Bake Off 2020 – Chocolate Week: Wet Freezer Juice

This pretty much sums the week up.

It’s chocolate week and one of the few benefits of the delayed filming due to Covid is that they actually managed to dodge the heatwave this year so we at least didn’t have to watch their cakes slowly melt like The Wicked Witch of the West – no, they just went wrong in a multitude of other ways.

The Great Brownie Incident of 2020

The first challenge is for the bakers to make a batch of 18 brownies – no tricks, no traps, no surprises. Just 1 batch of brownies, all the same flavour. It would take a Herculean effort to screw this up AND YET:

Once again it becomes very obvious that we’re in The New Bake Off Generation – where everyone tries to Galaxy Brain the challenge and reinvent in the wheel and creating the most avant garde brownie imaginable when really, slapping in a few chocolate chips and maybe some Oreos if you’re feeling *really wacky* would have been infinitely more pleasing than a chocolate brownie with a raspberry, white chocolate and pistachio topping

Just why in the year of our Lord 2020 do people feel the need to ice brownies? It is an evil worthy of Pandora’s Box and yet apparently it is a thing we are doing despite the fact that that thin crispy layer on the top of the brownie is the best part, if I could just skin a layer of brownies – I would. I would be the Cruella de Vil of brownies, the Buffalo Bill of brownies, too far? Problematic? Sorry. How have I referenced Silence of the Lambs so many times in these recaps? And yet it is surprisingly not about Lottie’s mutilation of the very concept of brownies

Opting for a double baked brownie complete with a baked raspberry cheesecake topping – the ratio seemingly being 2 parts cheesecake to every 1 part brownie – therefore arguably making this more of a cheesecake than a brownie. She really fell victim to the NINETY MINUTES that they allowed for the challenge and had to whack her oven hot brownies into the freezer, causing her “brownies” to be covered with, in her own words, “wet freezer juice” (it’s water Lottie, “wet freezer juice” is just water). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baker have as much contempt for something they’ve baked as Lottie did for her brownies:

Twitter apparently just found Lottie’s constant glaring and muttering throughout the episode to be a bit of a turn on

Also stretching the definition of a brownie was Mark-with-a-K who, along with Laura, was creating a S’mores inspired brownie, deciding to forgo both the marshmallow and the graham crackers – the only remaining S’more element being… chocolate. His cookie base ended up being much too large and deciding to replace the marshmallow with a gargantuan amount of Italian meringue on top didn’t go down well with Prue who has apparently decided that eating for joy is too much to ask and yet despite all this the thing that made me the most uncomfortable about his brownies was the fact he baked them in a round tin

I don’t like this, brownies should only be baked quadilaterally – that way you can opt for an edge piece or middle piece depending on your preference. Look at me adhering to the brownie binary.

In a twist of fate, and not because she and Mark-with-a-K cribbed from the same recipe – NO IT COULDN’T BE THAT – Laura also opted to swap the marshmallow for Italian meringue, but she chose to add caramel and made the aesthetic choice to serve her brownies as a liquid

Sura didn’t fair much better, also producing some rather underbaked brownies and not leaving herself enough time to get them out of the tin and apparently not being willing to break the freezer by shoving over-hot brownies into it… She also lost half her brownies to The Oven God

but you could still cut 1 tin into 18 brownies – they never specified how big they had to be. At this point I would segway by saying “on the other end of the spectrum we have the success stories” but I’m not sure we have any success stories, Peter at least managed to not ice his brownies and had squares that could stand the basic pressures of Earth’s gravitation pull

But according to Paul they had far too much cinnamon – I personally don’t believe such a limit exists and I would eat all of the fig, pistachio and cinnamon brownies given the chance. As I would Linda’s Ghosts of Christmas Past Brownies

Give me anything with Turkish Delight in it and I will be putty in your hands – I really empathised with Edmond when he sacrificed an entire magical realm for 1 tin of the stuff, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.
Dave suffered a similar fate to Linda with an overbaked brownie that Prue called “a very good traybake” to which he thanked her and it was absolutely not meant as a compliment – traybakes are the scourges of the baking world.

