It's time for the most wonderful part of our week, the Great British Bake Off! Shhhhhhh to those who have finished this series a month ago, shhhhhhh, we're still in it and we don't know whose won and more importantly: we're not missing anyone's bakes. Anyone's. So let's roll into our next set of challenges on GBBO S10:E06 Dessert Week, I'm excited!
I don't always look up the theme of the week before I recap, because looking for information after a season finale has aired is...fraught. So! I learn as I go and have no choice but to assume we're doing a Lawrence of Arabia motif this week.
Arabian Night week wooo! OR. Dessert Week. That spelling will get Noel Fielding and I every time. Thankfully our lovely Sandi Toksvig with the dry wit sets us straight.
You remember what happened last time, right? When veterinarian Rosie Brandreth-Poynter dropped the treats she didn't mess up and STILL wasn't eliminated, instead we inexplicably said goodbye to Michelle Fecci-Williams and Helena Garcia. Steph Blackwell got her second Star Baker in a row, really only David Atherton is competition for her right now and he messed up the Technical Challenge in a spectacular fashion (your pastries should never, ever look like pooh *sage nodding*). Onward!
If you don't bounce along to the opening theme song, are you even watching?
Ohmigoodness, there's only six bakers left! How can that be, I keep looking for the other half! At least judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith have used up their double elimination, so the baketestants don't have that hanging over them. Priya O'Shea (who is there only by the grace of another sketchy elimination) is excited!
Michael Chakraverty says they're being picked off one by one and compares it to an Agatha Christie novel which means that A) he can't count and B) he's only read one Agatha Christie novel.
*Side note: I love Agatha Christie books, I have them all and typically have about three on the go at any given time. I know this might not be everyone's focus when reading books, but since this is my millionth time through, I am mentally cataloguing every instance of reference to homosexuality. Mostly because I stated that "companion" in older novels meant "lesbian" in a Gentleman Jack recap. I set out to test that hypothesis and have so far found a whole three open references to homosexuality in Agatha Christie books and only once was the word "lesbian" used. I know this has nothing to do with baking!
Rosie and David do not make desserts, they're not feeling optimistic about this week.
On to the Signature Challenge! Noel and Sandi explain that the judges want to see a meringue cake (I always pronounce it like the dance in my head - Mer-EN-gay) with layers. Like a pavlova!
David gets the first review, he's flavouring his three layers separately with clove, cinnamon and star anise. Paul busts his chops a little, asking if those flavours go together and for crying out loud, Paul. They're practically a spice blend, what is he talking about?
Henry Bird has on a tie as usual, but this time it's over a flowered shirt...it doesn't matter, his cake had me at pistachio.
He's doing so well, I can see him going all the way! Such a neat, tidy baker with a solid innovative style. Oh I'm sorry, I just made him sound awfully boring and I think that's just me.
Michael cracks four puns in a row about nuts but Rosie's not biting. She's one of the only bakers not using nuts, instead opting for salted caramel.
She's using ganache again, even after she did this to a cake last week.
Alice Fevronia is also nut-free, she's making a Black Forest Gateaux which seems like a great idea to Paul!
Steph's using pistachios too! But also white chocolate.
Everyone pipes their meringue (mer-EN-gay!) and oh right, we haven't seen Michael's plan yet, I knew we were missing someone. He's doing chocolate orange, drooooool.
AND Priya! Sorry, lady! Her husband likes this booze, apparently, Paul warns her to watch her time.
Time to cool the mer-en-gays! They crack if you do it too quickly, which is why a lot of people do little kiss shapes. Much easier to cool. Alice has large discs, just begging to go to Crack City. Henry does what I would do with a torch.
Awww, Alice's mer-en-gay thingy that goes over the top is beautiful! That was probably the least helpful description ever, so you'll just have to wait for the finished product.
Rosie's ganache has gone grainy, did she overheat it? Basically, ganache is warm cream with chocolate melted into it. There's no way for it to go grainy unless you are using crap chocolate, which you wouldn't do, or you overheat it, which you wouldn't do because typically you add the chocolate off heat. I'm hopeful she can rebound with another batch.
It's assembly time and I'm so happy that Alice's meringues are staying together! Everyone decorates, Henry threatens/promises to strip (??) and I see so many pistachios that my mouth waters. And then Henry calls his filling a "stiff boy" and I snap right out of it. David's looks amazing with its loads of fruit!
See what I mean about David's fruity whatsit? So pretty! How does it taste? Not as delicious as it looks, the clove is too strong. The judges are heartbroken: how could he ruin such a beautiful cake with so much spice? David slinks away whispering something about paring it back a little.
Priya's is GORGEOUS! Erm, okay, Prue hates the blueberry meringue, nobody eats a lot of "particularly nasty" mauve food. Agree to disagree, Prue! And it's overbaked and not great in substance, either. Sorry, Priya
On to Rosie's cracked meringue cake, where every layer has exposed cracks and messy piping. It's absolutely delicious but the thick chocolate ganache does not match the rest of the cake. What did I say about Rosie and her ganache??!!
