Could I interest you in some fava beans with that?
Get your jumpers on because we’re layering this week.
It’s Layering Week and having recovered from a brief illness Jemima and Zack are joining the competition and Jemima would like you to all know that it was Zack’s fault
but you know, no hard feelings…
Ready Layer One
With the theme of the week being layering, the judges were piling on the pressure with the teams having to take on two different desserts each consisting of multiple layers and various elements. The first was a Miserables Cake, pronounced frenchly and named after Victor Hugo because Pierres Gaelens, its inventor, was the first documented stan account. The second dessert was a multiple layered dessert inspired by a celebration cake – weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, the opening of a new LIDL – that sort of thing. However the celebration cake dessert did have to feature at least 5 layers as well as be made up of a minimum of 3 elements.
It was hell of a challenge for Jemima and Zack to have as their introduction to the kitchen – DAMN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM ZACK! But they were at least a little bit confident because Jemima runs a celebration cake business. They were also making a strong entry into the competition by giving us the Obligatory Bee Themed Cake™ as Jemima was harkening back to one of the first cakes she ever made – which to be fair was a rather impressive bumblebee
the fact she made that as a child while grown ups proceed to bring Eldritch beings such as the infamous Toothy Hedgehog kicking and screaming into a baked existence is rather impressive
Jemima had unfortunately bitten off quite a lot more than she could chew as she decided to go about making her celebration cakes in the most time consuming manner possible, as everyone else basically made glorified sheet cakes, she was hand decorating each of the 24 cakes which Liam was making no attempt to hide the fact he thought she was insane for doing
as was inevitable, she didn’t manage to finish all of her cakes, however I don’t think the finish was *that* bad
that being said, the aerial view did look a bit like a bee had died in your bran flakes
but while the judges weren’t too pleased with their presentation, they were very complimentary of Jemima’s balancing of her honey and parsnip flavours.
Sadly Zack’s Miserables Cake were, well, quite miserable looking and were not clawing back any points for their finishing
and on top of that, they did look just that little bit ungenerous as Zack had only opted for 5 layers – which probably would have been fine had I Shan not decided to flex on everyone by making a 12 layered cake without so much as breaking a light flop sweat
and the decoration is absolutely perfect! As it should be because I Shan had unfortunately had a calculation error and just quietly banished 8 slices of cake to the void never to be seen again, which I’m sure the scavengers on the crew were very pleased with.
For their celebration cake, they were going for another of the Bake Off cliches by riffing off of the Black Forest Gateau, but they were doing it VERY right by using so much kirsch Benoit could smell it from across the room, and as soon as Cherish got a whiff of it she wasted no time in diving in for a sample
the reason for doing the Black Forest Gateau was because it was Jojo’s family’s go-to celebration cake and I thought the decision to present it like a very cartoonish slice of birthday cake was really cute
and for what I imagine is about the millionth slice of Black Forest Gateau that Benoit has eaten in his judging career, he was pretty damn thrilled with it
better the cake than the chefs
this show feels like an HR scandal waiting to happen.
Also going for the boozy approach were Dinesh and Ben who were theming their celebration cake around a pornstar martini – however because this aired at 8pm, they couldn’t actually say “pornstar martini” so they had to keep saying “a passion fruit martini cocktail” while looking exasperatedly down the barrel of the camera – although the exasperation might have also been because Ben was having issues with his whipped vanilla buttercream and having to field questions about homing pigeons from Stacey Solomon was not conducive to sorting it out
Ben is a trainee pilot, might I add.
The buttercream issues and the fact their mirror glaze didn’t quite take to the cakes because they weren’t cold enough aside, I thought they looked pretty good
the judges weren’t so thrilled but they loved the flavours (shock horror) and textures with Benoit going as far as to say that he wanted their almond sponge recipe – Cherish was mostly just happy to have a thimble of a martini, I wonder where the rest of the pitcher went….
and who could blame him? It’s tough being away from your pigeons.
