Bake Off 2020 – Dessert Week: Suet Induced Breakdown

Point of View: you’re Dave’s latest victim.

It’s Dessert Week – a fixture that I have been sceptical of ever since that time they tried to convince us that making a trifle was baking and this week did nothing to dissuade me of my anti-jelly prejudices. What part of BAKE OFF does jelly not understand?

Baked Cheesecakes

The signature round is for the bakers to make a batch of 12 mini cheesecakes whose bases have to be made from scratch so that none of the production staff have to spend their morning scratching off McVitie’s labels – this is a particular gripe with Hermine because honestly who has the time to bake their own biscuits to make a cheesecake base? And half the fun of making a cheesecake is getting to take out some anger as your crush biscuits like their your mortal enemy. And because everyone has been Star Baker at least once Paul and Prue are both expecting them all to knock it out of the park in terms of both flavour and decorative toppings.

It became quite apparent that most of the bakers had just googled “Baked mini cheesecakes” and clicked on the first option because 3 of the 5 are all making passion fruit cheesecakes – one the two outliers is Peter who is making Key Lime Pie Cheesecakes

He’s up against some pressure because Paul said this is what he would have done if he was in this position – I still love that Paul only first tasted key lime pie on this show a few years ago and is now its biggest fan.

Because everyone else is essentially making the same thing this round very quickly becomes The Technical Beta Test. Hermine believe she has found a bit of a hack in order to ensure her cheesecakes set in time by baking them inside cute little jars:

Unfortunately for her because of this the moisture is all trapped within the jar and her base is a bit of a Sweaty Biscuit Base, which isn’t nearly as catchy as Buttery Biscuit Base. I’m sure it didn’t help that she baked them using a bain marie which is essentially baking your cheesecakes in a sauna. She’s also topping her cheesecake with a few lime meringue kisses and in a twist of fate AND ABSOLUTELY NOT BECAUSE IT’S THE FIRST HIT ON GOOGLE Dave is doing exactly the same thing:

I do love that Dave said he was calling his cheesecake “a Citrus Cheesecake” as though it was some sort of clever name and not what everyone and their dog would call a lemon, orange and passion fruit cheesecake. But to be fair he is going ham with the citrus with even his shortbread being orange flavoured – it’s all going to taste like a Capri-Sun. Paul has concerns about the amount of gelatine Dave is using – it’s at least one whole victim’s worth. Paul thinks he’ll be able to use Dave’s cheesecakes as golf balls when whe goes golfing later – and not to be THAT PERSON but I do believe this was filmed while golf courses were closed so Mr. Hollywood has some ‘splaining to do. As it turns out, as it so often does, Paul has to completely eat his words because Dave’s Tropicana Cheesecakes both taste and look rather amazing:

Our last stop on our Passion Fruit Journey is with Laura who is still having waking nightmares about that damned Ice Cream Cake – and to be honest I have a deep lingering fear that whenever I open our fridge I’m going to be drowned in melting ice cream, chocolate sauce and the tears of a Kentish woman like the blood flood scene in The Shining.
It doesn’t go too well for Laura as once again she fails to set her bake properly:

and ends up creating a bigger mess than everyone else in the tent combined:

Even Dave’s murder scenes are tidier than Laura. I think my main issue with Lara’s cheesecakes is that they look like they’re going to taste savoury – I don’t trust them but both Paul and Prue rave about her flavours.

She’s far from the only one having some setting issues with Peter’s cheesecakes slightly collapsing in the middle

Initially this sinkhole would have been somewhat better concealed with his lime curd but the curd is not meant to be as he ends up putting too much butter into it and essentially making a lime cheese so he has to resort to just pilling a heap of toasted almonds on top and hoping or the best. The best does not happen. His partner in passionless crime, Marc, opts for a pretty traditional New York Vanilla cheesecake and topping it with a glazed apricot, which looks pretty but Paul complains they are not canapé sized:

And that just sounds like a challenge to me – I reckon I could finish those in 2 bites? He overbakes them slightly meaning the larger than desired sized just means more of a rather bland and slightly burnt cheesecake.

