Forget Bake Off: The Professionals, it’s the Liam Charles show this week. I feel he has been overlooked in the previous two episodes, but this week his upbeat personality shone through.
From tasting his away around the kitchen, trying his best to ignore the over-the-top jokes from co-host Tom Allen and even demonstrating his dance moves with the contestants to ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)’ – he was a joy to watch.
There must be something in the water as Cherish also seemed surprisingly upbeat, even doing a little dance to demonstrate how she wanted the flavours to cha cha across her tongue.
As a quick recap, these are the teams left in the competition:
- Orange: Theo and Hideko, Sweet Art Lab
- Purple: Darryl and Bharat, Resorts World
- Green: Rebekah and Michael, St David’s
- Red: Emmanuel and Sam, The Hilton Park Lane
The professionals were presented with their first technical challenge, or ‘secret recipe’.
“I can’t even pronounce it,” exclaimed Michael from St David’s. Me neither. Nor Liam.
Turns out it was Feuille d’Automne, a dessert consisting of layers of meringue and chocolate mousse topped with chocolate ruffles. As if that were not hard enough, the bakers also had to create a stand for it from chocolate.
One thing I learned this week was meringues are apparently much harder to make than they look.
“If you undercook it, it’ll be too soft. If you overcook it, it could also collapse,” says Theo. So… basically anything can go wrong. And it did.
While the other teams went for a short bake, hoping for a softer meringue, the red team opted for a longer bake. It didn’t pay off. Their first meringue was a mess, the top entirely cracked off and no matter how much chocolate was put on top it couldn’t be saved. Back to the drawing board.
Their second attempt was much better and their mousse was even described as “pleasant”, which seems to be the highest form of praise in this competition. Orange, purple and green, meanwhile, all suffered from undercooked meringue and problematic mousse ranging from “dense and gummy” to “heavy” and “too thick”. Oops.
And things got worse for the purple team. “You managed to serve us the gateau,” was the only positive thing the judges said about their creation. I literally recoiled on their behalf while watching. “It was a bad idea to come on this show,” said Bharat.
Still, the showstopper –a showpiece inspired by a masked ball, complete with a moving part and 48 bon bons – offered a chance for redemption.
Despite the base of their Venice-inspired piece snapping, creating an edible jigsaw puzzle they didn’t really have time for, the red team did pretty well. Complete with a moving chocolate gondola attached to the back of a toy tank, golden violins, flower and mask, their creation was stunning (even if the mask was a bit understated for the judges’ taste).
Their wave-effect bon bons, filled with white chocolate and liquorice ganache, was a hit with the judges, but the dark chocolate one with caramel and blood orange gel lacked texture.
Orange also struggled. “The mask reminds me of Lady Gaga – the raw beef dress,” noted Cherish. Not what you want to hear. The yuzu and sake bon bons, as well as the champagne and strawberry rose ones, lacked finesse. Benoit said they were “way out of acceptable”. Don’t hold back Benoit.
Purple, meanwhile, bounced back. The neatness of their creations has improved even if their champagne bon bons did taste like “cheap wine”, but it was their passionfruit ones that wowed the judges. Cherish finally got the cha cha moment she was looking for.
It wasn’t such a happy story for the green team, whose showpiece was inspired by someone getting ready for a ball. Their moving parts, a drawer that opened and a lid that came off, were evidently not what the judges were looking for. A powdery texture and lack of strawberry flavour on one of their bon bons didn’t do them any favours, even if a passion fruit bon bon made up some ground.
The writing was on the wall, and they knew it even after the first round. “We didn’t go hard, so we’re going home,” Rebekah said. “At least we get to see the Stereophonics,” Michael replied.
There’s always a silver lining. The greens were right, although it was a close call for the orange team who came third. Purple came in second with the red team crowned the top team of the week.