It might have been raining outside the tent but inside all was dry – and occasionally too crumbly. But never mind, it’s dessert week.
- Signature Round: Crème brulee, a classic. But this is GBBO so classic must not equal boring. Yes, it needs to have the right wobble and a hard, crackable surface (the result of grilling, not blow-torching) but it needs to have a twist.
- Technical Challenge: Spanische Windtorte – or, you prefer, Spanish Wind Cake. Or as I prefer to think of it – a pavlova that got all dolled up and has nowhere to go.
- Showstopper: cheesecake. But not one, not two – THREE and they must be stacked. Cheesecake is not known for it’s structural integrity to this will no doubt be worth watching.
SANDY: Oh Sandy, I’m going to miss you so much. You were having so much fun and it was fun to watch you. Your wobbles, your sparkly shoes, your joy when things went right, your unwillingness to let things get you down. As I’ve said before, everyone can have an off day – and you weren’t alone this time, Alvin wasn’t having the best of weekends either. But your crème brulee didn’t set – Paul described it as soup and I have to admit, I was with Mary when she expressed doubts about the liquorice flavour. Your showstopper was two tiers and not three – not from lack of stacking effort on your part (and Tamal’s bless his helpful little heart) – but because the cakes were too heavy (the world’s thickest crust didn’t help there) and the bake time was off so the cheesecakes didn’t set. You said yourself – you should have followed your instincts. 🙁
IAN: DAMNED, Ian! Star Baker 3rd week in a row? I’d say that Ian is unstoppable but that would be both premature and wrong. After all, Richard Burr (the baking builder of last series with the sassy pencil behind his ear) got Star Baker 3 weeks in a row too. And did he win? he did not. Not that winning matters when it comes to post-GBBO longevity. Winners or not, the baking success and public popularity of contestants seems solely based on their personalities and willingness to continue baking in the public eye.
Ian’s taste combos continue to puzzle Mary and give her pause until she tastes them and then she can hardly shut up about them. Yes, Mary we KNOW no one has ever suggested tarragon and apple to you before but you love it – you’ve said it 4 or 5 times now. He knows tricks no one else seems to know – pre-caramelising the caramel? BRILLIANT and a great way to keep the grill time down! Nothing seems to rattle Ian – or maybe something would if he encountered a problem He seems to bake serenely and steadily, without incident. Surely at some point Ian will be in the middle of something that comes utterly unstuck and we will see the Dalai Lama’s official photographer lose his crackers. But this week – it was smooth sailing, from the creme brulees that Mary adored to the technical challenge that looked amazing and more importantly in this case correct – and finally to his showstopper cheesecakes.
As Paul Hollywood said, “The Ian train blows on, three Star Bakers on the bounce.” That said – it does make you wonder what someone is gonna have to do to beat Ian.
NADIYA: The queen of expressive faces was expressing away all hour – and impressing us not only with the end result on the showstopper cheesecake tower (super fun and super adorable) but also with the steps she made in preparation for it. Reducing 3 fizzy drinks down to syrup over 10 hours? Good gads, woman. And hello? the third meringue of the evening – Nadiya, having survived Swiss and French meringue during the technical challenge, uses Italian meringue for the “fizz” of her fizzy drink. I shall rename her the Marchioness of Meringue. I also note that her brulee is tea flavoured – she does like her tea notes doesn’t she? And adorably served in tea cups. Go, Nadiya! She also had one of the great lines from tonight: “I produced what they wanted, just the ugly version.” None of it was ugly, Nadiya. Stop being so hard on yourself.
