Bake Off 2022, Custard Week: The Leaning Tower of Gouda

Teamwork makes the nightmare slightly less real.

Welcome to Perfectly Normal (Floating) Island!

Islands In The Tent

In another first for Bake Off, this series sees the inception of Custard Week and miraculously there’s not a single mention of trile to be seen anywhere! However, disappointingly, the Technical Challenge wasn’t to create an entire paddling pool of custard to run along

but in preparation for Custard Week, Kevin had been drafting up Wikipedia’s List of Custards, a page that somehow doesn’t exist (yet)

and to celebrate The Inaugural Custard Week, Prue had come dressed as custard

I’m beginning to think we could feasibly convince the Americans that Custard Week is an annual event in the UK in which everyone wears yellow, eat copious amounts of Rhubarb and Custard and we host the annual Running of the Custard to honour the contributions to science by one John Tickle, a man who you probably haven’t thought about in a good decade and a half – I hope he’s doing well.

For their Custardy Signature the bakers were having to make the perennially disappointing dessert: Floating Islands consisting of poached meringues set atop a bowl of custard – and this isn’t the first outing of the dessert this year with it rearing its head in Celebrity MasterChef, so the bakers can at least live safe in the knowledge that nothing they served up was half as disastrous as Kae Kurd pouring liquid meringue into milk

and lifting what looked like a barely formed cloning experiment out of the lacteal depths

before covering the whole thing in a very burnt caramel seamingly in an attempt to destroy the creature before it ran amok like the movie Splice

No, nothing like that happened. Bugger.

The only person to have any issues with their meringues was Kevin who somewhat struggled to flip his meringues during their poaching so his work station did begin to look a bit like an Icelandic whaling station

the issue may have had something to do with the fact he had added 8 tablespoons of Prosecco to them and then insisted they would reinflate if he whisked and prayed enough, and they weren’t entirely flat but God had clearly forsaken him and they were noticeably less robust than the others

but his Raspberry, Lychee and Prosecco flavour combination did sound rather lovely – but they were more of a Partially Visible Atoll than a Floating Island.

Also using Prosecco was Sandro who was after a “wow moment” in terms of his flavours – his tactic seemingly to be to use all of the flavours with his bowls of floating islands looking like me being left to my own devices at the Pizza Hut ice cream station in 2006

don’t trust an 11 year old with an unlimited supply of Dolly Mix, I’ll tell you that much.
The main critique was that he could have left out the Prosecco which was jarring with his very generous slosh of brandy.

Also going the boozy route was Syabira with her Mojito Floating Islands which did end up looking like a particularly ambitious MasterChef contestant had reimagined Chicken Milanese in a way that it should never be reimagined, but Prue very quickly justified it as a Desert Island and not thinking to say “Dessert Island” WHICH WAS STARING HER RIGHT IN THE FACE

once they got around the fact that optically it looked like they were about to tuck into some fried chicken, Paul and Prue both very much enjoyed it – I’d be very curious to taste it because lime-flavoured custard is a profound mental blank for me.

On the other end of the refreshment spectrum was Janusz who was sobering us up with a Vanilla Latte inspired Floating Island and definitely being the most daring in terms of meringue aesthetics

and as those perfectly piped meringues came out of their poaching still perfectly intact, Janusz and Sandro’s stray cat-like rivalry began

The girls are fighting!

Coffee has always been a bit of a hit and miss flavour on Bake Off with Paul frequently saying it wasn’t strong enough and even more regularly ending up eating 4 espressos in a single mouthful and not being able to sleep for 5 whole days leading to an increase in Sasquatch sightings in Berkshire, but Janusz had managed it perfectly with a very conservative 2 shots of espresso

and he was the only baker to actually bake anything with the addition of the marmalade biscuits so in my eyes he got a handshake and a little gold star for remembering the name of the show, unlike the producers of late.

I did think we were getting a third booze-heavy Floating Island with Maxy declaring hers a Blue Lagoon Island, but before your brain melts while trying to comprehend vodka flavoured custard, it was just because she was using blueberries, sadly Brooke Shields was nowhere to be seen either

Prue and Paul were a bit disappointed by the quantity, I think she was just making a political statement about climate change by rendering Tuvalu in 150 years time when rising sea levels will have rendered it only be big enough to support the cast of Survivor’s 500th series.

