The Great British Bake Off: Meltdown

gbbo-baked-alaskaPreviously on The Great British Bake Off: Bread! Lots and lots of bread. It was a carbfest. Luis blew everyone away with his amazing bakes, and Jordan failed to rise to the challenge.

It’s dessert week, and to start off, they need to make a self-saucing pudding. Eight of them, actually. They get started. Paul says the key thing with these is to keep the sponge light, so it bakes fast. Mary adds that the sauce needs to have some texture and the right consistency.

Luis admits that puddings aren’t his strength and he finds them kind of risky, what with the sponge plus moisture.

Martha’s putting a peanut butter centre in her chocolate fondant. Yes, please, give me eight of those. I’m a glutton for peanut butter, and peanut butter plus chocolate? Soooo nom. The judges go to check on her and ask if they hold up well when they come out of the oven. She says they do. Mel asks how her exams are going. Pretty stressful at the moment.

Nancy is working on her chocolate sauce, so she can get it chilled before putting it in the centre of the pudding. She’s making pistachio puddings with chocolate sauce. She’s gotten this to work once out of ten tries. Paul’s hair stands just a little more on end when he hears that, but he wishes her luck.

Kate’s filling her puddings with salted caramel. Also nom. She’s freezing her centres in ice cube trays, which is a good idea.

Iain and his beard (which needs a name, I think. Or its own Twitter feed) are making a dark chocolate and lime pudding with raspberry. Paul loves lime and chocolate, so that’s good. He’s going to do chocolate leaves to decorate it, though the judges seem to doubt he’ll have the time.

VO tells us the sponge bit is tricky: it needs to be light enough to bake quickly, but strong enough to hold the sauce.

Diana is energetically mixing, while Richard works on his black forest chocolate fondants. He says his family usually loves them, though now they’re probably sick of them.

Luis is doing some crazy thing involving a poached pair and sponge piped around it. Interesting. He’s using the pear poaching sauce as the sauce in the pudding. He’s got the tops of the pears protected with little foil hats that Sue says look like a cross between a wizard and a dunce.

Chetna says she thinks last week it seemed like all she could do was Indian flavours, so she’s trying to move away with that with her rhubarb, strawberry, and orange puddings. Yep, that should do it. Sounds yummy.

Norman has adapted his mother’s sticky toffee pudding. Classic, but the judges have warned you about going too basic already, Norman, so you may want to punch these recipes up a bit.

Diana’s doing a ‘surprise’ pudding—orange and lemon curd pots. Apparently the sauce should drop to the bottom and form a curd. She interviews that the bakeoff is the biggest thing she’s ever done, ‘apart from giving birth and all those…weird things.’ Hee!

Bakewells start either putting their centres in their puddings or trickling sauces over sponges, depending on what type of bake they’re doing. Into the oven they go.

History lesson: it’s all about Lyndham and its enormous puddings, which it’s been making for special occasions since the 13th century. A local baker tells Sue that a huge pudding was made in 1859 to celebrate the coming of the railway that weighed more than 1 ½ tonnes. Jesus. They start whipping up the same type, Sue observing that this is basically a giant spotted dick. They make a pudding that’s 1/10 the size of the original, and it’s already pretty huge. Like, it dwarfs most wedding cakes. The original was served up to a crowd that was so eager to get to it they actually caused a riot, probably because there were 18,000 people trying to get to dessert. Sue gives the pudding a try and decides she wouldn’t riot over it, but she’d skirmish.

Kate’s puddings are bubbling over, which is bad. Diana takes hers out and merrily says her sauce has a nasty habit of disappearing, so we’ll just see how it goes. Martha’s start coming out of the molds, and one of them collapses. Kate’s aren’t working out, so Sue advises extra garnish. Frantic decorating and plating and…time!

Richard’s Black Forest fondants have turned out perfectly. Paul can’t wait to try it. Mary loves it; Paul says it’s well balanced.

Chetna’s rhubarb, strawberry, and orange puds look lovely. Mary says they have a lovely sponge but she wants more sauce. Paul agrees.

Martha’s peanut butter fondants had a bit of an issue—lots of sauce, and some collapse. Paul says the peanut needs diluting, because it’s kind of welding his mouth shut. Mary compliments the sponge.

Luis’s pears in puddings look rather nice, the sponge baked up around the pears, and there is sauce at the bottom, but it’s really watery. The sponge is also too heavy on its own.

Nancy’s pistachio puddings with chocolate centres didn’t really form a sauce. The centre is solid. Paul likes the flavours but says the sponge is overbaked.

Iain’s chocolate, lime, and raspberry fondants are very chocolatey and have great taste and consistency.

Kate’s chocolate and salted caramel puddings look nice to Paul and have a nice sauce and delicious sponge.

Norman’s mini sticky toffee puddings have a great sauce but look a tad untidy.

Diana has served her orange and lemon curd pots in little teacups, which is cute. Mary loves the fun presentation, and Paul adores the puddings. Diana’s delighted.

