HE DID THE THING.
It’s Free-from week so really it only makes sense that the judging was free of logic.
Kicking off this year’s Free-From Week was a challenge for the bakers to create a batch of 8 dairy-free ice cream sandwiches and for what feels like the first time in Bake Off History they haven’t scheduled this task on a day that reached the highest temperatures since records began so we’re luckily spared the harrowing ordeal of someone having to desperately scrape their rapidly melting ice cream into the vague shape of whatever they were meant to be making
I hope Love Productions paid for all the therapy Laura would’ve needed after that ordeal.
The only person who had any heat issues was Jurgen who in order to try and shortcut the whole dairy-free side of things for his biscuits was making macarons – I love that Paul did indeed take the time to remind the audience at home that eggs don’t count as dairy
Someone somewhere learned something last night.
The issue was the fact his macaron mixture was taking a little longer than expected to cool down and reach the desired consistency which meant he didn’t have quite enough time to dry out his pistachio macarons but according to him this didn’t affect them at all in the practice tent. The Main Tent however is a very different beast
and the lack of drying out time had resulted in a very chewy and slightly rubbery biscuit but despite very obviously struggling to cut through it
and then almost breathlessly rasping her way through a mouthful of it, Prue claimed she liked it because they can’t really afford to let it seem like Jurgen is up for elimination because he’s three Star Baker titles up and has that Main Character Elimination Armour.
But his banana ice cream was a roaring success, and so it should be seeing as he is Der Offizielle Eisdielen-Inspektor. I eagerly await the publication of Jurgen’s memoir: Around Germany in 80 Banana Ice Creams.
While Jurgen stuck with his tried and tested banana ice cream, Crystelle was also sticking to what she knows and was indeed still on her mission to make Miso the New Sea Salt with her Tahini and Miso Biscuits. As for her ice-cream, she was using cashew milk and flavouring it with coffee
they go down very well with the judges who praise the correct level of coffee in the ice-cream – once bitten by Freya’s lethal espressos, twice as shy.
Chigs wasn’t quite so successful in his flavour quest because despite putting enough mango into his ice cream to make his mother give him some stern words, the flavour was all a little too subtle for Paul and Prue and was more akin to a sorbet than an ice cream but true to form, Chigs’s presentation was extremely polished
and bless his heart as he fretted about the fact some of his ice cream fillings had incredibly minor air bubbles
in a Bake Off Ice Cream Challenge the bar for success is pretty low, merely having your ice cream remaining in a solid shape basically makes you the Javier Sotomayer of baking.
Chigs might have been able to avoid the air bubbles if he had made like Giuseppe and hand-scooped and sculpted his fillings
once again, I am asking for a full background check just to make sure Giuseppe isn’t an escaped piece of sentient machinery from some food production factory, or at least just to comb through his hair for a very talented, culinary inclined rodent because his Ginger, Maple and Orange Ice Cream Sandwiches looked incredible
if a little bit like something that might be served as part of a religious ceremony in a small mountain village in Italy. The only reason I think he didn’t get a handshake was because his soya milk and tofu ice cream wasn’t quite as creamy as Paul would have liked. I’D HAVE SHAKEN YOUR HANDS GIUSEPPE, but I’m a fiend for anything involving maple syrup and ginger.
The only baker to opt for anything chocolatey was Lizzie and she was really going in on the chocolate with a 100% cocoa biscuit that turned out so dark she might be about to be sued by Anish Kapoor
I did love that everyone had to kind of refrain from pointing out that with her plain vanilla filling and #000000 biscuits, that she was essentially making a batch of Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches, which she was of course dusting in glitter because it wouldn’t be a Lizzie creation if it didn’t have a sense of child-like giddiness about it
personally, I like the fact that they look like the never ending void of space but given that they were meant to be beautifully decorated biscuits embossed with a dog pattern, I can maybe see why the judges were a little let down by the look. Although how you can be mad at an ice cream sandwich that looks like it could cause some serious blunt-force trauma I don’t know
all baked goods should be big enough to kill a man, that’s all women truly want.
The judges do like the flavours though, and are quite taken by the crumbly definitely-an-Oreo biscuits but do think she should have blitzed the almond praline in the ice cream a little more, both to make it go further and Paul is still a little skittish around crunchy things ever since George’s caramel week offerings.
