No canvas, no bunting, no Union Jack flags. There’s no garden fete backdrop for these pastry pros. Creme de la Creme moves the culinary action indoors, into the elegant surrounds of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire.
Despite one contestant crying “I want Mary Berry” in the show’s opening minutes, the Queen of Baking is nowhere to be seen. Creme de la Creme’s judges are galacticos of glazed icing. Cherish Finden is Executive Pastry Chef at the luxury Langham Hotel in London, Claire Clark is a patisserie consultant and Benoit Blin is Chef Patissier at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux’Quar Saisons.
Creme de la Creme also calls for a heavyweight to keep the pros in line. Introducing Tom Kerridge, chef patron of the first gastropub to earn two Michelin stars – and our host for the next eight weeks.
Instead of 12 of Britain’s best amateur bakers, it’s professional pastry chefs competing. And instead of going head-to-head for individual glory, they compete in teams of three, hailing from the country’s best hotels, restaurants, private dining rooms – and even one team from the Armed Forces. The first episode sees three of the youngest pastry chefs in the county take on an elite, secret unit from the City of London and a trio of cake inventors and innovators who test desserts for Marks and Spencer.
In five heats, two semi-finals and a final over eight weeks, the patisserie skills of the professionals are challenged by the Miniatures Test and the Showpiece reinvention round.
Judging in Creme da la Creme is a more precise affair. The final result is based on points awarded by the judges at the end of each round. The teams with the highest score after both tests will be guaranteed a spot in the semi-final. In the first round, each judge marks each batch out of 10, meaning a total of 90 points are up for grabs…
Patisserie perfection is the name of this game, and mostly in French – the teams’ tasks will range from producing an exquisite plate of Macarons Religieuses to elegant rows of Cocanut Dacquoises. Expect to see the pros produce creme pat with one hand while tempering chocolate with the other, stopping only to stir the ganache. Which sounds delicious – but will it be enough to satisfy the 15 million people who cheered on Bake Off queen Nadiya Hussain and her signature iced buns?
Bake Off Creme de la Creme is on Tuesdays at 8:00pm on BBC2