Great British Bake Off- Series 4, Episode 3: Desserts
There was a bit of trifling around this week on Bake Off, from Deborah stealing Howard’s custard to Ruby ‘winging it’ on the showstopper challenge.
It was another impressive week of baking from Britain’s best amateurs, with English teacher Glenn and army wife Beca picking themselves up from their performances last week.
Classic Challenge- Trifle
Mary Berry said before the challenge that ‘some might be clever enough to put a crispy layer on top,’ and many took the hint. Beca created a beautiful ginger and orange trifle with star biscuits on the top, a recipe adapted from her grandmother. She tells us she was “brought up on trifle” in west Wales, but unfortunately her custard was deemed “too slack” by the judges.
Last week’s star baker Ruby decided on a tropical theme, with hand-cut palm trees decorating the side and granules of sugar for sand at the bottom. Christine’s Caribbean trifle had a similar flavour, made with rum and pineapple and served with a little umbrella on the top in true Pina Colada style.
Ali (fast becoming my joint favourite contestant along with Howard) went with a coconut and raspberry trifle, but pushed the boat out by creating macaroons for the top layer. The judges found it hard to fault, with Paul’s only criticism that there wasn’t more of it.
Technical Challenge- Ile Flottante
In Ruby’s words, why would you want to poach a meringue in custard? But that was what the poor bakers had to do in the second round, making ile flottantes with a topping of spun sugar.
The bakers had to master a technique called ‘quenelling,’ in which they transferred the meringue mixture from one tablespoon to another until it made a satisfying oval shape, before poaching the meringue in crème anglaise. Many looked more like poached eggs covered in sloppy scrambled eggs, with Howard and Glenn having to repeat their mixtures due to curdling.
Christine had been listening hard at the WI meetings and her ile flottante came in fourth. Ruby’s was named third, Rob’s second and Glenn’s first. The fan of gargantuan cooking was chuffed to have pulled off something with such finesse.
Showstopper Challenge- ‘Petit Twenty Four’
In what Mary called the most difficult challenge yet, the bakers were tasked with making 24 petit fours, 12 biscuit-based and 12 cake-based, in just three hours. Glenn produced a confident looking bake after his previous win, making orange financieres topped with kumquats, but the judges weren’t impressed with his layer of biscuit.
Kimberly also produced beautiful looking chocolate pistachio financiers and lemon bergamot biscuits, which the judges adored save for the topping on the financiers. Beca redeemed herself after her slack custard with delicate looking mini blueberry macaroons to sit on top of her limoncello cake.
Both bakers, I thought, looked likely to be picked for star baker, but Christine won over the judges to be given the title this week with the help of her pistachio and mascarpone ginger snap cones with sachertorte parcels.
Howard was the only baker to make savoury petit four, and although his white stilton, quince paste and pear biscuits sounded wonderful, the judges thought he could have done with a stronger cheese. But more baking woe was in store for Mark and Deborah who were both sent home this week.
Mark’s hackneyed menu of macaroons and chocolate cake didn’t go down too well with the judges, not so much for its clichéd flavour combinations but because the macaroons collapsed to look like “little brains”. Deborah’s little fluted cherry cakes didn’t come out of the dish properly, leaving her distraught. She did what she could to salvage them with chocolate sauce, but the judges saw straight through the decoration.
Poor Deborah, I really did feel sorry for her, especially when she said ‘I can’t do this.’ I thought she might throw in the proverbial pan. But it’s not in her nature to storm off, just as Howard didn’t pull any snide looks when Deborah took his custard.
Yet again I am taken aback at how normal and down to earth all the bakers seem- a rare sight on television, but next week it looks like they might be forced to eat some humble pie…
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