The Great British Bake Off: Don’t They Always Make Desserts?

bakeoff_flora_pipe_3420075bPreviously on the Great British Bake Off: It was bread week, and Ian knocked it out of the park yet again, with Paul’s amazing lion bread sculpture nipping at his heels. Dorret was out, her ‘unmade bed’ sculpture failing to wow Mary in the least.

It’s dessert week, that week that always confuses me, because isn’t almost everything they do on this show a dessert?

Mel and Sue complain about the absolutely shitty weather we had this summer. Seriously, I’m not one to complain about the weather, but it really and truly sucked.

Off to the tent, where the Bakewells are tasked with making a dozen crèmes brulees. They’re only allowed to brulee them under the grill, which is total bullshit. You get a much better top using a kitchen blowtorch, whereas using a grill almost always results in an uneven top. Honestly, since it’s not a technical, I think the Bakewells should be allowed to use whatever method they want.

Whatever, nobody asked me, right? Mat is making coconut and lime brulee, which sounds quite delicious. He’s a little worried about the custards cooling down fast enough in the big, deep ramekins he’s got.

Sandy is making licorice and lemon flavours. I hate licorice so that sounds gross to me, but I’m sure my parents would adore it.

Ugne tells us that, to get a proper custard, you need to get your mix to 80 degrees. Good to know. She’s adding marula fruit liquor and coffee to her custard. I’ve never heard of marula fruit, but Mary says it smells like an Irish liquor.

Alvin is making blackberry crèmes brulees. Paul asks if the whole fruits he has in the desserts ever bleeds and Alvin says they don’t. He’s decorating these with edible pansies, which Mel mishears as ‘edible pants’. Not delicious, Mel.

Ian is doing pomegranate crèmes brulees with pomegranate molasses. Mmmmm. Mary rather tightly calls this ‘interesting’ which is typically Passive Aggressive for ‘sounds disgusting.’

Nadiya’s crèmes brulees have mint and blackberry jam in them. She laughs to the judges that the caramelizing on the top will be interesting, because she typically uses a blowtorch. Mary reminds her that not everybody has a blowtorch, which seems like a really stupid justification for not allowing blowtorches in this challenge.

Tamal is making rhubarb and ginger desserts, which sounds quite lovely. He’s got ginger syrup in his custard to sweeten it. Good move.

Contestant Paul has practiced his almond crèmes brulees several times, which is always a good move.

The brulees are placed in water baths and popped into the oven. To test doneness, the Bakewells give them a little shake to see if they’ve got the wobble they need. Wobbles all around. Contestant Paul’s have massively overbaked, or something. Actually, I have no idea what happened. They’ve puffed up and browned, but he says they’re not set at all in the middle. How the hell did he manage that?

Flora’s doing some elaborate crisps and tuiles for her rhubarb and custard brulees. The tuiles are hoops, so of course frigging Mel can’t resist playing with them and slipping them on like they’re bracelets until Paul tells her to cut it out, because these arepart of Flora’s bake. Jesus. This is why I couldn’t be on this show—I’d just start yelling at Mel and Sue for messing with my stuff all the time. It’s like they have no sense at all. Mel stupidly says she thought those tuiles were just trial runs. Who the hell cares, stop messing about with the bakers’ bakes!

The Bakewells spread sugar over the tops of their brulees. Ian, bizarrely, is caramelizing sugar, spreading it out to cool, then whizzing it back up to spread it out over the brulees. What the hell is that going to accomplish? Seems like it’s going to just result in burnt-tasting sugar.

The brulees go back in the oven and the Bakewells watch them carefully. Sandy hilariously says this is like a nature show, ‘if we sit here very quietly, we might see the brulees coming out!’ Hee! I kind of like her. I bet she’s a lot of fun at the pub at night.

