The judges aren’t messing about this week. Armed with a ruler, they are expecting nothing less than perfection. With their often unattainably high standards, they may be a little disappointed.
“We do not expect anything boring,” says Cherish. Well neither do I, but here we are five weeks in and the whole thing still seems a bit dull. For me, the show is unrecognisable as a Bake Off spin-off – its cold hard exterior lacking the warmth and charm of the original. Roll on summer.
There are a few bright spots thanks to the contestants, in particular Kelly and Katie from the WI Cookery School who are a joy to watch, along with the awkward yet lovable nature of Slav from R Chocolate and, of course, Liam who this week tasked himself with eating his way around the kitchen. From custard apples (a real fruit, I swear) to chocolate leaves, there’s nothing he wouldn’t sample.
As a recap, here are the teams left in the competition:
- 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 was the miniatures round – the professionals were tasked with creating 24 opéra slices laden with coffee and chocolate ganache, as well as 24 exotic fruit roulades. Mango, coconut and passion fruit featured heavily in the latter, offering a chance for experimentation, while the opéra slices were expected to be more traditional with no room for error.
Last week’s winners, Eddie and Mahshid from the Savoy, triumphed in the first round with their roulade featuring mango confit and coconut white chocolate ganache described as “really sensational” despite being a little squished following a mishap with shelving in the fridge. Their cakes were on-point, but the stress was clearly getting to them as they bickered throughout the episode.
Hotel Café Royal’s efforts were criticised for not using a joconde sponge in the opéra slice while R Chocolate suffered from uneven proportions with their coconut, lime and passion fruit roulade. “It’s not the best, but it could have been a lot worse,” said Slav.
Unfortunately for the teams from Silverstone and the WI, they proved his point.
“I’m far from the opera,” announced Benoit on tasting Graham and Dean’s slices, also questioning why their Cool Runnings-inspired roulade was unfinished and rather messy. Meanwhile, Cherish was upset with a 6mm difference in height on the opéra slices from the WI Cookery School.
Going into the showpiece it was all to play for, although many of the teams would be expected to pull their socks up to produce show-stopping religieuse occasion showpieces – they’re the nun buns made from choux pastry.
The key to a good choux, said Kelly from the WI, is a “flappy v”. Oo-er. Apparently, it’s just the shape the choux forms on the spoon when it’s ready to be baked.
Moving swiftly on, Graham made the interesting discovery that cooking choux buns in a Yorkshire pudding tin leads them to very much look like Yorkshire puddings – not what the judges were looking for. Thankfully there was enough time for some more traditional choux baking methods. Katie, meanwhile, discovered that molten caramel burns when it comes into contact with skin. After that, I suspect, she was secretly relieved to be taken off the task of creating a stand from nougatine.
To add insult to injury, the judges proclaimed their nougatine structure to be lacking, with Cherish burning them further with her remark: “I would not even pay a single cent for this”. Ouch.
Despite the controversial decision to replace the bottom choux buns with chocolate, Hotel Café Royal’s efforts were a triumph. The choux, noted Benoit, was as good as it gets even if the kirsch filling was a tad overpowering. His reaction to R Chocolate’s chocolate and hazelnut creation, complete with a chocolate bible, was also positive and the Savoy received favourable critiques, even if the yuzu and caramel flavours weren’t entirely balanced.
It wasn’t so happy for Silverstone’s Graham and Dean, who were told their chocolate tyres and exhaust was “too masculine”, rough and a little clumsy. The Turkish delight filling in their religieuse had too much gelatine, but the chocolate mousse was “flavoursome”.
Alas, a flavoursome chocolate mousse was not enough to save them, and the team from Silverstone were sent home (much to the surprise of the WI team). R Chocolate were crowned this week’s winners while the Savoy and Hotel Café Royal came in joint second.