Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 4, Episode 10: String a Piece of Toblerone

Bake Off: The Cannibals is going well.

It’s the final and everyone is bringing the glitz, the glamour and the innate patisserie based peril that a series closer always needs!

A Say Something Hat Day

They really decided to kick the final off in style as the teams were given the task of creating a chocolate hat fit for any glamorous after-party. As well as the fully functioning hat, the teams had to create 2 sets of 24 pieces of confectionary with 1 being a filled chocolate and the other just being some sort of confectionary but 1 of the two sets had to look like a piece of jewellery, a fact most of the teams just completely side-lined and tried to pass off an abundance of truffles as looking like necklace pendants which you could do with just about anything; string a piece of Toblerone and you’ve basically done it.

While the creation of the chocolates and the hat were obviously the main objective, Julien and Elise had their own little private mission of creating as much Bake Off discourse as they possibly could, and I think they managed to almost outdo BinGate even just with the fact their hat was a crown which caused Benoit to ask “Is a crown a hat?”

God bless Benoit and his out of the blue pettiness – I hadn’t realised we were being so specific about the definition of a hat, and what hat could possibly more attention grabbing at a party than a crown? Can we normalise wearing crowns to parties? That’s my sartorial mission from now on.
As well as making us all go full Magritte on with the definition of a hat, they were also called out on the fact their cherry and roasted peach pate de fruit tartlet creation that they tried to convince us was a brooch was actually just a piece of petite four

I mostly love that this is essentially a Fruit Pastille in some pastry. But it really doesn’t help their case that they openly just proudly admitted that they had cribbed the aesthetic of their petite four tartlet from the previous episode – GUYS, HAVE SOME SUBTLTY. And after this calling out, Elise had a bit of a patisserie-based existential crisis

and then she and Julien just disassociated

but at least they could rest safe in the knowledge that their citrus, verbena and honey ganache chocolate was beautifully flavoured and looked more like a piece of jewellery than their piece of potentially dubious petite four, and was given the honour of being precariously perched within Cherish Finden’s cleavage

no bigger compliment could ever be paid. Eyes firmly on the chocolate, Benoit.

Having a much more successful time with their hat were Michael and Andrew who were drawing their inspiration from The Met Gala which somehow Benoit and Cherish are completely oblivious to – Benoit, I’m not surprised by but I thought Cherish would be all clued up! Or at least invited to it, I shall write a strongly worded letter to Anna Wintour about this grievous oversight.
As far as their hat went, I’m not sure it was entirely The Met Gala as much as it was just Peak Ascot, but Andrew looked adorable while wearing it

and I mean this with the sincerest compliments, but he does really remind me of Paddington Bear’s Aunt Lucy

it’s remarkable that their hat turned out as elegantly as it did considering that at one point Michael was piping chocolate into ice water and it all looked a bit like a Gillian McKeith experiment gone awry

I managed to go all series without making a poo joke and sadly fell at the final hurdle. I shall pay a penance.
As for their confectionary, they at least managed to make two pieces of authenticated confectionary and avoid a debate over whether or not that’s what they were. One was significantly more well received with all of Andrew’s aesthetic efforts going into creating their exquisite chocolate necklace pendants that were filled with dark chocolate ganache and a passion fruit gel

they are very pretty, it’s just that dark chocolate and passion fruit isn’t the most adventurous flavour combination.
It was a reversal of fortunes for their Tonka Bean and Hazelnut Caramel though, with it basically looking like your bog-standard piece of fudge but with ~gold leaf~

but apparently tasted really quite remarkable.
It’s not really surprising that they had to pare back the design of it though considering Andrew was doing both of the chocolates by himself while Michael took responsibility for the construction of the hat.