Lastly we have Abdul who was making a pretty ordinary set of Floating Islands flavoured with Orange, Cherry and Pistachio and playing a game of Buckaroo by balancing as much stuff on the meringues as he possibly could without making them sink

Paul wasn’t enthused about the game of Meringue Buckaroo but they did like his flavour combinations and his technical skills

An Unofficial Floating Island Ranking
1. Isla Mojito
2. Janusz’s Islatté
3. Abdul’s Game of Meringue Buckaroo
4. Maxy Saves Tuvalu
5. Sandro’s Everything And The Kitchen Island
6. Kevin’s Sunk Island Fallacy

Ice Cream Bloody Murder

For their Custard Week Technical Challenge the bakers had to make Pistachio Ice Cream as well as 6 waffle cones because this needed to loosely qualify as baking after all and because it was ice cream, they would be doing it as a staggered start with Sandro kicking off events – his glee turning into abject horror as he was left in the tent all alone

and safe to say he was not pleased about this turn of events as he murderously whisked some eggs when his ultimate rival Janusz, entered the tent

and then proceeded to turn out some pretty flawless Pistachio Ice Creams almost entirely out of spite for being bamboozled like this

the only other baker to come even remotely close to getting ice cream that could be properly scooped was Maxy who continued to only serve Paul and Prue half portions

everyone else ended up with varying levels of liquid ice cream – Syabira being the biggest offender having placed her hot custard directly into the freezer rather than giving it a pre-cooling in the fridge because making ice-cream is like a game of chess – you have to think about what move you’re going to make in three turns time and Syabira had unfortunately been Fool’s Mated and was just pouring pistachio soup into waffle cone cups which Prue had to slurp out the bottom of the cone like it was 4:20 somewhere

the biggest mess however went to Janusz whose ice cream was on the verge of setting but the moment he took it out of the freezer the whole thing looked like Shrek had been involved in a terrible hit and run accident

but God if I didn’t love his reaction as he sent off his pistachio-flavoured swamp

but at least Sandro was on hand to comfort him, burying their short-lived feud – bound together by having survived an Ice Cream Technical

as they say, men who are traumatised by ice cream together, stick together.

While those four didn’t struggle too much with their waffle cones, Abdul had a truly terrible time with them, which is kind of his fault for thinking it would take 5 minutes to cook a very thin layer of batter In a waffle machine

and then he just very slowly decreased the time by about 30 seconds and never really got to that sweet spot with HIS cones being a little bit too dark but his ice cream being stable until you looked at it, at which point it melted at the very thought of being perceived

meanwhile Kevin was making waffle cones like his family had a long running blood feud with Mr. Whippy

but the result was mostly good, he just got dinged for the fact that he’d kind of just dumped chocolate on the top like an ice cream man at the end of his tether

but his ice cream tasted good, as he’ll testify having sat at the back eating wooden spoonfuls of it while watching Abdul giving his ice cream a therapy session

now that’s living the dream.

An Official Pistachio Ice Cream Ranking
1. Sandro’s Spiteful Ice-cream
2. Maxy’s Half Portions
3. Kevin’s Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Internally Scream
4. Abdul’s Sensitive Scoops
5. Janusz’s Ice Cream Swamp
6. Syabira’s Cup-A-Ice Cream

Cake, Set and Match

For their custard-based Showstopper the bakers had to make a custard gateau consisting of multiple baked layers supported by set custard with the custard being the hero of the dessert – “Hero” being Paul and Prue’s new favourite word and with the amount of times they said “the custard is the hero” I fully expect to see a bowl of custard showing up to save the day in its own Marvel film.

For her Custard Gateau Syabira was continuing her foray down the Turtle Bay cocktail menu and bringing us the obligatory Pina Colada inspired dessert, which for tests of authenticity she had sampled alongside a pina colada for a perfectly balanced breakfast

and as tired as the pina colada theme is getting, Syabira’s Pina Colada Cake looked like a beautiful celebration of Christian Girl Autumn

it’s a vibe, but I am ready for everyone to move on to making Flaming Sambuca inspired bakes and dramatically setting them on fire in front of Paul and Prue – let The Great De-eyebrowing begin!
Naturally the judges very much enjoyed the pina colada flavours as well as Syabira’s extremely generous amount of custard which gave her cake the delightful wobble of a Japanese Cotton Cake

apologies for reminding anyone of Japanese Week and the cultural crimes therein.

