Welcome to the Bake Off Hall of Fame, little guy.
Like Avril Lavigne in 2002, I have to ask: why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?
In The Picnic of Time
For their final Signature Challenge, the finalists had to put together a picnic made with seasonal British produce consisting of 6 finger sandwiches, 6 vegetarian pies and 6 miniature cakes – which is absolutely just one of the Showstopper Challenges of Yore, and just as everyone despaired about the over complication of the challenges, Sandro decided that he didn’t have enough on his plate with trying to bake a loaf of bread and cool it down enough to make into sandwiches in only 3 hours, he was also going to make a series of Fruit Tarts and Biscuits
which definitely worked out very well for him
but they gladly accepted the glass of complimentary champagne, no questions asked
I hope this works as a cautionary tale to the bakers of the future: never directly try and seek validation from Paul Hollywood – it’s Narnia Rules, it only works if you’re not thinking about it and potentially only if you enter the tent through a very specific magical wardrobe.
The extra bakes weren’t the only thing Sandro was being generous with, as Paul very quickly declared both his Egg and Cress Sandwiches and Lemon and Elderflower Cakes much too big
personally I think “too big” is only a matter of courage when it comes to sandwiches and cakes but they were at least both well made and flavoured. His Cauliflower and Cheese Pies were sadly a little more hit and miss
again, good flavours but the pastry was just that little bit undercooked.
Abdul faired better in the critique, although Paul was very quick to hone in on the fact his Beetroot and Carrot finger sandwiches were marginally irregular in size but at least they were finger sandwiches
it was still a very good looking spread and I thought the clown-nosed Swiss Rolls were particularly cute
I’m not entirely convinced by Tarragon used in sweet things but Paul and Prue both enjoyed the Cherry and Tarragon pairing.
His Pies however sounded lovely with their filling of Fettle Cheese, Onion and Mint
Fettle Cheese being Yorkshire’s bootleg Feta – both Paul and Prue were very impressed by them, especially his use of mint which gave them a nice kick, but it was Syabira’s Mushroom and Aubergine Pies that kind of stole the show with the perfectly central quail’s egg
which only added the uniformed perfection of her picnic
it’s not the most vibrant looking array of picnic foods I’ve ever seen and it could have used a pop of colour somewhere, if only the strawberry patterned decoration had been a little more vibrant
but she had definitely focused her energy on the flavours, also opting for a herbal Swiss Roll, pairing a Rosemary Cream and Strawberry Jam – the judges didn’t dislike the flavour combo, but did think the rosemary was a little overpowering, but they had no complaints about her Broadbean and Coriander Sandwiches.
For the last Technical Challenge of the series, Paul had tasked the bakers with making a Summer Fruit Bombe consisting of a Strawberry and Elderflower Jelly centre and Glorified Eton Mess all encased within raspberry syrup soaked bread
which was met with as much despair as it deserved
the bread they were using of course being the leftovers from the Signature Challenge’s Finger Sandwiches, which they probably could have warned Sandro about before he started making doorstop sized sandwiches, although I can’t blame them entirely because for some unknown reason, Sandro decided the best method for creating a bready shell for his pudding was to cut his bread into circles?
he’s never claimed to be an architect.
The real pitfall trap (because that’s what this show is about apparently) was that they were using vegetarian gelatine which has to be boiled in order to activate properly, which both Syabira and Abdul knew you had to do because Syabira is a scientist and Abdul… likes space
I mean, it’s not like these are homebakers who probably rigorously read the packet instructions 5 times over or anything… So with Sandro not blooming his gelatine correctly, his jelly wasn’t setting and he was having to say a Hail Mary to the one true saviour
I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly, indeed.
Sadly not even the divinity of Beyonce could save Sandro’s Bombe from sinking into more of a puddle that rather convincingly resembled The Thing
and yet despite it looking like the most terrifying monster the horror genre has ever given us, the most horrifying part of the whole process was watching Sandro wiping the bottom of raspberry filled sieve with a slice of bread
it’s like one of those snuff videos you were terrified of being linked to throughout the late 2000s.
Yet despite the trend of the series, Prue managed to find a compliment – she loved the glaze on his fruit.
Sandro wasn’t the only one to have stability issues, because despite Syabira making the jelly correctly, her Paté a Bombe wasn’t quite so set, which she desperately had to try and keep within her bread casing with some well positioned strawberries
which meant that first place was wide open for Abdul and his at least marginally stable Summer Fruit Bombe
I have to say, the splotchy colouration on the bread is distinctly distressing – it’s like someone peeled a tortoise, but it at least held its shape for about 3 seconds after Paul cut it.
An Official Summer Bombe Ranking
1. Abdul’s Peeled Tortoise
2. Syabira’s Strawberry Corks
3. The Thing (2022, Sandro McBake-Off)
For their final bid for the Bake Off Cake Stand; Sandro, Abdul and Syabira all had to make edible sculptures made from a cake base and 3 other types of baked goods all to fit the theme of Our Planet which was apparently the theme of the whole episode because someone found a 2 for 1 deal on massive bear statues
Abdul and Syabira were both leaning hard into the conservation side of things, while Sandro was going for a very ambitious (what’s new?) bake featuring three tiers: the ocean, the sun and the rest of the expansive universe
I do enjoy that the illustration has a certain similarity to Sandro Botticelli’s illustration of the Nine Circles of Hell
Sandros are gonna Sandro, I guess.
