Bake Off 2020 – 80s Week: Anachronistic Christmas

It’s hard to implement Jo Frost’s Naughty Step technique in a tent.

It’s 80s week – a celebration of the decade that gave us The Mississippi Squirrel Revival, Mommie Dearest, Margaret f’king Thatcher, the satanic panic and of course Casablanca: The TV Series.

Quiches

The signature for the week is for the bakers to make 8 individual quiches with 4 of one flavour and 4 of another. The only specifications are that they must be made using shortcrust pastry and served out of their tins. They do also state that they must be savoury but I would hope that didn’t really need to be specified as no one is insane enough to try and make a mint chocolate quiche. Although saying that we did get a Chomelette (a chocolate omelette) on Masterchef that one time.

Even though the series started filming much later than usual they still didn’t manage to avoid the Obligatory Hottest Week of the Year Episode so the bakers are unfortunately trying to make pastry in a 28 degree tent aided only by small portable fans, however long the fridges can hold out for and a few damp rags that leave unfortunate damp patches

Lottie exclaiming “I’m very, very wet” and sweating her tits off sent Twitter into a bit of a lather

It’s a case of rapidly making your pastry and then getting into the fridge as soon as possible so that all of the butter doesn’t leak out of it – you would think the fridge would be cold enough to manage this but Hermine, Laura and Lottie all decide to go for the heavy duty stuff and shove it into the freezer, forgetting about it and letting it get so cold it’s impossible to roll out – which would maybe be fine if she hadn’t fallen so far behind making her fillings of Spinach and Mushrooms, and Salmon, Gruyere and Leek. Her excuse for this is that she doesn’t usually cook to time – we stan our culinary Time Lord. And just when you thought the US election would be the most stressful part of the night, Hermine is trying to cook a quiche in 10 minutes – luckily Laura is on hand to tell her to turn the temperature up the highest it will go – which comes across very much like Marge Simpson sabotaging everyone else’s food with baby ear medicine. In the end it worked out pretty well for Hermine as despite her slightly undercooked (but no soggy) pastry the flavours are classics and salmon wins her the day again.

Hermine regrettably wasn’t the only one opting for a fishy quiche as Marc has decided that cooking both cod and haddock in an almost thirty degree tent is a great idea – and then goes a step deeper into the olfactory sadism by pairing them with blue cheese and strong mature cheddar.

Now you might be thinking – those sound like basically the same quiche? And you would be correct – they are just fish and cheese and guaranteed to make everyone ban you from ever bringing another quiche to a picnic ever again.
In order to stand out a lot of the bakers were going for strong flavours – Laura opting for a ‘nduja sausage quiche and a goats cheese quiche. The high fat content of the sausage causes a bit of a leakage issue but the quiches taste good – her pastry is less successful and is a touch tough for Paul’s delicate little mouth. Peter went for a Thai inspired Crab and Coconut Curry Quiche

personally the thought of combining coconut and egg makes me a little queasy and that’s before we get into the texture of the creamy egg and the slightly sweet and flaky crabmeat. It didn’t go down marvellously with the judges – Paul found the chilli a bit too overpowering but given the fact Paul finds paprika spicy it could have been but a gentle tingle – you just know Paul is one of those guys that would go to Nando’s and order a Plainish half chicken but ask them to put an Xtra Hot flag in it to protect his fragile ego.

And if the bakers weren’t going for bold and brash flavours they were going for novelty and Lottie once again finds herself facing off against another baker with both her Dave making English Breakfast Quiches – not sure I ever fancied Lottie’s chances of success in this given she was facing off against a man that gives off such strong serial killer vibes you would hesitate to taste anything he gives you lest it be his way of disposing of victims.
Dave is taking a more sausage-y approach with the added novelty of adding scrambled eggs into his egg custard – it’s basically Scrambled Eggception. His other quiche is a sirloin steak and avocado quiche which are two ingredients I don’t think should legally be allowed to be put in a quiche – the latter of the two gives Paul a bit of a dab on

The offending spice being paprika. He then proceeds to wipe his forehead and touch every other quiche – sure hope the cast and crew enjoyed eating those!
Meanwhile Lottie’s breakfast quiches were much more Full English than Dave’s as she was going the full hog and adding black pudding, no scrambled eggs BECAUSE THERE IS EGG IN A QUICHE ALREADY DAVE and baked beans which due to advertising regulations she has to bring in a jar and it is horribly unsettling

It’s like a preserved animal in museum of Victorian curiosities – I don’t like it. She is also thankfully not forgetting bacon as she is garnishing it with what she claims is bacon but looks a lot more like wood chippings

Paul and Prue are both concerned about the baked beans as they both abhor them – and instead of last week like Paul being a big orange baby and asking Mark and Lottie to make him a special gherkin free steamed bun – not instead they sit on the sidelines and bitch about it for a good while looking like the mean kids in Saved by the Bell

Fortunately you can’t taste the baked beans because the black pudding is a flavour bully. Her pastry is probably the best of the lot and I would chalk Breakfast Wars as a win to Lottie.