While Michael and Andrew got on swimmingly and Elise began her patisserie villain origin story, Kevin and Maria Vittoria began to wage war against nougat. It all started off fairly innocently, Maria Vittoria was making her Pistachio and Cranberry nougat and very much had her nougat-making game face on

That is the look of a woman in total control of her confectionary.
Unfortunately, the nougat had other plans and set completely rock hard making it nigh on impossible to cut it and so Maria Vittoria with nary 30 minutes to spare had to think of a plan B, settling on whipping out a batch of Strawberry Marshmallows that honestly just looked a bit sad that they were brought kicking and screaming into this Hell world

and Benoit wasn’t particularly happy either

the only real praise that their hurried little marshmallows receive is that they exist, which is a credit to Maria Vittoria’s quick thinking and patisserie making speed but they are just a touch powdery and nothing-y.
But their bonbons which were flavoured with buckwheat, tonka and cognac were very well made and topped off with some tempered chocolate sunglasses

the buckwheat flavour doesn’t quite manage to fight through the tonka and cognac but it was still a perfectly enjoyable chocolate.
As for their hat, Kevin once again wanted to show off his South African background and create a hat featuring snake skin, crocodile skin and porcupine quills – none of which were particularly obvious in the final product modelled by Maria Vittoria seemingly against her own will

there’s just A LOT going on – the flower is by far the most impressive aspect of the whole thing, the rest of which kind of lacks a little refinement and the snakeskin fins that he just jabbed in there like an axe to the head could have maybe just been left off entirely

but you know what, it may have not gone completely to plan but at least the two of them made their own Hollywood Walk of Fame themed display trays entirely out of chocolate

Well, I guess Maria Vittoria can join Elise in her patisserie crime spree.

And The Award Goes To…

Rather temporally displaced, after the after-party themed first challenge, the final challenge is for the teams to create a showpiece fit for the grandest of awards ceremonies. Naturally because this is British television, nobody is quite able to say which awards ceremony they’re specifically aiming for with them being generically dubbed The Movie Awards, The Theatre Awards and Julien Plumart’s Guitar Appreciation Society Awards Gala and Charity Dinner.
Each of the showpieces had to feature a 60 person sharing dessert as well as 2 sets of 30 individual desserts and with so much work to do there was of course a lot of running and because we’re theming this all around awards, I might as well award The Best Hot Shoe Shuffle Award to Michael-From-Gin-And-Bake for this gloriously speedy tottering

While the task was rather mammoth already, he had given himself the added pressure of creating a free-form croquembouche without the use of a stabilising cone. As it turns out he also made a croquembouche during his previous Bake Off series and it was actually quite good, so he didn’t really need to redeem himself

the only real critique was that it was “chunky” – which really only meant there were more choux buns to enjoy!
As for this year’s effort, it was very clean – placing the choux buns in a plastic mould to smooth the caramel surface was a clever trick – the only issue was that it was bulging at the sides a little, the upset drama mask only making the effect even funnier

and after the year we’ve all had, I think that’s a relatable condition.
The judges really like the choux buns though, praising the coffee filling while Benoit of course had a slight issue with the sheer amount of caramel on the choux buns – I would like it on record that the caramel limit does not exist.
While Michael went for his croquembouche glory, Andrew was left to get on with the desserts, the first of which was a petite gateau featuring quite a few flavours that seemed to have been picked by a Random Culinary Generator: raspberry, lychee, pistachio and rose – the final result was a very cute little pink dessert

and was an obvious stand-out of the evening with neither judge having anything even slightly petty to say about it, which really was an achievement in and of itself.
Their second dessert was the good old go-to: a chocolate mousse dessert featuring hazelnuts and malt flavours and liberally dusted with so much gold powder that at one point Andrew was almost engulfed but it like he was in an Liberace act

but it was worth it and despite the potential peril of a momentarily too warm glaze and Andrew seemingly determined to murder his own desserts

they came out pretty well!

Cherish’s only slight issue is that the sponge could have been more moist, which seems a weird gripe considering the rest of the cake is made out of an assortment of demi-liquids that were damn well perfect, as Liam will attest to

Oh to find a man willing to funnel chocolate mousse into my mouth at a moment’s notice.

