The Great British Bake off went back to the roaring 20s this week.
Grab your flat caps and your flapper dresses as we are going back to the Roaring ’20’s. Last week may have been a collection of disasters so this provided a playful party theme for the contestants to get creative. Even the Signature Challenge of four custard pies could have been tongue in cheek yet this was no joke as the competition hits the halfway stage. Make no mistake, the shortcrust pastry needed to be melt in the mouth coupled with a silky smooth custard and a timely decoration from the decade itself, anything but would send hopes crashing.
Alice opted for chocolate flavoured pastry for her Chocolate & Orange Custard Pies. A daring move and a custard which needed suitably less orange, even Prue imagined its intensity involved booze. David simply went for Fancy Custards, complete with delicately prepared flapper girl biscuits. Though he looked close to tears when he removed his tarts from the oven the custard was beautifully set and another Hollywood Handshake was out. Ever complex, Michael went for Mango and Lime Custard in a Ginger-infused shortcrust though he just needed neatness and a bit more filling. While flavoured pastry was a risk in itself, Priya went one better by preparing two separate custards; lemon and raspberry rippled together in a lemon flavoured shortcrust. Though the pastry was too thick, she’d somehow managed to boil the custard.
For this week’s ghoulish creation, Helena had gone for a Greek Gorgon represented in her Lemon and Lavender Pies. The tentacles dipping in and out of the pies was typically horrifying as was the soapy lavender taste. Henry’s 1920’s pies followed an equally less conventional link. For those unaware, the ’20’s marked the birth of the American drink, Kool-Aid, so he celebrated their original flavours with lemon and lime flavoured pies decorated with raspberry coulis. For all that thought, the pastry was a thick and over-baked letdown.
Michelle’s Blueberry & White Chocolate Crème Brûlée Pies were decorated with edible flowers, as if to evoke the decoration on the dresses from the decade itself. Alas, neither judge could taste the blueberry and the brûlée was neither here nor there. Steph’s Zesty Citrus Custard Pies certainly got full marks for flavour though quite what the meringue decoration was meant to be was anyone’s guess. At some point Rosie’s veterinary clinic will notice the missing horse vaccine needles yet for now she put them to good use by creating sublime elderflower jelly domes for some glamour atop her Little Blackberry Pies. She then dropped one which resulted in an awkward silence and an awkwardly long trail of custard on the floor. Oops.
The Technical Challenge was another, ‘yer what?’ trial and error. If the contestants fail to have heard of what they are supposed to be reproducing, let alone tasted one, then that truly is raising the bar. Beignet Soufflés certainly appear to be like profiteroles yet the real trick was to ensure the choux pastry was airy prior to being deep-fried. Cue clueless contestants checking each other’s pans to see if anyone actually knew what they were supposed to be doing. One lady who might have was Alice due to her French background yet even she struggled. Michael looked close to tears as he stumbled towards presenting something, anything. Thankfully he did but was second last above David who went from the high of a Hollywood Handshake to bottom of the pile due to misshapen, raw balls. Despite her split cream, Helena somehow got top place.
Of course, they couldn’t reference the ’20’s without mentioning Prohibition so the Showstopper was a multi-tiered cocktail inspired cake. The sheer mention of which got Prue excited. After such an up and down week David went for the contrasting flavours of smooth Amaretto and Aromatic Bitters for his Amaretto Sour Cake. The buttercream was grainy yet David had seemingly done enough having earned that earlier handshake. Henry kept it classy with coffee flavoured sponge and buttercream for his typically ’20’s looking White Russian Cake. Similarly, Rosie’s version was a slight upgrade with vodka swiss meringue buttercream and a thick dark chocolate ganache. The design may have been a tad unkempt but the boozy flavours were certainly there. Michael had endured this week yet went into the final round relatively safe of elimination. His elegant Brambling Cake was flavoured with gin and lemon, though the blackberry syrup was a lacklustre smear rather than a visible trickle through the layers.
Then there were the Pina Colada cakes. Alice’s clumsily designed variation riffed on a pineapple upside down with rum flavoured sponges and coconut buttercream while Priya decided to go truly Prohibition and not involve any alcohol at all for her delicately flavoured Meena Colada Cake. Evidence that she may have lost her mind came when she spoke about herself in the third person. Steph’s went old school by using tinned pineapple for her Sour Lime Pina Colada Cake and due to such a consistently good week she was crowned Star Baker. Alas, Michelle’s effort rather summed up her trying week as her My Little Sister, the Dancing Queen cake was confusing in its decoration and flavouring and with that she left the tent. She wasn’t the only one as the double elimination finally came into play. Despite winning the technical challenge, Helena joined her following her Vampire’s Kiss Raspberry Vodka Cake. The red velvet sponge certainly looked blood red and was supposedly soaked in her homemade spirit though to everyone’s surprise the sponge was bland and dry which sealed her ghoulish fate.
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