Last night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off was nearly a disaster in the Boo household. As you know, I watch in tandem, across the miles with my friend Nicki. She texted me earlier in the day to say that she had lost the remote control for the television and was distraught. I would have replied except that Vodafone had cut me off due to their failure for the last three months to put me on the correct phone package, despite hours of phone calls and in store visits to them to resolve it. The problem with phone companies cutting you off, is that they then ask you to telephone them to resolve the issues they’ve just cut your telephone access off for.
Luckily, by 7.45, the remote control had been found and my phone had been reconnected, although, because they don’t ever like to actually resolve a problem fully, I still have outstanding problems with my account. Hoorah!
It was almost as stressful as the baker’s experience of trying to make twenty four small mousse cakes in a super heated tent for the show stopper this week.
Anyway, I get ahead of myself. Let’s start properly. Week seven was dessert week. I like dessert week because I like desserts. It’s all very simple. Until you think about it. What do they actually mean by a dessert? It’s a very loose term really, at least it is in our house, where it’s interchangeable with the word pudding, because we’re not posh. Having said that, if it had been called pudding week, this would have been a whole other kettle of desserts, so it’s all a bit confusing. I was no wiser by the end of the episode, given the range of things they had to bake. The best way I can describe desserts are, ‘anything that seems bloody delicious and is certainly quite bad for you,’ week.
In the signature round the bakers had to come up with a family sized roulade. This was of great interest to our family, as Tallulah learned to make Swiss roll at school a fortnight ago, and it turns out she’s a dab hand, so we have been forcing her to make them ever since. We’d just demolished one for pudding/dessert, so we were taking notes for what we’re going to make her do next.
Pity the poor child, toiling away in the Swiss Roll mines of Leicester.
Tropical flavours were big in the tent this week. Andrew made something which had bananas in, which immediately put me off, because the only tolerable use for bananas in a dessert is when you’re making banoffee pie. I find bananas too troubling unless they are well hidden under gallons of cream and toffee. It’s the texture I can’t abide. I don’t understand how something can be slimy, furry, pippy and gelatinous all at the same time. It’s like a tongue explosion. So, lovely as Andrew’s was supposed to be, and despite the delicious looking curd he made, it was null points from the Leicester jury.
Benjamina made a Pina Colada roulade. It is my opinion that this was merely a vehicle by which to feed Mary rum. Several other bakers had also gone for boozy options, and Mary’s eyes lit up like Christmas at the prospect of being so hammered by the technical she’d not know which of the three tents she was seeing to go into.
Tom, experimental as ever, decided to create a version of millionaire’s shortbread, but in roulade form. I had my reservations about this from the start, even though I love millionaire’s shortbread. Firstly, he put nutmeg in the roulade mixture, which is not in any millionaire’s shortbread recipe I’ve ever come across, and I’ve actually eaten about a million in my lifetime so far. Then he put crumbled up shortbread in the middle of the roulade. By the time you actually eat it, it would be soggy, no? I hate soggy shortbread. As it was, when he rolled it, it sort of had a strange peak to it, and by the time he’d covered it in chocolate to disguise the cracks, it reminded me of the hair on that fierce alien woman who works on reception in Monsters’ Inc.
It was not a good look, for anyone, it turned out.
My favourite, flavour wise this week was Candice’s offering which was white chocolate and freeze dried raspberries with cheesecake mix in the middle. I had a small swoon at the very thought, despite Mary and Paul’s criticisms. I’ve got Tallulah working on a version already. Who needs school when you’ve got roulade?
The technical this week was to make a French dessert called a marjolaine. Now I would ordinarily say that this is a fictional pudding, but for the fact that Nicki has waxed lyrical about marjolaine’s before, and now Claire, Nicki and I are going on a cake crawl around France in her caravan based on her assertion that it is one of the best cakes ever. We will take gin to wash it down with, and it will be amazing. Although I suspect gendarmes will be called due to rowdy behaviour and too much sugar.
A marjolaine is several layers of dacquoise/meringue, glued together with butter cream and nuts. Each mouthful is approximately four days worth of calories in one glorious dollop. It looked like heaven to be honest. Andrew’s was spectacular, despite a small crack in the infrastructure. Selasi’s was too chewy. I care not. I’d have eaten them all, shortly before being rushed to hospital in a glycemic stupor by a herd of panicking St John’s Ambulance men, who would only have just returned from taking Mary to the Betty Ford clinic so she could dry out long enough to judge the show stopper.
As previously mentioned, the show stopper this week was to make twenty four small mousse cakes of varying flavours. There had to be sponge, there had to be mousse, they had to be small. Selasi had issues with size due to the fact he is a giant of a man and his idea of small was more along the ‘family size’ for everyone else. Also, his white chocolate and mint mousse looked like something Slimer would exude from an orifice in Ghostbusters.
Everyone had issues with things setting. It was a hot day, and despite all bakers now having the requisite number of freezers and fridges to avoid the Ian incident of the previous year, it wasn’t enough. There were puddles of mousse aplenty where there should have been towers of mousse. Benjamina, who got her flavours spot on, basically presented two trays of cakes which were rapidly melting into lakes. She was not the only one.
Andrew got star baker this week, much to Oscar’s delight. He got it on the strength of his flavours, although it is fair to say he probably got a smiley face and a gold star for being the only person to serve his on a functioning Ferris wheel. I suggested to Nicki that we make a dessert Waltzer, and use it at parties. It would work in much the same way as the game Hungry Hippos, where you have to run around, trying to catch the cakes in your mouth as they fly off the gyrating machinery. I think it could be huge. As it is, the ferris wheel was much more sedate, although it did put Norman’s hand carved spoon from a previous series totally in the shade. Next week, Andrew will be serving his show stopper in a hand made replica of the tent – within the tent, just to really confuse things.
Tom was the baker to leave this week. His take on mousse cakes was to create what he called a ‘hipster’s picnic’ with carrot cake sponges and mousse piped to make the fillings. I have to say they weren’t the most appetising thing I’ve seen emerging from the Bake Off tent, and it made me vow that I will never be lured in to attending a hipster picnic. The thought of those crumbs trapped amongst all the groomed beard hair and hand woven Peruvian hats made me go a bit funny.
Next week is a new one on me. Tudor week. Paul will dress as Henry VIII and the bakers will be forced to make novelty pies in the shape of amusing cod pieces for him, while Mary runs around with an axe and a flagon of rhenish wine urging them on to greater feats of ingenuity. It’s all to play for in the quarter finals.
You can watch this week’s episode on catch up, here.