Lookit the thingy on top of Alice's cake, that's what I meant, how pretty! Paul calls it ehhh
On to Michael's brown log, which he thinks has too much chocolate on the outside. Sandi and I hiss: don't tell Paul that! It's not great, but the flavours are obvious. That's not really a compliment is it, Prue?
I apologize, I have no idea what an Eton Mess is, but Steph's cake looks much easier to do than say: Alice's. It gets rave reviews save one thing: too many nuts.
Michael and I are sure there is no such thing as too many nuts.
Last up to bat is Henry's lumpy looking dessert, it's all cracked and messy. Paul explains the order the layers should be in and then we're on to tasting. The flavour is excellent, especially the raspberry jam, which pulls it all together.
Paul suggests that Henry used store-bought jam, Henry practically challenges him to a duel.
The cheek INDEED!
In interview after the challenge, Rosie argues that raspberry, cream and chocolate do go very well together, but there was also lime, so I'm with the judges. Also, I tend to be a bit of a teacher's pet.
The Technical Challenge is Prue's, the baketestants will be making 6 identical verrines, which is a layered dessert in a glass. Like a tiramisu? Off to ask The Google! Huh. Like a tiramisu but with more chocolate?
Sorry, sorry, there's more! The layers of the verrine have to be mango compote, a coconut panna cotta, a raspberry jelly and everything topped with a coconut and lime streusel and a cookie. That's...super specific.
Everyone looks confused an terrified at the same time. I think this verrine looks stupid and I'd sooner eat Rosie's ganache.
Everyone manages the first layer all right; Sandi notes Priya's quietness and comes over to make sure she's okay. Priya usually talks a lot, she's usually at home surrounded by little boys and LEGO. I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND.
On to panna cotta, lots of people haven't made this before but I've watched Top Chef for a few years now and feel relatively prepared. When in doubt, add more gelatin sheets! The instruction is to chill the panna cotta in an ice/water bath but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to jiggle it, David! Stahp
Biscuit baking time! And pouring your panna cotta layer, which is fraught. Henry didn't weigh his, he's going by looks! Ohmigod watching these bakers pour their raspberry jelly on top of their panna cotta: anyone who thinks a baking show is boring is NOT PAYING ATTENTION. I didn't breathe!
Priya's has gone straight through, her panna cotta wasn't set! Oh no! Shoot, that was exactly why you need more sheets of gelatin! Ask Brooke from Top Chef!
I need to make a cuppa and relax. But there's no time!
Now for the struesel and mango chunks, followed by the cookie whatsits and raspberry slices!
I'm telling you, this is more exciting than ANY sports series final! Time is up! Everyone has their cookies precariously balanced on their glasses, one jiggle could send the whole thing crashing onto the struesel and push through the carefully constructed separate layers. It's chaos!
I tried to get a shot of all the efforts together, but there wasn't one, so you'll just have to take my word for it, they really do all look very good considering that none of us knew what a verrine was two and a half hours ago.
You can tell that David, Alice and Steph are in the lead in this challenge. I hope David takes it, if only because he keeps coming second to Steph and I think he just slightly edged her out here. But Alice's were perfect, so it's up to any of the three.
The Technical Challenge desserts, ranked from worst to best:
- 7th place - Priya
- 6th place - Michael
- 5th place - Rosie
- 4th place - Henry
- 3rd place - Steph
- 2nd place - David - AGAIN
- And the winner is: Alice! Wooooo totally called that, her lines were just excellent.
Hahahaha I didn't realise that David's been second four times in the Technical awww. Always a bridesmaid.
We're going into the Showstopper Challenge with Michael and Priya in trouble, I think it was a bit rude of Prue to say that Priya should stop talking and manage her time. Honestly. What ABOUT people who talk too much? Hm?
The Showstopper this week is a Celebratory Bombe Dessert (I mean), which is molded and spherical with baked stuff and another element like ice cream. Is this one of the melty thing you pour hot chocolate onto? Huh.
Oh, happy birthday Michael!! He's 26, which is at least 6 years older than I had guessed. Hm. 26 was a great year!
Here is everyone's designs for your review!
Most people are using a cake sponge as structure for their bombes, but not Steph, who is using chocolate mousse that we watch her stir very, very slowly.
Lots of people are using coffee in their desserts and Alice talks quite a lot about coffee, so now I have to share again!
