Dessert Week proved tricky enough with meringue, blancmange and melting chocolate balls
There was something missing from week four of The Great British Bake Off. Not a shortage of ingredients nor crucial fridge space but a certain moustached cult figure was ill. #PrayForTerry indeed though he would get a bye through Dessert Week.
To ease them in gently the signature challenge was typically tricky; Meringue Roulade. So many elements had to be just right to get that crisp outside and spiral middle. Those were the aesthetics yet the flavours had to be balanced with a predominantly sour filling contrasting with the sweet of the meringue. Then the timing to make the meringue just right for rolling and the filling thick enough not to ooze out. Finally, pray to the Dessert Gods that the roulade remains intact.
Soon enough, Hollywood was out with his handshakes. As anyone who has had a a fresh Key Lime Pie will know, the citrus is the star and Dan’s Florida Roulade did not disappoint. Loosely based on exotic coconut and lime cocktails, he achieved the elusive spiral with fresh flavours to grab the first of this week’s Hollywood Handshakes. The star of Jon’s Mango and Passion Fruit Roulade were the genius mango spheres that resembled egg yolks though he was commended for the passion fruit flavour shining through and another handshake was duly turned out.
The rest was largely a mixed bag. Manon impressed with her balanced use of Amarene and Kirsch Cherries yet technical issues plagued everyone else. Briony would stick with family flavours and her Treacle Tart filling seeped out of excessively thick meringue. Similarly, an overzealous raspberry and passion fruit filling plagued Kim Joy ‘Sweet Dreams’ Roulade.
Booze has featured heavily in the series so far and this was not the first time Ruby had incorporated alcohol into her cooking. Her Pina Colada Roulade with coconut rum, roasted pineapple and desiccated coconut was a fitting tribute to her uni nights out. Karen’s Irish Coffee Cream and Praline Roulade was not as joyous and slumped onto the plate. Perhaps the pressure of being Star Baker for the last two weeks played on Rahul as he suffered a bout of nerves for his neat and sharp Rhubarb and Custard Roulade though it was under-baked.
The technical challenge was a 70s classic of a wobbly Raspberry Blancmange which had to set inside two and a half hours. To achieve that teetering consistency the raspberries had to be pureed and the custard just thick enough. Then the science bit, one hour in the freezer then another in the fridge so the gelatine could react. There was just enough time for more praying to the Dessert Gods that the blancmange had set and would plop out of the mould.
If that was not hard enough they were accompanied by twelve French Langue de Chat biscuits which, obviously, only Manon had heard of. However, such familiarity was lost on her blancmange as she left it to freeze then collapse. Inevitably, she was bottom and joined by Karen for her anaemic blancmange and under-baked biscuits. Top of the pile was Dan who was off to a flier.
The Showstopper really was just that, a Melting Chocolate Ball. One of those desserts you see for someone’s anniversary and wonder if the Chef needed a physics degree to achieve it or that they prayed to ever Dessert God available. Clearly, the dessert inside had to be delicious and simply had to combine with the hot sauce poured on top. Anything less than that and it could be curtains, or so we thought.
Those who opted for white chocolate for their ball soon realised what an error that was. You see, white chocolate can easily sieze and scorches very easily which is far from ideal for melting. Briony would be in tears with her Blood Orange & Amaretto Sticky Toffee Sphere which resembled the remnants of a sticky 80s horror film creature though the family flavours redeemed her. Ruby would need Jon’s assistance to finish off her Golden Chocolate Egg surrounding a Passion Fruit Meringue. Finally, the Paul we all love to hate returned as he deemed it sickly and even difficult to eat.
That left Dan and Rahul to fight it out for Star Baker. Rahul came out all guns blazing with his Coffee and Chocolate Opera Cake in a Kalash-Inspired Dome. He now even has his own distinct style of elegance and neatness which was lost on Paul as he hacked at the chocolate but it was worth the effort as Prue could not hide her enjoyment. Cruel Paul made another appearance as he made Rahul squirm with the silent treatment only to excitedly praise the decadent flavours. Dan retaliated with a Giant Peach of Peach and Hazelnut Joconde that resembled a suplhur based planet. The balance between the fresh fruit and nut flavours was enough to seal the deal. Planet Delicious indeed. Pushing them both close was Jon who took inspiration from his daughters’ ballet lessons for the eleven layers of Raspberry and White Chocolate Ganache which came complete with tutu and slippers. The subtlety of his design turned grizzly as if a brain had been uncovered but looked and tasted sensational.
Three ladies were in trouble going into the final round. The surprise of Manon’s White Chocolate Renaissance Ball was that the white chocolate survived. Not only that but a typically sophisticated French Entremet of White Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry Curd and Praline crowned a return to form. The rustic, decadent flavours of Karen’s Chateau du Chambord Framboise Chocolate Brownie looked to have saved her. That left Kim Joy and her Melting Chocolate Galaxy ball which looked suitably vivid only to fall away to reveal a colony of orange flavored Choux Space Turtles (no, seriously). The design was flawless and the dessert looked suitably cute. Then the bombshell that no-one was going home but do not get too excited, that likely means a double elimination next week. #PrayForTerry
Guessed the spoiler? Are modern audiences too savvy for TV show twists?
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum