Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 4, Episode 5: Wicked Banana Slug Mould

We call this look “The Kiss of Death”.

If you like cones, carrots and vague allusions to time travel then boy do I have the perfect episode of television for you!

Cone baby Cone!

It’s… Shape Week, as opposed to the other weeks where all the desserts exist in a shapeless half-life completely incomprehensible within the human experience. But now that we have some geometric guidance, the teams have to create 24 cone-shaped desserts that feature a biscuit or sponge base and at least 3 other elements – and yes, the judges will spend a significant amount of the episode wondering why the teams are trying to do so much as though they haven’t specifically asked them to make a 4 component cone-shaped dessert. And on top that, Benoit wants them to make 24 desserts that look like carrots, which are the coniest vegetables you could possibly have chosen. Before you wonder if everything is going to taste of carrot cake, they were strictly forbidden from making the carrots taste like carrots. I’m mostly shocked that everyone listened to that part of the brief and we didn’t end up with at least one rogue carrot cake.

With carrots strictly off the table, 2 teams defaulted to the next most phallic member of the supermarket fruit and veg section: The Banana as Lerrick and Lineker incorporated the lockdown favourite banana bread and Keiron and Rebecca went for a tropical banana and passion fruit mousse. The latter didn’t quite get theirs fully completed, lacking any sort of greenery and giving them marks that make them look like someone tried to barbecue them

but at least the flavours work. It is however BAFFLING to me that Benoit can be such a fan of banana and passion fruit and then be utterly aghast by the mere mention of white chocolate, as if those two aren’t the white chocolate of the fruit world.
Lerrick and Lineker had a much more completed carrot, although apparently a little too cartoon-y for Benoit’s liking

I think they’re kind of cute, even if they do look severely scarred.
They at least managed to please with their banana bread sponge, but Benoit wasn’t quite as enthused by the Whiskey Mousse that he said felt a bit like a place holder in the grand scheme of things, which… isn’t that just all mousse?

While Keiron and Rebecca lacked finesse in their carrots, they pulled off their traffic cone dessert masterfully

it’s such a clever idea and I loved the sound of their flavours as they toyed with the components of a sachertorte while adding the dreaded Tonka Beans and some white balsamic to their apricot compote. Benoit was a fan, if a little disappointed by the lack of any really zingy apricot, while Cherish found the whole thing a little too bitter. THE TONKA BEANS STRIKE AGAIN!

Lerrick and Lineker’s grand idea for their cone shape was to make a Christmas tree and you would think they’d use some iconic Christmas flavours: cinnamon, chestnuts, mulled wine, peppermint – there is an EXTENSIVE list. But no, they were going with raspberry, pistachio and stout – the colours are at least correct, the final result however was less of a Christmas Tree and more of a Romanesco Cauliflower

No, I cannot tell you why there are white chocolate discs lumped onto the front of them, but I like to imagine in some realm they had little googly eyes.
The judges aren’t really fans beyond the fact the stout sponge was interesting and unique – but their Christmas Trees did have a very nice cut-through

It’s always very pleasing when you can cut it perfectly and have all the layers remain perfectly intact.

George and Geanina were also going for a green cone with grand plans for an intricate white chocolate lace covering

this sadly didn’t quite materialise within the time limit but I actually really liked their slightly more understated Plan B

they are a little wibbly-wobbly and not quite up to the exacting standards of one Cherish Finden and her right-hand Ruler.
They are more lenient on the basil and lemon flavour profile though, complimenting the balance and cleanliness of it all, but acknowledging that it isn’t the most original concept. There are however only so many flavours in the world, sometimes you’ve gotta go basic.
In contrast to the daintiness of their cones, Cherish took one look at their rather girthy carrots and simply said “They’re very masculine”

which is pretty much where her critique ended.
Not much really got said about them, which is strange considering they were housing rhubarb, strawberry, pistachio and olive oil in some form.
It’s also a miracle that they even got them all served considering the near miss they had

I’m now almost entirely certain that George may have been bitten by a radioactive spider because that is some serious Sam Raimi’s Spiderman energy.