An Arbirary Ranking of The Brownie Apocalypse:

  1. Peter’s Cinnamon Hellfire
  2. Linda’s Ghosts of Christmas Past
  3. Mark’s Not Really a S’more at All Brownie
  4. The Fact Dave is 4th Is Really an Indication of the Level of Failure
  5. Hermine Doing The Most
  6. Marc’s Buttercream Disaster
  7. Sura’s Meagre Lot
  8. Lottie’s Damp Cheesecake
  9. Laura’s Physics Defying Brownie Matter

Babka-ya-ya!

The technical this week is for the bakers to create a Babka – a braided enriched dough with a chocolate filling. It’s a particularly exciting round because absolutely none of them have heard of it or seen one in the wild before so they’re all flying by the seats of their pants and with such detailed instructions as “make an enriched dough” – what could possibly go wrong?

Somehow everyone pretty much flies through the first phase of making the dough, rolling it out and filling it with a chocolate spread but then we get to the real problem – the braiding and determining the size of your babka which has to fit in a 27 inch loaf tin so quite why Sura made a two metre long roll of braided dough is a mystery to me

She then proceeded to lop half of it off and wondered quite why her babka ended up as half the size of everyone else’s

It’s just a cute little Baby Babka. She wasn’t the only one having size issues as Lottie ended up in the same boat but instead of corrective surgery just decided to rest her babka in her loaf tin with it going up the sides and ending up in a weird sort of gondola shape

The best part of this was Paul Hollywood looking at the odd shape and stating “it’s the way the chocolate has been mixed in that has created this drop in the middle” when it was actually just because of the way Lottie had rested the dough in – MASTER OF BREAD ARE YAH PAUL?

It’s the game of Proving Chicken where most people come undone, and I’m not just talking about Matt Lucas’ hamfisted innuendo about stroking Linda’s dough to make it bigger – remember when the innuendo on this show was organic and free range? Stop Battery Farming Innuendo. An under-proved enriched dough ends up being very dense and turns your loaf into a weapon capable of severe blunt force trauma as Dave, Hermine and Sura found out. Dave’s being particularly egregious as Paul deems it “not very attractive and rather dense and odd” which ironically is my summary of Paul Hollywood. HE SET HIMSELF UP FOR THAT ONE, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

Linda was the success story of the round though, creating a perfect babka, Mark-wth-a-K was hot on her heels with a babka that was just slightly under-plaited and lacked definition, as was Laura who received the highest of praises: “It looks like a babka.”

The Official Babka Rankings:

  1. Linda’s Premium Babka
  2. Laura’s Slightly Cakey Babka
  3. Mark’s Under-plaited Babka
  4. Peter’s Babka-ish
  5. Hermine’s Weapon of Choice
  6. Marc’s Sainted Holey Babka
  7. Sura’s Itty Bitty Babka-ini
  8. Dave’s Paul Hollywood Babka
  9. Lottie’s Ode to Rowan

White Chocolate Isn’t Chocolate, I Will Die on This Here Hill

Coming into the Showstopper it’s very much looking like it’s curtains for a fan favourite with Lottie and Sura balancing on a knife edge – and the judges kindly throw in Dave to create a sense of hope.

The Showstopper challenge is to create a white chocolate celebration cake for a special event – and said cake must be a minimum of 2 layers – which to me is just a cake? I personally believe a celebration cake to require 3 or more layers, but I feel like they gave them the option of just the two given The Brownie Apocalypse and that time they asked them to make 3 tiered wedding cakes in like 3 hours… I also think the restriction to white chocolate really hampered the round (and not just because white chocolate is just sugary butter) but because you cannot convince me that these aren’t all just the same cake

So much off-white, creamy-yellow, beige-ness – it’s like a Nancy Meyers film.

