Ah yes, the classic stance of the Bake Off Host Watching Contestants Work With Ice Cream – a triumph of form and function.
Welcome to a glorified episode of “Is It Cake?”.
For this week’s first challenge the teams were having to make a pair of sandwiches, with Cherish tasking them with the impossible challenge of living up to one of her favourite childhood memories and having them make a Singaporean style Ice Cream Sandwich with any flavour ice cream they wanted, but it had to be sandwiched between two pieces of coloured and flavoured milk bread – a concept that Benoit had the audacity to say sounded confusing and weird before gleefully telling everyone to make desserts that looked exactly like hot-dogs but tasted like desserts because, as previously observed, this show is essentially just one long culinary magic show.
I don’t know how everyone else feels about hot-dogs but I find them genuinely distressing due to the fact when I was a child I was ill and watching Mary Poppins while eating a hot-dog and, to avoid being too graphic, it did not end well for me or the carpet which is both why I have never been able to watch Mary Poppins without feeling seasick or make direct eye contact with a Vienna sausage, and quite frankly David and Cydrick’s ganache weiners brought all of my Julie Andrews trauma flooding back
I hate them. I hate them with the burning intensity of all the stars that the James Webb Telescope managed to photograph, and they made perhaps the most convincing hot-dogs – the only real detraction from the facade being that they’re quite small – I wanted the full “too scared to make eye contact with anyone while I eat this” scenario
however, their petitiness did not stop Benoit from eating them with a knife and fork which is a peculiar image
the judges liked the flavours but they did think the whole thing was a little bit dry, which was the opposite problem with their leopard printed pandan flavoured ice cream sandwiches that were the exact same shade of green as Kif Kroker from Futurama
the look of them went down very well but unfortunately the pandan leaf flavour didn’t quite come through strongly enough for Cherish – so this was strike one against her fond family memories. Benoit quite liked the flavour of the Non-specific Carthusian Monk-made Liqueur – Stacey however was not quite such a fan
how she longs for the sweet, sweet, sweet existentialism of Chocolate Week to return.
Jemima and Zack were also going with a patterned bread, promising us a “Zebra Unicorn” sandwich and very much delivering a goth zebra sweltering in the summer heat
they were a little heavy handed, but the coconut and lemongrass ice cream they had filled them with went down extremely well with both Benoit and Cherish, the latter of which deemed their bread the best textured of the day.
Jemima was very confident with her hot-dog desserts, having worked in The Fat Duck, the home of The Snail Porridge Godfather, Heston Blumenthal – and usually talking a big game prior to a challenge will universally result in the serving up a complete flop, Jemima however really delivered
I don’t know if it’s quite as strong an illusion as most of the other desserts but I thought the addition of the churro onion rings on the top was an absolutely inspired decision – and Benoit and Cherish were very positive about the whole thing.
Obviously the biggest obstacle with the ice cream sandwiches was the fact they were contending with ice cream, something that Bake Off has taught us can more or less only in end in a complete disaster
and the unfortunate chosen victim of the Ice Cream Gods this time was Antoine whose tray of Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Sandwiches looked like the sad remnants of a sandwich platter at a university conference
to be fair to Antoine though, Stacey was meant to be baby sitting that ice cream
so perhaps Antoine isn’t entirely to blame for it all going to pieces and he could have done with a supportive mid-ice cream massage
WHERE WERE YOU ENRICO?
So their hopes for success firmly lay in the hands of Enrico’s hot-dogs
given that Enrico’s practice only consisted of googling images of hot-dogs, the resulting ‘dogs did look appropriately like they had been made by an alien who had only had the concept of a hot-dog loosely described to them through the medium of absurd DALL-E prompts
they’re so pale and frightened looking – like baby birds that have fallen from the nest and need to be gently nursed back to health. Wow, who knew that THIS was how my maternal instincts would be unlocked?
Needless to say, Cherish and Benoit were underwhelmed by the anaemic hot-dogs that they didn’t think looked particularly convincing – I just don’t think they’ve ever seen a gas station hot-dog because they NAILED the sure-fire food poisoning risk look.
Kevin and Nathan weren’t happy settling for just a single illusion dessert as they opted to make their ice-cream sandwiches into hamburger illusions which came with truly cursed sounding fillings like “Mango Jelly Cheese”, “Melon Onions” and “Kiwi Jelly Gherkin” which all sound like phrases that you’d learn on Duolingo and accidentally activate a Russian sleeper agent with.
