Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 4, Episode 7: Massive Sunburnt Duck

That feeling when you’re not a cat person and the cat makes a beeline for your lap.

Do you want to know what a pithivier and fudge have in common? Well too bad, you’re going to go to your grave wondering because apparently we’ve given up on themed weeks.

All Puffed Up

Ushering in Miscellaneous Patisserie Week is a viennoiserie challenge! Viennoiserie basically being anything made from a yeast-leavened dough or puff pastry, so if you’re wanting to make your Jus-Rol canned croissants sound extra fancy, there you go! For the challenge Cherish tasked them with making 24 savoury brioche – revel in it for this will probably be the only savoury challenge of the series, it’s back to mousses and genoise sponges next week. Her only requirement was that they daren’t be boring and some really took that more to heart than others. Benoit meanwhile was banging the drums for tradition and wanted them to make an almond pithivier and was going to be *very* particular about the size of the traditional petal pattern than goes around the trim of it, which some teams played very fast and loose with – Lerrick and Lineker going the most off-piste with their spiky sunflower petals

the assault against tradition wasn’t quite the biggest issue for Benoit as unfortunately their pastry just didn’t cook

which was such a prevalent trend amongst everyone that it might as well have been Raw Pastry Week. It’s almost like this challenge was a bit ridiculous for the time they were given…
For their brioche Lerrick and Lineker were wanting to really delve into their love of Indian flavours and made a curried paneer brioche. While most of them looked good they weren’t quite uniform and when lined up they looked a bit like they had been cast as the bears in Goldilocks and the Three Bears

except none of them were just right as their dough was far too tight and nothing about them resembled a brioche anymore, despite the flavours being quite nice if maybe a touch lacking in terms of the curry.

A challenge involving puff pastry was going to be hard because it’s an incredibly taxing job to make it yourself and sadly nobody had the guts to just unfurl a roll of the pre-made stuff – it would have been an instant pass to the final in my eyes if they had. There is however the option of just doing a rough puff pastry, which is what Kevin & Maria Vittoria and Keiron & Rebecca opted for. The judges praised them for having the forethought to make their lives easier except both teams then had some pretty big issues with their pastry as Kevin and Maria Vittoria had no choice but to watch from the sidelines as their pastry leaked something fierce

which unfortunately resulted in a pithivier that was “lacking a buttery taste” because most of it was left on the baking tray. Their pithiviers did still look incredibly appetising though, even if they had shifted and lost their uniformity

and they were the only team to actually have a properly baked pastry so some congratulations are in order.
Keiron and Rebecca didn’t fair so well as Benoit ripped their chubby little flowers a new one

I think they’re adorable, less so the faultline of unbaked pastry within them

not all hope was lost though as they still had their duck filled brioche to go, which again look pretty good if maybe a touch stark compared to the others’ efforts

the judges were a little worried about how they would taste considering they had poached their duck in lavender overnight. I was more worried about how shredded duck was going to look like inside a brioche and am unhappy to report that it looks like some sort of Eldritch horror lurking inside its cavern

but at least it tasted nice and their handling of the lavender was commendable.

Kevin and Maria Vittoria were also playing with risky flavours and throwing in two kinds of brioche dough: a seaweed dough and a white crab dough

they also had a layer of crab with the brioche themselves. These were the standouts of the night and the only real complaint was the fact everyone could have used just a little more crab.

Michael and Andrew weren’t quite as inventive with their brioche flavours, opting for a Chorizo and Manchego Cheese combination, but my God if their brioche didn’t look like the most delicious things

and of course they tasted great, how could they not? It’s cheese and chorizo which is basically a God Tier food combination.
Their Pithiviers were a little lacking in terms of their petals

they are also a touch under-baked, naturally.

You might have thought that in a more savoury leaning challenge that we would have escaped the use of white chocolate, well Julien and Elise had other plans. They were topping theirs off with a truffle infused white chocolate garnish which combined with their weirdly glazed dough ball did make their brioches look like a shot from The Handmaid’s Tale

as well as the white chocolate bonnet, their brioche featured duck parfait, mushroom duxelles and some poached pears, which is A LOT and it very much became 90% filling, 5% Brioche and 5% despair

brave of them to basically make a tart and only make it more obvious by shaping them like tarts too.
As for their pithiviers, well they looked in dire need of a blood transfusion

and the inside wasn’t much better as somehow they managed to achieve this textural nightmare

There’s no explanation as to how it went wrong or why it went wrong. It just exists and we have to accept that.