While Syabira continued her trend of cocktail, Maxy was full steam ahead on the anti-custard agenda, once again shortchanging Paul and Prue on the amount of custard

and there was great debate on the aesthetic success of her cake, which I personally thought looked quite nice and don’t think she got enough praise for the quality of her tuiles and sugarwork (granted they weren’t meant to be the heroes)

it did however bring forth from the depths of my mind the memory of Sandra Lee’s infamous Kwanzaa Cake – for those that don’t know, Sandra Lee was an American TV chef famous for doing very little cooking and mostly concentrating on table dressing. Her Kwanzaa Cake basically consisted of a pre-bought Angel Cake with tinned apple pie filling dumped in the middle of it and then covered in cinnamon flavoured chocolate frosting (naturally store bought) and then studded with what she called acorns but were actually corn nuts (acorns are poisonous, don’t put them on a cake) and the one signifier of actual Kwanzaa being the Seven Candles

It’s on YouTube, I thoroughly recommend watching the hate crime unfold in under 3 minutes. While reading the comments, which are funny for the only time in YouTube history. And then go and watch the YouTube channel Naturally Curly recreating the cake

it’s a great time.

The only baker to forgo sponge entirely was Abdul who was making a Mille Feuille Traybake using Paul’s Rough Puff Pastry recipe for extra brownie points, even if it did mean risking Buttery Finger Frostbite given the amount of frozen butter he was having to handle

gloves having apparently been banned in the tent given not a single person used them while handling the burning hot waffle cones either.

But his gargantuan Mille Feuille did look very immpressive

the only downside was the fact his pastry needed a little bit more time in the oven, but it still cut very well and didn’t do that classic Mille Feuille thing of exploding out the sides, imaginably because the structural support raspberries he had very carefully erected

not a good enough reason to use the word “erected”.

But while Abdul gained a masters degree in custard engineering, Kevin was having an absolute nightmare as his cake began swallowing the dowels, rendering his intended tiered designed a little more The Leaning Tower of Gouda than he’d have liked

and because he had to very rapidly remove the top two tiers of his Honey and Thyme Custard cakes, the raspberry gel surface of the bottom layer had been damaged

but Kevin had a very crafty solution which was to recreate The Raft of the Medusa out of Prosecco Macarons, just like Théodore Géricault would have wanted

Paul, clearly a heathen and not as well versed in the artistic classics as Kevin, could not appreciate the merits of the piece and asked if it has been in an earthquake. NO PAUL, a ship sank and the crew ate one another, it’s a very well documented naval disaster!
It wasn’t a complete washout though because the judges both really liked his flavours but it was still very mean to immediately cut from Kevin having a structural nightmare to Sandro having somehow built a three tiered custard Tower of Babel out of 3 different kinds of cake and bedecked in beautifully piped roses


Ah, he’s a regular Sandroton Sister.

You could tell that the judges desperately wanted this cake to be a knockout because Sandro was well in contention for Star Baker, and the cake itself was a very loving tribute to a friend of his who had sadly died very recently, and while they loved the Mango and Coconut tier, the other two just fell a little bit short of the same quality – but Prue, possessed by the demon of Capitalism, deemed them “very saleable”. Although that may have been “Sailable” which only further subs salt into the wounds of Kevin’s loving ode to the greatest disaster in French naval history


Lastly we have Janusz whose cake was inspired by his trip to Naples and was thus decorated to looking like Neapolitan Ice Cream, and as a nod to his ice-cream disaster in the previous round he’s made it look like it was melting by adding his trademark drip

as ever, they cannot fault his aesthetics and the quality of his finishings and they really liked the ratio of custard to sponge but the custards were just a little bit too gluey, with Paul being rather rude about them and I swear to God if they Jurgen my Janusz, I’m going to be *very* mad about it. He better be in that final making the mother of all drips happen or I’ll expose your Sasquatchian secret Hollywood.

An Unofficial Set Custard Gateau Ranking
1. The Obligatory Pina Colada In The Room
2. MILF, OI!
=. The Custard Gateau of Babel
4. Maxy’s Game of Find The Custard
=. Janusz’s Neoclassical Custard Gateau
=. The Leaning Tower of Babybel

It was a really close episode all around, but clearly a race between Sandro and Syabira for Star Baker, but with the Technical Challenge weirdly never counting for a lot it was Syabira who took it with her two cocktail inspired bakes thus equalling Maxy’s and Janusz’s 2 Star Baker titles and becoming the first to win it two back-to-back episodes

as for the eliminated baker, his fate seemed sealed the moment Prue asked him why his Floating Islands dessert wasn’t themed around the Loch Ness Monster and then much like the Méduse on the Bank of Aguin, Kevin’s Bake Off journey was sunk

at least this time there was less cannibalism. I think?

And so, we head into Pastry Week with just 5 bakers

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

2 thoughts on “Bake Off 2022, Custard Week: The Leaning Tower of Gouda

  1. Roberta

    I was frustrated by not getting to see all the baking they actually did – like Kevin’s beautiful macarons or Maxy’s tuiles. They have added so much commercial time that the show is sometimes 15 minutes shorter than it was five years ago.

    And I find it hard to believe that Janusz could make something bad-tasting!

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