They were also going very odd with their ice cream, choosing to flavour it with purple sweet potato, which Benoit was adamantly not convinced by
however, by the time they had finished making it, he had come around to the concept and he was also very happy with the all too convincing look of their hamburgers which looked like they were straight out of a Nickelodeon cartoon
Benoit once again went in with a knife and fork, Cherish went the full Shaggy Rogers
and while they liked most of the illusory burgers, the texture of the bread was a little bit dense.
They were also going for unusual flavours in their hot-dog desserts, combining red peppers and raspberries in their make believe ketchup
Benoit dinged them for the unevenness, but I do have to praise them for having the most accurately sized hot-dogs of the bunch – Joey Chestnut would be very pleased.
Lastly we have I Shan and Jojo who were also throwing a bit of a curveball into their Ice Cream Sandwiches, by pairing Coriander and Taro Root, which they admitted was a bit of a 50/50 risk as to whether or not someone would love or hate it. Guess who hated it?
I did think the coriander was going to be in some sort of a mousse, but then it turned out that they were just throwing whole leaves of it onto their sandwiches like they were garnishing finger sandwiches for a PTA meeting
which you know, added to the fact their ice-cream sandwiches looked a lot like actual sandwiches
the judges were not convinced by the coriander in the end, but they did really like the candied taro root, but did think the bread to ice-cream ratio was leaning a little too strongly on the bread side.
Their hot-dogs were more of an expected flavour combo – opting for White Chocolate, Raspberry and Lime
and they look convincing enough, but much like last week, the flavours of them were leaning just a little bit too subtle for Cherish and Benoit.
Life is a Rollercoaster
For their Showpiece Challenge the teams were given the rather complex job of creating a theme park inspired showpiece that included an interactive game (the concept of “game” being pushed to its absolute limits) and was made out of both sugar and chocolate – and given the high chance of disaster when it comes to mixing chocolate and sugar in showpiece building, there was a surprising lack of calamity, so congratulations to everyone on that front. I would still have gone for the failsafe of making a Showpiece inspired by the rollercoaster from Final Destination 3, that way if it did all fall to pieces and look like an insane massacre, it wouldn’t be wrong, it would just be authentic.
There was a distinctly sad lack of rollercoasters, with I Shan and Jojo being the only ones to promise us one, with the grand plan being to have tiny scone inspired desserts riding along it, sadly however the RollerSconester didn’t come to fruition was very much still under construction by the end of it, probably because it was made out of about 50 pieces of moulded chocolate – which is 5 standard IKEA bookcases worth of pieces
which did mean they were lacking their interactive component. OR SO WE THOUGHT! Because their teacup ride did have an entirely unasked for moving component as the teapot in the middle sedately rotated and had a frog-shaped bubble machine inside that blew out strawberry flavoured bubbles that Liam chased around like a golden retriever
which isn’t uninteractive, but I would like to know why the teapot had “BOT?” written on the side of it?
Answers on a postcard, please!
[MYSTERY SOLVED: Apparently what I thought was a question mark is actually the letter P, which makes it BOTP for Bake Off: The Professionals. – Thanks to @Suzie_Shooter on Twitter!]
As for the two desserts they had made – the cone inspired ones were deemed too indulgent, while the finishing of their teacups was called into question
and to be fair, building them out of pastry was probably the wrong choice of material, but Benoit really loved their Lemon, Yuzu and Earl Grey filling.
Everyone else’s Theme Parks were much less Alton Towers and a lot more Travelling Funfair that show up in your local park and absolutely RUINS the grass for the entirety of July. Admittedly it is easier to go interactive with that angle which did mean that Kevin & Nathan and Enrico & Antoine were having a Hook’a’Duck Showdown – a competition The Olympics Committee have sadly not taken up as an official Olympic sport – COWARDS.
Kevin & Nathan have had a pretty impressive and nearly unbeatable track record of winning every episode they’ve taken part in, however this week they had a little bit of a stumble and the judges were just a little disappointed by the finish of their Showpiece – personally I quite like the column of ponies slowly ascending to heaven in a beam of light – it’s very Biblically Accurate My Little Pony
and while it’s not their usual standard, I do think Benoit was just a little more miffed about the fact their hook’a’duck was too hard for him and he had to cheat
which does mean he angered The Big-headed Duck God that guards the Hook’a’Duck stands around the globe
I can only imagine that duck is not water safe and it just at constant risk of capsizing.
