It’s a nice English summer day, and The Great British Baking Show hosts Sue and Mel are standing outside enjoying the…rain. But who needs sun when you have sugar. We get quite the carbo-load of two back-to-back episodes this week starting with bread, and now ending with dessert: The bakers will make a total of 144 of them because there’s no such thing as too much dessert.
Signature Challenge: Crème Brûlée
The bakers must make 12 identical crème brûlées, but instead of using blowtorches, they have to brûlée the custards under a grill, traditional, Mary Berry style. The tricky part is to get the custard to the right consistency, with a delicate wobble.
The gang sets off and adds a variety of fruits and flavors: Mat adds coconut, Alvin adds blackberry, Ian adds pomegranate two ways, Tamal adds rhubarb and ginger. Nadiya uses tea, Sandy adds pontefract cakes, which are little circles of black licorice. Ugne uses the African marula fruit, something that no one has ever heard of but apparently becomes a “drunken fruit” when it ripens. Flora decides to make ginger tuiles and rhubarb crisps in addition to the crème brûlée.
The crème brûlées end up with mixed results. Nadiya’s has a nice snap, but Paul II and Alvin’s are likened to a boozy scrambled egg. Flora’s has too much wobble, Tamal’s is like velvet, and Ian’s is almost perfect but could have done without pomegranate any way. Ugne’s crazy fruit and coffee liqueur combination is fantastic. Sue brilliantly calls Mat and Sandy’s runny creations “bru-lakes,” and Paul jokes that it’s a shame Sandy didn’t turn her oven on.
Technical Challenge: Spanische Windtorte
The next challenge is Mary’s version of an Austrian dessert with a Spanish name that includes both French and Swiss meringue. Got it? It’s a meringue fest — stacked rings of French meringue with piped Swiss meringue on the outside, fresh cream and berries on the inside, and fondant violets on top.
Per usual, the recipe is sparse at best. Nadiya’s take: “The instructions are very vague, sort of make this. And make that. So you have to know how to make it.” Helpful.
Timing and temperature are a challenge, as are perfecting two different types of meringue, but what most everyone is stumped by is what a violet actually looks like.
Paul and Mary taste the cakes and the meringues are all over the board. Some are chewy, some are dry, others are sticky or marshmallowy. The violets range anywhere from clumsy to delicate to “different.” Paul II takes the win and he’s shocked, calling it a stroke of luck.
Showstopper Challenge: Baked Cheesecake
For the final challenge, the bakers have four and a half hours to make a tower of at least three cheesecake tiers. They can be any size or flavor, as long as they are sweet and not savory.
Right off the bat, Ian decides on a trio of spicy and herby baked cheesecakes that uses Szechuan peppercorns, rosemary, and tarragon. Did he not just hear the “no savory” instructions? Tamal also includes rosemary in his trio, along with honey, mango, and hazelnut. Each layer of Alvin’s tower of fruit cheesecakes is dedicated to a different member of his family. Mat’s layers are dedicated to his favorite types of chocolate bars. Paul II goes very berry with blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
Nadiya’s fizzy pop cheesecakes are ginger beer, cream soda, and lemonade flavored. She boiled down her own pop-flavored syrups, and the cheesecakes will feature a levitating can with a fizzy lemon meringue foam flowing down.
Ugne decorates her lime, coconut and hazelnut cheesecakes with, what else, multicolored frosting. But she doesn’t want to go over the top with her decoration, so she chooses an ombré theme and then has to explain what ombré is to Paul, Mary, and Sue.
Sandy chooses the complicated route and makes two different bases and three individually flavored cheesecake fillings. Meanwhile, Flora keeps things simple with one flavor for all the cheesecakes: granola and elderflower. At the last minute, she’s concerned she hasn’t done enough and adds some macarons on top.
The wobble talk starts again. Everyone evaluates the wobbliness of their bakes and adds elaborate decorations.Then it’s on to the final tasting.
Ian’s herbs pay off — his trio looks stunning, the tarragon and apple mixes well, and Mary calls it “sheer heaven on a plate.” Paul II’s and Flora’s are a little overbaked. Alvin’s is messy, the base is bird-seedy, and Paul calls it “clumsy.” Tamal’s caramel work is praised and his flavors are spot on. Ugne’s piping is not great, but the taste is good overall. Sandy wasn’t able to stack her third tier because of possible “splodge,” plus her layers are raw.
Nadiya’s fizzy pop work of art looks impressive and the flavors are fun. Mat lets out a sigh of relief when Paul says his cheesecakes’ texture, appearance, and taste are all fantastic.
Star Baker goes to three-peat winner, Ian-genuity. And sadly, it’s Sandy who’s going home, wobble and all.
Sue: “Finally, a Signature Challenge where it’s okay to burn the living hell out of something.”
Mel (re: Spanische Windtorte): ” Sounds like something I went to the doctor for when I was on holiday in Mallorca.”
Mel: “We want to see 27 tiers on the benches, not rolling down your cheeks, please.”
Sue: “The cows of the UK are now empty. The entire dairy production of the UK has just gone into Paul and Mary’s stomach.”
It’s a toss up between all the wobbling and bru-lakes.
Next week, it’s Alternate Ingredients, which means the bakers use no sugar, gluten, or dairy. No way.