Bake Off 2022, Patisserie Week: Rising Caramel Damp

Yeah, me too mate.

Puddings held together mostly by ribbons, Exquisite Vertical Tarts, gooey middles? It’s Ariadne Week on Bake Off!

I’m back after briefly and mysteriously vanishing from the world like Janusz’s Spring Roll – I wonder if it was also having a complete mental breakdown? Needless to say, I was very sad to lose Maxy in what seemed like a poorly thought out episode on the producers’ end

JUSTICE FOR MAXY!

Pud Charlotte

For their Patisserie Week opener, the semi-finalists had to each make 6 Mini Charlottes, and while most of the bakers went about making theirs in little cylindrical moulds

Sandro was performing a feat of Mousse Engineering inside miniature cake tins that as it turns out were not quite so miniature

all the better to contain and industrial amount of ingredients in

including a banana delicately lounging on his 24 eggs like a Renaissance still life

Paint me like one of your overripe bananas.

The resulting Peanut Butter and Caramel Charlottes didn’t quite look like the dainty French Patisserie confections that Paul and Prue were after so much as they did a celebration cake that Waitrose would sell

they were a little big but I think it’s unfair to say they were lacking finesse as a result of it, I thought they actually looked quite elegant and pretty and I really liked the colour palette of them. As well as being overwhelmed by the Patisserie Valerie Scale, Paul and Prue also thought his Banana, Caramel and Peanut flavours were a bit busy but they enjoyed most of the elements separately, save for the Peanut Butter layer which had gone a little gluey, but Prue made sure to praise the Banana Sponge because it was Sandro’s mum’s recipe

Good for Mrs. Sandro’s Mum, maybe she should enter next year?

Sandro wasn’t the only baker using peanut butter as Syabira was using it for her Cheesecake Charlottes which she was pairing alongside Blackberry and Strawberry flavoured layers, much to Prue’s bemusement – First we came for their tacos, now we’re coming for their Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, is it possible to have a second American Revolutionary War?

Once Prue was done pondering Syabira’s “funny flavours” – a statement so loaded that it might as well be a M1 Abrams Military grade tank – they really rather enjoyed her Charlottes

and it shouldn’t be a surprise because she and Bradley did spend that long weekend specifically researching the optimal peanut butter, lest we forget my favourite screenshot of the entire series

Prue’s only real issue was that they weren’t holding together as a perfect slice – I was just glad she had added the pink ribbon because with the pale lady fingers (same) and the single strawberry topping, they reminded me of those giant tube worms you find on the ocean floor

and that might not have flown quite so well in the window of a French patisserie.

While Sandro and Syabira had gone for (allegedly) risky flavours, Abdul was playing things a little safer with his Tiramisu Charlottes that were basically just tiramisus that had swung too hard in the playground and turned inside out

given that the concept of them was so simple, it was a little disappointing that he hadn’t quite got their appearance as pristine as he wanted but you know after an entire series of Janusz executing perfectly piped chocolate, it was nice to see something a little more relatable as Abdul had the most miserable time trying to pipe a spiral

it’s like Jigsaw doing early stage concept art.

Janusz was taking inspiration from his favourite candy and pairing Plum and Chocolate together, then in order to decorate them had raided all of the flowerbeds of the surrounding gardens

Paul still managed to ding them on the presentation though because he had gone a little Crystal Versace on them and cinched their waste for the Gods

but they tasted great, even if the chocolate mousse was a little loose and the jaconde just that little bit too tough.

An Unofficial Miniature Charlotte Ranking
1. Syabira Invented Peanut Butter and Jelly
2. Abdul’s Inside Out Tiramisus
3. Sandro’s Biggie Charlottes
4. Janusz’s Corseted Charlottes

The Tart Goes Up

In typical Technical Challenge fashion, their nonsense task this week was trying to decipher Prue’s instructions to make 4 Vertical Tarts, which are only vertical in the way that you can probably balance most round desserts on their side if you wanted to

there’s only so much difference between a Vertical Tart and a Capsized Pie.

It was however nice to have some actual baking in a Technical Challenge again, it apparently having been long enough for a couple of the bakers to forget how blind baking works and just cooking unsupported walls of pastry, loudly pondering to the world why Prue had been so silly as to give them rice

only to watch their pastry walls becoming vertically defunct

Janusz did course correct for the second attempt at them, but did not have the time or inclination to line them with baking paper so did then have to extract grains of rice from the walls of the pastry like he was on an archeological dig

in the end his pastry was a little underbaked, but he could at least be proud in the knowledge that he was the only person who actually created a chocolate mousse

Syabira, who largely seemed to know what she was doing (as you would expect from somebody who had just perfectly whittled 6 strawberries) had by far and away the best looking tarts, but had accidentally turned her mousse into ganache

as had Abdul, who also had some very respectable looking tarts, even if one of them wasn’t quite so vertical

but while they had all got along fairly well with the instructions, Sandro was having a terrible time, which can’t really be blamed on the brevity of the instructions given they did explicitly mention semi-circles and he proceeded to laterally bisect his discs of mousse into flatter circles

but he could feasibly blame it on the wind stealing his instructions from him

and I’ll be honest, it’s actually quite impressive that he managed to cut the mousse so cleanly at all, but the horror did start slowly sinking in as he laid his strip of jelly across “the cut side of the mousse” like a gelatinous pall over a chocolate coffin

before rereading the instructions when the penny finally dropped

so with a sudden semi-circular course correction, Sandro did actually manage to get 4 tarts up to the judges, even if they did look a bit like they were egesting their own innards

I’m honestly impressed that they’re even half as good as they were considering the process.

An Official Vertical Tart Ranking
1. Syabira’s Vertical Integration
2. Abdul’s Fainting Tart
3. The Only Mousse In The West
4. Sandro’s Egesting Tart

Release The Krokan!

