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Bake Off 2019: Norman the gnome steals the show

I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired, or it’s just good editing, but Bake Off was emotional this week.

First of all, I had to contend with avoiding spoilers until this morning, which is a stressful experience made worse by the fact that the people around me knew what happened. Secondly, it seems all the bakers were emotional, and seeing someone tear up is enough to make me do the same. There was a lot of that.

As the saying goes, don’t cry over spilt milk. But what about spilt cultured dairy products?

In the first-ever dairy week, the bakers were first tasked with whipping up a dairy cake using a cultured dairy item such as buttermilk, sour cream or yoghurt.

Having recently done this myself (a chocolate and Guinness cake with buttermilk) I’m aware of the challenges, but also the resulting deliciousness. While none of the bakers opted for my recipe, Steph whipped up a chocolate raspberry cake, Priya did banana and chocolate cake with toffee sauce and Phil’s “full fat all the way attitude” saw him create a rosewater cake with buttercream roses.

Limoncello was popular with Rosie and David, although David chose to swig it off a plate with Sandi. “I went for a full mouthful,” he said. “That’s not a sentence many boys say to me,” she replied.

Michael (pictured above with Priya), meanwhile, went for a risky sour lemon cake with a raspberry cheesecake swirl – a bake that had worked one out of 10 times in his home kitchen. Why on earth would you go into the tent with that catalogue of failures? Surely after the fifth one you’d find another recipe?

As expected, it failed again in the tent, although as Paul said: “Tastes great, utter mess.” A fair critique.

Others did pretty well, including Henry, David and Rosie, while Phil and Priya got off to a rough start.

The technical, meanwhile, was rough for everyone – me included. Watching them strain milk curds made me feel queasy as they had to whip up 12 Maids of Honour – that’s a rough puff tart, very popular with Henry VIII, filled with lemon curd and a cheese curd filling.

Helena (pictured below) forgot to put water in her pastry, while Priya was extremely preoccupied with her lemon curd and fell so far behind it was impossible for her to catch up. Paul even refused to eat her tarts. Ouch.

Side note: I love Helena (and not just because I have her in the British Baker Bake Off sweepstake). Her yellow tights were on-point as was her cute vampire brooch and ghost cake.

Back to the technical. Paul did eat the others, but he wasn’t thrilled with the results. Priya came last, followed by Helena, who “wasn’t on brief at all”, with Alice 8th, Michael 7th, Phil 6th and Michelle 5th. Rosie snuck into fourth place, with Henry in third, David second and Steph at the top, with tarts that were described as “certainly the best of this lot”. Although that wasn’t exactly a compliment.

As they entered the showstopper, everyone but Steph and David was at risk of being sent home, with the ominous threat of two departures hanging over the tent.

For this challenge, the bakers were charged with creating three types of milk-based Indian sweets known as mishti. Inspiration ranged from afternoon tea to the seaside, the Indian flag and cocktails. Phil, deciding India was far too exotic, took inspiration from his own garden, creating an edible rockery complete with Norman the Gnome.

Many of the treats were round, leading to a myriad of ball-related jokes:

  • “Just weighing my balls” – Alice
  • “Henry obviously thinks size matters” – Steph
  • “At least my balls are firm” – Henry

Henry’s balls came out well, but his kulfi dessert didn’t set, leading to a melted mess being served to the judges. “You’d eat it if you were given it,” said Prue. “As a prisoner, maybe,” Henry replied.

Steph was praised for her clever flavours, even if one treat looked like a hotdog bun, according to the judges.

David’s treats were neat and precise with aromatic flavours, meaning he was giving Steph (below left) a run for her money when it came to star baker. She still beat him though.

At the other end of the league table, Phil was told his garden tasted slightly fake, while Priya’s treats were lacking the colour required of the challenge (although her flavours were mildly redeeming). Michael also redeemed himself with delicious mishit, flavoured with mango, pistachio and rosewater.

That said, it was still a bit of a shock when Noel announced it was Phil (below right) who was going home. He didn’t have a great week, but he didn’t do as badly as Priya. She didn’t even finish the technical. His no-nonsense presence in the tent will certainly be missed.

A few titbits based on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Rosie

Who should have gone home: Priya

Most fun to watch: Norman the Gnome

Quote of the week: “My sausage it’s just too sticky” – Phil


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