The Great British Bake Off: 5.06 European Cake Week
As if the Great British Bake Off needed an excuse for silly accents, they went Eurovision for European Cake week.
According to Martha, this would be a week where many were "winging it" and she was not wrong. With a week to prepare there were still a few worried faces for the signature challenge which was of yeast-leavened cakes. That's right, this would be a baking powder free zone with the emphasis placed on leaving enough time for the yeast to work its magic. The proof would be in the pudding.
As ever, Luis showed his extravagant side with an Apple and Cinnamon Kugelhopf covered in honeyed apples. If only TasteVision had been invented as its moist, sticky deliciousness impressed the judges. Chetna, aka 'The Flavour Queen' lived up to her title though her Orange Savarin with Pistachio and Cinnamon cream looked a little Barbie Doll-esque due to too much syrup.
Richard admitted to a little insider knowledge as he has a German brother-in-law so this should have been a little more straightforward for him. Like Nancy he created a 'sponge', which basically sparks the yeast into life by leaving it with a few base ingredients. Alas, his Guglhopf looked a little simple with its dried fruit but that was nothing compared to Nancy's Caribbean themed Rum Punch Savarin complete with miniature umbrella.
Martha again seemed to want to prove her maturity by mixing alcohol and chocolate for her Dark Chocolate and Almond Liqueur and looked pretty smug with how it went down with the judges. Remember, she's still only 17. Like Nancy, Kate branched out with her Israeli Pecan, Chocolate and Sour Cherry Savarin though she seemed to want to impress too much with the swirls and ponytails. After all that, Paul concluded it was dry.
Then it was time for the technical challenge, a Swedish Princess Cake. This looked especially cruel and if 'Bez' (Mary Berry) tells you to read the recipe twice then you know it is going to be tough. In fact, there were 26 separate ingredients and 14 stages. Yup. THAT tough. By its completion they should have had a dome covered in green marzipan decorated with chocolate icing and a rose while inside should be distinct layers of sponge, creme patissiere and jam. A cake fit for royalty to be done in a couple of hours. Good luck with that.
Cue pure bedlam as contestants managed to contend with KitchenAids on full blast and two pans at once as their speed and multi-tasking prowess were put to the absolute test. Kate had to re-do her sponge, as did Chetna after some persuasion. Even Martha seemed to struggle with her maths, something she will realise does not really matter when she leaves full-time education. Hilariously, Nancy managed to forget Paul Hollywood's name.
No-one seemed content with their finished cakes and perhaps half an hour more would have been fair. Richard's had collapsed, which is distinctly embarrassing for a builder. Kate's also collapsed, but more worryingly she had tried to get away with separate pieces of marzipan as a cover while Luis' looked neat but lacked cream. Only Martha with her clear layers, Chetna bringing her flavour to the table and Nancy's excellent dome left with any real credit.
The brief for the final showstopper round was to create a two-tiered Hungarian Dobos Torte with plenty of caramel and sugar work. Clearly, this was a round for the exhibitionists and again Luis excelled with his interpretation of a local statue for 'The Cage On The Rocky Hill'. The caramel work looked stunning yet he made it look effortless and he even found time to clean his workspace at the end. Paul pulled him up for the lack of flavour yet he had followed the brief to a tee.
Someone who had failed to do that was Kate. Despite three tiers of raspberry, chocolate and orange sponge hers showed a lack of skill and showmanship. Richard looked to impress and left Mary open mouthed with the description of his ten-layered tiers and Sugar Forest. The torte looked delicate but drooped and was deemed dry, it was looking precarious for the ever jovial builder. Nancy looked very pleased with herself after her Chocolate and Caramel Torte as the even layers impressed and Paul demolished it with gusto, which is usually a good sign in itself.
Martha opted for a chess themed chocolate torte with caramel pieces which looked uneven and Mary was peeved that she had used a mould for the chess pieces. A little harsh but then you remember the Death Stare she delivered to Enwezor for his shop-bought fondant icing.
After a few weeks of looking exceedingly competent but not really standing out, this was Chetna's time to shine as she was awarded Star Baker. Then the real controversy but this week it was one that many could agree on. Due to Diana's exit the option of not actually eliminating a contestant was always there. Of course, at the outset of the series there would be a set amount of episodes commissioned so it was to be expected but it was pretty drawn out. Did Paul and Mary really argue? Were they really considering eliminating both Richard and Kate? Possibly not but it made for a few relieved hugs at the end of a tough week. Tot volgende week.