While Nathan and Kevin were chasing a win, Enrico and Antoine were out for redemption which they were trying to do by building some sort of Fiat 500 TwitterLand including a Hollywood Sign-esque Live.Laugh.Love billboard, what I think were meant to be bumper cars, a hook’a’duck pond and the Piece de Resistance: a castle gate guarded by a chocolate clown mask, which you can pose outside of while holding the keys to it, claiming you bought it yourself and very purposefully neglecting to mention the £80,000 your parents gave you until the final paragraph of the article in the Financial Times
their first stumbling block was, aside from the fact they were building Nadine Dorries’s Fortress of Solitude, the fact their building block desserts were not the requested “afternoon tea size” and were more “petit fours” which Benoit very quickly pointed out to them
I’m a big fan of the strategically placed F and U blocks.
However Enrico had a plan, and I’m sure you’ll never guess what that plan was…
which did sadly only make them Petit Eights and we all know an Afternoon Tea Sized Dessert has to be at least a Petit Sixteen, so they were still sadly too small and Benoit was a little disappointed by his 2 Boggle cubes worth of dessert
but both he and Cherish liked the combination of guava, shiso and strawberry they had used.
As for the rest of their theme park, well it didn’t quite come together and it did look a little bit like what I would expect a themepark to look like in The Upside Down and that a flock of bewinged demons might flood out of the clown mask if you make too much noise
that is once the clown mask had been erected in the style of a James Wan jumpscare
well, I keep saying “clown” – it’s quite clearly just Bart Simpson’s deathmask
but I think my favourite part of the whole showpiece was the fact their, what I assume were meant to be, bumper cars were just literal cars, so the bit in the middle might have just been the world’s most chaotic car park
Remember everyone: we’re parked by that big piece of clown skull!
Jemima and Zack were going with a much more traditional themed theme park, choosing to go for vintage rides including Georgia O’Keeffe’s Helter Skelter
they were having to make the slide out of chocolate because, rather unsurprisingly, trying to pull the M1’s worth of sugar into one long ribbon didn’t go particularly well
as for their interactive component, they had gone with a “build your own ice cream stand” (a pick’n’mix by any other name) which came with 5 different toppings – not that Cherish was going to be forced to choose
that will set you back £500 in CineWorld.
Also, the ice cream was sweetcorn flavoured because you can take the girl out of The Fat Duck but you can never take The Fat Duck out of the girl. (You will not believe the amount of times I reread and reread that to make sure I definitely wrote “duck”)
The judges weren’t overwhelmingly impressed by their interactive ice cream stand – especially when there’s a helter skelter right there and you could have been rolling ferrero roches down it, and I think Jemima probably realised this which is why she tried to upsell the fact their carousel moved
Sadly Benoit and Cherish were not impressed by the reversing elephants and that it didn’t emit berry flavoured bubbles or allow Cherish and Benoit to enact wanton damage to anything.
And lastly we have Cydrick and David who have often been warned about the fact their desserts never feel like they are a part of their showpieces, however this time they really managed to pull off the incorporation perfectly with their funfair looking like it was being fortified against a potential pillaging
as for their interactive component – they had three games, all of which basically just involved throwing balls of sugar at various baked goods – the first was a standard ring toss, the rings of which had such small holes I’m not even sure Simo Häyhä could have scored
the second was just throwing a ball at cupcakes and I think that everyone was just happy they got to destroy cupcakes which are a blight upon the patisserie world. And thirdly there was that classic funfair game: Destroy The Wedding Cake and I don’t think I have ever seen Cherish look more gleeful than the moment she got to topple the metaphorical symbol of holy matrimony
*Cherish’s husband sweats*
A Theme Park Showpiece Ranking
- David and Cydrick’s Fun Fairgrounds For Divorce
- Nathan and Kevin’s Villain Origin Story
- Georgia O’Keeffe’s Helter Skelter
- Alton Towers: Under Construction
- Stranger Things: The Unofficial Theme Park
For finally listening to the judges’ critiques, David and Cydrick were very deservedly called as this week’s winners with Nathan and Kevin coming in at a very respectable second place.
On the other end of the leaderboard were I Shan & Jojo and Enrico & Antoine – both of which have had fairly shaky turnouts in the last couple of weeks, but I think sending home Enrico and Antoine was really the only option as I Shan and Jojo still showed a lot of potential for the future of the competition – and so Enrico and Antoine were sent packing
so maybe now Enrico will have enough time to answer my letters.
And so, we have our Top 4 as we entire the semi-final!
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