Their last bid for a place in The Grand Final had the bakers making a Krokan – a type of Nordic patisserie made up of intricate almond biscuits – I was naive to think we were completely clear of The 3D Biscuit Showstopper this year, but at least this was more open ended and not a very specific call to create a metre tall depiction of your greatest childhood fear – I don’t quite know how I’d have gone about making long division out of gingerbread. Instead the only specifications were that it had to be 60 centimetres tall and they could go as simple or as elaborate as they liked, up until a point that is, as Sandro told Paul and Prue all about his three act (and epilogue) Krokan and Paul sank into a pit of despair

I mean, I do wish Sandro had learned a little something from the cautionary tale that was Pastry Week as much as the next person but Paul… you made this bed of overachieving, you lie in it!

Sandro’s Monolith of Almond Biscuits being a nod to his African heritage and his life in the UK that was by far and away the biggest of the Krokans going and was thus a bit of a nightmare to put together and for quite a while it did look a bit like a property on Homes Under The Hammer suffering from severe subsidence that someone bought without doing a viewing of

there was a valiant effort to cover up the rising caramel damp with some of the 10 kilograms of icing he seemed to be be making

but it was unfortunately the slightly scruffy showstopper that Paul and Prue had feared it would be

I did however find it very validating that I wasn’t the only person that keeps writing “Sandra”

(I’m assuming it’s his mother’s name.)
I do think the sheer scale of it and the fact it remained upright was incredibly impressive but you could tell that the challenge had kind of broken Sandro because once upon a time, Sandro ended these challenges by calmly cleaning his work bench

but now it was quite the opposite

Tidy Sandro can’t come to the phone right now.
Why?

as for the flavours, they enjoyed his Rhubarb and Custard biscuits, but found the Raspberry a little overpowering but the textures were spot on throughout!

Sandro’s might have been the biggest Krokan, but Syabira was taking the crown for the most intricate of them, creating a double helix pattern and accompanying Chromosomal Support Structure

Kevin sitting at home screaming “MACAROMOSOMES! MACAROMOSOMES!” as his wife sighs and adds another penny to The Pun Jar.

It is the sort of bake that is almost designed to come tumbling down on this show, so Syabira had attempted it 4 times previously, the first three failing and the last one standing for an alleged three days, imaginably because she and Bradley had eaten 3 other krokans and 5 jars of peanut butter so it lurked in the corner of the kitchen as they refused to make eye contact with it like it was The Babadook. And in order to get it to a stable state, Syabira had all the necessary scientific equipment – fetching purple gloves

a spirit measure

A tape measure

a handy stepping stool leftover from Junior Bake Off

and of course her glamorous assistant, Janusz who was having to fight the feline urge to knock over the remarkably constructed almond-scented strand of DNA

She’d never know! You could just blame it on the chromosomes – that’s always my excuse!

And Syabira’s fully rendered, Rose and Pistachio Double Helix Krokan may well be one of the most impressive things I can remember seeing on Bake Off

move over Bread Lion!

The one thing going against Syabira was the fact some of her biscuits were a little overbaked, but it was a tricky balancing act in getting them to be sturdy enough to use for building but maintaining that gooey centre, which Abdul had managed to do perfectly for his Rocket that is definitely not a barely adapted Christmas tree template he found on Pinterest, why are you singing Silent Night? Stop it.

one of the most endearing parts of this series has absolutely been Abdul’s incredibly sincere love of space and if anyone deserves to colonise Mars, it’s him. And being a staunch follower of the Keep It Simple, Stupid Method really paid off for him because as well as liking the design, Paul and Prue also loved his lemon and orange flavours.

Lastly we have Janusz with the most Janusz bake he could possible produce, as he rendered a love letter to Brighton Pride out of almond biscuits and melted sugar

sure, parts of it might not have lived up to the loftily high expectations the judges put on Janusz but you know what? It was just nice to hear someone on TV saying “transgender community” and saying it with a smile rather than as part of a leading question in a nonsense debate – it’s been a rough few months for us Ts in the LGBT line up, so it was nice to have some joy sparked, even if Paul Hollywood ripping the Transgender layer apart did seem like an ominous delphic prophecy

apparently it was just the biscuit with the best texture – Paul’s a fan of the mouthfeel then.
While some of the baking might have, like Syabira’s, been a little hit or miss, they did enjoy his Rose and Pistachio flavours and of course Prue couldn’t drive home because of how much of the gin flavoured royal icing she snaffled.

An Unofficial Krokan Ranking
1. Double Helix, Double Helix Right Across The Tent!
2. Abdul, In SPAAAAAAAACE! (again)
3. The Lesbian, Gay, Biscuit and Transgender Community
4. Big Benin

I really did think that Syabira was on her way for a hat trick of Star Baker titles but it was instead awarded to Abdul on the grounds that all his flavours were really good (and also he couldn’t go into the final with no Star Baker titles)

the elimination then came down to either being Janusz or Sandro and with both having been very good throughout the competition and also undoubtedly being fan favourites, they were stuck between a rock and a hard place as with who to eliminate, ultimately deeming Janusz’s performance in Patisserie Week to be a little less successful

I’m not entirely sure I agree – I did have them both picked as finalists but I thought Sandro had had the worst time of it this week, but I’m glad we got to have Janusz for as long as we did and I enjoyed what he baked and what he stood for.

And so, we have our three finalists!

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2 thoughts on “Bake Off 2022, Patisserie Week: Rising Caramel Damp

    1. Roberta

      We really missed you last week! I agree that it seemed Janusz had the stronger week, but honestly I am amazed that any of the four could figure out that vertical tart B.S.. I would have been crying in the freezer.

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