Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 5, Episode 7: Delegation of Weightlifting Swans

Oh Stacey, where do we even begin?

Forgive the fact this recap is a day late – I, and everyone else, got a bit distracted.

Viennoiserie and Turnovers

As it was Pastry Week, the teams were challenged to make a pair of baked goods. The first, and most boring of them, was 24 Apple Turnovers – which had to be referred to as “Chaussons aux Pommes” purely to torture Stacey Solomon

and while there’s no way to really transform an apple turnover, unless you’re Nathan and determined to completely crush Benoit’s conception of what a turnover is, the second part of the challenge was much more open ended with Cherish just telling them to make a spectacular piece of viennoiserie, with the only real specification being that they had to use a yeasted dough – it could be sweet, savoury and any shape they wanted. But despite it being a Choose Your Own Pastry Adventure, they might as well have been told the theme was plants as we had two teams doing mushroom themed pastries and another pair doing what I’m sure were meant to be roses but looked a lot more like a rafflesia

but props to Nathan and Kevin because there’s some good colour and design to those pastries which the judges really appreciated but they did think they were a touch dry – which seemed to be an issue for everyone which does somewhat lead me to believe that this was just a bad challenge.
Their Turnovers proved to be the most controversial though as Nathan had chosen to bake the pastry, and then later pipe the filling in once they were done – which had Benoit looking like he was going to blot out the sun and kill the entire global bee population, thus stopping the pollination process so that nobody could ever have an apple again

but in Nathan’s defense, considering just about everyone else got read to filth for either unbaked pastry or a lack of compote fillings, his were very generously filled

and sometimes it is necessary to sin.

I Shan and Jojo were their rivals in pastry floristry, with a very similar looking barber’s pole design

they’re very cute, but they do look a little bit more naive when compared to Nathan and Kevin’s batch – but much like Kevin and Nathan, their brioche rafflesias roses were deemed “too dry” because they were basically just a lump of dry brioche on top

but their base was filled with a savoury mixture of peppered pork inspired by hujiao bing – pork filled buns served as streetfood in Taiwan, which the judges did like and wished the top of the flower had been filled with an additional scoop of the mixture.

Overall, Nathan and Kevin probably won the War of the Roses, but I’m not sure they’re going to beat Jojo in hand-to-hand combat

nobody is safe.

I Shan and Jojo had managed to add a little bit of visual interest to their ~chaussons aux pommes~ by hasselbacking them

which certainly helped add some extra crunch to their puff pastry, however Benoit was a little concerned about portions of their inside which seemed a little undercooked – again, this become a recurring issue and it’s almost like asking people to make puff pastry and then make it into turnovers and bake them is a near impossible challenge, and was very much pushing Ben and Dinesh’s relationship to its limit once again

to be fair, I think *many* relationships were tested this week by butter – “the price of Lurpak and the amount my spouse puts on their toast every morning” is now a legitimate grounds for divorce. And sadly Stacey wasn’t on hand to play marriage counsellor again because she was too busy being enrolled in a French enunciation course run by Zack of all people

so Ben and Dinesh were left to hash it all out over a swannery of swole swans

the lamination of the pastry is pretty impressive, but their size does make them look a bit like a novelty pastry that Greggs might have been selling during the Platinum Jubilee, which does make the very delicate, perfectly made white chocolate head and neck look delightfully comedic – it’s very Earthworm Jim proportions

and sadly everyone body shaming the the UK’s delegation of weightlifting swans combined with the fact the pastry in the middle was a little uncooked BECAUSE BEN HAD MADE LIFE-SIZED SWANS FOR SOME REASON did mean they never really got around to talking about their blackberry and white chocolate fillings. And their turnovers weren’t exactly winning them any favours either as Cherish took one mouthful and looked ready to revoke their pastry licenses

apparently they had overdone the calvados and caramel so the apples didn’t taste much of apples any more – which is quite a bit of an issue in the grand scheme of an apple turnover challenge.

