Bake Off: The Professionals – Episode 4

From Eton mess to actual mess – things went awry in the kitchen this week as a new batch of six professional teams were put to task by judges Benoit and Cherish.

Desserts were spilled, showpieces collapsed and so many f-bombs were dropped. If anything, the contestants were encouraged to swear this week as co-host Tom Allen rightly told one contestant: “It’s not a public vote so you can be a right ******* all the way through this competition.” Perhaps this isn’t a family show after all.

I, meanwhile, was put to task trying to spell the desserts they were making, as well as identifying what colours the teams were wearing. Seriously, some of them were so similar I didn’t know who was who at first. Trivial? Yes, but it’s kind of important given my job.

So here are the teams who took part this week:

  • Yellow: Mustapha and Kevin, The Clink
  • Purple: Kelly and Katie, WI Cookery School
  • Light pink: Graham and Dean, Silverstone
  • Pale green: Slav and Maria, R Chocolate
  • Royal blue: Leanne and Romain, Hotel Café Royal
  • Red: Eddie and Mahshid, Savoy

First up, the teams were tasked with creating 24 pont neufs (yes I did Google the spelling) which consists of puff pastry with apple compote, crème patissière and jam as well as 24 tartes au citron, a personal favourite of Cherish’s (and me for the record).

But these are not tartes au citron like you’ve seen before. There were lemon bavarois, bergamot curd and Earl Grey biscuit bases just from the WI. Hotel Café Royal, meanwhile, played it safe on appearance, but added beetroot and thyme Italian meringue, while the Savoy’s team made waved pastry, topped with lemon curd and hibiscus & blackcurrant jelly.

Despite good intentions, with half an hour to go until judging, most of the teams were behind schedule and flustered. Some of them didn’t catch up.

“We’re gonna give them boobs,” said Mustapha, describing the yellow team’s unglazed lemon domes. Boobs, apparently, are not what the judges were looking for, but nevertheless they did have ‘zingtang’ – that’s a cross between a zingy taste and a tangy one.

The WI’s efforts failed to impress as well. “You need to jazz it up a bit, girls,” Cherish noted with a slightly disappointed tone, while the pink team from Silverstone was told they “should have pushed it a bit further”. It was the red team from the Savoy who came out on top for the lemon tarts, or rather lemon waves. Either way they looked delicious.

The pont neufs, however, failed across the board. Cherish refused to eat at least half of them, due to undercooked pastry, claiming they would give her a tummy ache.

Going into the showpiece it was all to play for. The judges were ready to be wowed as they tasked the contestants with making an Eton mess – a dynamic, colourful and magnificent one that is.

R Chocolate, the light green team, hoped their speciality would deliver the wow factor, creating a volcanic landscape from chocolate with meringue lava rocks topped with raspberry & Chantilly cream. Completed slightly ahead of time, which Slav and Maria looked very smug about, it didn’t deliver. “Boring, boring, boring!” exclaimed Cherish. “It’s just cream and meringue.” Ouch.

The WI’s efforts certainly couldn’t be accused of that. Even after a mishap, which saw the chocolate teacups – designed to hold the apple & vanilla jam, meringue and Jerusalem artichoke panna cotta – broke. It was more of a mess than they’d hoped for, but the judges were into it.

For the red team it was a case of style over substance as their blown sugar spheres filled with strawberry meringue and coulis failed to deliver on taste. Hotel Café Royal’s sugar work efforts were also applauded, but Cherish spat some of the cake out claiming it had too much gelatine in.

It was a close call between the pink and yellow teams, who were undoubtedly at the bottom after their critiques.

The stress of the whole situation was no doubt increased after the pink team dropped half their desserts on the floor. The white chocolate spheres cracked to reveal meringues, a mascarpone mousse and raspberry gel were described as fatty on the palate, and “pretty basic” in design terms.

Yellow, meanwhile, forgot their meringue and sponges – a rookie error and one that didn’t go unnoticed by eagle-eyed Benoit and Cherish.

“I’d rather not serve it and go home,” said Mustapha, before serving it. Given the result, he might as well have done. The yellow team, from charity The Clink, were eliminated. Silverstone’s pink team came in a close fifth, preceded by Hotel Café Royal and R Chocolate. The WI ladies proved they were more than “just jam and Jerusalem”, securing second place with Savoy’s red in first.

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