*Side note: so those not interested in my coffee travails may sail on through. I've been mucking about with my coffee the last few years and it's taken on huge symbolic meaning. For instance, I had this great coffee pot, best I'd ever used and I adored it. Fresh ground coffee beans for each pot, easy clean up and fantastic taste. Then a few years ago, coffee started hurting my belly and the coffee machine stopped working properly. I hung in there, descaling like mad and trying different troubleshooting methods but eventually had to call it quits with coffee entirely, switching to tea. I kept the coffee maker, and when I moved I thought I'd give it another shot. It still wouldn't work properly and the coffee itself still hurt my belly, so I left it to sit on my counter for almost a year without use. An attractive stranger came into my life and suggested that perhaps I had an unhealthy association with said coffee pot and proposed that I get a regular coffeemaker and carry on with my life. Well. The fancy coffee machine had been a birthday present (like for real: birthday present) from a past partner, so there was that. Really, it's that it was expensive and I couldn't bear to sideline it, even though it did.not.work and literally.hurt.my.stomach. I put it in the garage and used a basic coffee pot that worked like magic! Magic! Except that was too much waste and now I have a coffee press as suggested by my current partner and I love it to bits and all is right with the world. The end. That had nothing to do with baking and almost nothing to do with coffee, even. I am working on a book of stories so maybe that will use up some of this need to overshare. It could happen!
Henry's using loads of honey, which I kind of dislike but it's his cake, innit? He's using meringue even when he doesn't have to, so yay! He's got these kinds of discs that he's using to separate mousse so he can chill them all at the same time and I am WORRIED.
David wonders if Henry's finally gone mad, but we're wondering instead if his inclusion of sorbet might be a wee bit barmy. The rose theme is from his Bulgarian partner, who apparently makes loads of desserts out of the stuff. Okay?
Michael, David and Henry hang out by the fridges discussing the most-masculine topic of chill temps for gelatin, Sandi only wishes she cared! They have so many cute moments like that on here, Noel is quite funny, isn't he? And not just for looking at.
All the flopping of layers into round bowls! There's only one hour left! Sandi is super helpful with her bullhorn and police siren notification.
The bakers have to balance letting their bombes set and starting to decorate, which means loads of them are sitting around looking bored while the others stare at them in disbelief whilst frantically pushing things around on their station in a decorative fashion.
*That's my entire recapping style in one long sentence.
All of the inverting is happening and the tension is growing, sports fans! I was hoping Henry's discs were made of a type of plastic or silicone, but it appears he used cardboard, so he's having trouble removing them from between his layers of mousse. Most people are eventually able to get their bombe out of their bowls, but Alice's is frozen on and it's a nail-biter. Bang it with something hard, Alice!! Less finesse, more Conan!
Even MICHAEL gets his out, albeit with the most drama, course.
Noel taunts David; would David like Steph to get her third Star Baker in a row? He would, actually, because this is the most lovely, supportive reality show in existence. Noel just keeps on teasing but David will not take the bait, just as well as Steph had crept over to listen to what they were talking about. Awwww!
C'mon Alice's bombe! You've got this! Bang it with something!! Yay, she gets the bowl off and it looks great! No problem with the cake sticking at all! Whew
So much decorating in the last minute! David pops over to help Henry because he's a lovely person and this show is the BEST. There is no way Henry would have finished without that help.
Time for the Showstopped judging, are you excited?? I AM!
First up is Steph, which looks messy and basic to me but the mirror glaze impresses the judges anyway. It is perfect, apparently, one of the best things Paul has had to eat in a long time. He messes with his hands and Steph holds her face. Wait. No handshake?? Come on!
Now here's a study in contrast, check out Rosie's red nightmare. I mean that in the most supportive way. Interesting flavours but "clumsy".
Aww David's looks like a cabbage, he thinks. The judges like it but the praise isn't as effusive as it was for Steph. Always a bridesmaid.
Now this. Did I call Rosie's a nightmare? It was because I hadn't seen Michael's spiky madness yet. It's also falling apart inside and now I'm sorry that he's going to go home on his birthday. Well, maybe he can still make it home in time for the party!
The judges think Alice's cake is beautiful but. It's brown. And tan. It's literally a beige cake and they're waxing ecstatic over how gorgeous it is. I don't get it. She might be in the running to take this away from Steph this week!
Priya is next, will it be enough to keep her in this? The judges like how it looks, it tastes great but the chocolate mousse is too sweet and the raspberry is not.
Finally we have young Henry, whose apple honeycake looks like a scorched igloo. There's not quite enough apple or flavour and the cake is stodgy. Perhaps Michael will get to celebrate his birthday in the tent after all.
Without further ado, our standouts of the week are:
Star Baker - Alice - wait WHAT. Steph? She got it three weeks in a row? I mean, that Showstopper was a Showstopper but the Technica okay okay, never mind, congrats Steph!! I do write my guesses before I find out, so that's genuine bafflement.
And going home is: Priya. Awww, well, she was on a stay of execution after the baffling elimination of Phil awhile back. You are top 7 in Britain!! I feel as though it was between her and Michael, so I hope he enjoyed his birthday present from the judges! We all cried with Priya, didn't we? Not just me? It really is important to remember that you can't go wrong doing the things we love.
Henry also felt that bullet whistle past his ear, he spent the last hour being cuddled by David deciding on what he was going to steal from the tent after he said goodbye. So he's relieved. As is Michael, who feels as though he gave the bottom a "cheeky wink" and now I can't stop thinking about winking bottoms. Sigh.
Cheers, everyone, see you next time when we do seasonal treats!