Dessert Week? Always Pudding Week to me really. I remember this being one of the best weeks to practise because everyone around you is delighted to sample the prototypes! On with the show.
Rule number one on this challenge was no blow torches. Surely anyone who has 12 ramekins knocking about their kitchen is going to have a blow torch too? Grilling does take the fun out of it, but I expect it gives a more even finish for 12 desserts, so swings and roundabouts I suppose.
I absolutely love crème brulee. I have a really simple recipe for orange blossom crème brulee in my recipe book, B.I.Y. Bake It Yourself. Humid and rainy conditions are the worst for doing hard caramel on the tops though; it takes a very short time for them to go sticky and melt away. The opposite to Dessert Week last year where we were trying to make ice cream for Baked Alaskas on the hottest day of the year!
Tamal’s combination was perfect for me – rhubarb and stem ginger – I’d gobble them up no problem. I would have had so much trouble not eating all of Sandy’s liquorice pieces if they were anywhere near my work station too. There’s nothing like a bit of bake off scrumping.
I really felt for poor Paul in this challenge – that look on his face when he saw his scrambled brulee and was just waiting to take his medicine for it. I’ve been there, and it’s pretty lonely. Likewise Mat knew he’d had a bad one, but well done for him and Paul taking their criticism on the chin. And Sandy is a joy in that tent, laughing off any and all baking disasters. Tamal deservedly nailed that signature bake with ‘custard-like velvet’, as Mary said. Can’t get higher praise than that!
A four hour technical! They must have been knackered by the end of that one. I would have loved a challenge like this though. I’ve never heard of a Spanische Windtorte but I prefer technicals that are a total punt – it puts all the bakers on an even footing and we all get to learn something new.
This is definitely one I want to make at home, it’s just a shame the summer seems to have gone for good as this is perfect summer pudding fare. French meringue is another one that’s really hard to make on a wet day, considering the main aim in the bake is to dry it out.
I was keeping an eye on all the bakers’ plastering skills and I reckon if she wants a change from baking, I’d give Flora a job on site based on her performance on this challenge. I’m often asked how building is like baking and this is a great example – a bit of bricklaying, a bit of rendering, a bit of plastering and you’re good to go! Great work from Paul coming top in this technical and I liked how cool he was in victory. I think one of the main tests in the tent is how you dust yourself off after a disaster and don’t let it phase you in the next challenge.
I have to admit, tiered cheesecakes don’t really set me alight. Cheesecakes can be so heavy that the thought of three in one go doesn’t work for me. This coming from someone who could eat every one of the 108 creme brulees in a sitting!
I really can’t believe Paul, Mary and Sue hadn’t heard of the term ombre in baking. I love an ombre cake and ombre icing so I was looking forward to Ugne’s. I was nervous for Flora when I heard she was only doing one flavour of cheesecake. That was a bit of an error for a showstopper but credit to her for the ‘panic macarons’ she churned out – they looked perfect!
Mat’s chocolate bar theme was the best sounding for me this week – they’re the sort of cheesecakes I’d order on a menu or make for a party. I bet the crew feasted on the leftovers after this challenge.
From Tamal’s comments and how beautiful his looked, I really thought he had Star Baker in the bag this week – he’s definitely nipping at Ian’s heels. But like Paul and Mary say, we only get two senses through the TV – Ian’s cheesecake flavour combinations must have been spectacular.
I was absolutely gutted to see Sandy go. She was sunshine in that tent. Fantastic attitude from start to finish – laughing in the face of disaster and throttling Paul Hollywood as she went!
Paul Hollywood will be sharing his expert baking tips at this year’s Radio Times Festival – tickets available here