The other Vienoisserie Showdown was between Jemima & Zack and Enrico & Antoine who were both doing mushrooms (not like that) – Jemima & Zack going for a much more literal take and actually using mushroom as a flavour component. Unfortunately, their viennoiserie was also meant to be sweet – which isn’t that unheard of considering we recently had two separate chefs on MasterChef: The Professionals making Porcini Mushroom Tiramisus in two different challenges on the same series – I will never forget Jono and his cursed desserts. It didn’t go quite so well this time as Cherish did not enjoy their sweetened cep cream one bit – probably because it’s called “sweetened cep cream”

but their design for them was pretty cute and I think Zack was very successful in that regard

the chocolate sprinkles around the base is a nice touch and really finished them off quite nicely.

As for Jemima’s turnovers, Benoit was a little bit disappointed by the lack of the filling in them

which is because the turnovers were purging it from their own bodies

which is unfortunate because Benoit did really like the flavour of it when he could manage to find some.

Enrico and Antoine had gone for a much more animated and cartoonish design for their mushroomless mushroom pastries

and in lieu of stuffing them with a morel ganache, had instead opted for milk chocolate and cassis custard – which the judges could have done with more of because Cherish was having an issue eating it – much like a duck she needs a decent amount of moisture.
They had achieved some good lamination in their turnovers which looked like a choir of clams ready to give a rousing performance of Ave Maria

Benoit wasn’t quite so taken by them and was very quick to point out that they’re all a little bit uneven, but at least he could locate their filling.

And lastly we have David Cydrick who were planning on making their venoisserie look like a handbag, which does beg the question as to how many handbags they’ve seen in their lives

they look a bit like chipolatas being carried off in stretchers after a horrific buffet accident, and apparently eating them was a confusing experience as Benoit executed a raising of an eyebrow that required more flexibility and control than an Olympic gymnast on the balance beam

apparently their combination of dark chocolate and apricot was not working together – Sachertorte found gutted and rotted in a ditch – but their turnovers looked REALLY good

the critique of them was a little confusing as Cherish insisted that they didn’t have enough crunch, despite the fact that when she took a bite there was a crunching loud enough to register on the Richter Scale and despite Benoit mostly saying negative things, Cydrick got a high five

it might have just been a congratulations for being French though?

Flower Power

Given that we’ve reached the final stretch of the competition, the difficulty was being ramped up quite considerably as the teams were going from entirely chocolate showpieces to the dreaded entirely sugar work showpieces, with the theme being Garden of Paradise, so thee were expecting something extremely delicate and refined.
As well as their sugarwork the teams were having to make 2 different desserts, both of which had to be shaped like flowers – so if you were wondering why we’ve been seeing so many flower-shaped desserts before now, it’s just because everyone was practising for this moment. And despite the entire floral kingdom at their disposal, just about everyone made daisy and rose shaped desserts with Jemima and Zack being the only team to set themselves apart by making desserts in the shape of sunflowers

which Cherish definitely appreciated because they’re one of her favourite flowers, and their sugarwork sunflower was very well done, if a complete and utter trypophobic nightmare

accompanying their Elderflower and Strawberry Sunflowers were the mandatory moulded roses

but they had at least gone for an interesting flavour of Hojicha Tea, a variety of Japanese green tea specifically made by roasting it in a porcelain pot, which went down very well with the judges, so much so Benoit is trying to forge himself a catchphrase for such occasions

it’s not quite Val Garland screaming “DING DONG!” but there’s potential to workshop it a bit.

Cydrick and David were also trying their best to veer away from the predictable, with one of their desserts being a waterlily which did mostly consist of David making like Monet painstakingly drawing water lilies

which Benoit wasted no time in pointing out was not exactly a “flower shaped dessert” and David nearly died on the spot

and instead of rapidly melting some white chocolate to make vaguely water lily petal-shaped shards, they just stuck with mortally offending Benoit, which is quite the power move

they’re not *great* and I don’t quite know why but I found the decision to flavour them with pumpkin spice to be very odd – I think there’s a gustatory dissonance with water lilies very much being springtime flowers and pumpkin spice being very much relegated to the stuff of basic autumn aesthetics – put drawing a pumpkin flower in chocolate might have been a little harder to do.
They did at least have one actual flower-shaped dessert with the obligatory moulded roses

which in order to accompany their pumpkin spice water lilies were flavoured with an unspecified root vegetable and I think given that, they really should probably have gone a little more autumnal with the presentation.