Prior to knowing that Julien and Elise were doing their Generic and Non-Branded Rock Music Awards, I was very curious because Julien very excitedly just grabbed a milk churn and I thought “Finally! The dairy industry is getting it’s dues!”

As it turns out, the milk churn was just the mould for the chocolate collars that went around their stack of layered entremets featuring a total of six layers including pistachio and lemon madeleines that had a lovely cut-through

and were the clear stars of their showpiece because it was all a bit downhill from there as their first whisky-infused stacked dessert was such a struggle to eat that Cherish had to use two hands just to cut the thing

and Benoit just looked mortally offended by the poor thing’s existence

the offending layers being the brandy snap that was more unyielding than Cherish’s ruler which somehow didn’t get an outing this entire episode and I for one am OUTRAGED.
Their second dessert was inspired by a pina-colada and in true Julien style, he proudly proclaimed that it was better than the original cocktail which only earned it a sceptical look by assumed cocktail enthusiast Cherish Finden

it is a little aesthetically lacking and the concept and fun of the pina-colada is a little lost amongst the “cleverness” of the dessert and it’s a real shame because I do think Julien and Elise had the most impressive showpiece as a whole

had they been able to use their weird white chocolate and cheddar macarons for this challenge, I really think they might have ended up winning.
But despite their misstep at the final hurdle, I would like Channel4 to commission a show that’s just Julien and Elise relentlessly insulting each other with increasingly specific and cutting remarks

Elise is iconic.

Kevin and Maria Vittoria had the most ground to make up after their Marshmallow Massacre in the first round and their hopes lay in their Definitely Not The Oscars Themed Showpiece

It’s very impressive – I think the cameras are some of the most well finished sculpting we’ve seen this series and I love the star-shaped cut outs in the central… lamp?
They created quite a bit of buzz with their sharing dessert as they committed a cardinal sin of mixing tea and coffee to create a series of Opera Cakes – a concept that caused Cherish to just about malfunction as her brain refused to compute such a concept. The end result may have been a little rough around the edged but the layering was phenomenal

and the judges did come around to the flavours, even if the sponge was maybe a touch dry – personally I’m beginning to think Cherish maybe expects too much from cake sponge.
Their individual desserts were much more subtle in their flavours – or that’s how Kevin described them but I’m not sure we can call a banana compote filled choux bun subtle so much as we can call it AN ABOMINATION

Hi, I’m Ariadne and I will not accept banana as an acceptable dessert flavouring no matter how much Benoit Blin raves about it. But they did at least look very smart and their choux pastry looked outstandingly well made.
Their second dessert of a Rhubarb Cheesecake topped with an Earl grey Custard Bomb didn’t go down quite as well

although this was mostly down to Benoit playing his petty card and being disappointed that because the chocolate casing of the bomb was so hard and the cheesecake so soft that it looked a bit of a mess when you cut it

Well, I think we found the winner of the Joanne The Scammer Petty Award for this year!

It was a turbulent finale – coming into it I thought Julien and Elise had it in the bag but they really stumbled in the final challenge and Kevin and Maria Vittoria sunk their chances with those damned marshmallows and in the end Michael and Andrew had a very solid episode with their only missteps being perhaps being too simple on occasions but nonetheless, their win is INCREDIBLY well deserved

and not just because there were my favourites (after George and Geanina, obvs) – they’ve been a delightful team to watch – charismatic, talented and just generally adorable and good television – they’re a triumph!

And so, that’s Bake Off: The Professionals done! It’s been a fantastic series and I very much look forward to making a trip down to Gin and Bake and Prestige Patisserie when the circumstances allow it. And if you’ve enjoyed these recaps and want to support the blog you can drop a small tip over on my Ko-fi HERE. All the support so far has been very much appreciated!

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