The Cheesecake Leaderboard:

  1. Dave’s Umbungo Cheesecakes
  2. Laura’s Recurring Nightmare
  3. Peter’s Key-lamity Pie Cheesecakes
  4. Hermine’s Crime of Passion Fruit
  5. Marc, size matters.

The Sussex Pond Pudding Fiasco

Would it surprise you to learn that after a whole series of Prue telling everyone that their cakes, brownies and biscuits were too sweet that her favourite pudding in the entire world is essentially just a steamed lemon in pastry? She is a Tory after all.

So the bakers have to delve back to the 1700s – a time of truly cursed culinary endeavours as the British Isles became more privy to ~exotic~ foods. So some cretin in which got hold of all these new food items, wrapped a lemon in pastry, steamed it for 2 hours and called it a day – it’s very similar to making PowerPoint presentations in Year 8. I mean, this is not a food:

In order to make both this, what we’re generously calling a pudding, AND a creme anglais the bakers have 2 and a half hours. Bear in mind that the lemon takes roughly 2 hours to even become vaguely edible so this was a doomed venture right from conception, especially as everyone spend several minutes just blinking at the recipe because YOU’RE PUTTING A WHOLE LEMON IN PASTRY AND CALLING IT DESSERT. The recipe also has no measurements and the bakers haven’t been given a surplus of ingredients so it’s one try and you’re out.

Much of the time is dedicated to Hermine looking around the tent trying to see what everyone else is doing because she is baffled by suet and proceeds to just have a Suet Induced Breakdown as she stabs her pastry with a wooden spoon while chanting

Such a relatable mood.

Where everyone really comes undone is the sealing and wrapping of their puddings. Most of them opt to crimp their pastry lid to their pastry walls – it makes sense. Dave however just whacks that lid on, says a little prayer and begins trying to seal his pudding with foil and string. Unfortunately for Dave he cannot get the hang of pleating the foil circle and this chews up most of his time to the point where he puts his puddings in the steamer quite a while after everyone else.
And this is where I think the gulf of a difference between Old Bake Off (that’s anything that happened before The Baked Alaska Incident) and New Bake Off becomes most obvious – Laura is trying her best to tie string around her pudding pot – she clearly needs help and Matt Lucas stands there and tells her “He can’t help because that’s against the spirit of the competition.” Mel and Sue used to be very hand on with the contestants – Hell even Paul used to demonstrate how to knead strudel pastry. I think we’ve gotten to a point where there’s almost too much pressure on the bakers to be “the best amateurs bakers in the country” – I just want to watch good people make nice cakes – we’ve entered Nailed It! territory and I’m not sure it’s a fun place to be.

The wait for the puddings to finish steaming is long and arduous, non-moreso than for Hermine who stares out the tent like she’s a prisoner on Day 240 of her life sentence

Despite the fact Dave put his puddings on to steam last he is the first to lose patience and unmoulds his puddings which goes about as well as you would expect:

But let’s not pretend it was a dream for anyone as the montage that followed was just a gallery of concerning surgical eruptions:

I think all we learned during this technical was that maybe it’s time we just made Sussex an independent nation and forced them to fend for themselves.

But really the judges are entirely to blame for this one as they seem shocked that nobody could properly cook a lemon that needs 2 hours to cook in just 2 and a half hours – even positing that Peter’s needed a whole hour longer in order achieve Maximum Lemon Softness. The only one even slightly pulling through is Laura and it’s only because her puddings have a semblance of shape to them.

Ranking The Pond Puddings:

  1. Laura’s Vague Sense of Structure
  2. Marc’s Sucks Less Pond Pudding
  3. Hermine’s Burning Hatred of The English
  4. Peter’s Lemony Wetland Rehabilitation Effort
  5. Dave’s Dead Marshes

Jelly Art Cakes

Coming in to the final challenge it’s Laura who is out of front (more by fluke than anything else) while Peter languishes in last place but middling three others aren’t far off being bottom or top so it’s all to play for still. And how are they going to battle it out? By making Jelly Art Cakes – a challenge almost certainly decided by having the producers throw darts at a wall of words while blindfolded. They must layer their jelly masterpieces on top of at least one baked element and some other sort of mousse, cream or jelly option – basically they want a very unstable stack.