George and Geanina were also ploughing everything into their brioches as they took inspiration from their favourite Italian starter, which everyone talked about in very weird roundabout ways as though they were avoiding copyright infringement. But basically it was gorgonzola, pears, prosciutto and hazelnut brittle, all of which didn’t make for very pretty looking things despite the fact they were aiming for them to look like flowers

in fact they absolutely just look like the pizza rolls we all made in a year 7 Home Economics class before Jamie Oliver got hold of the schooling system. But they still look pretty dang delicious, erect prosciutto and all. They’re slightly underproved but the flavours are phenomenal.
They struggled a little with their pithiviers, falling quite a bit behind everyone else and having me threatening to start an international crisis if the damn thing didn’t get made. And get made it did

their spiral is a little over-exaggerated but there’s some good colour and they had by far the best almond frangipane of the lot, but because they got theirs in the oven a little late the puff pastry just isn’t cook all the way through.

An Unofficial Brioche and Pithivier Ranking

  1. Kevin & Maria Vittoria’s High Tide Brioches
  2. Michael & Andrew’s Chorizo’n’Cheese Brioches
  3. George & Geanina’s Very Posh Pizza Rolls
  4. Keiron & Rebecca Well Perfumed Duck Brioches
  5. George & Geanina’s Frangipane
  6. Michael & Andrew’s Petal-less Pithiviers
  7. Lerrick & Lineker’s Curried Non-Brioches
  8. Lerrick & Lineker’s Spikey Pithiviers
  9. George & Geanina’s Puff Pastry
  10. Kevin & Maria Vittoria’s De-buttered Pithiviers
  11. Keiron & Rebecca’s Chubby Pithiviers
  12. Julien & Rebecca’s Everything Burritos Brioches
  13. Julien & Elise’s Anaemic Pithiviers

The Mighty Jungle

For the Showpiece Challenge we’re heading in a breakneck diversion from Viennoiserie to sugar work as the teams have to design a “futuristic jungle” showpiece with their only usable material being sugar, and they had to incorporate a sugar ribbon, blown sugar and a sugar flower. As for the edible parts (unless you want to spend an hour licking a giant sugary dragonfly) the teams have to make two batches of confectionary – the first featuring alternative sugars (this barely gets acknowledged, so pay it no heed) and the second had to feature herbal flavours. As for what counts as confectionary – think fudge, marshmallows, boiled sweets and quite a few fruit pastilles which we call Pate de Fruits because we’re ~professionals~.

Keiron and Rebecca had the most literal interpretation of Futuristic Jungle as they set about create a piece featuring a circuit board and some sugar flowers – they had quite a turbulent time getting the pieces demoulded and so their final piece was a little bit like your dad had given up on building a greenhouse

but I did heartily enjoy the fact Keiron knew how this was going to go down and absolutely lost it

and while the sparseness of the piece is a problem, Cherish telling them “It’s just a stand. What you’ve made is a stand.” is one of my favourite TV moments of the year. But at least everything was displayed nicely

as for their confectionary – the sugar-free Turkish delight went down about as well as you’d think (to clarify, they hated it.)
The other one that looks a bit like someone made a posh Haribo egg was Lemon Balm and Chamomile which didn’t have much depth to its flavour and despite sounding like the most medicinal flavour combination going, it was Lerrick and Lineker’s stealthy cough mixture cure that got Cherish pulling what I call The Benylin Gurn as she tried their Mint and Fernet boiled sweet

fernet being a herbaceous liqueur made from just about everything that shouldn’t be put together and is apparently extremely popular in Argentina. The best thing about the sweet was the fact it absurdly looked like the Jetson’s flying car

Their other piece of confectionary was the much more popular peanut butter fudge topped with fig barfi, (barfi being a traditional Indian sweet that’s very similar to fudge)

They really loved this and it does sound extremely interesting – and was quite possibly their biggest saving grace considering their showpiece was maybe a touch lacking

Given that their dragonfly fell over a couple of times, it is quite impressive though. Less so the tiny little blown sugar ball that they just plonked in the middle of it all like someone adding a single slide to a PowerPoint presentation just so that they can gets some credit