They were the only team to really try to jazz up their Miserables Cake by using a 50/10 mixture of pecans and almonds for their sponge as opposed the traditional entirely almond sponge and the judges did appreciate that effort, but they weren’t too pleased with their ratios as there was a little too much buttercream, but more crucially, one of their cakes was 2 millimetres too short
and their faces when they genuinely believed Cherish was going to mark them down for that was a picture
the stranglehold that Cherish’s ruler has over pastry chefs is phenomenal.
Sara and Giovanni also had an issue with their buttercream to sponge ratio with theirs also leaning a little too sweet
I don’t really know what exactly you want from buttercream other than a cloyingness that threatens to drag you into the deepest of sugar crashes though.
Sara and Giovanni were theming their cakes around Sara’s son and daughter which is why their display looked it was a forest fire short of being a gender reveal party
the judges also had some concerns about the flavour of the ballerina cake with Sara opting for the flavour profile of a peanut butter and jam sandwich, but threw in a caraway biscuit base and some hazelnuts to make it seem a little less like it was the request of a child. The concern was the fact there were 8 different flavours (they only ever listed 4 though) in the cake which overloaded Cherish and I’m sure someone had to turn her off and on again
but she seemed pretty converted to it by the end of the day and thought the whole thing was incredibly well balanced and so Cherish had to admit that she was wrong, mark this date in history.
After last week where Enrico and Antoine had only relatively narrowly avoided elimination, they were needing to come back swinging, apparently in every sense of the word
it’s a pity that Sewing Bee took all of the fishbowls.
For their celebration cake Enrico was pulling inspiration from the chocolate cake that he made for his grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary featuring tonka beans which I’m still not convinced actually exist outside of this show
I really love the design of them – the graduated tiers and the chocolate velvet finish give them a very elegant touch and thankfully the judges liked the flavours because I think telling an Italian man that you don’t like the cake he served his grandparents might be a hate crime.
While Enrico busied himself with that, Antoine was making stalactite nipples out of white chocolate for their Les Mis cakes
apparently he saw it on Instagram, so it’s nice to know that not even pastry chefs are immune to watching hours of cake decorating videos on the Instagram Explore Page – and Cherish was very taken by the way he had decorated them and his balancing of the buttercream and sponge ratio
they have a very weddingish feel but I can’t imagine it’s particularly good luck to serve a Miserables Cake on your wedding day.
A Layered Dessert Ranking
- PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME
- Enrico & Antoine’s Illusive Tonka Bean Cake
- The Obligatory Black Forest Gateau
- Ben & Dinesh’s [Redacted] Martini
- I Shan & Jojo’s Miserably Short Gift Exchange
- Enrico & Antoine’s Benippeld Wedding Dessert
- Ben & Dinesh’s Les Mis
- The Plight of the Honeybee Part II
- The Gender of the Day is Misery
- Short, Sweet and Miserable
One For The History Books
Much like the previous heat’s second showpiece challenge, this week the teams were having to create a Piece Montee out of choux buns that paid homage to whatever they believed to be the greatest moment in history – sadly everyone was far too sensible and nobody chose to honour the actual greatest moment in history Australia’s Emu War
spoiler alert: The emus won.
As with the last choux-based challenge the teams were allowed to make their pastry the day before – not that this meant total security as last time Robert and Mireia ended up having to bake three lots of choux which Stacey still hadn’t fully recovered from
and I imagine she probably had to step outside and scream at the local geese when Ben and Dinesh realised that their compressed cylindrical choux hadn’t risen
I’m not entirely sure why they were hell bent on making perfectly cylindrical choux buns because what is a cylinder but a long sphere? If you’re going to make silly choux, do a square, deign to octagon, throw caution to the wind and make edible trapeziums!
As for what their Greatest Moment in History was, they were giving a nod to Ben’s pilot training by theming it around man’s first flight – I imagine Ben completely vetoed the idea of making a choux pastry sculpture of the war pigeon, Cher Ami, who saved 190 odd troops by delivering a message despite having been shot through the wing – I may have fallen down a rabbit hole of “notable pigeons” on wikipedia.
