Bake Off: The Professionals, Series 6, Episode 1: Allegations of Baby Food

I just think they’re neat.

Can I not eat this?

Once again the professional patissiers of the UK are taking to the kitchen to ruin my mental image that the tiny delicate cakes of the world are #made while performing a work song with a gang of helpful woodland animals, and as usual they return in their multicoloured spectrum – I say that, but for some reason Red and Orange are out of the mix and we have 3 different shades of greens and blues which doesn’t make things confusing at all…

I do wish they’d go the full Legends of the Hidden Temple and name them the Navy Croissants or the Slightly Darker Blue Eclairs – I would be forced out of obligation to support the Purple Baumkuchens every time – it’s just a good colour.

There has been a lineup change, apparently a single dip into The Well of Infinite Chocolate was all Stacey Solomon could handle

and so she has been replaced by Ellie Taylor and Ellie Taylor’s Slightly Startled Deer eyes

ever since she subbed in for Siobhan on Pottery Throwdown I’ve been rooting for her to host Bake Off, so I’ll take this and not look the gift that is Alison Hammond’s chaos come September in the mouth.

Pray and ‘Opera

For their very first challenge, the bakers were facing Benoit’s Secret Challenge in which they had to make 36 identical berry opera cakes as well as a Chocolate Amenity which I was very disappointed to find out wasn’t the chocolate manatee I originally thought it was

weirder things have been made on this show, weirder things are going to made this episode and I’m only *slightly* talking about Annie and Subin’s slimy looking opera cakes

Cherish was not helping with the… gunginess by poking them like a sea cucumber she’d just found on the beach

the waterlogged sponge was owed to an oversoaking as well as the fact they’d miscalculated their sponge batter and so one of their layers had to be halved and then even then they were having to patchwork it together like pastry chef Frankensteins

sadly it was not alive, and nor was their amenity which may have once meant to be a pair of roses but did look more like a pair of succulents you forgot behind the blind of your downstairs loo…

it was particularly unfortunate because two other teams had opted to go for rose-themed manatees amenities, with Margo and Ally’s looking like it would be worth a cool £5,000 on Antiques Roadshow

it’s really great, but when you find out that Margo is having a viking wedding you do kind of wish they’d made a tiny sculpture of Freyja being pulled by her chariot of cats

that better be how Margo and her wife entered their wedding venue, it’s how I plan to enter my funeral.

Margo may have the fearlessness of a Old-Norse Berserker, but Ally was going to remain a healthy 10 feet downwind of Cherish at all times – it’s the Fimbles hair, it does render you a prey animal

but we need Ally alive because who else is going to stop Ellie Taylor from throwing herself against the jagged rocks of a limitless supply of cooking chocolate

I hope someone has Zoe Lyons on speed dial, just in case…

As for their Opera Cakes, Benoit’s main complaint was that there wasn’t enough contrast between the paving slab thick glaze and the writing

but the textures and flavours of the rest of it were really good, Raf and Andrew went for a similarly monochrome finishing – I guess it’s harder to notice if you do happen to make a mistake while writing out “Opera” 36 times like you’re Bart Simpson in the opening credits

however Cherish and Benoit didn’t have any issue with Andrew and Raf’s presentation – I guess all they truly wanted was half a blackberry

they were a little more critical of their amenity though, with Benoit wishing the rose was a little bigger because, and there’s no way else to word this, it didn’t quite fill the ring to his satisfaction

none of the amenities, aside from Margo’s Viking Garden Relic, got a very good reception – with Cherish being a touch put out that in the 3 hours they had that Mayank hadn’t managed to sculpt a to-scale replica of the entire Southbank horizon

it’s perfectly cute! I think they had to be a little harsher on Mayank and Dharma because Cherish can’t be seen to be playing favourites as she used to work with Dharma

I just need to know if it’s a this kind of “I haven’t heard that name in years!”

or a THIS kind of “I haven’t heard that name in years…”

either way, apparently his little opera cakes were not the reunion present that Cherish had in mind

the way she said that they were “not up to the standard of this point in the competition” like they were 4 weeks in and not, you know, literally 3 hours into the competition.

As Cherish ripped her long lost friend/secret brother/former lover/the man who she thought she’d killed and is shocked has darkened her doorstep (delete as per which mental fanfic you’re writing) Martyn was contemplating having a priest come in to give him and Jenny their last rites

because the two of them had had a terrible, very bad, no good first day in the kitchen with their cakes seeming particularly fragile and having to be handled like they were the Dead Sea Scrolls

and things were not going to get better from there, with Martyn turning the delicate and precise art of patisserie into some Miss Lovett style butchery

he had tried to be clever and warm up the glaze so that it would, in theory, be easier to cut

however, he’d just lightly flambéed and pissed the cakes off

and because Cherish had been so harsh on everyone else, she had backed herself into a corner like an incredibly spiteful cat

she did have to actually eat the incredibly depressed looking cakes, but she wasn’t going to look happy while doing it

and their amenity inspired by Martyn’s marriage and Jenny’s engagement wasn’t doing much in the way inspiring any confidence, least of all in their respective partners

it’s very…. the first thing you ever made in a high school woodwork class and were subsequently banned from ever using another coping saw because you broke 4 of them and the woodshop’s budget was stretched as it was. I was a menace to that poor man who just wanted to teach people how to cut wood properly.

Lastly we have Nicoletta and Georgina who were making a radio amenity inspired by their love of being forced to act like they’re in their own private disco for a reality TV video insert

Cherish wasn’t overly impressed with their chocolate radio, I thought it was quite cute but there was some odd colouration – but I was also just relieved they went with the radio and not a small sculpture of their incredibly poorly timed love of puppy yoga

couldn’t have just edited those three seconds out, huh lads?

