When we arrive at the tent for Dessert Week, we can already see that things are not going well for our bakers, before we even are welcomed by Sue and Mel. How do we know? It’s pouring rain. Welcome!….to The Great British Summer Weather.
The weather wasn’t the only thing working against our contestants this week. The theme of “dessert,” much like the theme of “biscuits,” is a wide one and means that the contestants can find themselves making anything from cake like items to sweets to well… a thing that sounds like they’re saying “Spanish Wind Tort,” but is actually a Spanische Windtorte.
But that’s best saved for the Technical challenge. First up, there’s the Signature Challenge and crème brûlées, which gives my “how to produce French accented letters on an American keyboard muscle memory” a work out. Then the aforementioned spanische windtortes for the Technical, and their freakish amount of meringue, all made in the dampest of settings. And finally, a Showstopper Challenge of cheesecakes. In a nod to not being anything like American television, this did not include Alton Brown showing up in Elvis costumes and drawling on about how cheesecake is, in reality pie. (For the record though? Cheesecake? It’s totally a member of Team Pie.)
Our Signature challenge and the crème brûlées offered a major twist this week, since the joy of making crème brûlées is that you get to burn the hell out of your dessert before serving. But for reasons that don’t make any sense, (other than perhaps an edict from the Fire Marshall) said crème brûlées had to be burned via the broiler setting on the oven, and not via blow torch. Mary Berry insisted that’s because blowtorches weren’t invented for making crème brûlées or firing things when she was growing up coking. In doing so, Mary reveals she must actually be a red priestess from Game of Thrones hiding the fact that she is 400 years old by wearing magic jewelry, as the blow torch was invented in the late 1790s, and by the late 1800s, several countries, include the UK and the US, had their own versions. (Though to be fair, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the propane versions we see today became widely available.)
We were all once again reminded this week as well of Paul Hollywood’s dislike of pomegranate, as Ian, our two-time Star Baker, used them to flavor his crème brûlées. Risky move! But the biggest risk taker this round went to Ugne, who made me look up what a marula fruit was, and Sandy, who demonstrated for all and sundry at home how a proper wobble jiggles.
Let’s see who was the crème of the brûlée.
- Nadiya Cinnamon tea crème brûlées Pass. Nice snap and flavor.
- Paul Almond crème brûlées Fail. Scrambled Eggs, too much alcohol.
- Flora Rhubarb&ginger crème brûlées Fail. Cream wasn’t set.
- Ian Pomegranate two ways crème brûlées Pass. Custard was perfect. (Paul still hated the pomegranate though.)
- Mat Coconut crème brûlées Fail. So runny Sue called it “Bru-lake.”
- Ugnė Marula fruit&coffee liqueur crème brûlées Pass. First perfectly set custard of the day.
- Alvin Blackberry crème brûlées Fail. Scrambled eggs.
- Sandy Pontefract crème brûlée Fail. The tops were burned, the inside was soup. Sandy protested they were in the oven for half an hour. Paul: “Was it on?”
- Tamal Rhubarb&stem ginger crème brûlées Pass. Our fourth pass out of nine contestants in a brutal round.
Let’s move on to the spanische windtortes, which came from Mary’s cookbook. Mary advised everyone to read the recipe several times, and picture what they are making. It was clear no one in the tent had clue one what that was. (At least I know what a violet looks like!) The point of the exercise was meringue creation, since the dessert is several different types of meringues in layers.
Sandy stuck to the recipe so thorough she put the entire thing in the oven while still on the cake stand at one point to bake, because nowhere did it say to take the cake off the stand at that point in the process. She also bent the lid because at some point she thought that’s what the “Lift it up” in the instructions meant. This is where “looking around the room at what others are doing before you break your lid in half” would have been a handy thing to have done.
And yet, she wasn’t dead last!
9. Alvin: The meringue was ivory and overbaked
8. Nadiya: The Swiss meringue was oversoft and underbaked
7. Mat: Looked neat but the meringue was sticky
6. Sandy: They laughed at her lid, but her taste was there.
5. Tamal: Needed more styles of piping, Swiss meringue was soft.
4. Ian: The Swiss meringue splits while drying.
3. Flora: The French meringue was chewy.
2. Ugne: Both meringues were good, looked pretty.
1. Paul: The meringues were perfect
On to cheesecake! Three different cheesecakes in a tower-esque formation, all of which need to be different sizes. Ian and Nadiya both bring stuff from home–Ian having raided his herb garden, and Nadiya having created “fizzy pop” flavors at home by distilling soda pop for ten hours at home until she has basically, “soda flavor” extract. Even Paul brought flavors from home, even if it was just liqueur.
We have four “pastry” based cheesecake makers, while the other five do the graham cracker bases that we Americans are more familiar with. Everyone except Flora also did three different flavors. She was the only one who did three cheesecakes of all the same flavors. This set her off into a panic to find something to jazz it up, despite not having practiced anything. She wound up making macaroon decorations, despite having never “done it to time” and praying she could make it work. But it was Sandy who once again fell behind, with cheesecakes that she didn’t manage to get to tier up, and had to be presented in pieces.
Let us all see how our cheese cake pies came out.
Ian’s Trio of Spicy&Herby baked cheesecakes “Sheer heaven on a plate” says Mary. She’s never had Tarragon and Apple in a cheesecake, and she loves it. Ian’s March to the Sea continues.
Flora’s Elderflower&Granola cheesecakes They all looked overbaked, and though the elderflower flavor came through, her time usage was not well thought out.
Alvin’s Tower of Fruits cheesecakes His top layer was a total mess, and his bases were like “birdseed.” But the cake is very creamy.
Tamal’s Mango, Hazelnut&Rosemary cheesecake trio Mary loved his caramel work, and the flavors are spectacular.
Ugnė’s Lime, Coconut&Hazelnut cheesecakes Her piping was a mess, but the top and bottom cakes were delicious.
Sandy’s Cassata, Whisky, Orange&Apple Pie cheesecakes she chose the send in the top layer separately rather than turn in a “sploge of three.” Why would the have “sploged?” Because the bottom two layers were raw.
Nadiya’s Fizzy Pop cheesecakes Slightly overbaked, but Paul didn’t care, because the concept was so clever, and the flavors of the different fizzy pops, including creme soda and cola, were ingenious.
Mat’s Chocolate Bar cheesecakes Mary loved all three, and Paul was highly impressed by both the flavors and how perfectly they were baked.
In the end, Ian walks off with Star Baker for the third time running, with Mel highlighting his “Ian-genuity.” After Mat saved himself last-minute, it left Sandy as the only one who would logically be out. Sorry Sandy.
Next week: PBS will do two episodes again, so we have Alternative ingredients and Pastries, and we’ll recap them on back to back days.