Spoiler alert: Here's what they're making on episode seven of The Great British Bake Off

We're at the halfway point...

This week things are REALLY hotting up in the Bake Off tent, and it's not just because it was the hottest week of filming for the show EVER.

At the halfway point in the competition, just as we were getting into the swing of Bake Off this year they go and throw a curve ball our way. A ball in the shape of a week's theme we've never seen or heard of before in the baking competition's history: Italian week.

Instead of focusing on one genre of baking, like pastry or cakes, this week the judges have set the Bake Off contestants the challenge of making recipes that originate from our European neighbours, Italy.

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With famous bakes like biscotti and amaretti biscuits, we were expecting to at least see familiar recipes, but no such luck. Paul and Prue have clearly been hard at work coming up with some pretty niche recipes to stretch the bakers' skills that little bit further.

The Great British Bake Off Week 7: Cannoli - Signature Challenge

Okay, maybe we were being a little dramatic – we've heard of this one. Cannoli herald from the Italian island of Sicily, and make up one of the challenges the amateur bakers are faced with during Italian Week. The word cannolo, which is the singular of this bake, means 'little tube' and refers to the signature shape.

Traditionally these little pastries are made up of a butter-based pastry that is enriched with eggs and masala wine for a sweet, rich flavour. Cannoli are then deep-fried to give a golden, crunchy shell for their filling.

The most common, and authentic, filling for these little beauties is ricotta, but you can really pick and choose anything you fancy as long as it will hold its shape nicely when piped into the tubes. Often people add mascarpone or cream in with the ricotta for an additional hit of creaminess. You can keep the filling plain but can mix it up if you fancy with things like lemon or chocolate for something a little bit different.

When it comes to decorating cannoli popular choices are chocolate shavings or chopped nuts.

The Great British Bake Off week 6 Technical challenge: is a secret...

Once again, this week's technical challenge is a secret. Set by Prue, when the bakers find out what it is, it leaves them open mouthed and more than a little surprised! We can’t wait…

The Great British Bake Off Week 7: Sfogliatelle - The Showstopper

So here's where it gets tricky, the judges weren't happy with the 6 remaining bakers getting to grips with deep frying dough, they also wanted them to produce intricately shaped pastries called sfogliatelle for them. These pretty puffed up pastries are sometimes called 'lobster tails' in English thanks to their shell-like-shape.

At first glance of the ingredients list for these Italian treats you might be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking they're quite straight-forward. All they require, after all, is flour, honey, water and butter. Oh, and a pasta maker. You see, the process for getting the sea-shell-shaped layers requires a technique slightly similar to make puff pastry. Firstly you must bring your dough together using all of your ingredients, apart from the butter. Then you must feed your dough through a pasta machine, several times to get paper-thin sheets.

Next up? Painting each sheet with melted butter, folding over on itself and sticking it back through your pasta machine. Finally you start rolling the sheets up, overlapping the sheets to create a think sausage shape made up of all your layers. This is then sliced, shaped and stuffed with yet another ricotta filling before being baked until crisp and golden.

Rosie Conroy
Food Writer

Rosie is an experienced food and drinks journalist who has spent over a decade writing about restaurants, cookery, and foodie products. Previously Content Editor at Goodto.com and Digital Food Editor on Woman&Home, Rosie is well used to covering everything from food news through to taste tests. Now, as well as heading up the team at SquareMeal - the UK's leading guide to restaurants and bars - she also runs a wedding floristry business in Scotland called Lavender and Rose.