And this bake would very quickly become Sandro’s own Circle of Hell as he did fall a little behind time, having been waylaid by a massive sponge taking its sweet time to coke, so he had to nix the entire outer space tier meaning he and Abdul are no longer on speaking terms
it got the usual Sandro critique because somewhere around the middle of the series they apparently decided that Sandro was the messy, panicked baker despite there being several episodes where the joke was that he was cleaning his workbench while everyone else panicked
After Mexican Week the role of Sandro has actually been played by James and Rebs in a trench coat.
He did run into a bit of an issue with size again, having chosen to make cream buns to depict the rocks for his ocean layer, with them originally ending up large enough to wreck an entire ship so he began cutting them in half
and even then, they probably could have caused a fair amount of damage to a medium-sized dinghy
his flavours went down very well and were largely the saving grace for a few of his bakes being quite overbaked. His Raspberry and White Chocolate Profiteroles were probably the most successful of his bakes
the balance between the mellow filling and very sweet chocolate working wonders, but Paul had issues with how he’d applied his chocolate, which was nothing compared to Abdul dowsing his Bee sculpture in caramel like Khal Drogo killing Viserys Targaryen by pouring molten gold over his head
needless to say the depiction of the Destruction of Pompeii through the medium of bees and caramel didn’t go down well with the judges
you see, it’s actually a profound statement about our own destruction of the global bee population.
He had, as was to be expected, used honey as a flavour throughout the bake, which was a little hit and miss with Paul claiming it was too sweet and Prue loving most of it, except for the un-bee like shape of his macarons, which I think would have been very cute in a sort of chibi way if he’d had more time to take better care with the decoration of them
but he had struggled with his choux pastry, giving them too thick a layer of craquelin meaning they failed to rise because someone hadn’t been praying to Bee-yonce
you see, it’s actually a depiction of the bee colony’s hivemind that clearly only intellectuals would understand. While it was obviously an unsuccessful bake, I did think Prue was a little blunt and uncaring about the whole thing
like yeah, they weren’t great but there’s a way of saying that with some tact and abiding by the rules of the compliment sandwich – compliment, negative, compliment! – and if we bullied her into stopping saying “It’s worth every calorie!” we can bully her into being a nicer person.
For her conservation focused sculpture, Syabira was building an Orangutan which did come out looking like one of the works of Edvard Munch (Edvard Monkey?)
It’s thoroughly charming, and even if the face looks a bit more like a Hawaiian tiki idol than an orangutan I get a big kick out of it every time I see it
but the sculpting work on the body was very impressive
it had required her to use quite a lot of buttercream (which she proceeded to call “orangutan skin”) though, which Prue had some issues with but Paul defended her as he shoved the third mouthful of hazelnut-flavoured Orangutan Skin into his mouth like he was a member of Charles Darwin’s Glutton Club.
As for the Orangutan’s face, which did sadly have to be eaten, she had made it out of shortbread, being the second baker this episode to opt for Tarragon, which Prue was a little relieved she couldn’t taste because she was enjoying the blackberry buttercream so much.
The final tier of the sculpture were a series of Gooseberry Meringues and Rhubarb and Strawberry Tarts depicting the forest
which went down well flavour-wise, but Paul had some issue with the neatness, the tart cases were a little nobbly but the piping work looks pristine to me and I thought the upturned meringues were a really clever way of displaying the tarts.
An Edible Sculpture Ranking
1. The Old Man of The Forest by Edvard Monkey
2. RELEASE THE BEES!
3. There’s No Space For Space
And that was it! They had done all they could do to earn themselves that Bake Off Cake Stand, with the winner of Bake Off 2022 being Syabira!
I’m VERY happy with the result, I think we kind of all had her picked as a good contender for the title of Bake Off Champion 2022 from the moment she whipped up the perfect Red Velvet Cake in the first Technical Challenge. But it was a good fight from the very talented runners up, Sandro and Abdul
just a thoroughly nice pair of guys, baking thoroughly nice things. Even if it does a bit like Abdul is swearing vengeance upon everyone.
Before we get to The Alternative Montage, if you’ve enjoyed the Bake Off recaps this year and would like to support the blog, you can leave a small tip over at my Kofi account HERE – I’ve really enjoyed writing them and I’m incredibly grateful to anyone who has read them, and especially thankful to anyone who has donated over the last 10 weeks.
On to the montage!
and there we have it! Once again, well done to all of the bakers, you’ve been another batch of thoroughly wonderful people to watch and write about and a big congratulations again to Syabira!
TOP: Abdul, Carole, James, Janusz
MID: Kevin, Maxy, Dawn, Maisam
BOT: Sandro, SYABIRA, Rebs, Will
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