There are now nine bakers left, and the competition is hotting up. This week there is no Mel Giedroyc for some reason – perhaps she has a deep-seated torte phobia, because that’s what’s first up.
Firstly, the tortes must be more than 20cm in diameter. That shouldn’t be a problem for this bunch of contestants as they insist on making everything absolutely massive, so we expect tortes the size of hubcaps, and that’s what we get.
The other thing about a torte is that it doesn’t use normal flour, and the contestants must use some other kind. There’s also a lot of ganache involved. In fact, anyone fond of hearing Sue Perkins say the word ‘ganache’ a lot might want to rewind this segment several times. Anyway, to give you a few ideas, Danny is using potato flour, and flavouring her torte with white chocolate and elderflower. Stuart is doing a black forest torte, which (if it turns out anything like the illustrative picture) sounds amazing.
Ryan, however, is both flavouring and colouring his torte with green tea – an unusual choice for a cake considering green tea is bitter and doesn’t really taste of anything. Also, olive green is not really a go-to colour for cake if you ask me, but we’ll see. John (who seems to be becoming a bit trendier and better looking every week, a bit like an X Factor contestant who is slowly being made over) is also doing a black forest torte, like Stuart. Uh-oh.
Ryan, who already seems to be on shaky ground anyway, has burnt his sponge, and now has to cover it in his weird olive green icing. Stuart’s torte hasn’t set. John has tried to pipe the word ‘Noir’ on to his torte but it just looks like it says ‘NOOUH’ instead. It’s also bloody enormous, so much so that Paul ends up describing it as a ‘chocolate breezeblock’. Oh dear.
More acceptable efforts are Kathryn (as usual) with her white chocolate, macademia and coffee torte, and Manisha with her almond, chocolate and cherry combo. But it’s Danny, who hasn’t really shone so far, who is told that her torte is ‘quite something’. Brendan’s is good too, although Paul describes it as having ‘seventies decoration’, possibly due to the large amount of orange involved. Brendan says he ‘can’t remember’ if it looks seventies, which is either a comment about how old he is or about how much fun he was having at the discos at the time. I’m going with the latter.
Next up, for the technical challenge, it’s crème caramels. Mary Berry has an evil glint in her eye as she describes the pitfalls of these, which are essentially a/getting the caramel the right consistency without burning it, b/not curdling the egg custard and c/making sure they set properly before you release them from the mould.
For John’s sake she might have added d/ not writing ‘NOOUH’ across them, but she doesn’t. You pour the caramel into the dishes first and then add the egg custard, so that when it’s cooked you can turn it upside down and have a lovely gooey caramel layer on the top. In theory, anyway.
The crème caramels also have to cool down again before you can take them out of the ramekins – that’s assuming they want to come out. Stuart looks like he’s trying to tempt his out by stroking them. Kathryn manages to smash one of her ramekins and almost serves one of her crème caramels with a garnish of china. In the end, Manisha and Stuart’s efforts are both disasters, and come out almost as liquid. Wonder-boy John is also struggling again as his caramel is too pale, but Brendan’s are looking really good, and he takes first place.
The showstopper final challenge is a layered meringue dessert.
Meringue in itself is tricky enough (and it’s also nearly as impossible to spell, as I’ve just found out) but to get it layered and with flavours that complement both each other and the meringue is really hard. Danny’s doing a coffee daquoise, which involves putting nuts in the meringue as well. The woman is a glutton for punishment. James is also clearly a masochist as he’s doing fig, chestnut, cherries and a ganache. Mary and Paul are looking forward to it – no pressure then. Sarah-Jane and Manisha are both doing tiramisu. Ryan’s is a multicoloured monster – a strawberry and pistachio meringue with a rose and raspberry mousse.
Anyway, before long it’s time for the judging. John’s elderflower and bramble berry meringue looks amazing, and seems to impress the judges after what’s been a bit of a dodgy week for him. James’s weirdly looks like a load of pancakes stacked on top of each other like you’d get in an American restaurant, and it’s nearly impossible to eat in a practical manner. There’s not enough meringue in Kathryn’s, as she has also put honey sponge layers in hers.
I have to say that Kathryn is so good that I’m starting to feel slightly glad when she messes up and gives somebody else a chance to shine, which is not really fair of me. Stuart’s effort doesn’t have enough decoration, and is too much like a layered trifle, apparently.
Brendan gets star baker – I’m glad because this hopefully means we’ll get to see a bit more of him, as he seems to have faded into the background a bit so far despite the outlandishness of some of his creations.
And it’s finally the end of the road for Stuart. Despite clearly being a decent baker at heart, he’s just had too many disasters. Sue tells Stuart how much they’ll miss him, and the producers will presumably miss his epic cock-ups, too, bless him.
I’m on my holidays next week, so this blog will be babysat by the very capable Ian Dunn – it’s pies next week apparently – everyone likes a good pie, don’t they? So tune in!