Martha’s gutted the puddings didn’t go to plan, but she keeps a smile on her face. Norman says his puddings don’t look much on the outside, but they rock on the inside.

Time for the technical: a Mary Berry tiramisu. As always, the instructions are vague. Martha giggles that she seems to be the only person there who’s made a tiramisu, and she’s the youngest.

Paul and Mary taste the example cake, which features very thin layers separated by mascarpone filling. They say the layers need even soaking, so you don’t wind up with one dry layer.

Sifted flour is folded into batters to form the sponges. Norman has huge spots of flour that hasn’t been mixed in, but he’s unconcerned, because you always get that. Uh, no you don’t. Not if you’ve folded properly, Norman.

Chetna’s very carefully lining a cake tin with baking paper so the cake comes out after being assembled and refrigerated. Iain wonders if he should use paper or clingfilm.

Sponge layers come out of ovens and the Bakewells wonder how you’re supposed to cut this thing horizontally. Richard notes that his hasn’t risen enough. Oh dear. He’s starting over. Iain thinks his sponge may be a tad flat as well. He can’t seem to get it sliced and thinks he’s going to have to do it again. Diana’s doing ok, telling herself not to make a mess. The Bakewells start assembling their tiramisu by placing squares of sponge in the cake tins, flavouring them with a coffee and brandy mixture, and then adding the mascarpone cream. Some of them are cobbling bits of cake together to make some layers, and some are totally soaking their layers with the coffee and brandy. Richard’s second sponge looks better, but he worries he won’t have time to cool it.

While the tiramisus cool, the Bakewells temper chocolate to decorate the top, but the instructions haven’t specified the temperatures for the chocolate, which does make it a bit difficult. They desperately try to remember the proper temp.

Richard waves his sponge around to cool it.

With 15 minutes to go, tiramisus are unmolded. Diana’s needed more time in the fridge. It’s too slack. Most of them look really messy. Layers are uneven, sides aren’t very neat, and decorations are melting because it’s a really hot day. There’s nothing for it but to present what they have, though. They do their best with them and deliver them up to the judging table.

Paul and Mary return and Mary says they’re looking for precision and even layers. Martha’s is first, and gets pretty high marks. Richard’s leaked its coffee mixture a little. Diana has gone crazy with the piping outside, and the layers didn’t rise properly, so they’re not properly soaking up the coffee. Iain had a good rise but poor layer definition. Also, Paul can’t taste the coffee in it. Chetna did good chocolate work, decent lines and layers. Kate’s is messy and the sponge is too thin. Luis’s is very neat and well decorated. Mary’s pleased with it. Nancy has super thick layers and one isn’t soaked at all. Norman’s is a mess and one layer missed coffee. Ranking: Diana, Norman, Kate, Iain, Richard, Nancy, Chetna, Luis, and Martha. Guess having done it once already really stood her in good stead. She interviews that she’s elated. Diana says she’s a home baker, and it’s really showing up in certain places. Norman’s worried too.

Showstopper challenge: a baked Alaska. Wow, talk about retro. Basically, make a sponge base with ice cream on it. ‘What can go wrong?’ Luis wonders. ‘There are many things that can go wrong,’ Paul interviews, in one of the show’s better edits. ‘First, you have to pick the right sponge and bake it perfectly. Then you need the ice cream, and the meringue.’ Mary agrees that there are a lot of elements that need to come together correctly. She adds that it’s the hottest day of the year so far, which is adding an extra element of difficulty.

They have to make their own ice cream of course, so they’re all stirring custards and such. Diana’s doing a raspberry ripple with jaconde sponge swan. She says this is like something she used to make when she was a teenager.

Norman is filling his vanilla ice cream baked Alaska with raspberry coulis.

Martha tells the judges hers is inspired by key lime pie, which they all love. It sounds pretty delicious.

Chetna learned ice cream making from her mother. She’s layering mango and raspberry ice cream on a coconut base. Sounds delish. She says mangoes always remind her of summer.

Iain’s grinding toasted black sesame seeds to flavour the ice cream. His Alaska will be chocolate, black sesame seed, and coffee caramel flavoured. Paul thinks the black sesame looks pretty revolting but sounds interesting. He thinks it could be fascinating combined with the chocolate sponge.

Nancy is making two ice creams for her summer pudding Alaska. She hopes the interior will look like a rainbow when cut.

Kate is creating a pistachio, raspberry, and chocolate baked Alaska, decorated with glitter, apparently.

Ice creams are poured into the machines. Norman declares his superb and says he could have been born in Italy. We’ll just see about that, Norman. It takes more than just slapping a massively inflated price on it to make it a real Italian gelato.

Richard is cheekily making a baked Alaska tiramisu. Heh. Oh, apparently he planned that before he knew about the technical. I thought he was being clever.

Mel tries Chetna’s mango ice cream and says it’s amazing. Chetna’s really pleased she likes it.