The celebrations in question mostly revolved around your standard anniversaries’ or birthdays. Peter and Linda shook up the proceeding with a cake honouring his Hot MATHEMATICIAN Brother that looking just like the cake Marge created for Homer to ruin

and Linda continuing her pattern of Mildly Morbid Bakes with a loving tribute to her daughter in the form of a three tiered amaretto cake topped with a rose

Many of the cakes became adorned with Roses, or at least loose interpretations of a rose, Marc-with-a-C adorning his with a collection of roses and jasmine flowers to celebrate his daughters Rosie and Jasmine. Quite why he was honouring them with the blood red drips is a mystery to me

But who am I to question the unique bond between a single father and his daughters? Sura tops her strawberry flavoured cake with a rose, or at least what may have once been a rose

It wasn’t a great round for Sura as she fell behind and had to forsake a lot of her sculpting ideas and just drip a forlorn pink icing down the side of her incredibly lopsided, cartoon looking cake

This wasn’t the saddest thing as she had made the rather bizarre choice to water down her white chocolate before baking it in the hopes of reducing its cloying sweetness, this backfired horrendously as she created a cake that was practically begging for the sweet release of death

God bless Sura adding a salmonella risk to the already critical Covid risk – it could only be our Chaotic Queen.

Because of the general blandness of a white chocolate cake – and seemingly everyone being too afraid to use food colouring after Loriea’s eye-searingly blue cake got her eliminated (4 weeks and I’m still salty about that) the bakers really had to whip up some good decor to set themselves apart. Mark-with-a-K opted for a collection of geometric shapes to go along with his flavouring of his wife’s favourite liqueur – Amarula – because apparently she also just really likes shapes?

His flavours were a touch understated but the Star Baker title was in his grasp purely by virtue of the fact he created a cake that looked and tasted like a real cake. Lottie also went all out in her decor and comes in fresh off the back of 15 practice attempts at her cake to honour her grandparents’ 65 wedding anniversary – decorating it with a sapphire geode motife – which I think could have been a bit bigger and more obvious, it was a little too milquetoast

Unfortunately it was a little overbaked and had absolutely not texture – sort of just existing as a midway between buttercream and sponge cake as one melded into the other because she soaked it in lime syrup and passionfruit curd.
Dave opted to give his cake a twist by making it a Fraisier Cake and decorating it with an abundance of white chocolate splashes which he was going to make by dripping white chocolate over balloons and it didn’t at all look like he had brought in his sordid collection of buttplugs

For some reason unknown to me he filled his balloons with water so that when one burst as he was trying to get the chocolate off it erupted, spilling water all over his workbench and chocolate – FILL THEM WITH AIR AND THEN JUST POP THEM LIKE A NORMAL PERSON. He only ended up with three little splashes on top

But his cake was good, Paul was slightly perturbed by the colour, which is exactly what Paul Hollywood’s doctor says to him. Also giving the judges a bit of an aesthetic grievance is Hermine who not only managed to lose an entire set of acrylic nails in her icing but absolutely just plopped one separate cake on the other regardless of how it looked

Hey, we’ve all tried to create a layer cake out of separate supermarket cakes haven’t we? You have to make do when you only have a university oven that makes everything taste a little bit like dishwashing liquid. Her flavours though are wild and give Prue a bit of a tingle which Matt unhelpfully dubs “The Pruegasm” and now we have no choice but to cancel the show. That’s it, ends here. Nobody is eliminated, nobody wins. This is it.

Sadly we have to have a winner AND a loser, but first:

The Unofficial Ranking of the White Chocolate Armageddon

  1. Peter’s Hot Brother Is Very Good At Maths Cake
  2. Mark’s Drunk Elephant Cake
  3. Laura’s Blackcurrant Tower
  4. Dave’s Discoloured Fraisier Cake
  5. Marc’s Bleeding Rose Garden
  6. Hermine’s Disparate Marriage of Cakes
  7. Linda’s Celebration of Amaretto and Life
  8. Lottie’s Dried out Sapphire Mine
  9. RIP Sura’s Cake, We Hardly Knew Ye.

Mark-with-a-K wins in what is arguably a victory of being The Least Worst and then in a heart-breaking twist of the knife Sura is our eliminated baker. Gear up lads, we’re going to war over this one, LONG LIVE OUR CHAOTIC QUEEN.

NEXT WEEK

Mob Boss Laura whacks some fishes.

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