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September 22, 2019
Hello Bake Off Fans
Episode 4 Dairy Week ended in controversy for many. The challenges contained specified dairy contents (not just milk and cream).
For the decorative signature challenge, the bakers were tasked with making a dairy cake, meaning the mixture must contain a cultured dairy product such as yoghurt or buttermilk. Co-presenter Sandi Toksvig warned that a key factor to manage was the level of moisture in the bake: if it was too high, the cake would be fragile and prone to tearing. We were given this information just as Michael’s creation for the day, a lemon sour cream cake with a raspberry cheesecake swirl, was introduced – and it was no coincidence. Michael, we were told, was taking a risk by introducing two types of dairy into his bake, when one would have sufficed. He paid for this gamble dearly when the time comes to extract his cake from his mould and the whole things breaks in half. Michael, last week’s Star Baker, experienced a serious fall from grace as he deemed his own bake “unrescuable”. Despite Michael’s self-directed harshness, judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood both praised his lemon-raspberry cake’s flavours, so not all was lost.
The dairy cake challenge made for a good bit of tension, causing participants to worry that their cakes would never slip out of their moulds. That was not a problem for Michelle, whose cake came out smoothly, though she did accidentally smash her cake stand after hitting it with her heavy mould – leaving it to Michael to swoop in at the last second to rescue her bake. All 10 bakers displaid admirable creativity (Helena’s ghost-shaped cake was adorable and made for a good bit of banter with her fellow Goth, co-host Noel Fielding), though Phil’s yoghurt cake with rosewater syrup was deemed a bit lacking on the rose flavour side. Priya had a bit of a tough time too as Leith deemed the texture of her banana-chocolate yoghurt cake slightly off. Steph, on the other hand, won over the judges with her chocolate and raspberry buttermilk cake. David’s limoncello-glazed lemon and poppyseed yoghurt cake was also a hit, and with two new contenders for the title of Star Baker, we were off to the technical challenge.
This year, the contestants were asked to produce 12 “maids of honour”, a Tudor bake that Henry VIII supposedly loved. To the untrained eye, “maids of honour” mainly look like tartlets, though they’re made out of an intricate combination of pastry, lemon curd, cheese curd filling (yes, cheese curd, and no, it doesn’t sound incredibly appetising). The whole thing, by the way, must be topped by a Tudor rose, which is to be achieved thanks to a stencil. Of course, this is Bake Off and tarts are involved, meaning the words “soggy bottom” must be uttered – a requirement that Hollywood and Leith take care of when outlining the potential pitfalls lurking in our bakers’ future.
Timing, more than unbaked dough, was to be the main issue for Priya, who fell far behind the other contestants. She spent too long on her lemon curd. Hollywood and Leith only needed to take one look at all 10 batches of maids of honour to declare that they’re all too shallow and overall quite bad. Priya cames last, which isn’t too surprising given that she – by her own admission – spent too long getting the curd right and barely had anything to present. David came second while Steph was first, confirming status as this week’s frontrunners – but naturally, nothing is set in stone until the showstopper challenge.
This week’s showstopper was another Bake Off first: the participants must produce an assortment of mishti, Indian milk-based sweets typically served during important occasions such as weddings. Michael chose to replicate the colours of the Indian flag with his mishti, combining flavours of mango, pistachio, lemon and rose. The result, said Leith, was really stylish, and his flavours earn him the judges’ praise, suggesting that the nervous baker had redeemed himself for the week. The same went for Priya, who earned Leith’s compliments for having mastered the saffron flavour, a tricky one to get right.
Phil, however, failed to charm Hollywood and Leith with his garden-inspired creation (topped with a gnome), and Hollywood said he’d gone overboard with his elderflower, pistachio and blueberry flavours. Perhaps unsurprisingly at that point, Steph’s mishty, flavoured with rose, pistachio, mango, date and walnut, were deemed a success, as was David’s combination of carrot, fennel, cardamom, mango and kewra water (a plant extract used in South Asian cooking). This 10th series of Bake Off has introduced a new rule, according to which one episode will see two bakers get eliminated instead of one.
Steph walked away with a well deserved Star Baker title (she was first in the Tudor technical, after all!) while Phil, was selected to leave the tent. Priya can consider herself very lucky to survive having not produced anything for the second challenge and helped by the third challenge that she had prior knowledge of from her childhood. Phil would most likely have not gone the whole way as he lacked the creativity of several of the others. But it could be argued that this is a baking show and not an art show. Others would argue that it is both. Thats the beauty of the show.
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