FLORA: We were watching Flora this week and were trying to figure out what it is that makes 19 year old Flora so – well, un-19ish. I don’t mean she looks older than 19. I mean she has the confidence of someone much older at a guess, as was suggested by dungeekin, I’d say Flora grew up not only socializing with children her own age but also spent a lot of time hanging out with the adults as well. Also, she does rock a slightly retro look – which suits her. Interestingly though – she’s kinda firmly upper middle of the pack. She’s obviously a very informed baker, has done it since she was high enough to reach the top of the counter, researches what she wants to do etc … and while engaged in the act of baking, confident, well-spoken relaxed. When being judged she is all nail-biting and winces – and though it doesn’t happen often, when something goes wrong (even though it doesn’t go HIDEOUSLY wrong) she deflates. We know Flora is the eldest of a number of siblings and I suspect a type A child of type A parents.
PAUL 2: You know, I think Paul 2 just might finally be enjoying himself. Yes, the brulees puffed up too much despite all that practice but his technical challenge was top of the field and his showstopper won smiles all around. After that special commendation-winning lion, we want Paul 2 to stick around so we can see what he does next. His goal this week seemed to be “Get Mary drunk” what with the “adult” creme brulee and the booze soaked cheese cakes. It might have worked if Mary were judging alone but Paul H is made of sterner stuff. From a looks perspective by the by – I adored Paul 2’s cheesecake tower. Those berries were GORGEOUS.
TAMAL: Was very much, in my mind, up for Star Baker this week. Tamal, like Sandy, always keeps his sense of humour about him but unlike Sandy this week, also kept his head. His creme brulees were spot on and during the technical challenge he seemed to be the only person in the tent who KNEW what violets were supposed to look like. This no doubt helped balance out the fact that he only had ONE kind of piping on his Tarted Up Pavlova – sorry, Spanish Wind cake. He leapt in to help Sandy, was even more devastated than she was when her bake went flop but this in no way impacted on his results since his cheesecakes kicked ass from a taste and look perspective. While I have no issue with Ian winning Star Baker – I do think Tamal did JUST as well (if not a SMIDGE better) this week and he deserved it. But you know what? Tamal has been consistently top notch. He’ll get it at some point.
UGNE: Oh Ugne get your hair out of your eyes. You can’t bake if you can’t see. Also, I am beginning to think Ugne has a bit of a chocolate fixation. Not that this is a bad thing – I myself have one. I just note it and think MAYBE it’s gonna end up getting in the way for her. What becomes important as the episodes click by is showing a breadth of skills and bakes. If it’s chocolate and caramel, every single week someone’s gonna get bored (Paul quite likely) and they will call you out for being too one-note (Again, quite likely Paul but Mary might gently suggest a bit of variety would be welcome). Also, quit using things we’ve never heard of! What the hell is marula?
MAT: Thanks to Mat, we learned that Mary does not care for desiccated coconut. Actually, we learned that Mary has “come to enjoy coconut a bit more” – which translates to “Coconut? Ewwww.” Both of which she said to you, Mat during the first round. So what did you do in the third round? Used coconut. Mat, what I said last week about raising your game still stands. Oh and Mat – stop flirting with Ugne. “how do yours wobble? The brulees that is.” She’s a body builder and will break you in half, assuming Mrs Mat has not done so after the sassiness of last week. Also – Mat, you remember what I said last week about raising your game? Your custard was runny and your judge wasn’t happy. Get on that.
ALVIN: This week Alvin learned that to survive , you don’t have to be better than everyone – just be better than one. And this week, he was ever so slightly better off than Sandy. Well, according to Paul and Mary. I might have made a different decision – especially based on the results of the technical challenge. Both Alvin and Sandy had trouble getting things to set – custard and cheesecake but Alvin really screwed the pooch on the Spanish Wind Torte. There is a definite difference between French meringue and Swiss meringue. If the judges can’t tell the difference when judging, something has gone more than wrong. Another thing – Alvin doesn’t seem to be learning from his mistakes. More than once, Alvin has been kneecapped by fresh fruit making things too wet. Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Alvin – stop the insanity.
Next week: ‘Free-from’ baking. Yes, it is exactly what you think it is – recipes with no gluten, no sugar or no dairy. Hmmmm …
In the meantime, keep on dancin’ Sandy