An Unofficial Ice Cream Sandwich Ranking
- Giuseppe’s Panino Gelato di Nostrianus
- Crystelle’s Hellish Starbucks Order in Ice Cream Form
- Chigs’s Weak Sauce Mango
- Lizzie’s Vantablack Lawsuit
- Jurgen’s Bad Day At The Ice-cream Office
Vegan Block and Roll
for this week’s technical challenge the bakers had to make a batch of Vegan Sausage Rolls, and just to remind us of what a sausage roll looks like before we go on this journey of Greggsian Deconstruction, here are Prue’s
hold on to that image because everything about this challenge will try to make you forget it. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE.
Leading the pack in the sausage roll assault was Crystelle and her roadkill fake-steak-bakes
it’s no real surprise that they turned out looking like they’d been put thorugh the ringer because she did spend the entire challenge berating them and then realised she hadn’t quite cut enough pastry and had to hurriedly cobble together enough pastry together out of the scraps left from the others
despite the questionable quality of her sausage rolls, it was her chutney that caused the most issues
quite impressive that she managed to create what was essentially a slow release timebomb out of only red onions and a chilli – very 5 Minute Crafts.
Given her battery of Paul’s tastebuds, it wasn’t too surprising that Crystelle landed at the bottom of the pack, although it must be mortifying to lose to a man that dropped his sausage rolls on the floor
it is good to know that Jurgen is at least a somewhat fallible human being and not the direct descendant of Andhrímnir that I thought he might be. And while many of the bakers might have got in a flap over the whole floor pastry ordeal, Jurgen showed absolutely no urgency in picking them up off the floor – the 5 second rule be damned which of course The Express is currently dairy-free milking for all it’s worth. Jurgen as a late stage tabloid villain? Kind of obsessed.
As for the judges’ reception of his sausage rolls? They’re described as “big and clumsy” – no word on whether or not they were told they had fallen on the floor.
None of the others were outright disasters, nobody truly excelled but Lizzie achieved some of the more impressive flakiness and lamination from her vegan pastry
but they were ultimately a little bit too dry and overbaked, while Chigs’s were pretty spot on and the only real issue being the fact his glaze wasn’t as good as it could have been so his rolls were a little anaemic
which isn’t a surprising outcome given that he just eyeballed the “1 tablespoon of agave syrup”
considerably more than a tablespoon there lad.
An Official Vegan Sausage Roll Ranking
- Chigs’s By Virtue of the Other Disasters
- Giuseppe’s Vegan Sausage Flats
- Lizzie’s Admirable Lamination
- Jurgen’s Floor Pastries
- Crystelle’s Timebomb Chutney
The last of the Free-from challenges was centred around gluten-free baking, which the show only briefly mentioned is done in order to cater to certain medical conditions before spending the rest of the round talking about it as a fad diet pushed by social media influencers, which is a very 2015 view of gluten-free cooking. As for what the challenge was, the bakers had to create a gluten-free celebration cake that stood at least 2 tiers high. The only baker to exceed the tier limit was Jurgen, which is understandable considering he only just served Paul and Prue a pile of floor pastries and I imagine Paddington Bear demeanour was riddled with guilt over it. He really wasn’t making things easy for himself either as he set about making his ombre chocolate cake that required him to make 3 different cake mixtures: dark chocolate, milk chocolate and a white chocolate for a total of 9 individual sponges, so yes, he was performing a juggling act. Can you imagine the spreadsheet?
And the three tiers certainly made his cake the most grand looking of the bunch
and I’m sure the crew, their families and half of England were extremely well fed once filming had wrapped for the day. The benefit of an ombre cake is that it’ll always also impress when cut through
I do however have some concerns over that white chocolate sponge which seemingly has the same texture as Sura’s potential salmonella risk from last year
but there is only praise for the cakes so maybe it only looked a bit like a rubbery threat to your life.
In contrast to Jurgen’s rather mammoth offering, Giuseppe’s Black Forest Gateau seemed almost a touch measly
it’s a bit like when you bring a box of Tesco Brownie Bites to the party and find out every else spent the whole day slaving away making various competitively good cakes. Which isn’t to say Giuseppe put no effort in, he had indeed brought out his Fruit Manoeuvring Tweezers once again
Paul Hollywood apparently did not appreciate the gastronomic exactness and dubbed the top of his cake “awkward to look at”
and it is a bit unnerving that it looks like three unblinking eyes are staring up at you from a pond of profound darkness.
And in a rare instance for Giuseppe, his flavours aren’t good either with everything being a little weak, the cake being gluey, the cherries being sporadic and Paul yearned for some Italian meringue instead of this Chantilly betrayal. HOW DARE YOU TURN YOUR BACK ON YOUR HERITAGE GIUSEPPE? HAVE YOU NO PRIDE?
