The 1947 Club kicks off tomorrow (for the uninitiated – across the blogosphere we’re encouraging everybody to read and review any book published anywhere in the world in 1947, to get an overview of the year collaboratively) – so I thought I ought to make sure the GBBO recap happens first. After the somewhat confusing theme last week, we’re back to tradition with… dessert week!
And… we don’t get any Mel and Sue bit before the titles. This is rather disconcerting, and a Taste of Things To Come. Instead, we get our brief recap, that young girl eating raspberries in the opening titles (I hope she’s now doing shopping centre appearances and signing autographs; she is the most recognisable silent TV child since that lass who pointed at the blackboard next to the terrifying doll in the old BBC test card), and a bevvy of bakers putting on aprons.
Andrew assures us that he is ‘a desserts man through and through’, and the interviewer somehow engineers a way to get him to say ‘down’, as it is one of the best words to hear in a Northern Irish accent. Jane, meanwhile, says of the other contestants “I love them all, but” and I stop listening because I don’t want to be the witness to the death threats that will inevitably follow.
Nah, but I love Jane. My favourites are Benjamina, Selasi, Candice, and Jane – but Jane is the only one of those I’d feel able to talk to in person, as the others are so young and cool and collected that I’d just giggle and cry. I hope Jane takes this in the warm-hearted spirit with which it was intended; essentially, I can see us at a coffee morning together.
Candice points out that, with so few bakers left in the tent, ‘there really is nowhere to hide’, which suggests that hitherto she has evaded eviction solely by folding herself up into the fridge.
Tom talks about The Curse of the Star Baker – apparently Mel and Sue’s efforts the other week to make that an accepted benchmark have succeeded. What has ALSO succeeded – segue much? – is the attendance at Blazer Watch. All four are lined up for inspection, and you can tell by his face that Paul knows he hasn’t brought the necessaries.
Verdict: loving Sue and Mel’s blazers and colour combos. That’s not really a blazer, Mary, but we’ll let it slide because it’s colourful and you’ve made an effort. Mr Hollywood – see me later.
The signature challenge for this week is a roulade – of the sponge variety, rather than meringue, and known as the Swiss roll to many of us. I have made a rather bad apricot and brandy snap roulade in my time, so I feel fully equipped to assess. What I will say is that this follows the trend of the series of doing relatively simple challenges. (Incidentally, I made Viennese whirls this weekend, and they were very tasty though my piping is very much not up to scratch.)
Benjamina confides in the listener that it is another week, while Selasi adds the helpful addendum that we are getting closer to the final. Having sorted out the rudimentaries of time, we’re ready to see some roulades being made.
Mary is in the Garden of Instruction, letting us know that a roulade should have a nice spiral (which is a step better than these segments usually are, as Mezza and Pezza tend only to advise that the baked good should be ‘perfect’). Yes, she just moves her finger round in a circle, rather than a spiral, but we’ll take it.
Andrew is playing to his strengths – having ginger hair – by introducing orange stripes in the sponge of his bake, a technique which has a French (?) term that I am not going to attempt to type down. It’s a nice idea.
He’s possibly the only baker who’s doing very much out of the ordinary, in terms of technique and decoration. Selasi, for instance, is making a nice lemon and strawberry roulade with the rather unambitious addition of piped cream. ‘Fresh’ notes Colouring Pencils Man, doing the best he can without a lot to excite.
Mary advises that she wants no crack at all in the roulade – the sort of request one need only make if one has already been offered a hash brownie.
Slightly more adventurously, Tom is intending to put the ingredients for millionaire’s shortbread in his roulade – possibly (I wouldn’t like to guess) in a veiled comment about Paul’s decision to pursue money rather than honour in choosing Channel 4 over the BBC. Look, it’s possible. Also possible is that Paul detects this subtle jab, and this is why he seems uncertain about the introduction of a biscuity-type-thing (technical term) to a roulade. I couldn’t say. (NB: I do realise none of this is possible.) (Or is it?) (No.)
Benjamina is making a pina colada roulade, replete with cocktail umbrella, but this is all white noise for Mary B until she hears the word ‘rum’. Which earns Benjamina (hurrah!) this excellent Mary Berry wink.
Candice seems to be relegated this challenge to being the baker who tells us what the time is, and puts things in and out of ovens as a marker of said time. Which is a shame, because her raspberry/passion fruit/white chocolate roulade sounds entirely delicious. Those flavours are making me feel desperately hungry. I shouldn’t recap before dinner.