One of the most difficult parts of the carrot making process was using the right mould and nobody was prouder of theirs than Domino who had made hers at home with a real carrot and showed it off like a treasure she had dug up on the Jurassic Coast

she might have wanted to hold off on the celebrations considering what monsters she was about to birth from said mould

I mean, it’s a wicked Banana Slug mould if nothing else.
It wasn’t the only moulding issue they had as they became victims to the blast chiller and Nessie tried her best to demould her Egyptian orange beehive cones and all that came out was a sort of moss-coloured pulp

and by this point Nessie was spending a considerable amount of her time wistfully looking into the distance wondering if she could pull a John Darwin and fake death-by-kayak

Meanwhile, with Domino…

Safe to say things didn’t quite go to plan for the two of them and the judges’ reactions as Domino sheepishly pushed their trays of patisserie nightmares across the table pretty much summed up the mood

there was still hope though! Maybe their flavours were good! And sure enough, their collapsed beehives, while looking like someone made lamingtons while blindfolded tasted great

so at least Nessie doesn’t have to feel bad about the fact she used her family’s recipe.
As for the carrots, well they looked like someone had just grilled a whole lot of lobster tails

unfortunately, while Cherish was a fan of the ginger biscuit in it, the whole thing was just a touch slimy, which was somehow a kinder critique than Benoit openly laughing at the poor fish-like carrots.

There always has to be one team that is very Not Like The Other Girls™ and this week it fell on Stefano and Sara to do the deed as instead of making your bog standard cone, they were making a pinecone – which is absolutely a cone and Benoit had no right to act as though it wasn’t and then not even question whether a Christmas tree was a cone or not.
It did help Stefano and Sara that they pulled it off so well

of all the desserts, it’s the most complete looking with the little pine needle garnish.
They were also really pushing the pine-theme and infusing their almond mousse with pine which was just a little too strong for the judges and that combined with the kick from the macha, the flavours weren’t quite working.

As for their carrots, of course they did teeny-tiny purple heritage carrots

the glaze was a little too dark, I also think opting for something so shiny was also a bit of a mistake, but I will also not begrudge them for deciding not to do a coloured white chocolate glaze because we know how Benoit is. The chocolate is a little bitter and somewhat overwhelms to the more delicate earl grey flavour.

A Cone and Carrot Dessert Ranking

  1. Keiron and Rebecca’s Traffic (apricot) Jam
  2. George and Geanina’s De-laced Cones
  3. Lerrick and Lineker’s Cartoon Carrots
  4. George and Geanina’s Masculine Carrots
  5. Keiron and Rebecca’s Expectedly Tropical Carrots
  6. Lerrick and Lineker’s Christmas Remix Cones
  7. Stefano and Sara’s Pine Fresh Pinecones
  8. Stefano and Sara’s Teeny Tiny Heritage Carrots
  9. Nessie and Domino’s Ode to Colony Collapse Disorder
  10. Nessie and Domino’s Slimy Piscine Carrots

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey

For their showpiece this week the teams had to create a Religieuse a l’Ancienne – a figure resembling a nun and constructed out of eclairs and choux buns. However the theme for the evening was Time Travel and sadly we didn’t end up with a single time travelling nun or 5 teams desperately trying to create something Doctor Who themed and desperately trying to avoid copyright claims. I guess everyone learned from last week’s Groot Incident.

