It’s week four in the tent, and the good news is that we seem have fully moved away from surreal nightmarish intros and into fart jokes. It is also possible that they’ve just used up the props budget but its still an encouraging bit of progress.
It’s “Dessert Week” and we begin with pavlovas. Maybe this is baking snobbery but, like focaccias the week before, this feels like a little bit of an easy one. Pavlovas are the sort of thing most baking aficionados make for dinner parties with people they don’t really like. Even Paul and Prue seem dead behind the eyes when trying to hype up its difficulty. The trick being… leaving it in the oven. Not exactly the most riveting skill to watch.
At any rate, a lot of the bakers are being pretty ambitious with the brief. Crystelle’s key lime pavlova sounds delicious even if her mean godmother refused to help her with her secret pavlova recipe. Jürgen is hoping to bounce back with a Passover-themed pavlova complete with unleavened bread pyramids and Chigs is creating a towering chocolate and mango creation that sounds utterly delicious.
Slightly less convincing is Lizzie’s purple and green Easter pavlova and Freya’s peach melba vegan creation. Freya’s bakes and plaits have proven very impressive so far, but aquafaba (chickpea water) as a meringue substitute is really quite the handicap. Worst of all is Maggie who is making a traditional pavlova which is, to put it lightly, a snooze.
Things work out as expected, with Giuseppe and Crystelle putting getting the praise they are usually due. Also, as Paul puts it, “Jürgen is back!” with his lovely tribute to his Jewish wife’s holy day. Best of all is Chigs’ stunning art-deco mango creation which earns him a handshake.
George’s looks awful but tastes delicious and Maggie’s traditional pavlova doesn’t impress anyone. The problem with this episode is that Maggie has so clearly given up that it is robbing us of any stakes. For someone who had so much promise in the premiere, this is now the third episode of poorly executed unambitious bakes.
We now swing from an easy signatures to astonishingly difficult technicals. Sticky toffee puddings would be one thing, but with two sauces AND a sesame tuile? Sticky toffee pudding and toffee sauce is a truly delicious thing, but what is this crème anglaise and sesame tuile nonsense? Dessert-wise, this is putting a hat on a hat on a hat.
Maggie, who I’m pretty sure actually wants to go home, doesn’t add the flour. She says it’s a mistake but I’m not buying it. This could be a case of what RuPaul calls the “inner saboteur” because I cannot believe an even semi-competent baker could think a sticky toffee pudding was flourless.
But even beyond the black puddles of goo that Maggie serves up, many of the bakers struggled. Only Chigs, Lizzie and Jürgen have served up something that looks edible. Amanda’s is almost as bad as Maggie’s and she uses the opportunity to insult her husband on international television. Who says romance is dead?
The Showstopper this week is part dessert, part cake with jocondes! which are truly the apex of baking achievements. Because when done well, they are as beautiful and magical as they are delicious, with light sponge defying gravity around rich moussey layers.
Chigs has his heart set on Star Baker, but fears that Giuseppe and Jürgen will prove unbeatable. Admirably, that means he’s going for a risky two-tier joconde which is (checks notes) inspired by his sister’s bathroom. Also, Chigs doesn’t like the Mona Lisa which is big talk for a guy with the bathroom cake. Jürgen is making a musically accurate joconde, having in the past made Star Trek ones. Giuseppe is making one that is a tribute to a wedding cake that his father made, which from the photo seems to just be a pile of fruit? And Crystelle is going for piña colada flavors which, seems to be a popular choice this season. Did pina colada’s make a comeback in lockdown?
Maggie is, sigh, keeping it simple. Her joconde is strawberry flavor and has decorative strawberries. It is actually infuriating watching poor George sweating to stack two peanut butter and chocolate-layered jocondes on top of one another and Freya trying to use chickpeas and tofu in ingenious ways while Maggie phones it in.
Amanda’s garden of eden joconde (lot of Judeo-Christian themes this week) leaks coulis but when its cut into, the layers are beautifully distinct. George’s isn’t exactly a masterpiece but he’s gone for many challenging elements and the floral design is lovely. Freya scrapes by, too; the vegan nature means that she can’t quite replicate the textures of a traditional joconde, but it’s a noble effort. Jürgen sing the tune that encases his perfect joconde topped with wine jelly suspended strawberry slices and Giuseppe’s is a stunning collection of pale pinks and green that is a lovely tribute to his dad’s pile of fruit. Chigs continues his fantastic week with a two-tier black forrest gateau joconde with Prue admitting that “I don’t even like black forrest gateau, but I love that.”
Everyone seems to have hit a basic level of competency aside from Maggie, whose sad-looking strawberry joconde tastes fine (strawberries taste nice), but is a sloppy mess that doesn’t even have the required 2 layers when all the others managed around 5.
When it comes to Star Baker, it’s a close call but Chigs comes out on top! Impressive that, despite only baking for 12 months, this was the challenge he excelled at, as it has so many technical elements. As to who is leaving, they can barely even pretend that there’s a difficult decision to be made. Farewell, Maggie—you, well you did what you did, and you kept smiling through it.
- Chigs’ mother asked “Am I on camera?” when he called to say he was star baker made me laugh out loud.
- Next week is “German Week,” so expect lots of Jürgen, and it seems only fair that George gets a Cyprus week, too.
- It has been a very male dominated show with Jürgen, Guiseppe and now Chigs at the top. Overall only Crystelle seems like a real contender for the overall crown. I suppose it isn’t a crown… a contender for the plate and large bouquet of flowers.