The designs are created by either layering various colours and patterns of jelly or by injecting liquid jelly into a set jelly – this actually goes surprisingly well for everyone – even Laura whose track record of managing to set things in time is dubious at best. In fact it was looking pretty bad for Laura when she made her first batch gelatine koi fish as they looked like some sort of pond life hat had died in a chemical spill

So, a bit like a Sussex Pond Pudding then.
Laura is putting her jelly koi pond on top of a raspberry mousse, white chocolate bavarois and a genoise sponge (pronounced Jen-Oh-Wah unless you want Hermine to murder you in the practice kitchen with a rolling pin.) And then just because she’s Laura she drops it at least once

How solid were her mousse and bavarois that they literally didn’t break? We should be building communal housing out of that stuff. Her final result is pretty stunning:

And arguably more Japanese than anything they baked during Japanese Week. It’s a little messy around the outside and could have used some sort of icing to neaten it up but after last week I think we should just be happy Laura got something that could withstand the basic gravitational pull of the earth.

Hermine was on a similar wavelength to Laura, opting for a Genoise Sponge and also going down the floral route, making a giant jeally red poppy – truly hermine won this year’s Poppy Wars, you really can’t beat this:

Not even the queen wearing 4 at the same time is a match for one you made out of jelly. And then the fact her raspberry and chocolate mousses (Mice? Moussees? Just mousse?) were divine in both texture and flavour pushed her over the edge into stardom. She also managed to pull of the dreaded chocolate collar!
Who could really have done with a chocolate collar was Marc whose strawberry mousse curdled causing his cake to look a bit like a special effect out of The Evil Dead:

He did probably have the most ambition with trying to not only layer jelly on top of a meringue and mousse tower but added the jeopardy of having some sweet, sweet jelly on jelly action:

It was just a bit too unclear in its design, much like Peter who decided once again to host Christmas in the middle of summer by making a snow globe design

The big issue being that it doesn’t really read as Christmas as much as it does Easter, with the pastel coloured snowmen and reindeer that could have been bunny rabbits if you looked at them from certain angles. He had chosen to make his insert patterns out of panna cotta which he then cut out using Christmassy cookie cutters and something about a thin, floppy reindeer is deeply upsetting

It didn’t help him that his orange and cranberry mousses were unset and his sponge was overbaked to the point where Prue refused to take a second bite.

Dave opted for quite a unique approach to the jelly moulding, building his up in layers so that from the side it is a barely discernible image and then from above you can see it’s an abstract picture of Newquay beach:

And if you think the sight of Dave brandishing a syringe is one of pure terror and fright – you would be correct:

Maybe we should just take all the sharp object away from him? But what might be more terrifying are his flavour combinations of apple, guava, chocolate fudge cake and clotted cream – he has the palate of a sadist, he’s 50 Cakes of Grey.
I did enjoy that after a the Sussex Pond Pudding Snafu in which he was behind everyone else, he this time had enough time to sit around and loudly eat an apple

Unfortunately this time his jelly did have too much gelatine and his clotted cream mousse was like wall plaster.

Grading the Jelly Cakes:

  1. Hermine’s Poppy Wars Victor
  2. Laura’s Quivering Koi Pond
  3. Dave’s Newquay Quake
  4. Peter’s Wibbly Wobbly Christmas Timey-Wimey
  5. Marc’s Jelly-Kill Ball

Hermine narrowly surpasses Laura to knab the Star Baker crown for the second time in a row and then it’s a choice between Peter and Marc for elimination with the unfortunate baker to leave being Marc – my precious little Paddington Bear, long may he reign as King of Cornwall


Big same.

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