Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 4, Episode 2: The Parapet of Obscure Fruits

Mmm, fondant medical waste!

Apparently in their 4th series they’ve finally learned that alternating the team heats every week didn’t allow us to get to know the teams so it’s the same set of people as last week! There is also carnage.

Cube Your Enthusiasm

For the first challenge of the week the teams were challenged with the task of making 24 identical cubed desserts which does mean that Cherish’s ruler is back in business

as well as hitting the exact cubic dimensions the cubes must also feature a biscuit or sponge base and at least three additional elements – be they internal layers or exterior garnishes.
Alongside the cubed -shaped desserts, Cherish wants the teams to make an additional 24 mushroom illusion desserts with the one criteria being that under no circumstances must they taste like mushrooms and I was genuinely shocked that nobody tried to pull a MasterChef Jono and make a porcini mushroom tiramisu again. Furthermore, this challenge didn’t result in anyone making anything that looked uncomfortably phallic – it was a good attempt on the producers’ part, it’s just a shame everyone is so talented.

As is want to happen on any baking programme, there is inevitably a Battle of the Pina Coladas – literally every year, like clockwork. The teams going hard at Happy Hour are Michael and Andrew & Julien and Elise. The latter two were being particularly ambitious as they tried to sandwich a total of 12 different components into their tiny cubes. I think it’s fair to assume that Julien was absolutely that child at school that reminded the teacher about homework.
They truly excelled on the aesthetic of the cubes

and I doubt that you’ll ever be able to fault Julien and Elise on the looks of their desserts.
For the most part they also succeed in the flavours, although Benoit doesn’t quite like the stickiness of the glaze but their choice to double up the internal flavours means they don’t get drowned out by it and it all looks very nice when you cut into it

It’s a very satisfying sugary stratum.

Michael and Andrew had a more humorous and fun approach to their pina colada as they topped theirs off with a little coconut cup filled with caramel rum syrup, which will always go down well

They’re very neat, I think the leaves could have done with being a slightly more vibrant green, the darkness is just a little bit dower – you might as well fully lean into the vibrancy of a pina colada.
The judges don’t think they quite delivered on the flavour front but they did appreciate the fun of the coconut cups. There was a similar critique of their mushrooms with the chestnut flavour also being a little weak

their colours are also a little murky, especially when you consider that Julien and Elise had mirror glazed their mushrooms to the Gods

As pretty as they are, I could watch Cherish absolutely destroying them all day

they had some risky flavours too with their lemon verbena, raspberry jelly and Julien’s trusty blackcurrant pepper on hand and it all went down rather well. The same can’t quite be said for Jamie and Andrea who were making their mushrooms out of two very divisive flavours: banana and yuzu. There was also a hazelnut praline but I refuse to believe that anyone hates hazelnuts

out of everyone, I think this was the best illusion – these just look like ceps that you buy in a small French market, it’s almost a little too convincing and just looking at them makes my hands get that strange sticky feeling that only mushrooms can give you. Unfortunately the yuzu was a little step too far and overpowers everything, which honestly might have been a relief BECAUSE WHO WANTS A BANANA MOUSSE?
They went similarly risky with their cubes and unlike everyone else who was glazing theirs in an attempt to escape the wrath of Cherish’s ruler, Jamie and Andrea were leaving their layers exposed and given the fact that at one point the cubes were literally crumbling before Andrea’s very eyes

the fact they ended up with these little stunners is nothing short of a miracle

sure, some of them are a centimetre out in places but they have a very delicate appearance and their simplicity gives them the look of a wedding dessert. There is a slight issue with the fact the cardamom flavour is a little strong against the pear mousse – I personally don’t think there’s such a thing as too much cardamom but each to their own.

