The Great British Bake Off: 10.06 Dessert Week
Mmm. Dessert Week on The Great British Bake Off, though this was largely delivered with a French twist. Meringues, Verrines and Celebratory Bombe Cakes lay in wait, so did Bavarois and Ganache, Crème du Beurre, Crème Pâtissière and Chantilly Cream. Miam miam, as the French would say.
First up was the Signature Challenge of a Layered Meringue Cake and this seemed like a straightforward task which is saying something this far into the competition. Even if the contestants had to be architects to ensure the layers held their own, sculpturists to show definition, some also had to demonstrate their French for all the fantastique fillings.
Alice went full on fairytale with her basket shaped Black Forest Meringue mixed with Chocolate flavoured Mousse then Meringue with Cherry flavoured Compote and Buttercream. The 'but then' from Paul was about missing flavours, predominantly the cherry which could, and should, have been soaked in booze. Bold flavours of cloves, star anise and cinnamon was David's means of making a mark coupled with figs and berries for his Spiced Meringue Surprise. The expectation was that it would look stunning, which it did, the disappointment being that the spices overwhelmed both judges.
Rosie opted for salted caramel with Layers of Lime and Raspberry which seemed to work well together. Yet again, Paul had another 'however' as the Chocolate Ganache (a French sauce made with chocolate and cream) was too much of a good thing. Similarly there were four, albeit uneven, layers of pistachio and Crème Pâtissière (a creamy French custard) for Henry's Towering Meringue Cake. Despite all that, his unassuming homemade raspberry jam was the star feature.
Michael plumped for decadence in his Dark Chocolate Meringue Cake; of Orange Crème au Beurre (French buttercream) smothered with Chocolate and Orange Ganache with a dash of orange liquor. Maybe this was too much, apparently there was too much chocolate, seriously.
Priya soon resorted to the bottle with Amaretto flavoured Crème Pâtissière for her Family Favourite. Despite it being Prue's birthday she hesitated at too much liquor while the Blueberry Crème au Beurre flourishes simply gave the cake a revolting, unappetising appearance. Even the Almond Dacquoise (a French dessert cake made with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue with whipped cream) was overbaked. Then there was Steph who was rolling the crest of back to back Star Baker awards. Yet again, she made it all look so effortless as her Eton Mess featuring Raspberries with White Chocolate Cream Cheese was so neat it looked shop bought.
Has anyone heard of a Verrine? No? Good. As it was this week's Technical Challenge, six of them in fact. Layered with Mango Compote, Coconut Panna Cotta, Raspberry Jelly topped with Coconut and Lime Streusel with a Sablé Biscuit. All in two and a half hours. After the contestants pulled their heads out of their hands they started with the biscuits. Soon enough the retro looking fridges were in extensive use as each layer had to be cooled. Even basic maths made a comeback as each component needed to be precisely measured.
Then the Panna Cotta had to be chilled so the Raspberry Jelly sat on top. Then the Streusel with diced mango needed to be added. Then each Sablé Biscuit had to sit delicately on each glass. Keeping up? Good. Priya's week went from bad to worse as she was bottom due to runny layers and too much Streusel, Michael was also in trouble with uneven layers. At the other end, David was second with his neat lines and Alice's efforts were deemed near perfect with sharp lines and tasty layers.
If the Layered Meringue Cake seemed simple, the Showstopper Challenge was anything but; a Celebratory Bombe Dessert is not to be mishandled. Like any explosive device, each component had to be tenderly managed so the spherical cake could unveil its inner elements. Just as with the technical, keeping the creation chilled was essential to add each layer until the bombe was ready to be deployed/decorated. Some contestants even found time between cooling to play games, chat and have a coffee before the crucial moment that the covers and cling film were off. Cue the ominous, nerve shredding music.
Unbeknown to the rest only Michael and Priya were in danger so the rest could enjoy themselves. Rosie's Ruby Bombe appeared like an extravagantly decorated red cartoon explosive and the contents were equally lively of Mango Bavarois, Honey Cake and topped with Lemon and Hibiscus Mousse. The layers looked neon coloured and the mango simply didn't complement itself to the rest. David went rogue for his Delightful Bombe. First, the sharp hit of Lemon and Shiso Leaf Sorbet then the chilled White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse with Raspberry and Rose Jelly in colourful, defined layers.
Bless him, Henry actually thought he was in trouble with his Bonfire Bombe. The Cinnamon Meringue was fine yet the Mousses of Bramley Apple and Spiced Honey were largely bland and the Cinnamon Sponge was stodgy. Even a touch of Chantilly (French whipped cream) failed to retrieve it though kudos for the genius move of separating each layer with cardboard for easy chilling. It was Michael's birthday, so they couldn't send him home today, could they? No, of course not, they're not monsters. Even though his Black Forest Bombe looked like either an old ladies hat or a classic '70's dessert. His technique was called into question as his Cherry Cheesecake was runny and his Raspberry Jelly too punchy, he certainly gave the bottom a cheeky wink.
Priya really needed her Summer Fruit Bombe to steal the show. It certainly looked eye catching, perhaps the Raspberry Meringue shards looked decidedly phallic. The Dark Chocolate Mousse and Summer Fruit Bavarois (a milky, French gelatinous dessert) were fine yet when the liquor soaked Raspberry Sponge failed to hit home her time in the tent was over.
Battling it out at the top was Alice and when she finally got her Tiramisu Bombe out of its case it did appear lopsided but beautiful, according to the judges at least. Most importantly, the delicate flavours of Espresso Chocolate Mousse with Pistachio Parfait (a French iced dessert) and rum addled Marscapone Cream were divine. Steph was not going to give up her crown lightly and opted for a Dark Chocolate Mousse structure over Coffee Bavarois in her Mirror Bombe. At the bottom was a Joconde (a French almond flavoured sponge) and at the top was a shiny Chocolate Glaze. Finally Paul relented and admitted that was one of the finest things he'd even eaten. With that, Steph had the record of three Star Baker awards in a row. Can anyone knock her off her perch?