Bake Off 2022, Dessert Week: Plumpeii

Paint me like one of your French girls.

Make a Lemon Meringue Pie.

There’s No I In Steam

Kicking off Dessert Week was a challenge to honour the UK’s acclaim in the art of steamed puddings – an indictment upon our culinary history if ever there was one. As well as their 8 individual steamed puddings, they also had to make an accompaniment of their choosing – which did mostly devolve into frantically making a creme anglaise but it was a nice attempt to spice things up.
On the surface Dessert Week always looks like it would be, if you’ll allow me, a piece of a cake but it has in the past been responsible for some of Bake Off’s most iconic disasters

and this year’s edition of Dessert Disasters was no different with Carole setting a record for going from nought to chaos in under 4 minutes, kicking off the episode saying how much she likes that the judges have faith in her only for her to commit the destruction of Plumpeii mere minutes later

Even though Carole eventually managed to not cremate and preserve an entire ancient civilisation of stone fruit, the tragedies weren’t over as the water coming out of her boiling water tap wasn’t getting hot enough and in true Carole fashion she simply made do with it instead of launching a full investigation into the matter and waterboarding Kevin into admitting he did it. WE ALL KNOW KEVIN. So with her puddings going in with lukewarm water, it meant that they never got hot enough to cook and Carole was left to unveil a series of flaccid, uncooked puddings like GB News unveiling their new presenting line-up

but while many a baker would have been tempted to drag them up to the judges in a bin, Carole valiantly continued to decorate her chronically depressed puddings which may have made them look even more wounded

fortunately one or two of them had cooked to a state of being consumable so Paul and Prue could taste them and lamented the fact that if Kevin hadn’t sabotaged her hot water tap (is this libel? Asking for a friend.) they would have been great traditional little stem ginger and plum puddings.

Dawn was also going with a very traditional fruit pudding, pairing orange and apple, and when you’re a woman over 50 and cook more traditional bakes, Paul will inevitably call you “Mum” like a baby bird that thinks a sock puppet is its mother

I am just a girl standing in front of a sentient loaf of Hovis White Bread asking him not to do this. Or at last even it out and call Sandro “Daddy” for all of us.
But at least her puddings came out pretty well and Paul Hollywood didn’t have to go on another quest to Mexico to find yet another replacement mother figure

the topping could have been more even but the balance of orange and apple was spot on.

The most traditional bake came from Kevin, who (when he wasn’t doing some nefarious plumbing work) was making clootie dumplings and serving them with a box of matches and enough whiskey to burn the tent down with – he has to hide the evidence of tap tampering somehow

I do think they were *a little* unfair when it came to judging him though because a few series ago he would have been praised for making them using the traditional cloth technique and I thought Paul and Prue were both really dismissive of his dumplings, and the eight (8) glasses of whiskey.

Despite last year’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Technical Challenge being a comedy of errors that the likes of Shakespeare and Philemon could only dream of writing, Maxy was attempting them, although aided this time by having an actual recipe and not something that might as well have been typed up in Wingdings

is it a bit annoying that we’ve reached a point in Bake Off that chantilly cream dripping down the side of a pudding sends the fear of God into a baker that they might be eliminated? Absolutely yes, but luckily her sticky toffee puddings were everything they should have been – extremely sweet and sticky enough that Prue sounded like she was having to give her entire critique with a mouthful of pudding stuck in her esophagus.

Completely forgoing tradition was Syabira who was making watermelon flavoured puddings – a concept she had obviously come up with before she knew Paul Hollywood and the entire culinary essence industry were in some sort of blood feud

and because this is Syabira, obviously the watermelon flavoured puddings looked like little watermelons, although I did think she was going to go for Distinctly Not Medium-sized Watermelons when she brought out her steaming basin that puts most clawfoot baths to shame

but as much as they looked like watermelons, they did also look like recently hatched Xenomorph eggs

the judges loved her presentation and how well they came out with the split tops and going as far to have the little seed details but they did taste that little bit too artificial. She did also get quite a bit of praise for being the most adventurous when it came to the accompaniment, going with both a Taro Ice Cream and a Lychee Custard – the latter not getting a single mention but they loved the ice cream.

Janusz was also going for a fun and fruity approach as well as being the Designated Pina Colada Bake of the challenge with his Coconut and Caramelised Pineapple Puddings that at once looked like pina coladas and traditional upside down cakes that for some reason were only filmed either super up close or as a wide shot

he’s really good at a theme and managing to do it in a way that doesn’t make me roll my eyes – I could never roll my eyes at a tiny little umbrella, they make everything better but the judges had issues with his flavour balances – Paul deeming the flavour of his coconut sponge to be like that of tanning lotion, having to then give an explanation of how he knows that despite the fact that his Week 8 of Strictly glow giving the whole game away.