A Ranking of the Quiches:

  1. The Unsinkable Hermine Thee Accountant
  2. Peter’s Coconutter
  3. Marc’s Very Difficult Spot the Difference Puzzle
  4. The Curious Case of the Missing Baked Beans
  5. Laura’s Leaky Sausage Surprise
  6. John Wayne Quichey

Finger Donuts

The technical for the week is to make finger donuts and fill them with a mousseline cream and jam – this would be pretty straight forward if the tent was a wicked 33 degrees, which we only know because Dave gets very distracted with this thermometer and begins probing anything and everything to check its temperature. I’m sure there’s a lot of redacted footage. I would hazard that a good 70% of this round is just shots of Lottie as she mutters and gives everyone the side-eye because she is but one degree off a full on homicidal rage

It would give her and Dave something to bond over and she really needs a friend ever since Mark went home last week.

Due to the insane heat the bakers don’t even have to use their proving drawers, although Dave being a stickler for routine and ritual does put his in the proving drawer but finds out that it’s actually cooler in there than the tent and so he gets less of a proove than anyone else. This was the least of his problems as he whacks his deep fat fryer up to 180 degrees (it was meant to only be 160) and drops his donuts into them turning them into what can only be described as two giant cartoonish poos

Dave’s new best mate and murder partner Lottie meanwhile hangs back and observes everyone else as the very thought operating a deep fat fryer in a haze of heat and sweat scares he bejesuses out of her. She does however have an issue with size and gets very hung up on whether six inches is big enough or not – nobody likes a size queen Lottie. To combat this unknown she just makes her donuts a series of different lengths and hopes for the best. Laura ends up in much the same boat except gives up on the concept of aesthetic and goes willy-nilly with the jam and cream

Marc, Peter and Hermine all pretty much sail through unscathed, Peter’s are a little bit too small and stubby but despite never having deep fried a thing in his life they are very well fried – Paul keeps saying “well baked” despite the oven never having been switched on at any point in this round. Marc has a bubbly mousseline which is forgiven due to the heat and Hermine plays a blinder of a round and wins the whole damn thing with some very good looking donuts

I reckon if she blind folded herself she would knock up something worthy of a Michelin star at this rate.

The Donut Draw:

  1. Hermine’s Blind Baking
  2. Peter’s Stubby Wonders
  3. Marc’s Mystifying Mousseline
  4. Laura’s Jam Panic
  5. Lottie’s Inches For Everyone
  6. Donut Henry Gaskins

So how was that round for everyone?

Yeah, same.

Ill-advised Ice Cream Cakes

Coming into what is about to be an absolute massacre (and surprisingly not because of Dave) it’s Hermine who is riding high with Peter hot on her heels, while Lottie, Dave and Laura all languish in a three horse race to melt into oblivion and by God they’re all about to do their damnedest to get the boot.

The bakers have to make an ice cream cake – the only guideline is that it must contain 1 baked element and also be able to stand – so no bowls of melted ice cream with a view biscuits bobbing around in it. This is a particularly tough task given that the tent is 28 degrees again but luckily there’s only 6 contestants so everyone has a fridge they can all comfortably fit their ice cream in. *stares at BinGate*.

Now you would think that given you are going to go onto this show, knowing that heat and time are probably going to be against you, particularly in an ice cream related challenge, you would make life as easy for yourself as possible? Hermine did just that – going for a simple three layered cake with mango and coconut ice creams and a shortbread base all layered within a mould and then concentrating heavily on its appearance:

It’s very arresting in a very nauseous 80s way. Sure the raspberry coulis on top does look like rivers of blood atop a sacrificial alter – but whose mad at that? The 80s were very into Dario Argento’s horror aesthetic.
But alas we know simplicity is not this group’s forte after all they manage to screw up chocolate brownies on an almost nuclear level. Going for the most complex ice cream cake is Marc who is making a pinstriped chocolate sponge exterior to house his butterscotch and pecan, honey and hazelnut ice creams and a blackberry mousse – it’s a lot to hope and pray for in terms of managing to set three different very temperamental elements in the 4 and half hour time limit but somehow he manages to do it:

