Last week: the bakers baked bread, Paul was in his element, and a lady whose name I have already forgotten seemed to believe that an ordinary loaf qualified as a showstopper, and thought that putting tomatoes on top qualified as 'a twist'. Mary did her I'm-not-angry-I'm-just-disappointed face, and Paul did his I'm-not-disappointed-I'm-just-angry face. Meanwhile, I got the wrong James Bond, apparently - it's Roger Moore who was fond of the raised eyebrow and the I'm-glad-you-dropped-in punnery, not Sean Connery, so here is Mary again with the right Bond comparison.
|That's Moore like it. Ahahahaha. Sorry.|
This week: desserts! Much more exciting than bread. If I know anything about the Great British Bake Off - and I've spent more time watching it than I have in all the world's art galleries combined - then I'm expecting a number of references to 'just desserts'. But I have to say that Mel and Sue start the show off in fine fettle, with mention of 'stressed' being the word 'desserts' backwards. That's cleverer wordplay than "It's a trifle difficult" or "Creme patisserNO, morelike". And Mel looks rightfully pleased with herself.
|Sue's Eric Morecambe tribute act continues apace.|
The bakers file in across The Bridge, which is fast becoming my favourite bridge in all of fact and fiction (take THAT bridges of Madison County, battle of Stanford Bridge, Bridge[t] Jones) and share their thoughts about dessert week. Christine is pretty excited about it all, while Ruby Tearday cheerfully says that, having been Star Baker last week, "it's only going to go downhill." Ali looks ready for a baking breakdown and, in the nicest possible way, I can't WAIT.
And it would be remiss of me to go any further without mentioning Mary's luminous yellow jacket. Is she at the forefront of Fashion for the Older Woman, or has she recently been shimmying up a telegraph pole to have a quick look at the telephone wires? You decide.
So, the signature bake is trifle - and it turns out that my pun klaxon has taken on prophetic ability, as we instantly get a 'trifle' pun. I'm already a bit nonplussed by this choice of challenge, to be honest, because I wouldn't have thought you could go far wrong with a trifle (and hadn't thought they involved all that much baking) but I'm ready and willing to be proved wrong. Mel solemnly intones that this is the first time the baker have been asked to multi-task, which can't possibly be true, and Beca already seems to be losing it.
Sue talks about 'a base of lady fingers', and I can hear her physically restraining herself from making a pun, possibly because it would wander into the lewd. Ali claims never to have heard the word 'trifle' before, or to recognise any one of the ingredients or utensils in front of him, or to know where he is or how he got there. However he's making a raspberry and coconut trifle, which is always a wonderful flavour combination, so good luck to him.
I'm intensely relieved to discover that Glen does have a home to go to after all (although it looks suspiciously like a show home on a housing estate, and he'll probably be asked to leave in the next ten minutes.) Here he is, having whipped up a croquembouche...
|"You'll note that this room is dual aspect... |
sir, SIR, I MUST ask you to leave the kitchen alone."
...but more importantly, here is his adorable dog.
But there is strong competition for most adorable thing - OFFICIAL ANDREX PUPPY MOST ADORABLE MARY BERRY MOMENT - in Mary's face when Glen tells her he's using her 'flavour combination but not her recipe'.
|Incidentally, this face is every argument you'd ever need against Botox.|
Since that flavour combination is 'raspberry and almond', I remain unconvinced that anybody is pushing the boat out. Where is whatshername from two years ago, who insisted on adding hyacinth branches or diced yak to the most innocuous of dishes? The nearest we get is Una Stubbs, who is apparently disregarding the challenge altogether and making a lemon Swiss roll.
|And giving me kitchen envy.|
She is also seemingly a closet alcoholic, and has hidden cointreau in a spray bottle. She swiftly pretends that it is connected to her baking (hiding her bottle of vodka in the oven) and Paul, Mel, and Mary all spray it into their mouths - giving us an honourable mention for OFFICIAL ANDREX PUPPY MOST ADORABLE MARY BERRY MOMENT, when Mary gives a little jump of surprise at the aftertaste.
