Multi-layered miniatures and choux towers were the tasks facing the five remaining teams this week.
Returning to the kitchen were:
- Thibault & Erica, Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel
- Sarah & Leyre, Pennyhill Park
- Jake & Kevin, Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square
- Sanjam & Exose, The Courthouse Cheshire
- Pauline & Robert, Tigerlily
First up were the multi-layered miniatures, with 24 layered cheesecakes and 24 pear-shaped desserts requested. The cheesecakes had to have at least five layers, and the pear-shaped desserts a minimum of three fillings, with pear the most dominant flavour.
I’ll spare you the vast number of pear-shaped jokes made by presenter Tom Allen.
“Whatever they put on the table needs to be first-class, it needs to be top-drawer. However, be realistic about what you can do and what you can’t. Do not be over-ambitious,” said judge Cherish Finden ahead of the task.
The chefs began by making layers for the cheesecake, so they could be placed in the freezer in plenty of time.
Thibault & Erica chose to make a cheesecake with two baked elements – a coconut dacquoise and a baked raspberry cheesecake. Jake & Kevin opted for vanilla and passionfruit, Sanjam & Exose a chocolate orange variant and Pauline & Robert an Asian-inspired matcha and lychee combination.
Meanwhile, as the only team opting to go for 10 layers, Sarah & Leyre (pictured below) created a white chocolate cheesecake with a spiced sponge and red fruit confit gel.
“You know I have my ruler with me again,” warned Cherish. She is terrifying.
For the pear-shaped desserts, four of the five teams went for classic sweet flavours, while Pauline & Robert included a goat’s cheese mousse.
First to face the judgment of Benoit & Cherish were Sarah & Leyre with their 10-layer offering. Cherish said she didn’t need to get her ruler out for the cheesecakes – high praise indeed.
Thibault & Erica’s cheesecake also got the thumbs-up, as did their pears.
“Visually very safe: was the verdict on Jake & Kevin’s cheesecake, and their ratios were off, although the pear was deemed “quite pleasant”.
Pauline & Robert’s cheesecake wasn’t highly finished, and the flavours confused Cherish. Also, their pears had fallen over, which Cherish likened to having a bum too big for the chair.
“Good news, I can taste the goat’s cheese” said Benoit. “Bad news, I don’t like it.”
Sanjam & Exose’s (pictured below) cheesecake was also deemed “safe”, and Cherish said their pears looked like they’d been in a fight. “I think you two are like rough diamonds,” said Benoit, somewhat cryptically.
On day two, the professionals were tasked with making a towering Pièce Montée, with 180 filled choux buns displayed in a cone shape on a nougatine stand.
Inspired by opera, Sarah & Leyre chose vanilla & pecan and chocolate & cherry flavours to fill their choux.
Thibault & Erica opted for a fashion week theme, with cherry & chocolate and coffee & cardamom choux fillings.
A British theme, with Eton Mess and rhubarb & custard fillings, was the choice for Sanjam & Exose.
Meanwhile, creating a beehive-themed piece, Pauline & Robert planned to have sugarwork bees and flavoured choux fillings, including honeycomb & yuzu and elderflower & tonic.
Kevin & Jake plumped for an ode to spring, with vanilla & orange blossom and red berry filled choux buns to complement this.
All seemed to be going well until the chefs started on the nougatine; the speed at which this set proved problematic, with Sanjam & Exose’s breaking as it was cut. “I’m slowly giving up,” Sanjam admitted. And, if that weren’t dramatic enough, Exose’s gloves didn’t fit.
Pauline & Robert were also having issues, but their problem was the sugarwork bees. “I can’t do it,” Robert declared.
Kevin & Jake were first to be judged, with their piece described as “very colourful” and “elegant”. The flavours got a thumbs-up too.
Next were Sarah & Leyre, and while their showpiece looked the part, their choux wasn’t right.
The judges loved the look of Thibault & Erica’s fashion-themed piece. “I can see this on the cover of a fashion magazine,” Cherish said. They liked the taste, too, with Cherish declaring: “You should be very proud of yourselves, you nailed it.”
Pauline & Robert were next. “Where are the bees?” asked Cherish. Sore subject. The flavours were good, but the lack of bees let the team down.
Last to face the judges were Sanjam & Exose. “Forget the diamond, this is rough” Benoit said, gesturing towards unfinished showpiece. Ouch.
But a certain lack of buzz decided this week’s contest, with the bee-stricken Pauline & Robert leaving the competition. Thibault & Erica (pictured below) took the top spot, Jake & Kevin came in second, Sarah & Leyre third and Sanjam & Exose scraping into second-to-last place.