Bake Off: The Professionals – Episode 9

If you like piña coladas you’re in for a treat this week as they feature in two of the contestants’ recipes on Bake Off: The Professionals.

The fruity cocktail has been used as inspiration in a number of previous challenges as well. Seriously, what is the obsession with them? Sure, I enjoy piña coladas as much as the next person, but there are better cocktails out there.

Sam, from the Hilton Park Lane, says his favourite is a Pornstar Martini. It’s definitely one of mine as well, along with anything blue (we all know it’s the best flavour).

I don’t know the favourite cocktails of all the contestants, but here’s who is left in the competition:

  • Red: Emmanuel and Sam, The Hilton Park Lane
  • Royal blue: Leanne and Romain, Hotel Café Royal
  • Purple: Darryl and Bharat, Resorts World
  • Orange: Theo and Hideko, Sweet Art Lab

The first test was a secret recipe, and to make things more difficult only one person from each team could create it – the other was confined to a stool at the side of the work bench.

Floating islands, or îles flottantes, was the recipe of the day, but it turns out making fancy custard and meringues with a fruity twist is more difficult than it looks. Particularly when it’s to Cherish and Benoit’s exacting standards.

Sweet Art Lab’s piña colada-inspired creation “sunk under the sea” after Hideko decided to cook the meringue in the microwave instead of steaming it. Resorts World's contribution was definitely a floating island, but they used Italian meringue which, according to Cherish, made the whole dish too sweet.

Hotel Café Royal also suffered as Romain took a back seat – something fellow Frenchman Benoit didn’t understand. In hindsight, Romain admitted he would have undertaken the challenge. “You did not meet the brief,” said Cherish. Ouch.

Hilton Park Lane’s effort, meanwhile, was decent but not extravagant or original enough. Will nothing please the judges?

Perhaps some theatre would, as the teams were tasked with creating a three-tiered cake themed around adventure, accompanied by 12 components that must be plated live.

“It’s gastronomic art at its most dramatic and decadent,” announced co-host Tom.

First up was Hilton Park Lane with their tropical rainforest adventure, complete with piña colada flavours and actual piña coladas.

“You’re planning a bribery basically,” joked Benoit. Getting the judges liquored up is one way to secure a place in the final. Wowing them is another, and Sam and Emmanuel’s towering waterfall cake, smashing coconut treats and theatre did just that.

Sweet Art Lab took inspiration from dinosaurs, with a story about surviving the Jurassic world complete with sable biscuit bones, dinosaur eggs and chocolate volcano cakes that spewed molten raspberry lava.

“The choreography, the smoke that is bubbling away – you own the stage today,” beamed Cherish. They got brownie points for a cake that took Cherish back to her childhood.

Hotel Café Royal also looked to Hollywood for their Indiana Jones-style adventure, complete with boulders rolling down a chocolate bridge. However, the judges branded the cake “old-fashioned” with no fireworks. Or, as Cherish phrased it “no cheeky bang”. Oh my.

Resorts World stayed closer to home with a presentation themed around the great outdoors. It must have been a quiet day for nature as, although nice to look at, it lacked the theatrics of some of the other presentations. “I’m not feeling wowed by what you’ve done,” said Benoit.

Regardless, they did enough to make it to the final, along with Sweet Art Lab and Hilton Park Lane as Leanne and Romain from Hotel Café Royal were eliminated from the competition. It looks like it’s going to be a photo finish.

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