Stylist’s Amy Adams explains why she champions Tamal Ray – the full-of-flavour breakout star from this year's GBBO
Last week, Tamal Ray was crowned star baker after seven weeks in the tent.
It had been on the cards for a while and finally, Victorian week belonged to the trainee anaesthetist. His game pie got the second Paul Hollywood handshake of the series, his fruit bread was described as a ‘nice cake that’ and his Charlotte Russe was a twin-jelly layer feat of engineering.
Tamal admitted that becoming star baker had been one of his secret aims of the series – along with not getting voted out in week one and making something tasty (so modest!).
But we think Tamal could go a lot further than this.
Here’s five reasons why we think the 29-year-old would be a worthy winner of this year’s Great British Bake Off (and you won’t find one mention of his little chuckle or twinkly eyes…).
Full flavour behaviour
To quote Mary, Tamal’s bakes tend to be “cram jammed full of interesting things”. His biscotti featured physalis berries; his biscuit box was star anise flavoured and his latest flash of inspiration was using ras el hanout (Mary: “I beg your pardon?”) in his Middle Eastern game pie.
Sometimes you get a little insight into where the flavours have come from – for instance, his fennel and rosemary pulled pork vol au vent was inspired by a sandwich he had two years ago.
In his own words, “It was one of the top two sandwiches of my life. I think about that sandwich quite a lot.”
The science bit
Who’d have thought being a trainee anaesthetist would stand you in such good stead for baking?
But as well injecting his baked goods with a syrup-filled syringe at any opportunity, Tamal clearly has a head start on the science side of things.
Always on-hand to give us a tidbit of information, Tamal’s pearls of wisdom range from the merits of cooking crème brulee in a bain-marie, and why it’s important to have steam in the oven while baking baguettes.
We’re taking notes, Tamal.
He’s not perfect
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. Tamal had issues in bread week, almost getting stroppy in the gluten-free pitta bread technical challenge (“let’s just say this has not been my favourite technical”) and coming second to last. He put sesame seeds on the inside his flaounes, when we all know they should be outside…
Plus he claimed his polenta cake syrup had 50% grapefruit juice, 50% blood orange juice, and some honey… “So it’s not 50% of the others. Argghh, maths!”
Anyone for anaesthetic?
Going the extra mile
Thinking of topping your cheesecake with hazelnuts? You’d probably crush them, maybe caramelise them at a push. Tamal? He skewers them with cocktail sticks, dips them in caramel and leaves them to hang off the edge of the table so the caramel drips off in shards.
This is no cookie cutter baking. He built an entire bicycle of bread (a Bread-cycle, oh Tamal!) complete with basket of chai-spiced buns. And he even made bunting for his Arctic roll on the train to the Bake Off.
He phoned his mum when he got star baker. Enough said.