Brulees are finished and presented. Nadiya’s cinnamon tea brulees are a little grainy inside but have a nice top and Mary likes the combination of flavours. Paul’s almond crème brulees have pretty little biscuit butterflies on top and a good crust, but the custard is basically scrambled egg. The alcohol is also too strong. Flora’s rhubarb and ginger brulees look really lovely and the caramel on top is good (though it looks a little overly dark to me). The custard is underbaked, though. Ian’s pomegranate brulees are basically perfect, though Paul’s not mad about the pomegranate seeds on top. Mat’s coconut lime brulees aren’t shiny enough on top for Mary because he apparently didn’t really caramelize the top properly. Also, the interior is totally liquid. He agrees that he screwed up. Ugne’s also missed out on the caramelizing, but the custard is perfectly set. Avin’s blackberry crème brulees have crap caramel and the water coming from the fruit messed up the custard. Sandy’s Pontefract crème brulees has unset custard and it looks like the tops are burnt. Paul asks how her custard failed to bake, when they were in the oven for thirty minutes. He asks if the oven was even on and Sandy kind of hesitates. SERIOUSLY? Tamal’s rhubarb and ginger are quite delicious and the custard is glorious. Sue steals almost all of them. Tamal is quite pleased with how that went, while Paul’s still trying to figure out what the hell happened. Sandy insists that her oven was totally on. Whatever.

Technical challenge number four: Spanish wind torte. It’s a cake made of two types of meringue as well as strawberries and raspberries. Sounds pretty yummy. They get started. Nobody has ever heard of this, and the instructions are super vague.

In the judges’ tent, Paul expresses some sympathy for the Bakewells, having to make this meringue layer cake. They have to make both French and Swiss meringue, layered with cream and fruit. She hopes the Bakewells read the recipe thoroughly, though from the sound of it reading it thoroughly isn’t going to help much.

They start making meringues, beating egg whites and sugar, then piping it into rings. Once that’s done, they’re popped into the oven, while the Bakewells start making violet decorations. Some meringues start coming out. Paul’s are crumbling and cracking. French meringue is used to cement the layers together, which Flora says is the most feminine form of plastering. Heh. The meringues are popped back into the oven and the Bakewells start making Swiss meringue, beating egg whites and sugar over hot water.

The meringues come back out and the Bakewells start piping rosettes around the edge with the Swiss meringue, before putting it all back in the oven yet again. Man, this thing is a giant pain in the ass to make. The meringues come back out of ht eoven and the Bakewells start making pastry cream filling. Alvin’s cake comes out of the oven last and he notes he’s over baked it a bit. Custard is loaded into the cakes and then it has to be topped with the last disc of meringue, but it looks like Sandy’s broken her disc, so she just put it on top like a butterfly. Hers looks terrible. It’ll be her in last, then Alvin with his overbaked cake. Anyone’s guess for the other places. Let’s see!

Mary tells them that these should be extravaganzas of beautiful meringue. They start with Sandy’s and Mary says it’s yummy and has decent meringue, though it looks fairly odd. It also looks like she didn’t actually mix the berries into the pastry cream. The violets are also rather ugly. Mat’s is quite pretty and tastes nice. Paul’s has delicate little violets and a nice taste. Ugne got good height and good meringues. Alvin’s is overbaked and the violets aren’t passing muster with Mary. Also, the two types of meringues are basically indistinguishable. Flora gets fairly good marks. Tamal’s gotten his Swiss meringue too stiff and the French meringue too soft. Nadiya’s is declared a bit of a mess. The meringues aren’t great. Ian had some trouble—his French meringue is too soft in the middle. Places: Alvin, Nadiya, Mat, Sandy, Tamal, Ian, Flora, Ugne, Paul. Well done, Paul! He says this was a total stroke of luck. Alvin knows he has to do really well in the showstopper to save himself.

The judges confer. Ian is high up, as are Tamal and Ugne. Mat, Sandy, and Alvin are all in trouble, though Nadiya and Paul could go as well.

The Bakewells have to make baked cheesecakes. Three tiers of them. Ugh. Like one tier isn’t enough of a stomach bomb. They get started and Mat realizes he forgot to write down the oven temperature on his recipe. Oops!

Ian is making a trio of spicy and herby cheesecakes. An interesting idea, considering he was specifically told not to make savoury cheesecakes. Paul calls this ‘adventurous.’