Rather rapidly many of the teams defaulted to just making rocket ships and attaching a clock face to it – you know, like all the time travellers do! Sara and Stefano had the grandest plan and set expectations incredibly high for themselves with their very detailed sketch

sadly for them the patisserie Gods were not smiling down on them and they got heavily waylaid by the fact their isomalt disks weren’t setting and succumbed to gravity the moment Stefano let go of them

this forced them to remake a whole new batch with only 90 minutes to cool them down and thus sacrificed the blown sugar smoke clouds. And with the Isomalt taking so long to set, it didn’t leave them a great deal of time to put everything together and thus their tower of Passion Fruit and Lime Eclairs and Smoked Peanut Cream Eclairs crumbled a bit

I love Sara’s last minute effort to save it <3

While the look of the showpiece isn’t great, the judges did at least love their flavours and commended them for managing to perfectly balance the sweetness in their passion fruit curd.

Lerrick and Lineker had similar issues in that by the end of the challenge their magnificent time machine didn’t look fit for travel, but it was ready for Red Nose Day

it’s a real shame because they were so determined to have a successfully standing showpiece after last week and once again Lerrick had to watch as it slowly collapsed, piece by piece

their eclairs were hit and miss – Benoit got one whiff of white chocolate and dismissed their raspberry ones immediately but their Caramel Moussed filled ones certainly got quite the reaction from Cherish

so it wasn’t all bad!

The last of our rockets came from Nessie and Domino, who had two different approaches to the challenge – Nessie was treating it like a game of bumper cars

and Domino, well…

Hello Chablis, my old friend.

They claimed their idea was based on the big bang, the final results was more of a Texan county fair baking contest entry

it’s actually a very impressive structure and I don’t think the judges gave them enough credit for the fact theirs was just about the only one that was standing at even remotely the correct angle. However, I will never forgive them for that distressing grey buttercream – GREY IS NOT A FOOD COLOUR.
Their eclairs were a tale of two halves – the judges really didn’t like their chocolate mint ones that Cherish deemed “toothpaste-y” but they did like the chilli and sour cherry ones, which do sound delicious and I’ll take an order of 15, please and thank you.

George and Geanina had by far the most interesting interpretation of the brief as they set about making a sort of time capsule of their relationship together

I would almost call it elegant, I’m not sure eclairs are every going to create something that could be elegant and I’m not sure the lone, slightly drippy choux bun at the very top is helping much but George’s chocolate roses are simply works of art

the use of rose water alongside pistachio in one of their eclairs wasn’t quite so well received as it completely overpowered the subtle pistachio, but their choux pastry was the best of the lot and the judges really quite enjoyed their raspberry and vanilla eclairs.

Lastly we have Keiron and Rebecca who basically just whacked a clock face on the front of a tower and called it a time machine, and I for one kind of admire them for that

by this logic, Big Ben is a time machine, but at least they had kind of jazzed it up with some steampunk accoutrements

When in doubt: cogs and gears!
Benoit was looking forward to their eclairs because of their use of coffee and a coconut caramel, fortunately he loved the coconut caramel, unfortunately he hated the bitterness of the coffee. Benoit remains a completely unreadable enigma.
Their other eclair was Pistachio and Cherry which was perfectly fine except for the fact the cherry wasn’t distributed evenly enough and Cherish ripped open its poor pastry flesh just to prove her point


A Time Travelling Éclair Showpiece Ranking

  1. George and Geanina’s Romantic Saga
  2. Keiron and Rebecca’s Lovely Clock Face
  3. Nessie and Domino’s Big Bang USA
  4. Lerrick and Lineker’s Out of Order Time Machine
  5. Stefano and Sara Melting The Concept of Time

It’s another week of highs and lows and the winners of the episode could have been 1 of any three teams, ultimately the judges decide that George and Geanina get first place for this episode

Once again, nothing but respect for MY presidents.

Ultimately the elimination comes down to being either Stefano and Sara or Nessie and Domino with the decision ultimately being decided by the minor disaster in the first round and a little bit because Nessie pushed Tom Allen, thus Nessie and Domino find themselves getting the boot

I’ll miss them – mostly because how could you not miss a pair of people named Nessie and Domino? But I enjoyed the knife edge of chaos that they tiptoed across at all times, if they wanna come back I’d look forward to seeing them but they have to bring the shark cake with them.

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