Ice creams are bunged into the freezer and sponges start. Luis is making an almond layer for his Bakewell-inspired Alaska. Some of them check on their ice creams and stress over them not setting fast enough. Well, they won’t set if you keep opening the freezer, folks. Sponges come out of the ovens. Sue tastes something Iain’s making and tells him it’s really good. She also tells him he should just let the beard grow while on the show, so he’s like a ‘russet Gandalf’ by the time it’s over. Heh. Diana starts piping her meringue swan. Mel asks if it’ll stand up and tells her it cannot be a dying swan. Well, yeah. Meringues are whipped. Louis is making two, simultaneously, pouring molten sugar into a pair of running mixers. That’s ballsy.

Time to start assembling, so they can actually get these things frozen. Some of the ice creams are melting fast, because it’s so hot in the tent, and some haven’t quite set. But there’s nothing to be done about it, so they just bang on. With 15 minutes left, they start slopping on meringue. And then Iain discovers that Diana apparently just took one of his ice creams out of the freezer and left it on the countertop. He manages not to completely freak out on her, although that was really quite shitty of her. You don’t mess with other people’s stuff on the Bake Off, it’s just not the way things are done. If you do accidentally, as with last year’s Custardgate, you apologise like crazy. His whole thing is soup now, and when he takes the cake tin away, it turns into a massive puddle. He bins the whole thing, despite Mel telling him not to. He’s in, if you’ll excuse me for saying so, meltdown now. He just leaves the tent while everyone sort of blanches and even the camera crew doesn’t quite seem to know what to do. I really feel badly for him. I can’t believe Diana did that. She didn’t even apologise. I’m actually kind of meanly happy her swans have all broken.

Chetna’s Alaska is puddling in the freezer and she’s desperately trying to slop it back together while Martha flinches. With just a few minutes left, they hit their meringues with blowtorches.

Iain returns and takes his place at his table. Kate asks if he’s ok and he says he’s fine. He’s not.

Nancy’s summer pudding Alaska looks beautiful. She’s managed to get two-tone meringue rosettes, which is impressive. She’s worried it’ll puddle when cut, but it doesn’t. Mary says it’s a lovely summer fruit flavour and Paul says she’s done an exceptional job under these conditions.

Norman’s strawberry surprise isn’t quite as professional looking, but he’s confident they’ll love it. Mary wishes there were more strawberries and the ice cream needed more vanilla. Paul thinks he’s playing it too safe again.

Diana presents her raspberry ripple swan and Paul thinks it looks good. Her sponge is delicious and the ice cream quite delicate. He also notes that she tends to come up to them with her head down and she should really stop doing that. I say she should also stop messing with other people’s stuff.

Chetna’s mango, raspberry and coconut Alaska melted, unfortunately. But Mary notes that she still has a smile on her face, which is what it’s all about. I’m not sure what ‘it’ is, but I do admire Chetna’s spirit. And apparently her flavours are gorgeous. Mary doesn’t even care that it looks messy, it’s that good.

Martha’s key lime baked Alaska looks really good—she piped meringue rosettes over the whole thing. Paul compliments the piping, and Mary loves the lime curd and the sponge. Well done, Martha.

Kate’s glittery Alaska gets a ‘well done’ from Mary and Paul compliments the marshmallowy meringue.

Richard admits his presentation could be better, but Mary likes the swirls around the outside and Paul says the Italian meringue he did is nice and strong. Mary loves the flavour and so does Paul.

Luis’s Bakewell Alaska has melted a bit by the look of it and gets high marks all around.

And now for Iain. He brings the bin and looks devastated. He explains that the ice cream was unservable. Paul tells him that he should have then just served the other components, which is true. I think Iain’s brain just kind of short-circuited under the stress and he freaked out and didn’t think about that. I mean, when your showstopper looks like this:

anigif_enhanced-16715-1409169831-14And you’re already pretty stressed out, not to mention overheated, you freak out. I’d have probably just burst into tears. And then grabbed Diana’s stupid disco-era swans and stomped all over them whilst chanting ‘nobody likes the WI’ if I were him. And I’d have felt badly about it later, but heat and stress make us do strange things.

Iain admits he didn’t cope with the situation well. His beard looks ashamed. Mary says they all make mistakes, but, you know, you move on.

The judges confab. Mary thinks almost everyone coped well. Kate’s high up there this week, along with Richard. Norman, not so much. And Iain? Well, that complicates things. Mary thinks it’s pretty much unacceptable to just throw your entire bake away when parts of it were still servable.

Back in the tent, Mel gets to announce star baker: Richard! He seems shocked. That makes me happy, I really like him. And it’s up to Sue to announce who’s going home: it’s Iain. That makes me really sad. Unless I totally misread the situation, I feel like he got totally screwed. It seems like it makes the judges sad as well, but that’s the way things go. Paul says he thinks Richard’s becoming the one to beat. Norman interviews that he needs to put some more pressure on himself. Kate has learned never to throw her bakes in the bin.

Next week: pies and tarts.

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