A new week, a new set of six teams ready to battle it in the Bake Off: The Professionals kitchen.
- 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
- Gaetano & Mark - Honore Patisserie
“I’m so excited to meet the new chefs,” said judge Cherish Finden. “They are hungry. They are energetic and they are dynamic. I want them to blow me away.”
Alright, Cherish, this isn’t an affirmation class.
The chefs certainly started full of hope and enthusiasm, but as the clock ticked away, the pressure piled on and things started breaking, it quickly dissipated.
For the first challenge they were tasked with making 24 mini gateau basques – made with sweet sable pastry, a cream filling and either a cherry or prune jam – as well as 24 mini tartes tatin.
Benoit had opinions on the types of apple used for the tartes tatin, with Jake & Kevin (pictured below) criticised for using Golden Delicious, which Benoit dubbed the “boring” apple as it brings no flavour to the party.
The choice of pastry also proved to be controversial, with only a couple of teams opting for the traditional puff pastry, given the time limit of 3.5 hours. It paid off massively for Sarah & Leyre whose interpretation of tartes tatin was dubbed “beautiful and elegant”.
The same could not be said of Mark & Gaetano’s who barely presented a dessert due to delays with their puff pastry. Both the judges and Mark & Gaetano pulled faces when the pair proffered undercooked gateaux and only one, rather messy, element of their tartes tatin.
“It’s not good news, guys,” said Cherish. “There’s nothing positive for me.” Ouch.
In an effort to salvage some of their hope, she added: “This is not the end. You still have tomorrow.”
The other teams fared better, albeit only slightly.
Jake & Kevin were criticised, once again, for their choice of apples, which added texture but no flavour to their dessert. Thibault & Erica’s efforts were described as “rustic but sexy”, which for Cherish was a huge compliment, particularly as she likened Pauline & Robert’s tartes tatin visually to sausage rolls. Sanjam & Exose’s work had no balance when it came to flavour and the crème pat in the gateau was too firm.
The first round was a mixed bag and many were hoping for a better performance in round two.
Gaetano & Mark returned to the kitchen with a positive outlook as they attempted to create a showpiece inspired by a Battenberg cake. They opted to make a fairytale chocolate castle with wedding guests, crafted from Battenberg spheres. An ambitious goal.
Not quite as ambitious as Sarah & Leyre (pictured below), though, who confessed to “taking a risk” with a sugarcraft centrepiece complete with Battenberg entremets. Benoit was thrilled – sugar work is his favourite.
Their hard work paid off. The centrepiece was a showstopper by anyone’s standards, including the judges. It was just a shame the beetroot, raspberry and almond flavours didn’t quite work together.
Beetroot was a popular choice, particularly as the contestants were not allowed to use artificial colours. Strawberry, raspberry and even avocado made an appearance on the ingredients list.
As the challenge drew on, one thing was clear – Bake Off sure knows how to build tension. The music became increasingly dramatic, the audience sat on the edge of their sofas (I would have been if I wasn’t too lazy to sit up properly) and you just know that, at any minute, one of the centrepieces could collapse – along with the contestants’ dreams. It was stressful.
There were collapses, although not catastrophic ones and, ultimately, all six teams presented something to the judges – just not necessarily in the state of perfection they might have hoped for.
Sanjam & Exose’s dress-inspired cake was missing the back, for starters. “Can you imagine a dress and then you turn back and you see a bum?” said an amused Cherish. “Anyway, it’s not finished.”
The texture of the Battenbergs wasn’t great either, leading 21-year-old Sanjam (pictured below left) to whisper “I think we’re going.”
Thibault & Erica’s chocolate tree showpiece broke as the judges approached it. Presenter Tom Allen seemed very concerned that it was his fault, but thankfully the judges had time to take it in before it broke. Enough time for Cherish to decide it didn’t excite her, at least.
Pauline & Robert had fabulous flavours, embracing coconut and raspberry, but there was not enough of the latter to make it a Battenberg. Kevin & Jake also played it “pretty safe” with a prince and princess sculpture, which Cherish described as “mǎmǎhūhū”. Apparently that means so-so (in Mandarin).
Gaetano & Mark (pictured below) presented a complete dessert this time round, although the wedding attendees didn’t come out quite as planned.
“What’s with the one eye in the middle?” asked Benoit.
“It’s a monocle,” replied Mark.
“Oh, I thought it was a cyclops with a moustache,” added Benoit. To be fair, that would have been far more fun.
Alas, no amount of beetroot and avocado-flavoured wedding guests/cyclops could save the pair and they were the first of round two to be eliminated from the competition.
Sarah & Leyre came in first, followed by Thibault & Erica, then Jake & Kevin and Pauline & Robert. The “babies of the competition”, Sanjam & Exose, had a lucky escape and lived to bake another day.