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Bake Off: The Professionals 2019 – Episode one

The Great British Bake Off’s slightly scarier sibling was back on our screens last night, with six teams of contestants facing the judgement of Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden.

Tasked in the first heat to make miniature tarts and an extraordinary red velvet dessert were:

  • Richard & Bernadett – Dreamland Cakes Patisserie
  • Reshmi & Daisy – Anges de Sucre
  • Hannah & Martina – Chiltern Firehouse
  • Adam & Sam – Palé Hall Hotel
  • Nelson & Evaldas – South Place Hotel
  • Steven & Connor – 1884

The first challenge was to create 24 Linzer Tortes and 24 reimagined Bakewell Tarts. Each set had to be identical or, as presenter Tom Allen described it, “like they’ve been made by some sort of robot pastry slave in a factory”.

Reshmi & Daisy opted for a white chocolate and almond crumble base, topped with a cherry-shaped bombe, filled with cherry and kirsch liqueur mousse, glazed with raspberry and finished with a chocolate stem.

Richard & Bernadett made a sable Breton base, topped with almond liqueur cream and glazed domes of raspberry mousse, while Adam & Sam opted for a complex seven-element vertical Bakewell.

Nelson & Evaldas set about making a Bakewell sandwich that would be cut into triangles.

“That’s important,” said co-presenter Liam Charles (pictured below). “Because, you know, some people cut their sandwiches rectangular? I don’t like those people.” He was also delighted to hear Nelson would be cutting the crusts off.

Hannah & Martina opted for macaron towers, and Connor & Steven made raspberry buttercream-filled Bakewells that would sit in nougatine rings. Cherish was concerned the nougatine might break her teeth.

“I don’t think it will,” Steven reassured her, looking nervous.

Daisy said her mousse had curdled, but continued to pipe and hoped the judges wouldn’t notice. And there were still the Linzer tortes to think about…

Steven’s pastry broke as he applied it, much to Cherish’s disapproval (she pulled a lot of unimpressed faces throughout this challenge).

Nelson had a trick up his sleeve to avoid pastry breakage. He froze it, made the pattern, froze it again and cut out a perfect circle that was placed on top of his tortes.

Reshmi & Daisy opted for positive mental attitudes. “Don’t lose the plot,” Reshmi told Daisy, who replied “I need a bit of paper with the word plot on it.”

Hannah & Martina (pictured below) realised the tortes required 20 minutes to bake and were yet to go in the oven, or have a lattice put on top.

“F*ck the tops,” declared Hannah. And they went in topless.

I was on the edge of my seat for the judging.

First up were Adam & Sam. Benoit said their Linzer tortes were “pretty” and had everything he needed. Cherish, however, would have preferred a touch more acidity.

Benoit was also complimentary about the Bakewell tarts, describing them as “stunning”. Cherish was also impressed, noting the resemblance of the vertical Bakewells to waffles and ice cream.

Next up were Hannah & Martina, whose lack of lattice top was immediately obvious. Cherish was blunt. “Your recipe is wrong,” she said, as she crumbled the base from a height. Their macaron tower didn’t receive good feedback either, with Benoit branding it “boring”.

Steven & Connor were next to take their trays to the judges. Cherish said their Linzer tart lattice was untidy, and struggled to get through the base of the Bakewell tart with a knife.

Richard & Bernadett’s Linzer Tart wasn’t baked, although Benoit said they had the ingredients together perfectly. Their glazed dome Bakewell tarts looked appetising and delivered on taste too.

Nelson & Evaldas were up next, and their flavours were praised, although the texture of their
Linzer tart was a bit dry.

Finally Reshmi & Daisy faced the judges, presenting their Linzer Tortes still in the tin. Benoit tapped his watch. Very authoritative. Cherish refused to taste the tart as it was uncooked.

“I think we rank at the bottom,” Daisy concluded, “but we can’t go any lower.”

“Well you can stay at the bottom,” Reshmi replied. And with that, the first challenge was complete.

Challenge number two was to make an ordinary red velvet cake extraordinary.

Reshmi & Daisy went for a Little Red Riding Hood theme, Hannah & Martina took inspiration from the 1800s, as did Steven & Connor, while both Nelson & Evaldas and Richard & Bernadett went with a romance theme.

Adam & Sam were making three red velvet cake flowers, with an entremet centre and chocolate stems. Sam (pictured above) had pre-made more than 200 petals in the allocated ‘golden hour’ the night before, but admitted that, should he add one too many, the whole thing would fall. Risky business.

Hannah fell at the first hurdle, failing to make enough chocolate mousse for her beetroot domes.

Evaldes also faced trouble, as the heart of his sugarwork centrepiece had cracked. “There’s no way we can rescue any of this now,” Nelson said.

And alas, they started creating a new heart-shaped centrepiece with less than two hours to go. “It’s plan B and C,” Nelson explained. “And plan D, which is the door.” Slightly melodramatic, methinks.

Adam & Sam were judged first, presenting a flowery showstopper that looked, well, showstopping. Cherish described it as “a spoon of genius”. Had I been Sam or Adam at this point, I would not have been playing it cool.

But it wasn’t praise all round. Richard & Bernadett’s was described as flat, Hannah & Martina’s as looking unfinished and Reshmi & Daisy’s as having too much sponge.

Nelson & Evaldas’ last-minute centrepiece held up, but the cake didn’t resemble red velvet for Cherish, and Benoit thought there was too much cream. He did, however, say he enjoyed it.

Steven & Connor’s creation didn’t have great elegance and was “bulky”, according to the judges. And, despite the raspberry mousse having good flavour and texture, they were the first team to leave the competition.

Adam & Sam took first place, and judges described them as being in “a different league”. Nelson & Evaldas placed second, Richard & Bernadett third, followed by Hannah & Martina, then Reshmi & Daisy, getting through by what they described as “a split end”.


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