In terms of capturing a sense of “paradise” I think Nathan and Kevin definitely did the best job with their ode to Martinique, which is aptly known as The Island of Flowers

they had some very good sugar work, especially with the dragonfly

and given that they had every tropical flower going at their disposal, I did find it a little odd that they opted for roses and daisies

granted, I’m 90% sure they only flowers you can find moulds for are probably roses and daisies, but given that they were using hibiscus in the roses, they could have maybe gone more in that direction. But the judges were pleased with their flavours and they definitely had the best daisies of the bunch.

For their showpiece, I Shan and Jojo were going for that increasingly popular choice of The Birdcage (sadly not the 1996 camp classic) and Benoit just had *one* burning question

he was burnt once by Jeffery and Venus, he wasn’t risking being shortchanged on a songbird again!

Unfortunately for him, the bird was merely metaphorical and I Shan had no intention of realising the bird as a corporeal being which blew his mind

He’s the Zoolander of pastry chefs.

Unlike Cydrick and David, I Shan very much took Benoit’s apparent lack of imagination and decided to give him the bird (not like that) he so desired, which he didn’t even mention or thank her for later on

While I Shan tried to work out how to blow a bird-shaped piece of sugar, Jojo was busy making mango roses and was ready to fight Cherish if she dared come for the uniformity of her efforts

yes, that very well known phrase…

it’s not their usual standard of finesse and finish, but Benoit and Cherish did at least see the promise and potential in their design, but sadly their flavours couldn’t even claw back many points as everything tasted just that little bit too bland for Cherish and Benoit – which is a shame because the Black Tea and Pear desserts sounded really interesting.

While everyone else sweated over the sugar work, Enrico and Antoine were quietly confident as Antoine had quite a bit of experience in working with sugar under his belt

and to his credit, the sugar rose he had made was probably one of the best pieces of sugarwork we saw all episode

but that was pretty much the only piece of it that was a success as it didn’t quite come together as a whole, which is mostly the fault of the fact they didn’t really integrate the desserts into the piece but just gathered them at the foot of their sculpture like a cult of Kirbys about to perform a human sacrifice

but their desserts were quite cute – they may have just been daisies and roses again but they did look delightfully like scenery from a Super Mario game

I was surprised the judges liked them so much, especially consideration that their flavours weren’t wildly revolutionary with the daisies being coconut & yuzu and the roses being raspberry and lychee.

Fresh off their latest spat over puff pastry, Ben and Dinesh were needing to take some time apart with Ben being banished to whisk in a darkened corner

leaving Dinesh to take his anger out on some of their sugarwork

someone give the man a stress ball!

As for what Ben and Dinesh were doing for their Garden Paradise is anyone’s guess because they did not have a plan and were simply just building sugary structures in the hope it would all come together in the end which had Stacey more frightened than the word “chaussons”

and it very much did not come together in the end

not least of all because the their centrepiece looked a bit like it was suffering from a venereal disease

their flavours were a little bit divisive, not because they were anything outlandish or new but because they were so classic – despite being served the ten millionth Black Forest Gateau inspired dessert, Cherish was showing no sign in letting her love for it to flag, while Benoit was not quite as enthused by their “very basic lemon pie” daisies

and despite quite a few of the teams not really wowing Benoit and Cherish, I think it was pretty clear that Dinesh and Ben were going home the moment Benoit was possessed by the spirit of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter

and sure enough, Ben and Dinesh became the first members of the Final 6 to fall

I do think their dynamic might have swayed the decision – I have no doubt that all the of the teams bickered and got frustrated with one another – I think that’s an inevitability in a competition and practically a requirement in patisserie but after two episodes of what quite heated exchanges, it was getting a little uncomfortable.

And so, we’re down to our final 5

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