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September 28, 2019
Hello Bake Off Fans
The episode kicked off “Roaring ’20s Week” with a signature challenge that would have been more at home in the previous episode: custard tarts. The bakers had to make four highly decorated, open-top tarts that set while they baked. They used short crust pastry and kept to the episode’s ’20s theme for their decorations. Most of the bakers opted for citrus flavors, with lemon and lime the most popular, but a few went another way. Rosie went with blackberry, Michelle chose blueberry and white chocolate, and David went with a classic: vanilla.
The signature was a fun one. Each of the flavour combinations sounded absolutely delicious and for a signature bake, the decorations were surprisingly detailed.
Rosie has flown under the radar this season, consistently delivering on her flavours but winding up just outside of Star Baker contention. Her blackberry tarts with decorative flower domes seemed poised to push her over the top, until she misjudges her force while moving her tarts and one goes sliding off the counter, splatting across the floor. She breathed a tiny, “Oh.” and freezed for a moment, before returning to her work. The other bakers tried to comfort her, but they knew there was nothing they can do or say.
On to judging , Paul and Prue barely mentioned her missing tart, though, focusing instead on her misjudged decorations—the jelly flower domes melted—and under-baked matcha tea pastry. She was not the only baker to get mixed reviews. Helena’s sea monster tarts looked amazing, but her heavy hand with the lavender meant they tasted soapy. Alice and Michelle also struggle with their flavours, Henry’s tarts were over-baked, and Priya has another particularly hard time of it, having boiled her custard. On the other end of the spectrum, Michael seemed to have just missed a Paul Hollywood Handshake, having under-filled his delicious and delicately balanced tarts, Steph packed lots of citrus punch into hers and is commended on their flavour. David’s simple vanilla tarts were deemed “exquisite” by Prue and “perfect” by Paul, earning him the second handshake of the season. Something to be said for a good bake over a flashy show.
For the technical challenge, Prue again dipped into the past, keeping to the episode’s theme. The bakers were tasked with making 18 beignet souffles, along with a sabayon sauce. Beignets, apparently very popular in the ’20s, are small fried doughnuts made from choux pastry, filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. As in “Dairy Week,” every single baker didn’t have a clue about them. None of them had even heard of beignets. Several of the bakers were familiar with choux pastry.
It needed to puff up when fried, creating air pockets for the jam to go in, but only a few manage to get the chemistry right. Michael’s having a particular time of it, his batter (rather than dough) refusing to fry. Noel came over and was able to comfort and reassure Michael, who powers through his frustration and tears and finishes the technical, presenting a complete, if somewhat sad, plate for the judges.
Helena took first place in the technical, followed by Priya and Henry. Each of them delivered decent to good beignets, but failed on their sabayon. Down at the bottom, David’s bakes were raw on the inside and closer to churros than beignets, and Michael’s were closer to blinis, though he delivered a good sabayon. Everyone else muddled in the middle, and for the second week in a row, the judges seemed perfectly happy to throw out the technical.
For their showstoppers, the bakers were tasked with creating a two-tier Prohibition Era cake, a cocktail-flavoured cake with ’20s-themed decorations. The judges emphasized that the cakes needed to be elaborately decorated, but none of the bakers seemed to understand the brief. They looked fine, but none had the elegance and finish viewers have come to expect from Bake Off Showstoppers. This was one of the weakest showings of the season, and the challenge itself seemed more suited to a signature challenge, given the emphasis on cocktail flavours.
Four bakers took inspiration from piña coladas, and of them, Steph hit the heights, impressing Paul with her lime sponges. Alice’s pineapple-heavy recipe was dissed for looking messy, but at least came together into a good, but clumsy cake, and Priya’s passion fruit bake looked rushed and incomplete, though Prue appreciated her delicate flavours. Michelle got knocked for having overly-complicated decorations—a surprising critique in a showstopper challenge—and Paul didn’t like her inclusion of coconut in her cake. Rosie edged past Henry in the battle of the White Russians, though neither really impressed. David got high marks for his Amaretto Sour cake despite it starting to collapse in from its weight, and Michael’s Bramble cake was complemented for its flavour if not its design. Paul was not fond of Helena’s Vampire’s Kiss cake, calling it bland and dry, and Prue wanted more raspberry flavour, but she at least seemed happy Helena’s sinister, yet pretty design.
This episode, despite a first place finish in the technical and mixed comments for her signature, Helena was cut for her showstopper, apparently for prioritizing look over taste. Her elimination, though, feels more driven by a lack of interest and respect for her spooky aesthetic than her actual baking. Michelle also got the chop, the judges deploying their double-elimination powers this episode. She also got mixed reviews for her signature, and admittedly lower marks than Helena, and struggled in the technical. Her elimination came out of the blue, though, because of the judges’ comparatively even comments on her showstopper. Were coconut flakes really enough to put her over the edge?
This is the third episode with a somewhat surprising elimination, and that makes for frustrating, rather than exciting reality competition TV. A couple of the remaining Bakers are really lucky to still be in contention. Lets see if they can improve enough to make it count.
Congratulations to Steph, who was awarded Star Baker for the second week in a row. She’s starting to get an insecure-frontrunner write up. David is right there with her at the front of the pack, but the other two spots will come down to endurance and creativity. With a return to the more standard “Desserts Week” next episode, hopefully the landscape will become a bit clearer, and the results and overall viewing experience will be more satisfying.
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