It is however bulging at the seams and ready to unleash a wave of melted ice cream the moment anyone cuts into it but that’s the point of the cake wall. I’m also not sure on the random whole pear perched on top of it. You would think everyone would think about the basic physics of ice cream and deduce that you need something to contain and tame the ice cream monster within – Lottie decided she was better than basic physics and thought “I know, I will ice my cake with ice cream – that will definitely work!” It went about as well as you would think:

Bringing more shame to her was the fact Lottie’s cake was melting like a demonstration of glacial decay she had to try and draw on the cassette tape face while it was in the freezer:

This also went about as well you would think:

It’s like a game of Pictionary after everyone has had both Christmas dinner and three too many sherries. It really didn’t help that it also tasted like a confused mess and despite the ice cream tasting very nice most of it was either on Lottie’s workbench or on the bottom of her freezer.

Lottie was far from the only one having an absolute nightmare as despite the bakers being given an ice cream machine to help make their ice creams in time Laura forgets to turns hers onto the Ice Cream setting and essentially for several hours just has her ice cream swirling around in a bowl like some sort of pointless art fixture. The fact there is an ice cream machine whose explicit purpose is to make ice cream and still has to have its very specific ice cream setting turn on to do so IS BAFFLING. This leaves Laura with what seems like an hour to fully set her ice cream, construct and decorate her cake and this is the closest we get to BinGate as Laura’s cake just wants to leak everywhere which is a very 2020 mood and would undoubtedly win The Turner Prize but it’s not really what you want from an ice cream cake. In a desperate attempt to hide its many, many, many, many flaws Laura does what anyone else would do and covers her woes in chocolate sauce

Unsurprisingly this does not halt the rapidly liquidizing cake and she is forced to put it in the freezer, close the door and back away slowly like she’s just locked up an evil twin in the attic. She occasionally looks in to check on it, you know throw it a few fish heads, scrape its rapidly deteriorating structural stability

Let’s just say it’s appropriate that she titled her cake “Death by Chocolate”

Despite the many horrors of Laura’s cake Paul is most offended that Laura would dare put a brownie in the freezer – it’s not like Ben and Jerry’s have made a whole career out of putting brownies in ice cream or anything.

Dave was also slightly lacking in the Aesthetics Department as he makes the bizarre decision to try and pipe ice cream into rosettes on the top of his tiramisu cake:

It’s still not as weird as Lottie deciding to ice a cake with ice cream but it’s up there. He also nearly had a bit of a ice cream calamity as his cake threatened to leak everywhere because he added a little too much booze to the ice cream thus preventing it freezing in time.

Then while everyone else was having an absolute nightmare, elbow deep in melting ice cream and running into the brick wall of human existence Peter is having a grand old time making a Christmas cake in the middle of summer because it is 2020 and time is but a meaningless construct whose only purpose is to aid corporate supremacy. His ice cream layers that stay frozen the entire time

And even has enough time to make tiny little pipped holly leaves to top his individual christmas pudding truffles

During which Lottie stares at him like this because her cake is currently giving up the ghost in the fridge

Peter’s Ice Cream Christmas Cake is extremely good:

The details, the neatness and complexity is really to be admired – he really was on another level this round. The only downside is that it’s incredibly hard to cut through a cake laced with several ounces of frozen raisins and as we know Paul doesn’t like anything that threatens his masculinity so it’s deducted marks for Peter.

A Pointless Ranking of the Ice Cream Cakes:

  1. Hermine’s Neon Horror Classic
  2. Merry Anachronistic Christmas
  3. Marc’s
  4. The Tirami-Zodiac Killer
  5. Laura’s Existential Crisis
  6. Lottie’s Ode to Technological Decay

In the end Hermine finally becomes the Star Baker meaning that as of now everybody has been it at least once so it really is anybody’s game now. It really does come down to choosing between Lottie and Laura to go home this week (although quite why Dave was let off the hook despite absolutley being the worst in both previous rounds is beyond me) and unfortunately our Viking Metal Queen of Snark Lottie is vanquished by her ice cream cassette tape. And thus the show loses a good quarter of the male viewing audience.

NEXT WEEK:

LAURA. Are you making an ice cream cake again?

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