We head over to Tom, who is starting again – much to Mel’s consternation in her usual doom-laden voiceover. He seems pretty chirpy about it himself, waggling an eyebrow around with aplomb. Meanwhile, Jane is busy taking the controversy of the week – rolling her roulade the wrong way! Gasps a-plenty. Colouring Pencils Man makes sly digs at this decision, with his illustration that preempts the lack of a complete spiral in Jane’s roulade.
Apparently she does this to get more slices out of it – which seems rather unnecessary in the context of the competition, but I do also like that she’s sticking to tried and true techniques.
Various curds are made – Selasi makes a victory grimace at the camera when Benjamina enjoys his – and then Mel seems entirely overcome by mere proximity to Selasi. We see bakers spread cream or curd or sauce in their roulades, and there is much talk of overfilling. Let me tell you, I wildly overfilled that one roulade I made. And then – rolling! They all make the rolling look pretty easy. It’s almost a relief to see Tom spread chocolate with the (sorry Tom) lack of finesse that I would anticipate in my own efforts.
A little orchestra, and a montage of people doing absurd things like filling raspberries with cream, tell us that the challenge is over.
Jane’s roulade looks delicious – but, as Nostradamus with the colouring pencils predicted, it does not have a full spiral.
Paul isn’t sure about the alcohol, but Mary enjoys the mixture, and looks delightfully self-aware about her boozehound status.
Benjamina does OK, though her fake coconut is too fake, and Tom is told he should have added cream. Over at Casa de Candice, I enjoy once more the amount of effort she puts into the presentation of her bakes – an effort which, as always, appears to be entirely overlooked by the judges (especially since Selasi gets fits of giddy appreciation from Mary after dumping his roulade on a photo frame – presumably the closest thing he had to hand at the time). But just look at this.
Andrew comes out on top, though, despite his swirl being rather collapsed because of the softness of the filling. Selasi does well, but doesn’t provide enough lemon curd for Mary “loves a lemon” Berry.
Aaaand it’s Technical Challenge time! The bakers are being asked to make… a marjolaine. Sure sure. My response was not unlike Candice’s:
Turns out it’s a French layered gateaux, with cream and meringue and ganache, and nobody knows anything about it. Tom immediately claims that the only part of it he’s made before is ganache – I absolutely refuse to believe that he’s never made meringue before.
Andrew pronounces the ‘l’ in almonds so he swoops to the bottom of my rankings.
They start off with a dacquoise – which Mary Berry describes as a ‘glorified meringue’ – and we whisk (ahahaha) through the initial stages so quickly that I can only assume it’s quite easy. They make what they can of a ‘to pipe or not to pipe’ moment. It’s the Hamlet/Magritte mash-up we’ve all long been waiting for.
In the blink of an eye, everybody seems to have done more or less everything except compiling and decorating, and two excellent things happen. Firstly, this little lad:
and, secondly, Mel delivers her intro to Whither Baking? by popping out from behind a tree, squirrel-like.
This takes us to a history of praline that you’d know about if you read OxfordWords. Sue matches her personal best with awkward interviews; the poor French folk she quizzes don’t seem to get her sense of humour at all. At one point she starts mocking the French accent. Let’s go back to the tent, shall we?
The bakers are removing their dacquoise (whatever the plural is) from the oven, and make an impressive job of taking them out of tins without them crumbling into piles of piped dreams. (I am on FIRE with my pipe jokes today, n’est-ce pas?) Andrew’s does crack, but Mel promises to keep the secret to the grave – apparently unaware that they are being filmed.
My favourite moment of the episode is when Andrew describes the desired look as ‘like a Viennetta but posher’, and Sue replies ‘Doesn’t get posher than a Viennetta, my darling’. Do people have Viennetta outside of the UK? Will that translate? It’s a wonderful cultural benchmark.
How should one pipe the chocolate around the top? This has all the marks of the Arbitrary Judging Factor that will prove all-important.
Some nuts and whatnot are scattered in intriguing lines on top, and everybody is finished. I’m super impressed by this line up. It all looks extremely good – and very similar – to me.
Mary and Paul make the most of the judging – and yes, of course, the chocolate piping comes up. They manage to say ‘layers’ a lot, even though everybody has done them correctly and there is nothing to say. Paul is left with such evident nonsense as “though it’s crisp, there’s a nice chew to it, and the chew melts”.
From last to first… Selasi, Tom, Jane, Benjamina, Candice, and Andrew. Well done Ando. He described himself as ‘chuffed’ in the outside interview bit, which I hope will baffle some non-British viewers.