Kevin and Maria Vittoria were kind of making an unofficial pina colada as they featured coconut rum and a fruit salad that they originally had planned to serve in a little cup

Somewhere along the lines this goes completely out of the window, whether it was due to time or coconut cup related intimidation we don’t know but the cup became a flat square of chocolate disguising some fruit compote like a cartoon character sweeping the aftermath of a party under a single Persian rug

the cubes do get a little rounded in some places, but I think with the velvet texture from the cocoa butter spray it kind of suits them very well, but they do look truly horrifying when you cut into them

I think anything with passionfruit seeds bobbing around in it is hard to make look appetising and while the judges aren’t wowed by the flavours, it tastes perfectly fine.
They were also going boozy with their mushrooms, incorporating the flavours of an Irish Coffee that Kevin very much wants you to know he didn’t ever taste before he was old enough to drink… Sure, Kev.

the caps aren’t great but the stalks really have the look down and the sort of Florentine base was maybe a touch unnecessary but I suppose gave them some stability but they suffer much the same fate as the cubes with Cherish and Benoit finding them just that little bit too dull and considering there’s whiskey in there, that’s kind of a big issue.

Sherrazade and Merryn were also following the trend of going for tropical flavours with their cubes championing South African favourite: The Guava which we don’t see very often so it’s nice when its head gets raised above the parapet of obscure fruits.

The idea of the design was really good, it’s just a shame that Sherrazade didn’t quite manage to get the diagonal glaze to remain very neat or even but the flavour of the guava glaze and the guava and mango confit centre is exceptional, it’s just a touch let down by the nothingness of the coconut mousse. I think we can safely say NO MORE COCONUT MOUSSES, they’re a doomed venture.
Their mushrooms were also packed with a tropical punch as they made the decision to pair passion fruit and coconut. As someone who is apparently fighting the losing battle against pairing chocolate and citrus fruits, I think I might have a new worst enemy

the mushrooms don’t quite have the finish that most of the other teams achieved and Merryn’s decision to double coat the chocolate shell while successful in preventing cracking does mean that Cherish and her surprising lack of wrist strength can’t cut into them

once Cherish does eventually crack the armoured exterior of the chocolate fungus they quite enjoy the coffee and passion fruit pairing and I have no choice but to declare war on Firle Place.

A Cube and Mushroom Dessert Ranking

  1. Julien and Elise’s Shiny Mushroom
  2. Julien and Elise’s Cuboid Duodecad
  3. Merryn and Sherrazade’s Declaration of Fungal War
  4. Michael and Andrew’s Slightly Virgin Pina Colada
  5. Justice For Jamie and Andrea’s Liberal Use of Cardamom
  6. Merryn and Sherrazade’s Championing of the Humble Guava
  7. Kevin and Maria Vittoria’s Abandoned Cups
  8. Michael and Andrew’s Not-So-Chestnut Mushrooms
  9. Kevin and Maria’s Boozed and Boring Mushroom

MacarOH NO!

For the Show Piece Challenge the teams had to make an entirely edible tower featured 160 macarons in two different flavours – I’m not sure anyone actually counted because I’m highly dubious about the amount of macarons that ended up existing. As well as creating enough macarons to put a small French bakery out of business, the showpiece had to be themed around Heroes and Villains, which is VERY IMPORTANT to one Benoit Blin who clearly expected everyone to whip up some sort of Avengers: Endgame style masterpiece and not highfaluting concepts such as… yin and yang or the accelerating destruction of our planet at the hands of the human race. I can mainly understand the aversion to the second one but Jamie and Andrea’s Yin and Yang one made perfect sense to me

and I think Jamie was justified in being a little miffed at the fact Benoit so readily dismissed it but at least they enjoyed their flavours – the black, yin side, being a salted chocolate and the white, yang side, being lemon, sesame and white chocolate. The latter was a little too sweet for them but their salted chocolate ones seemed to be the star of the night, so Jamie’s meteoric rise to supervillain infamy may have at least been assuaged for one week.