Tamal is making rosemary and honey cheesecake, as well as a mango cake that has been giving him some trouble.

Alvin is making blueberry, mixed berry, and lemon meringue cheesecakes. Lemon meringue cheesecake actually sounds really good.

Nadiya is making fizzy pop cheesecakes flavoured with ginger beer, cream soda, and lemonade. She’s reduced litres of soda to make syrups for these. Mary asks where this idea came from and she says she just wanted to have a bit of fun. She’s also hoping to decorate this with an incredibly elaborate floating soda bottle with all sorts of things coming out of it.

Paul is making a berry cheesecake tower with blackberries, lemon, blueberries, and raspberry. He’s using some of his homemade blackberry liquor in it.

Ugne fits crusts in her springform pans. She’s making lime, coconut, and hazelnut cheesecakes. I can see how lime and coconut go together, but hazelnut seems a bit random there. She wants to make ombre style frosting. Nobody knows what the hell she means. Neither do I.

Sandy is making cassata, whisky and orange, and apple pie cheesecakes. She’s making different bases, fillings, and toppings for each one.

Flora is making elderflower cheesecake and worries that she’s going to get dinged for only doing one flavour. She pops her cheesecakes into the oven while everyone else is only just starting to bake their bases. She wonders if she can do something to make her bake more elaborate somehow.

Mat has been inspired by his favourite chocolate bars for his cakes and is using peanut butter, coconut, and honeycomb. Paul tells him that Mary’s not terribly keen on coconut. Take note, future contestants!

Tamal is making his cheesecakes in a bain marie, which is a technique I’ve never seen before.

Cakes bake, and Bakewells make their decorations. Nuts are caramelized, meringue is whipped, and Flora starts making macarons to decorate her cheesecakes.

Cakes start coming out of the ovens so they can be cooled. It looks like Sandy’s are either sticking to the cake tin or collapsing. Decorations go on, tiers get stacked. Tamal helps Sandy with her collapsing cakes by wrapping a tinfoil collar around one. It doesn’t work, she can’t even get the top tier on because the cake won’t support it.

Bakes are presented, and some of them look really beautiful. Ian’s spicy and herby cheesecakes look stunning to Mary, who loves the tarragon and apple and the caramel and rosemary.

Paul’s berry cheesecake tower has lovely chocolate leaf decorations, but the cakes are overbaked and dry.

Flora’s elderflower and granola cheesecakes have a very thick base and are overbaked. Paul doesn’t think she utilized her time properly.

Alvin’s fruit cheesecakes are a bit of a mess: the top layer is totally collapsing. Paul says the base is too grainy and crumbly. Mary says it could have done with a little longer in the oven.

Tama’s mango, hazelnut and rosemary cheesecake looks gorgeous and the flavours are lovely. The judges adore it.

Ugne’s cheesecakes aren’t very neatly piped, but the texture is nice and the flavours are delicious.

Sandy’s cassata, whisky and orange, and apple pie cheesecakes are presented. The layers aren’t done in the middle, and one has a fairly raw base. I think Sandy might be going, you guys.

Nadiya got that soda can decoration to work, so well done there! Paul loves it and thinks it looks amazing. The cakes are a bit overbaked, but they definitely taste like what they’re supposed to.

Mat’s chocolate bar cheesecakes have perfect texture throughout and taste delicious. Paul says this is a fantastic trio on all points.

Cake conference. Ian’s flavours were extraordinary and work. He, Tamal, and Nadiya are all in contention for star baker. Sandy, Paul and Alvin, not so much. Mel and Sue pretend to force Paul and Mary to eat more cheesecake, but they both honestly just look ill. Seriously, I can hardly manage one slice of cheesecake, never mind having to sample twenty-seven. Ugh.

Everyone returns to the tent where they learn that, for the third time in a row, Ian’s star baker. Is that a record?

Sad news for…Sandy. As I predicted. Sorry, Sandy, you were fun, but this really just wasn’t your week. She admits she’s sad, but she’s not going to stop baking. Well, no, I hope not! Keep on, Sandy!



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