It was also a little unfortunate for Giuseppe because Chigs’s cake kind of looked like everything that Giuseppe’s should have looked like even though it wasn’t a Black Forest Gateau
instead he had done a Red Velvet Cake, which didn’t seem particularly red
I can only imagine that Lizzie had used all of the food colouring within a 15 mile radius by this point in the competition
As for how the judges felt about Chigs’s cake, it’s a resounding success with them praising both his flavours and the amount of effort he put into decorating it with the chocolate collar. It’s probably for the best then that they couldn’t see inside the cake because for some reason he had decided to spread his strawberry jam in the fashion of a murder scene
it’s all a bit Dexter.
Coming in to this round it was looking like Crystelle and Lizzie were in the most precarious positions: Crystelle because she had permanently scarred Paul and given him a chutney trust complex and Lizzie because…
oh boy. This aged worse than it would have anyway.
So Prue spends a significant amount of time lamenting about the fact Lizzie just “refuses” to be clean and finessed which 5 minutes later has Lizzie explaining that the reason she struggles to be tidy and precise is because of her Special Educational Needs – specifically ADHD, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia – and so for her celebration cake, she was celebrating the fact that neurodivergence makes you different but gives you a unique and exciting view of the world. An explanation that is followed by Prue saying “I love that!” in a voice that’s 4 octaves higher than usual and Paul leaning in close to tell her to “concentrate and focus to achieve the finesse” which is about the most dismissive and neurotypical response anyone could have offered. PAUL, DID YOU LISTEN TO NOTHING SHE JUST SAID?
And I was thrilled for Lizzie because her cake came out looking every bit the Muppet-y Dragon she wanted it to look like
it’s chaotic, it’s fun, it’s ever so slightly overstimulating but it’s Lizzie to the core and I think that’s the essence of Bake Off – that moment when one of the bakers creates something so fully realised and personal is a very special moment and it doesn’t happen all that often anymore as the show becomes increasingly focused on bakes that are meant to be worthy of a shop window. But yes, I would absolutely put Lizzie’s Hypnotoad cake in a shop window.
And for the most part the judges are on board with the cake, they have a wild turn around on how they feel about Lizzie’s style of presentation… But the flavours are a little hit and miss with the pineapple jam being too strong for Prue who comments that “you really have to eat it with the buttercream.” which… I just… I would imagine that’s why the buttercream is there? I had kind of always suspected that Prue was one of those buzzkills that scrapes the buttercream off a cake and leaves it to sit sadly on their plate.
And then we have Crystelle who was making a cake for her grandmother with the design being based around a dress her grandmother might wear
I mean, props to anyone that’s showing up to anything dressed as the halfway point of Elle Woods at Vivian’s costume party and the dress you think you’re going to get from Ali Express. And Crystelle’s piping skills are, as is to be expected, absolutely on point.
Prue does of course have more questionable buttercream opinions, this time thinking that Crystelle has too much of it, Paul disagreed so Prue doubled down and said “but if you get a piece like this, it’s too much” and proceeded to mime taking a piece that would have very purposefully just been buttercream
I think she maybe could have put in more of the jaggery creme pat but I imagine she would have drawn similar complaints with it then sweetening the whole thing up too much. But both Paul and Prue do like her coconut and cardamom cake.
A Gluten-free Celebration Cake
- Lizzie’s Glorious Brain Fuzz Cake
- Chigs’s More-of-a-Maroon Velvet Cake
- Crystelle’s Ali Express Dress Cake
- I Still Have Doubts About Jurgen’s White Chocolate Sponge
- Giuseppe’s Italian Betrayal
By the end of the week, the running order as to who would go home still looked pretty even. However, the Star Baker of the week was pretty obviously Chigs
who is now level pegging with Giuseppe, I just hope he can carry his kind-of-fluky-masterful-baking in to the notoriously tricky Patisserie Week semi-final.
As to who would go home, I’m personally of the opinion that it should probably have been a non-elimination this week and carried over to a high-stakes double elimination in the semi-final but alas it ultimately boils down to a decision between Lizzie and Crystelle because apparently nobody had yet told Paul or Prue that Jurgen had served them floor pastries. And sadly, having reached what Paul and Prue consider finesse, Lizzie’s Bake Off narrative had, in terms of a produced storyline, reached a logical conclusion and we have to say goodbye to her, and I’m using a picture from the front of the show because it felt cruel to screenshot her looking incredibly upset and crying her foundation off
I’ll admit, I’m a touch mad about it but I’m glad we only have 2 Lizzieless episodes to get through, so all it’s all systems go on Team Chigs, yeah?
And so, 4 bakers march on to the semi-final
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