Sandro was also going for a boozy bake topping his Apple and Cherry Crumble puddings with a cherry liqueur drizzle

and despite both Paul and Prue praising the puddings something silly, tossing around words like “perfect” and “sublime” he did not get his handshake which I shall be declaring a hate crime.

Lastly we have Abdul, who made some very pretty looking Fig Puddings

nd as pretty as they are, I did have to live with the knowledge that amongst their highly refined beauty was an isomalt shard that bore a striking resemblance to the one and only Mr. Blobby

you just never know when he’s going to show up, you have to live your life constantly in the knowledge that ever since The Big Breakfast got resurrected he could show up anywhere, anytime, anyhow

there is no before and after Blobby, there is only Blobby.

An Unofficial Steamed Pudding Ranking:
1. Sandro’s Golden Moment
2. Maxy’s Sticky Sticky Toffee Puddings
3. Crouching Pudding, Hidden Blobby
4. Pina Colada? I Hardly Know ‘er!
5. The Essence of Trouble
6. Mummy Troubles
7. Whiskey with a side of Pudding
8. An Octet of Flaccid Puddings

When Life Gives You Lemons And No Instructions

If you thought last week’s makeshift taco fiasco was bad, this week we are declaring Prue Leith a war criminal and holding a trial of her crimes in The Hague because this is nonsense

I get that a Lemon Meringue Pie is “just” French Meringue, a lemon filling and shortcrust pastry but I just wish they would treat them a little bit more like the home bakers they are instead of making these attempts to goad them into disasters like the sirens of Greek myth but without any of the subtlety.
No one was more adrift than Syabira who was on the verge of staging a dirty sweetcorn protest

but she’s much too nice for that and continued on her valiant effort to bring a Lemon Meringue Pie kicking and screaming into existence by any means necessary – things going distinctly Not Well when she was surprised that everyone was blind baking their shortcrust pastry – it really was a shrug and cross your fingers challenge for her

so while the likes of Sandro idly reclined by their ovens with all the chill, calm cool of a cat that found the one sunny spot in the house

Syabira looked like Lord Cardigan preparing to lead The Charge of the Light Brigade

and much like The Charge of the Light Brigade, it was something of a futility with her lemon meringue pie being distinctly raw

however, she was far from the only one to have a nightmare as Dawn was living out her worst anxiety dream, spending a good portion of the challenge talking about how often she makes lemon meringue pies and how her friends all worship at the altar of said Lemon Meringue Pies only for it to all blow up in her face with a Lemon Meringue Pie that was more of a Meringue Pie than anything else

coming in second last place and just about sending the whole tent up in flames with a truly nuclear rolling of the eyes – Kevin needn’t have worried about adding arson to his list of criminal activity

Prue Leith has made an enemy for life.

While Syabira and Dawn drowned in the shallow depths of the recipe instructions, Janusz spent the entire challenge narrating exactly how to make a lemon meringue pie, with each new instruction immediately cutting to either Dawn or Syabira doing exactly the opposite, so naturally his pie came out as both the perfect lemon meringue pie and the perfect metaphorical stormy meringue sea

I did feel sorry for Abdul though who had a really lovely, well decorated lemon meringue pie but because of the unwieldiness of oven gloves had made the slightest crack in his otherwise perfect pie

Maxy also opted for some interesting piping, with her pie looking like an ode to Chris Evans’s chunky jumper in Knives Out

but my favourite bit of piping work was definitely Kevin who had made his pie look like the sort of hat a renaissance philosopher would wear

unfortunately his pastry was a little too crumbly, but distinctly holding itself together better than Carole’s which was becoming lacier and lacier by the second and looking in desperate need of being put on its own colony

I’m just glad she had a discernible dessert by the end of the challenge.

An Official Lemon Meringue Pie Ranking:
1. Janusz’s Turbulent Meringue Sea
2. Abdul’s Slipped Finger Pie
3. Maxy’s Knives Out Pie
4. Sandro’s Well Observed Pie
5. Kevin’s Renaissance Hat
6. Carole’s Leper Meringue Pie
7. Dawn’s Villain Origin Story
8. Syabira’s Hopeful Optimism

Of Mousse and Men

For their Dessert Week showstopper the bakers had to make Mousse Cakes, inside of which had to be a surprising reveal and in order to make sure we didn’t have a repeat of “This isn’t baking” – at least one of the 4 components had to be baked.

