The official PBS schedule once again scheduled two episodes to play back to back, for those whose stations that are actually following along with what PBS Food referred to as “the suggested schedule.” So once again we have two back to back recaps–today will be Alternative ingredients, and tomorrow will be “Pastries.”
For those whose PBS stations think that PBS’s suggested schedule is total bunk (WETA DC, I’m looking right at you) and are airing it on the proper British night for PBS television (Sundays) and one a week like god and the BBC intended, the recap for the “Desserts” is right here.
Alternative Ingredients Week opened with a weekend where the weather cooperated, and the world was bright and sunny. Sun, it turns out is considered an “alternative ingredient” but not one that will feature in any of this week’s challenges. Instead we had a Signature Challenge of “Cake, sans Sugar” followed by a Technical of “Bread, sans Gluten” and rounded off the week with “Ice Cream, sans Dairy.” Vegans, this was your week.
Our challenge for “Cake, sans Sugar” was a free for all. No rules, other than no sugar. That meant we got everything from cakes which already have no sugar, like honey cakes, those that easily lend themselves to no sugar, like carrot cake, or cakes that people regularly make with sugar, but can easily be modified, like pineapple upside down cake. Only a couple of bakers set themselves for a serious challenge, with Ugne doing a chocolate cake that not only had no sugar, but no gluten. (Proof that perhaps they should be given an inkling about the Technical Challenges to come) and Nadiya and Flora, who did cakes that rely on sugar in order to succeed.
Of those who did semi cheat, Alvin was the most obvious, with a full thirty minutes between the time he finished and Sue actually calling time on the Signature challenge bake. Meanwhile, Ugne had a disaster. Her cake, devoid of any sort of gluten structure and zero sugar turned into a mushy collapsing mess, which sent her running for the freezer in hopes to force some ice crystals to hold it up, and when they didn’t work, she surrounded all sides with inedible flowers to try to hide the mudslide.
Let’s see whose cake rose and whose fell.
- Tamal: Honey&grapefruit polenta cake Pass. Paul called it delicate.
- Ian: Honey&Flowers cake Pass, but only because his icing was good.
- Mat: Sugar-Free Carrot cake Pass. It looked like Christmas pudding, but it was so good the judges didn’t care.
- Paul: Carrot&Pecan cake Pass. Judges loved the flavor, though it was slightly overbaked.
- Ugnė: Chocolate&Hazelnut Sugar-Free cake Fail. Mary complained she set herself unnecessary challenges.
- Nadiya: Naked Blueberry&Caraway Crunch cake Pass. Slightly overbaked, but Paul called her flavors downright “daring.”
- Flora: Pistachio, Apple&Cardamom Madeleine cake Pass, but barely. The apple made it feel underbaked.
- Alvin: Pineapple Upside-Down cake Pass, but I think if the judges had known how much extra time he had on his hands, they wouldn’t have been so glowing.
Onto the Technical Challenge, which this week featured a staple of American cuisine that most of the contestants had never seen, let alone eaten: Pita Bread. It was, as a US cultured person, quite a bizarre experience, Most of the time the Technicals are either something everyone knows, but no one makes, or they’re something no one in their right mind has heard of (Schichttorte, I’m looking at you.) But for once, the challenge was something that is a staple of American middle class children’s diets (at least it was in the 80s when i was growing up) so watching the bakers literally know nothing about the bread–including that it’s supposed to be hollow inside with a pocket, was a strange experience indeed.
8. Alvin: Too breadlike
7. Tamal: Paul Hollywood used it as a hammer
6. Ugne: Doughy flatbread
5. Ian: No pocket
4. Mat: Too thick for a pocket, but otherwise good
3. Flora: The first half batch was good, the second were underdone
2. Paul: The first half batch were perfect, the second were too thick
1. Nadiya: Practically perfect in every way
For the final challenge, the show returned to Ice Cream and a staple of British desserts, the Ice Cream Roll. Unlike the Infamous Baked Alaska Week in Season 1, the weather was nice a mild for this return to the melting stuff. (That does not mean though that we did not catch contestants sitting in front of freezers, decorating their desserts sitting inside.) But not just ice cream–dairy free ice cream. This meant nearly everyone in the tent used coconut milk, and had to figure out how to make their desserts not then also taste like “sun cream.”
In terms of what the “Ice Cream Roll” entails, for Americans who have never had it–think a bit like a HoHo, but with an ice cream center. So think a hardened ice cream rod that’s then wrapped in a layer of jam and rolled up with a sponge cake. Those who followed this method all cake out with at least a proper Ice cream roll, so the difference came down to flavors and decor.
But there were two who attempted to “reinvent the roll” as it were. Ugne attempted to put the jam inside the ice cream, while Mat did not know that an Ice Cream Roll and an Swiss Roll weren’t actually the same thing, so he attempted to roll his ice cream out as a layer to then be rolled up inside the swirl of the jam and cake. Mat’s ice cream therefore melted and squeezed out the sides. Ugne, on the other hand, ensured her ice cream rod never hardened up, since the jam interfered with that process. This was extra tragic, since her favor combo was peanut butter ice cream and grape jam, an American flavor combination that Brits are unfamiliar with and should learn the joys of sooner or later.
Let’s all scream for Ice Cream.
Tamal’s Passion Fruit&Pineapple Ice Cream Roll It had a small crack in the sponge, which is the only reason I think Tamal didn’t get a Hollywood Handshake.
Flora’s Chocolate&Pear Bûche It was deemed a bit flat in appearance, and the sponge was too thin.
Mat’s Raspberry&Coconut Swiss Ice Cream Roll The judges were puzzled that he did a Swiss roll instead. (Turns out he didn’t know the difference.) Still though it wasn’t the right thing, it was good.
Nadiya’s Chocolate&Strawberry Lime Ice Cream Roll Mary was delighted by the free-handed design on the rolls themselves, and impressed that the chocolate hid the coconut flavor so well.
Alvin’s Buko Pandan, Mango&Passion Fruit Ice Cream Roll The Mango was overwhelmed by the other flavors, but otherwise good.
Ugnė’s Chocolate Peanut Butter&Grape Jelly Roll It was a complete collapsed mess, but Paul and Mary did have to admit that Peanut Butter and Jelly are quite a good combo.
Paul’s Dessert Island Getaway Roll The judges loved the design, and Paul took extra fun threatening to slice the little suntanning lady in half.
Ian’s Dessert Island Roll The judges marveled at his trick to get the mango and ice cream centered perfectly, the favors were spot on.
For her Technical win and her lovely Showstopper, Nadiya was given Star Baker, finally knocking Ian off his perch. With a collapsed Signature, a low score on the technical and a spoge of an ice cream roll, Ugne was the one to go home.
Next week (actually tomorrow!) Pastries!