Julien and Elise also fell into the Unfinished Showpiece category as unfortunately the biodome that was meant to go at the base of their structure smashed. That being said, it was all still quite good

and that massive sunburnt duck at the top went unpraised and I think that was unfair.
Julien also maybe bigged their confectionary up a touch too much prior to the judging because he claimed he was going to deliver them the best peppermint, from the oldest peppermint farm in England where everything was picked by tiny little white horses with ribbons in their manes who only listen to songs featured on John Lewis’s Christmas adverts. Then he set before them a very sad, gelatinous autumnal leaf

and Cherish described the flavour as “mouldy”. Ouch.
Their apple and fig cherry illusion sweets faired much better

although they were apparently too gummy for Cherish, there’s always something.

While everyone tried their best to put a positive spin on the challenge, Kevin and Maria Vittoria fully embraced the impending climate collapse and went Full Apocalypse and created our new Triffid Overlord

as well as going bold with their theme, they had some interesting flavours going on in their ominously titled “Herby Sugar Tubes” that potentially gave us the most cursed cutting scene of the series

The unfortunate victim of a failed bisection was flavoured with tarragon, marigold and lemon verbena which the judges described as “bizarrely good” which is a ringing endorsement in my eyes.
Their second piece of confectionary was a Coconut and Pine Nut toffee which again the judges very much liked.

George and Geanina also went a rather morbid route and honoured the future extinction of the Sumatran elephant. Now, if you remember correctly, Lerrick was proud of the fact he had managed to blow a single tennis ball sized sphere of sugar and George is over in the corner blowing not one but two elephants

that is one Hell of a flex my dude. And they’re incredible pieces!

it has to be some of the best sugarwork we’ve seen on the show, it’s truly outstanding.
Their confectionary did unfortunately fall a little short, mostly because their fudge was slowly giving up on life

that piece of fudge that’s slowly drooping of the edge is my kindred spirit, I will protect it with my life from anyone who dares call its Date and Maple Syrup self boring. He is a precious snowflake who should be preserved.
Their mango and jasmine fancy fruit pastilles also got lukewarm reviews for being too expected despite the fact I’m not sure we’ve seen anyone use jasmine and mango on the show but maybe it’s a big thing in the patisserie world right now?

Andrew and Michael got fairly similar critiques for theirs – their lemon balm gummies were too abrupt in flavour and lacked much variation, I personally blame Kevin and Maria Vittoria for putting an entire herbaceous boarder in their marshmallows. They also had fudge, going for that classic Maple and Pecan flavour which both judges loves and commended their techniques – it is very hard to make bad fudge, I lived in York for 3 years, one of which was pretty much fuelled entirely by cheap “bad batch” fudge – it is the best snack to take on set.
As for their showpiece, I thought it was a feat

and despite not being an elephant, Michael’s bird was extremely impressive

and he sacrificed A LOT to make it by searing his fingers with molten sugar

I think he now holds the record for Most Bandages Used in a Bake Off Competition, a title previously held by Fingerless Toby.

An Unofficial Confectionary Ranking

  1. Lerrick and Lineker’s Barfi Time
  2. Kevin and Maria Vittoria’s Herby Sugar Tube™
  3. Michael and Andrew’s Good Fudge
  4. Kevin and Maria Vittoria’s Neutral Good Toffee
  5. George and Geanina’s Nihilistic Fudge
  6. George and Geanina’s Fancy Fruit Pastilles
  7. Julien and Elise’s Not a Cherry, Cherry
  8. Michael and Andrew’s Abrupt Lemon Balm Gummies
  9. Keiron and Rebecca’s Gentle Chamomile
  10. Keiron and Rebecca’s Turkish Dismay
  11. Julien and Elise’s Peppermint Before a Fall
  12. Lerrick and Lineker’s Stealthy Cough Medicine

The winners for the episode are none other than Kevin and Maria Vittoria, mostly for the invention of the Herby Sugar Tube™ – I wish them well with that patent license.
The elimination came down to either being Julien & Elise or Keiron & Rebecca and sadly because all they made was a stand, it’s Keiron and Rebecca who are eliminated

They were great fun to have around but sadly this is what happens when you make sugar-free Turkish Delight. LET THAT BE A LESSON TO YOU ALL.

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