As for their opera cakes, Nicoletta was talking a big game about how often she’s made an opera cake before while Georgina tried to psychically tell her to stop talking because declaring that will NEVER end well for you in a TV competition

and sure enough, they never got around to fully All Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Opera Cake’ing up their cakes, with only a few saying “Opera” if you were being generous

I can see a “Grow”, “Ones”, “Open” and “Mr. CEO” – I’m sure there’s some sort of prophetic message in there somewhere that we’re all blind to see.

An Unofficial Opera Cake Ranking:
1. Andrew and Raf by the whisker of a chariot pulling cat
2. Margo and Ally the ally
3. You Could Have Saved Her Mr. Patissier, I Gave You All The Clues
4. Lon-Don Quixote by Wilhelm Kienzl
5. Annie and Subin’s Soggy Cakes
6. Martyn & Jenny’s Opera Singeing


Ahead of the first elimination the bakers were having to reinvent the Banoffee Pie, which I think is well and truly amongst the worst of the desserts – it is a textureless nightmare that feels like you’re eating something designed for babies, and the numerous banana compotes were doing nothing to disassociate from these allegations of baby food

of course, making 24 portions of a dessert would be too simple, so they also had to serve them up as part of the usual extremely fragile standing structure built entirely out of chocolate and prayers. As soon as they announced the theme, I did brace myself for a forest of banana trees and a fair few chocolate monkeys – and I wasn’t wrong, but they did throw a curveball when they cut to Margo gently tapping and listening to an egg like she was an Egyptian Vulture trying to get a meal – they even have the same haircut

sadly their showstopper was not the philosophical conundrum of whether the Banoffee Pie or the Banoffee Egg came first, and instead this was all Ally’s idea because apparently Vikings are Margo’s thing, Ally has pirates

To be fair, it is very hard to say no to someone holding a cutlass to your throat. The big question though is whether or not she’ll attend her wedding dressed as Blackbeard? We can only hope, and if their boat building skills are anything to go by, she could at least arrive by paddling half an egg down the Thames

it certainly managed to be the most unique showpiece of the episode – Cherish was a bit disappointed the whole thing was moulded, I think she could have afford to at east praise them for managing to demould an egg that Lady Gaga could feasibly have hatched from in one piece

but they did at least like their little gold bar desserts

they managed to get the flavours spot on as well as perfectly represent Banoffee Pie’s singular texture.

The only other team to not got for anything too expected was Nicoletta and Georgina who were drawing their inspiration from Carmen Miranda – the final result being a little less flamboyant samba bombshell and more potassium-rich Woman with the Head of Roses by Salvador Dali

perhaps they were making a point about the exploitation of Carmen Miranda by rendering her as merely a torso and some bananas – but while Benoit and Cherish were disappointed with the look of the piece, the desserts at least tasted like banoffee pie.

Annie & Subin and Martyn & Jenny were both going with banana tree showpieces – the latter team having the most ground to make up and things weren’t looking optimistic when it sounded like the biggest risk were taking was leaving lumps in their mousse. Then things went from bad to worse during their assembly and they just could not get their bananas to stick to the tree, so while Jenny persisted with that effort in vain and mostly created a mass grave of fallen bananas

Martyn kind of just stacked them on top of the tree like banana jenga

it wasn’t the dessert they truly wanted to serve up – because a large part of it was the interactive component in which you had to cut off the banana using a cute pair of shears

and then sort of scrape at the tree like an itchy bear, hoping the caramel sap hadn’t solidified too much

before piling on a lot of chocolate soil to finally lay the bananas to the peaceful rest they deserve

RIP, Rest In Potassium.

Subin and Annie’s banana tree wasn’t without problems of its own with a few of their sausage-y desserts being unset and sort of slowly sloughing off the tree

but of the ones that weren’t suffering from erectile mousse dysfunction, Benoit and Cherish really enjoyed them – especially the hint of yuzu which has overpowered many a dessert on series past. They weren’t the only team going for a hint of citrus, with Andrew and Raf opting to use lime for their very pretty looking flower-shaped tarts

unfortunately, their balance wasn’t quite as successful with the judges finding the lime too overpowering, but their actual display was really polished – and for what feels like the first time in A LONG TIME, someone had promised us three tiers in the first episode and actually gave us three tiers

the little moulded monkeys were cute, I’m particularly fond of this one that looks a bit like he’s wearing a squid as a hat

The Tarzan sequels did get a bit weird.

Lastly we have Mayank and Dharma who were creating a Banana Making Monkey Factory, although the typo in the sign falls somewhere between them having enslaved a troop of colobus monkeys or having trapped 1960s pop-rock band, The Monkees, in potassium fuelled indentured servitude

but their showpiece was VERY cute – I think I preferred their more cartoonish approach to the monkeys, they had a lot of character and were just that bit more fun

flavour-wise it wasn’t a great hit with the judges – Cherish like their spiced sponge but the overpowering caramel detracted from the dish as a whole – I also think the monkeys might need to work on their banana making skills because those moulds are suspicious.

An Unofficial Banoffee Pie Showpiece Ranking:
1. Factory-free Monkeys
2. Bananbeard, The Ruthless
3. The Monkeys Have Unionised.
4. Carmen MiranDali
5. Erectile Mousse Dysfunction
6. Banana Jenga, anyone?

I always forget they do a winner for each episode – this time it was a close call between the three top teams, with Andrew and Raf coming out on top

It ultimately wasn’t the biggest surprise who went home, They hadn’t done brilliantly in either round so the first eliminees of series 6 were Martyn and Jenny

may they never have to look a banana in the eye ever again.

And so, we’re down 1 team

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