The Great British Bake Off: 8:08 Forgotten Bakes Week
Suddenly we are at the Quarter Final stage and the pressure was certainly on for the final five as they faced Forgotten Bakes Week. Gold star if you have heard of a Bedfordshire Clanger, a Rumnicky or a Savoy Cake. Most of the contestants had not.
That’s right, a Bedfordshire Clanger, which is sort of like a posh pasty. Suet pastry holds its fillings; sweet at one end and savoury at the other with an inner wall separating them both. As is Bake Off tradition it did not take long for the obvious pun to be heard yet Katie’s worry about dropping a clanger became spookily prophetic.
The trick for the Signature Challenge was getting the pastry right; robust but not stodgy and then essentially praying for no leakage. Stacey’s was the first to leak as her wet filling of thick Cinnamon Custard with Apples also featured exploding Blueberries. At least the pastry was flaky and the Camembert with Caramelised Onions was a hit which even merited a Hollywood handshake. Another which impressed was Steven’s 'Mediterranean Medley’ of Sweet Potato, Feta and Onion then Orange Blossom Date Baklava. The imaginary Trump Wall was a nice touch even if the end result was floppy (feel free to insert your own pun there) with a lovely spice blend and Paul could only criticise the shape of the pastry.
If there is ever anyone who looks to be having fun in the tent it is Liam and his ‘Take Out’ efforts were inspired by his favourite pizza topping of Pesto Chicken and Mozzarella. His sweet end was Apple and Plums and the four came complete with dipping sauces which proved a strange new development in 2017 for Prue. Dipping sauces? For pizza? While they looked like takeaway garlic bread, the pesto packed a punch yet the pastry was delicate, almost too delicate. Sophie even went further with her daring flavour combinations; Pork Loin Char Sui coupled with Banana and Pecan Praline. Alas, the savoury was disappointing and the sweet was overly dry which made for a concerning start. Then there was Katie who inevitably managed to drop a clanger with her Mexican Bean Burrito with Caribbean Banana Rice Pudding. Not only did she actually drop one but she failed to mark them so it was a lucky dip which spicy flavour you got. Not only that, they were tough, undercooked and criminally unseasoned yet at least the rice pudding was tasty.
For those who are not aware (i.e. most of us) a Rumnicky is a traditional dessert from Cumberland which is a large sweet tart with a rum soaked fruit filling covered in a pastry lattice and accompanied by rum butter. Cue shots of each contestant trying to decipher the recipe amid mass confusion. According to Paul it should taste of rum but not be boozy. Of course, it would not be the Technical Challenge without robbing the tent of modern handheld appliances meaning the butter was mixed by hand and they even took away the measuring jugs, cruel. The lattice seemed particularly troublesome; was it intricate overlapping or cuts that reveal a lattice pattern? Few knew it was supposed to reach the end of the baking dish and even Liam looked flustered. He was pressed for time and his raw base guaranteed him last place. Fair to say no-one nailed it; Sophie’s lattice had no gaps so the alcohol failed to evaporate and she was fourth, Stacey’s soggy bottom got her third, Katie’s perfect rum butter left her in second spot which left Steven’s which had a nice colour and balanced flavours but had a haphazard lattice. All to play for in the showstopper then.
Back in the Victorian age the Savoy Cake was a banqueting centrepiece. Featuring an elaborate mould with a hard sugar coating they were spectacular but inedible. No fat or rising agent was used and they had to be delicately and gently prepared by relying on folding in whipped egg whites. Tricky.
After recovering from her near exit last week, Stacey was out to impress and decided on one lemon and one orange flavoured sponge to maintain tradition. Her ‘Bright’ Savoy Cake was then decorated with macarons, madeleines, meringues and jellies which certainly gave it a bright, busy appearance. Quite an achievement considering her oven door flew off meaning she had to stand guard to ensure it baked. More importantly, the sponges were well textured but the macarons were soggy, perhaps a tad overambitious. Yet after her impressive clangers this was enough to gain her Star Baker. Quite the comeback.
While last week it was fairly obvious who had done well and who had come short, this week it was anyone’s guess who could have left. One who was fairly secure was Steven who nailed his semi-final spot after going a bit daring. Few people would know where to find chestnut puree, let alone bake with it. The flavour was not quite there but the candied nuts and sixteen hand crafted fondant flowers gave an elegant and simple appearance. Technically superb, as we have come to expect from him. Katie could not drop any more clangers and she brought her Savoy Cake into the 21st century. We have already seen her attempt to incorporate John Lennon into her baking and her ‘Liver Building Turret’ was another Scouse homage. The Pecan and Caramel flavouring was a little bold and the sixty, yes, SIXTY eggs used gave the sponges a certain yellow tinge and a simplistic look but was enough to sneak through.
It had really been an ordeal for Sophie and she needed her showstopper to triumph if she was to remain. Keeping it traditional she opted for a Classic Citrus with Green Apple Croquembouche Savoy Cake, even covering hers in parchment and string. Its high and regal appearance was fit to grace any royal table, the sponge was only just overbaked and the flavours were there meaning she had redeemed herself. Then there was Liam who tried to take us to Hogwarts with his ‘Fort Wizardore’ Savoy Cake decorated with spun sugar, chocolate wands (snigger) and tiny bottles of bourbon caramel sauce. Cruelly he finished too early so the spun sugar melted leaving a pathetic, forlorn appearance. The sponge was dense and, surprisingly for him, had little flavour which was criminal at this stage. Even the bottom sponge was burnt and in the background to the others being judged you could see he was keenly worried. He was right to be as a disastrous last two rounds had cemented his exit. He was clearly a viewers favourite and will be missed.