It’s hard to imagine the sweltering temperature inside the Bake Off tent on Italian week, particularly when you’re watching it from the sofa in your polar bear PJs under a blanket.
However, I’m sure audiences had to cool down after some of the double entendres we were subjected to in this week’s episode. It all got a bit racy, from “one more toss and I’m done”, to “everybody wants bigger, let’s be honest”. As Star Trek’s George Takei would say, “oh my”.
If the heat were not enough to make the bakers’ lives more difficult, the challenges Paul and Prue set were unforgiving. First up was cannoli, followed by a Margherita pizza, finishing with a show-stopping sfogliatelle. It was a hard week for me, as well; I had to google how to spell these… except pizza. Luckily, I already knew how to spell pizza.
Paul was horrified to find out Sophie was using mascarpone, not ricotta, in her cannoli. Apparently that’s sacrilege. She proved him wrong though (yes Sophie!), and he was forced to concede that they were, in fact, heavenly and “not at all sloppy”. Yan and Stacey, meanwhile, suffered.
Steven’s praline, mocha and lemon trio impressed the judges, as did Liam’s ‘narcissistic’ trio of lemon cheesecake, baklava and marshmallow & chocolate, although he was criticised for the marshmallow in his cannoli for being too runny – and therefore too messy for Paul. Does he know nothing? The mess is the best part! Slap a napkin round your neck and get on with it.
Prue said Kate’s boozy trio weren’t boozy enough, although you can’t deny that Kate has a cracking motto of “it’s not a proper night out if you haven’t had three espresso martinis”.
On to the deceptively easy technical, creating one pizza from scratch. Turns out it’s harder than many thought, particularly without the aid of a rolling pin. I’m genuinely surprised none of the pizzas ended up on the floor, or bakers’ heads.
There was a spot of drama when Kate cut her finger on the fan and nearly fainted. Who’d have thought Bake Off was a dangerous show? But a plaster fixed everything and she soldiered on.
With the technical judged blind, however, there was no chance of a sympathy vote and Kate came in last thanks to her disaster of a pizza, which featured raw dough due to its dodgy shape. Yan was close behind in fifth, followed by Stacey and Sophie. Liam was so close to winning, but Steven triumphed.
It was a similar story in the showstopper. Fun fact: the bakers needed to create 14 metres of pastry to make the 24 sfogliatelle – a many-layered pastry, shaped like a lobster tail and filled with a semolina and ricotta filling. The heat made this so much worse for the bakers.
Nevertheless, Liam’s orange, rum & raisin and maple & pecan lobster tails were a triumph. Sophie also did well and, unlike the others, she seemed to have genuine fun while creating them. However, it seems Steven is back on form with his lemon marmalade and chocolate orange ones, described as a “proper showstopper”, as Paul proclaimed they could be sold in any pastry shop in Italy. It’s no wonder he got star baker, but even I have to admit he deserved it.
At the bottom of the table, Yan, Stacey and Kate all struggled. Honestly, any one of them could have gone home, but it was Yan who bit the bullet. Her sfogliatelle were described as a “bit of a mess” and “too doughy”. She’ll be missed. The way she lovingly talked to her bakes, and explained the science behind them was glorious to watch.
That said, I think Stacey has to go next. She has always been middle of the pack and, as the pack thins, she’ll become even more vulnerable.
Here’s my thoughts on this week’s episode:
Most likely to win: Sophie
Who should have been sent home: Stacey
Most fun to watch: Liam
Quote of the week: “If we have to do the naked Bake Off, so be it” – Steven