We leave Una Stubbs to her inevitable intervention (wouldn't Inevitable Intervention be a great name for a band? Noting it down...) and head over to a battle of titanic proportions. Here's an antagonism waiting to brew.
|"I'm not a big fan of jelly. It's just not my cup of tea."|
|"I'm sorry, you can't have a trifle without jelly."|
It's about to get REAL in here, folks.
Oh, and I love Beca for saying that, in West Wales, they have Sunday roast "pretty much every day of the week".
There still isn't really very much to say about making trifle, since it seems to consist almost entirely of bits they would normally make at the last minute to shove on top of their more ambitious creations (I'm always impressed by how these bakers make jam at the drop of a hat, while it would take me most of a week) so let's leave them to it. It gives me a moment to say that, far from being Brend 2, Howard is a complete sweetie and I love him. He may be from the combined creative vision of Alan Bennett and Woody Allen, but neither of them could have dreamt up the wonderful vision of him jogging.
|If I knew how to make a GIF, I would. I don't.|
Kimberley update: her hobby is salsa dancing. NO, Kimberley, NO. You need a hobby which makes you look less cool. Take a leaf out of my book - my hobby is watching reality television and writing about it on the internet.
|It's like salsa dancing, only you sit alone in your room and don't move.|
Words of wisdom from Ali: "Nobody likes a soggy macaroon." Comment in the comment section if you do!
The intro promised us 'the first ever baking burglary" - I'd assumed that Christine would swipe Mary's jacket - but in fact it is Una Stubbs stealing from Howard! She accidentally takes his custard - and he is FILLED WITH RAGE.
The trifles are judged, and they all look... like trifles. Although I have to put in a good word for Ruby Tearday's impressive tropical-themed trifle, complete with palm tree.
Mary and Paul struggle to say very much to everyone - Mary does say to someone "It's a bit like a cake with cream and fruit on top of it", which is precisely the definition they've given us of trifle - so we get half-hearted comments about bowls being too full, or flavours being overpowering. And it turns out that Howard's custard was better than Una Stubbs's, so her Grand Larceny was either very canny, or... not.
More importantly... is that a rival bridge I spy? Don't even think about it, bridge!
|I have no idea what he was saying. |
I was too distracted by the bridge.
THANKS TRIFLE HISTORY!
The second challenge is... floating islands, or, umm, whatever that was in French. Here is the one Mary (probably didn't) make earlier, and it looks delicious:
|I'm also pretty sure Tina Turner had the hairstyle in the '80s.|
I haven't quite grasped what floating islands are, but it seems to involve poaching meringue in milk. I've made plenty of meringues in my time, but I've never done this... Frances claims that she's in 'meringue no-man's-land', which is presumably the latest spin-off of Foyle's War. It has to be conceded that they don't look very attractive at the moment. Sue holds up Howard's custard (see fig.1) and says that it looks like a metaphor for climate change.
|Er, fig.1. Why not?|
To me it looks more like a metaphor for cauliflower cheese, but sure.
Then they start making spun sugar...
I'm always relieved when they turn to something that I have done before, because then I can assess how over the top the programme is being about difficulty levels. Spun sugar is pretty easy, but you wouldn't guess that from the interviews we have as the cameraman dashes from panicked baker to panicked baker. "I don't what temperature it should be!" cries one; "I don't know how to get the shape!" cries another. Ali, of course, claims never to have heard of sugar before.
Mary and Paul step up to the table of floating islands, and they certainly differ quite a lot in appearance.
|This is rather how I envisage a Waitrose-sponsored zombie drama.|
In last place, for this challenge, is a man whose name I still don't know. I'd forgotten he was there. The top three are Ruby Tearday, Rob (who has been rather quiet this week), and in first place is Glen. Now that he's been let out of the school store cupboard, he's going places.
