm
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      No, Lionel, no savoury cheesecakes! No!

      • September 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm
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        The clue’s in the name, Simon. CHEESEcake.

        I reckon celery and grapes perhaps…

        (In fact I’m just kidding. Cheesecake in my opinion should be blueberry or just plain, and sweet but not too much so. Though I’d like to have tried the herby ones because I love it when people do clever things with herbs.)

        But I really do cheer when someone does something savoury – pies week (pastry week? I wish there was a way of going back to see OH WAIT THERE IS AND IT’S RIGHT HERE!) was my favourite by far last year, and I do a celebration akin to Tamal’s whenever it’s bread week.

  • September 1, 2015 at 1:25 pm
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    Really must stop reading these at work. Three people have come in to my office to ‘see if I’m all right’ because of the tears rolling down my face. Wonderful, Simon, thank you.

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:45 pm
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      Haha! Thank you, Sarah, that’s a lovely comment – and sorry for worrying your colleagues!

  • September 1, 2015 at 8:25 pm
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    >They should be sweet, not savoury, says Sue –

    I was wondering about that — is it possible that she said “sweet OR savoury”? Although the husband and I both heard “not”.

    > For instance, Ian is making ‘spicy and herby’ cheesecakes. NO. NO. NO. This madness must stop.

    Agreed. This alone should have disqualified Ian from being star baker.

    • September 4, 2015 at 10:44 pm
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      THANK YOU Susan. People need to band together against this sort of thing! But, yes, if she said ‘or’ then that would at least make their decisions allowable (even if, y’know, totally not allowable in another way.)

      • September 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm
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        Hmm…maybe we savoury bake appreciators need to start our own show: The Great British Savoury Bake Off.

        We will alternate between bread, pies and cheese crackers.

        • September 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm
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          No, there is nothing wrong with savoury in its place. I adore bread week. Afaics, they would have bread week every second time. But: Everything in its place. And a cheese cake isn’t it.:)

          • September 5, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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            Absolutely! I love savoury things – I love bread, pies etc. (though, being veggie, often find myself not drawn to the pies they make in the show) – but draw a firm line between what should be sweet and what should be savoury. That’s probably also why I am not a big fan of the brioche.

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