GBBO series 7: Episode 7 review
By Phoebe Stone
Week seven in the Bake Off tent and, after the jungle of botanical week, we were back on familiar territory; desserts. But with just six bakers left in the tent, it was no piece of cake.
Signature challenge: Roulade
First up, a Bezza classic – the roulade. The aim of the game, we were reminded, was a light fat-less sponge, tightly rolled to create an enticing swirl “like a Catherine wheel”. Eggs are the only raising agent needed in this bake (cue the frantic whirring of a tent full of KitchenAids) and using them helps to prevent cracks appearing when it was time to roll. The only baker who added butter was Selasi, who believed it would add moisture and texture to his lemon and strawberry roulade.
Tom, nervous about the “curse of the star baker” after his triumph last week, was inspired by millionaire’s shortbread and filled his nutmeg roulade with caramel and crumbled homemade shortbread. “Should be interesting,” Paul commented cryptically, not helping matters. “Do you mean that it will be genuinely interesting, or do you mean it in a mwahahaha classic, creepy Paul Hollywood something-awful-is-gonna happen way?” mused Sue. Poor Tom.
Jane went down a similar route with chocolate, hazelnuts and a dash of booze for good measure, while Candice went to the light side with a white chocolate sponge with a passionfruit-raspberry cheesecake filling.
Sponges out the oven and it was time to get cracking (figuratively, not literally) rolling the perfect roulade. Jane defended her position on rolling the sponge lengthways (“you get more slices that way”), while Candice was faced with the terrifying prospect of rolling with Paul and Mary watching, but escaped unscathed.
In a surreal twist, Tom whipped out a miniature neon pink fan to cool his cake, but concluded he needed to start again. “It’s week seven of Bake Off – good enough is not good enough anymore.”
Meanwhile, smooth operator Selasi had Mel swooning with his cream spreading action – can nothing faze this man? “I’m a little bit giddy”, she observed.
Tasting time, and Paul was suspicious of Benjamina’s Piña Colada confection, declaring her coconut essence a touch artificial – but then again, true to the classic cocktail. Jane’s spiked roll was again too overpowering for Paul, but Mary disagreed; “maybe it’s the tipple I like.” These bakers know the way to Bezza’s heart: booze.
Candice’s cake suffered from rubbery sponge, Tom’s with poor presentation and Selasi’s could have done with a few more lashings of lemon curd (but was served on a curved photo frame, so bonus points for originality). Andrew’s Tropical Holiday-themed roulade however, filled with banana and passion fruit caramel, “melts in the mouth.”
Technical challenge: Marjolaines
Nope, us neither. This technical, set by Mary, required four crisp layers of ‘dacquoise’ (a nutty meringue), filled with praline buttercream and finished with nuts and ganache piping – no mean task on what looked like one of the hottest days in the tent so far.
Andrew attempted to put the tricky pud into context, comparing it to the humble Viennetta. Sue was having none of this – “There’s nothing posher than a Viennetta my darling.”
Crunch time. Despite Tom having never made praline before and Andrew cracking one of his meringue layers (a secret Mel promised to take to the grave), the six marjolaines all looked pretty much identical. Mary and Paul were forced to be extra pernickety, pointing out a chewy meringue here (no bad thing according to us), and slightly wonky piping there. Appropriately, engineer Andrew took the top spot, while Tom and Selasi sank to the bottom.
Showstopper Challenge: Mini mousse cakes
Negotiating one mousse cake is enough to send a confident baker into meltdown; Mary and Paul wanted to see two types, and 12 of each. In four hours.
Super-human chill machine Selasi was of course “confident with this” challenge, and Andrew chipper after his technical win.
Tom took another risk. Basing his bakes on a ‘Hipster picnic’, he planned to pipe his mousses between slabs of cake to make finger sandwiches, “taking something classic and simple and making it ludicrously complicated, which is the hipster way.” Paul gave him the blue-eyed laser stare: “I think you’re going to struggle.” Tom agreed, realisation dawning as he dashed miserably to the fridge.
Ambitious Candice admitted that as usual she had made more work for herself, aiming for a blackberry and raspberry two-mousse cake, suspended above a raspberry and prosecco jelly with lemon thyme sponge, all of which took a short lifetime to explain to a bewildered Paul and Mary. Oh, and after-dinner themed mint chocolate mousse cakes, too.
Jane went all out with a regal white fleur-de-lis design baked into her chocolate sponge, encasing three different mousses, with two more planned for her other cakes. “It’s week seven – you’ve got to go for it haven’t you?” she smiled, covered in chocolate and surrounded by mixing bowls as far as the eye could see.
After a spell in the freezer, Candice’s mousse was frozen. Into the bin it went, leaving her to start again.
Gelatine fever hit the tent. Dissolved and stirred into the mousses, gelatine should help the cakes set – provided the bakers can remember how many they’ve put in. Jane had a mind blank, while the others counted out the transparent sheets like dealers at a high stakes casino.
Half an hour left and the tension began mounting, with all the bakers tight on time and nervous to unmould their mousse babies. “If I could swear I think I probably would,” admitted Candice. Tom’s piped mousses had sagged. Benjamina’s were melting. Even Selasi began to lose his cool, as he removed his bake’s acetate to reveal semi-set mousse. The oxygen levels in Britain declined as the nation collectively gasped at Andrew dropping a mousse cake.
Up at the gingham altar, Benjamina’s apple crumble and mocha mousse cakes didn’t have style but did have substance, Paul and Mary even going in for a second bite, while Jane’s were a hit on both counts.
But it was Andrew, with his ice-cream inspired mousse cakes, that took home the Star Baker crown this week for the first time, after a winning streak.
Sadly, it was Tom’s turn to leave the tent, after not giving the judges what they were looking for with his take on the mousse cake. Paul seemed genuinely disappointed – in every series so far the Star Baker from Bread Week has made it to the final – and Tom had won the accolade twice.
Lords and Ladies, prepare to go back in time for Bake Off’s first-ever Tudor week. Pies? Pastry? Marzipan? Peacocks? We’ll have to wait and see.