In the who-might-be-going-home bit, we get the inevitable custardy/custody joke - but apparently Mary hasn't heard it before, as she dissolves into hysterics. Was I premature in awarding the OFFICIAL ANDREX PUPPY MOST ADORABLE MARY BERRY MOMENT? We'll never know.
Finally, we have the showstopper challenge! I miss what it is they're making at first, and discover quite how vague everything they say actually is. Lots of bakers saying how tricky it will be, and Paul mentioning that he requires perfection, while Mary makes sympathetic noises without (so far as I can tell) forming complete sentences at all. Maybe they film a series' worth of these segments at the beginning of August, and just intersperse them later?
It turns out that they're making petits-four. And it's at this point that iPlayer starts playing up. So I'm off to bed, and will come back to this recap tomorrow, if iPlayer is behaving...
Well, petits-fours are certainly rather trickier than trifle, and I am completely lost with almost everything they say - mostly because everything is in French.
Christine is thrilled that her petits-fours are going to be 'sickly' (hmm) but I am impressed with her husband, who has made her a little wooden implement especially for shaping them.
Una Stubbs, however, is heading for disaster - because she's using edible flowers and rose. Has anybody ever used flowers or rose without the judges saying that the end result tastes too much of flowers or rose? Well, perhaps she'll prove us all wrong.
|But at least almost all those words are in English.|
Ruby Tearday confesses that she'll be winging it, and Paul (much like Shania Twain before him) implies that That Don't Impress Me Much. As ever, when at a loss, Mel talks in a voiceover about the perils of getting an even bake. It's like an 'umm' to her; I'm not even sure she knows she's doing it.
Frances. Ah, Frances. You've been oddly quiet this week, and I assumed you might be saving yourself for the Showstopper Challenge - and you've not let us down. "I'm doing my petits-fours inspired by Tchaikovsky's The Nut Cracker ballet." Oh, of course you are, Frances. I assume each petits-fours will function as a working violin.
|Er, spoilers. Here's what they'll look like.|
And Howard is making savoury petits-fours, based on things you might have at the end of a meal. One inspired by coffee, and the other "based on cheesy biscuits. It's essentially like a cheesy biscuit." You know how sometimes the artist's inspiration is hidden deep within their creation, unknowable to the casual observer? This isn't one of those times. Mary Berry Reaction Shot Time, I do believe.
Una Stubbs has swerved past Ali on the inside track as the one most likely to have a meltdown - she clearly hasn't recovered from the theft incident, and is getting pretty distraught about her fluting.
|"I've lost my fluting," she says.|
I've never seen Cathy Come Home, but I can't imagine it matches this for anguish. Elsewhere in the tent, impressive things are happening with petits-fours - just look at these!
It's a mistake, I've realised, to recap before dinner rather than after it. As someone who makes nice cakes writ large but is useless with fiddly bits, I am filled with envy of all these bakers. So, that's coveting, envy, and (as with every moment of my life) sloth, so 3/7 Deadly Sins. We'd best fast forward to my favourites...
Christine gets an "Mmm, that's scrummy" from Mary, while Ruby gets "THAT'S a bit of alright". Mary. Beca - who might be my favourite baker now - does fantastically well in this challenge, and certainly doesn't hold back from arm-waving, fringe-blowing, and exclamations of joy - while Una Stubbs gurns in misery in the background.
There is a moment in the deliberation section where Sue and Mel riff on the idea of Paul and Mary marrying. It's every bit as wonderful as you'd imagine. You wouldn't get that on the French version, stuffy pompous lady who wrote this article.
Anyway, winners and losers below the jump...
Star Baker is...
but going home is...
Two people! That was rather a surprise, but if it had to be two, those are - sadly - the two. Mark interviews that, if he hadn't been told he was going home, he'd have questioned the decision, while Una Stubbs - no, for this last time, Deborah - laughs about her 'cascade of misery'. Well, if you don't laugh, you respond in an appropriate manner.
Next week - pies and tarts! Hope you've enjoyed this week's recap, and I'll see y'all then.