While I will readily defend Jamie and Andrea to my dying breath, I might need a little while to fully unravel quite what the concept for Merryn and Sherrazade’s macaron tower was

obviously the top is a pineapple to tie in with the fact they were making a pineapple and vanilla macaron but the base appears to be some sort of tentacled Lazarus rising from the depths while the flavours are Raspberry and Liquorice which makes me thing that Merryn at this point was just trying to be eliminated.
As well as embracing entirely unpopular flavours, they were also constructing their tower out of nougatine which meant they had to do it on the day as opposed to everyone else who did sugar and chocolate and could do it in the preparatory hour beforehand and Sherrazade was not having fun doing it but she got there eventually. Unfortunately for her the entire tower just gave up the will to live

You might as well go out with a bang!

the complete destruction of their hopes and dreams aside, the flavours of the macarons didn’t really hit with the judges – their pineapple was too weak and the liquorice hung around like a loitering youth.

There was many a tumble this episode – my personal favourite was as Kevin and Maria Vittoria triumphantly looked upon their construction of planetary doom, said “well done” and then watched as one of the branches collapsed

it’s a better timed jump scare than any of the 53 that happened in A Quiet Place 2.
As for their macarons, to symbolise the mother nature side they had combined rose and raspberry which unsurprisingly works very well. For their pollution side of it there was something of a brainfart as they combined salt, dark chocolate and Sichuan pepper – I’m sure it works in some combination but it seemed to be off tonight as Cherish’s mouth was rendered numb and I’m not sure we ever saw Benoit take a mouthful.

While Benoit was largely disappointed by everyone’s themes (or lack there of – are pineapples and cephalopods mortal enemies?) he was overjoyed by Julien and Elise’s choice of doing a NON-COPYRIGHT INFRINGING VERY BRITISH SPY Macaron Display complete with entirely chocolate gun that Julien had a little too much fun with

Good evening Double Dough 7.
There was a momentary disaster when Julien seemed to nudge the sugar-glass structure ever so slightly too hard and in the wrong place and the whole thing shattered before Elise’s innocent eyes

and in that moment she relived her first viewing of Bambi.
Also, I really loved Andrew saying “I feel so sorry for them.” which I’m sure he did but because he was distracted by having to pipe ganache into the middle of EIGHTY MACARONS he sounded very sarcastic.
They do, somehow, (I really wish we knew how tbh) manage to still come out the other side with a full structure complete with unnerving chocolate hand and a creepy chocolate mask

Unforgivably though not a single one of their macarons is themed around a Martini instead there’s a Whiskey and Dark Chocolate one for Not-James-Bond and a Passion Fruit, Pineapple and Rum one which is bordering on another pina colada. The judges seemed to enjoy them both – I think they could have been a little more playful with the flavours but I’m also not going to question the mind of a man brandishing a chocolate gun.

My personal favourite tower of the night was Michael and Andrew’s which was based around Greek mythology. It should be unsurprising to you all that I was a Greek mythology kid. Specifically it was themed around Zeus and Hades – quite how they pulled this off I don’t know

and yes, of course Michael carried it to the table on his own while Andrew flustered around him like he was guiding a plane into land

I really love how well they work as a team.
As a further nod to their Greek theme, their Zeusian macarons were flavoured with Loukoumi, which is basically Greek Turkish Delight which does make you sound fancier. The Loukoumi macarons are a little too sweet with them being flavoured with pistachio and white chocolate as well. Getting the seal of approval though are heir Hades inspired macarons flavoured with Dark Chocolate and a Welsh Liqueur (which I believe is Merlyn, which is like Bailey’s but maltier.)

A Macaron Tower Ranking

  1. Michael and Andrew’s Ascent to Mount Olympia
  2. Julien and Elise’s Very British Spy Tower
  3. Justice For Jamie and Andrea’s Yin and Yang Tower
  4. Kevin and Maria Vittoria’s Ode To Medical Waste
  5. The Enigma That is Sherrazade and Merryn’s Tower

Taking the win for the second time in a row are Julien and Elise which is probably fair given the two challenges but I also think that Michael and Andrew were sold short but they came second at least. It was pretty much a no brainer as to who was going to be eliminated and sadly we do have to bid farewell to Merryn and Sherrazade

I’m sad to see them go, they had a really great chemistry and worked so naturally with one another and given the show’s tendency to recycle contestants I’d be eager to see either of them return in a couple of years!

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