Having to remake their choux did set them back a little bit but they still ended up with a complete (and standing) sculpture, it just wasn’t quite as polished as Cherish and Benoit would have liked
but their choux were at least somewhat redemptive – their Pistachio and Raspberry flavoured ones were the star of the piece, mostly because their Chocolate and Yuzu ones were just about inedible
attempted murder is probably enough to have your pilot’s license revoked.
While Ben and Dinesh frantically went about remaking their choux (and I do mean frantically, Ben has the temperament of an anxious gecko at the best of times) Jemima and Zack just steadily plodded along with their choux buns despite the fact they were noticeably too flat
but I don’t blame them for wanting to prioritise getting their sculpture built because they were *deep breath* making a choux pastry sculpture of Winston Churchill – and you KNOW if they got it wrong there would have been seven clickbait articles from The Daily Express about the fiasco. I am kind of obsessed with this idea though because it has the exact same energy as the dog on Pooch Perfect which had a Remembrance Day motif sheared into its haunches
It’s a tragedy that that show got cancelled before someone could dye the image of the Last Supper onto the side of a labradoodle.
Sadly they weren’t going for a realistic portrait of Winston and instead rendered him as a sort of minimalist Mr. Pringles
my favourite thing about it is the fact that despite asking how to spell “Winston”, Zack clearly didn’t trust himself or Jemima and just signed the speech with a W
to be fair, I would have spent 20 minutes agonising over the word “surrender” so I can’t blame him.
Their flavours were also a nod to Churchill, with one being Whiskey and Apple that the judges were particularly fond of, while the second was Chamomile and Raspberry which the judges liked, but did think there was a touch too much caramel, which made it slightly too hard to eat – an issue that Enrico and Antoine also had as Benoit had to fight his way into their Chocolate and Ponzu flavoured choux buns
however that was probably the least of their problems considering their ode to Sputnik ended much like the orbit of Sputnik IV – by crashing to earth and then everyone being VERY mean about it
as gutted as I was for Enrico and Antoine, I did very much enjoy Enrico’s nervous look to camera the moment he let go of the Piece Montee, knowing full well what was going to happen in about 20 seconds time
but they were in good company as space proved to be more perilous than anyone could have imagined as Sara and Giovanni’s ode to the first moon landing prophesised the ending of the moon: crashing to earth and gently oozing everywhere
shout out to whichever editor got FAR too big a kick out of using the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme song to perfectly score the toppling of both the space themed showpieces – you’re doing the lord’s work.
Sara and Giovanni’s biggest issue was the fact their choux was far too soft
but their flavours went down quite well with one being Hazelnut and Caramel and the other being filled with Matcha and Lemon Curd.
I Shan and Jojo had also chosen to featuring Matcha in one of their choux buns – using it as a cheesecake filling with a raspberry gel which the judges very much enjoyed – as they did their Yoghurt and Blueberry filled choux which were being used to build a giant lightbulb in honour of Thomas Edison
it’s a pretty impressive structure, however Benoit thought it could have been better – DOES HE NOT SEE THE PULLED SUGAR ELECTRICAL CABLE? However, he was very impressed by I Shan’s puns
I thought that I Shan would overthrow the judges but apparently she’s after Liam’s job now.
A Historical Choux Showpiece Ranking
- I Shan and Jojo’s Bright Idea
- The Unhinged Churchill Monument
- Flight of the Profiteroles
- Houston, We Have a Problem
- Houston, We Have a Marginally Bigger Problem
This was a tricky one to judge because nobody really had a terribly flavoured choux bun so the second round had to come down to the quality of the showpieces which would obviously put Enrico & Antoine and Sara & Giovanni in the firing line despite the fact they had some of the best layer cakes in the first round. I do think it was a VERY narrow escape for Enrico & Antoine who I do believe were largely saved so that Stacey Solomon can continue to audition for the role of host on whichever ill-advised dating show ITV tries out next, which did mean that Sara and Giovanni were sent home
I think they got done a little dirty, their choux was probably the weakest but I really thought their ballerina cake would have saved them.
And so, we’re down another team
If you’ve enjoyed this recap of Bake Off: The Professionals Chocolate Week and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!