Most of the bakers went for very specifically shaped surprise inserts: flowers, cupcakes, the haunting silhouette of Mr. Blobby, bones, bees – that sort of thing. Maxy was just playing a nice game of Hide The Swiss Roll and just shoving a whole swiss roll in the middle of her cake and calling it a surprise

which isn’t not a surprise, but I’m not sure it quite read as well some of the others, and many people might say that the distinctly Grand Guignol viscera of it was the most surprise quality

especially when it looked so pretty to begin with

she does clean and simple so well, it’s quite refreshing amidst the exuberance of some of the other bakes, and by “some of the other bakes” I just mean Janusz’s Mousse Pride Cake

I could honestly just watch Janusz piping drip effects onto cakes all day, he does it so bloody well! And then of course inside the cake was more rainbows

of the inserted shapes, I think his definitely worked the best and was certainly the most ambitious, although I did think Carole’s strawberry had turned out quite well

it was just a little bit unfortunate that the red velvet cake was a little tough and that her whole mousse cake looked a little bit like a raisin had been dropped in nuclear waste and gained superpowers

its superpower being rubber mimicry because Carole had put 30 leaves of gelatine inside of it despite Paul Hollywood’s face doing everything in its power to tell her not to without explicitly saying so

but she’d be forgiven for potentially feeling a little safe because just across the tent Dawn’s Bake Off anxiety dream was only continuing as she had grand dreams of making a toadstool and flower reveal inside of her cake

first of all she has to be commended for deciding to make anything mushroom shaped on this show considering the mutantly phallic shapes of fungal bakes past. Although that’s not what we got at all, because lurking inside Dawn’s cake was the second Mr. Blobby of the day

if that’s not a surprise, I don’t know what is!
With the judges not fully appreciating her Ode to Blobby or the fact her cake looked a bit like someone had gruesomely murdered an axolotl

her flavours were her saving grace with the judges loving the sharpness of the jelly elements, which hadn’t set properly and had to be lain within the cake like the body of a much loved albino ball python

and her mousses were strong across the board and not bouncing around the mouth like squash balls.

Syabira, also coming into this challenge in a risky position, had a few decorating issues of her own, wanting to top her cake with a biscuit bee that had unfortunately split apart like Pangea circa 175 million years ago

and in a display of some rather impressive entomological prowess, she had managed to pin the poor thing back together again

and the cake looked all the more impressive for it, although the revealed Bees and Plus Signs within the cake got a little lost

and with the flavour of the melon not quite coming through enough for the judges, it was a little questionable if Syabira had done quite enough to fully exempt herself from elimination.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sandro was gunning HARD for the Star Baker crown with a very impressive mousse-based geology lesson

remember kids, the core of the earth is made out of Prosecco Jelly and Panna Cotta.
Just the fact he had managed to keep the whole entirely spherical thing standing without it collapsing is impressive, especially given that Prue was trying to herald disaster from the moment he spoke the idea into existence

guess who’s not getting an invite to Sandro Island

it’s a Prue-free zone and Lemon Meringue Pie recipes grow on trees!

While Sandro stayed rooted to the earth, Abdul was expanding his galactic horizons with a galaxy effect cake the likes of which I haven’t seen since being on Tumblr in 2011

the mirror glaze worked surprisingly well for a Bake Off bake, with Prue deeming it one of the best she’d seen in the tent – unfortunately it, along with the yuzu jelly, were too gelatinous for Paul who looked like he was about to throw Abdul out of the tent himself

because the only thing wrong were the textures – the flavours they absolutely loved and Prue couldn’t stop admiring the clarity of the revealed solar system

incredibly only one of those pictures is from the James Webb Space Telescope.

And lastly we have Kevin who was making the Zodiac Letters of cakes and making Paul and Prue eat his confession that there are bodies in the backyard with a bone-shaped reveal within his garden mousse cake

as far as confessions to manslaughter go, this has to be one of the cutest ones

the little fondant dog is adorable and some of the best fondant modelling I remember seeing on Bake Off outside of Kim-Joy’s fondant witchcraft. Technically though, it was a little hit and miss with the banana flavour in the mousse being very strong (a positive apparently) but the texture being too rubbery and the confessional bone sponge being a tough pill to swallow.

An Unofficial Mousse Cake Ranking
1. Geology 101 with Professor Sandro
2. The Pride Month Extended Cut
3. Maxy’s Sunrise Murder Cake
5. Kevin’s Confessions of Chop-aholic Cake
6. Syabira Making Melonade Out of Melons
7. Dawn’s Blobby Surprise
8. Carole’s Mutant Raisin Log

With the last 4 weeks having mostly been the Great British Maxy vs Janusz Face Off, with Sandro and Syabira waiting in the wings to take over after its West End run, it was nice to see Sandro finally getting the recognition as Star Baker

fingers crossed this week was only a temporary hiccup for Syabira, who did manage to swerve elimination which meant that unfortunately Carole was the baker we were saying goodbye to

and the tent will be a regrettably less chaotic place without her.

And so, we have 7 bakers remaining…

If you’ve enjoyed this recap of Bake Off’s Dessert Week and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small donation via my Ko-fi account HERE.

Leave a Reply