Time for the Showstopper Challenge, you say? Well, you’re not wrong, give or take the judges and presenters sitting around the table and telling us that pretty much everybody is in trouble, Mel and Sue included. Heck, even I might be in trouble. Anyway – they will be making mousse cakes. Yum!
Mary and Paul describe what the texture of the mousse should be like (combined, oddly, with shots of Benjamina cutting apples and Candice zesting a lemon) and Mary warns that it should not be too set, whatever that means. Back in the tent, I’m already very impressed with Jane’s fleur-de-lis. I have spent much of the episode wondering if this had initially been French week, and then changed to dessert week, and these do nothing to dispel that suspicion.
Apparently these are created in ‘decor paste’, which sounds disgusting, but is actually just cake mixture with egg whites instead of the whole egg. Whatever it is, sign me up. Only partly cos Colouring Pencils Man gets to dig out his non-beige-scale crayons.
Less enticing, to me, are Benjamina’s and Tom’s – as they’re both using apples. I like an apple, but it’s always at the bottom of my list when it comes to dessert ingredient choices.
Mel makes dire warnings about the time mousse will take to set. Selasi intends to use the freezer for a bit, and Mary thinks this is an excellent idea. “It adds an extra chill” she notes to Selasi, who must surely have known what a freezer does. Mary is still remembering the days of being sent down to the ice house, of course.
I learnt something in this episode about gelatin. Apparently it comes in sheets. Who knew? (It’s also making me wonder if all the mousse I’ve eaten in restaurants over the years has secretly not been suitable for vegetarians… oh well!) Here’s Jane tossing some sheets into her bowl.
Guess what? Too much gelatin is TERRIBLE. Too little gelatin is TERRIBLE. ‘Twas ever thus in the Bake Off tent.
Tom is piping mousse into his hipster sandwiches (don’t ask) and doesn’t seem to be put off by Paul’s elaborately horrified reaction to the news. “You’re PIPING mousse?” he asks incredulously…
Candice is making a million different components to her delicious-sounding desserts. (Let’s call them desserts, sure.)
Though it is nothing compared to the five mousses Jane is making, and she seems to be constantly surrounded by enormous – albeit apparently empty – baking bowls. These sit precariously over her desk, and she appears to be counting them over and over in the early stages of some sort of breakdown.
Tom has brought the best equipment to the tent: this handheld fan.
It’s not even battery-operated. He has to turn a handle to generate the fan. It can’t possibly be any more efficient than wafting those bizarre paddle-fans around. But I am a gent who loves a fan, and recently made the middle-aged purchase of a battery-operated fan in Marks and Spencer – as well as quite genuinely considering my enormous fan as among the best investments I have ever made.
Some delicious-looking chocolate and raspberry mousses are going around the tent. And then we cut from Andrew’s mint mousse (a subtle hint of green to it) to Selasi’s mint mousse… erm…
Jane is worried about whether or not she’s included gelatin in all her mousses. Since this is never mentioned again, I can only assume she did. There is much talk of whether or not mousses will set in time, and some very delicious looking concoctions coming out of freezers and fridges… speaking of, is this a secret fridge we haven’t seen before?
Perhaps they were wary after #bingate?
Let’s have an update from Selasi’s radioactive bunker before we finish:
And they’re done! Some very good mousses. Mary describes Jane’s as ‘startling’, though apparently that’s meant to be a compliment – and Paul responds with ‘that’s mousse!’, as though waking from a dream and discovering anew where he is. Mary applauds the ‘moussiness’. Let’s take a moment to applaud her fleur-de-lis cakes.
Selasi’s mousses are too big, and the layers are in the wrong order, so we are told – but his passion fruit mousses get a thumbs up.
I can’t begin to understand what’s going on with Candice’s display. The mousses seem to be floating on jelly or something in wine glasses. I feel like Damien Hirst maybe had a hand in it all.
Benjamina’s look bad but taste amazing (definitely the right way around, IMO), and Paul seems almost reluctant to concede it. Having said that, his concession includes ‘more mousse-like’, which is rather damning with faint praise.
Tom’s hipster sandwiches help us learn that piping mousse doesn’t work. Live and learn. Doing rather better, though, is Andrew and his Ferris wheels of mousse.
We get the post-judging debate, but I can’t remember an episode in any series where it was more obvious (from the comments and general tone) who was going to win and who was going to lose.
Star Baker is…
And, going home, is…
Hope you’re enjoyed Dessert Week, y’all! Come back next time for… whatever happens then. And now I’m going to immerse myself in 1947 books for the #1947Club…