James: Are you alright?
Liesel: I’m just annoyed. At myself.
James: Yeah, I’m annoyed at you too.
Welcome back, Bake Off fans! The Melbourne Cup happened (and I’m writing this two hours before the race, so I don’t know who won), and now it’s time to get to more serious matters: chocolate week. The challenge for viewers this week (that I made up) is to see how many recipes don’t have nuts in them. Cooking shows are difficult for people with allergies.
To make things difficult for our contestants this week, it’s hot, which isn’t very conducive to tempering and setting chocolate. Good luck, bakers!
Signature bake: Chocolate Slice
The parameters for this signature challenge are that the chocolate slice must have three layers, and at least one of those layers must be baked.
Jeremy is making a tower slice with layers of brownie, honey cake and fudge and peanut butter mousse. Sounds delicious. Matt says they’re a bit on the large size, and it’d be a bit difficult to have them by yourself for morning tea. Has he seen the size of slices at cafes recently? Also ‘too big’ is a complaint I only hear from Matt Moran when it comes to baking. Jeremy says he’d smash one. The flavours are good, but the brownie is a bit chewy. Maggie Beer does her best chipmunk impression.
Noel‘s hazelnut and ginger slice has a biscuit base, is filled with hazelnut and ginger filling, and covered with chocolate ganache. Noel is trying to impress Maggie with the ginger filling, because he’s found it difficult to win her over, so there’s a change in the judging dynamic. Halfway through, Noel considers adding rum to his ganache for Maggie. All I know is that Mary Berry would love it. I’ve deciphered the judges’ comments, and it seems that there’s a bit too much chocolate, but the ginger flavour is great.
Antonio‘s passion slice looks the best so far. A coconut biscuit base, passionfruit caramel filling and white chocolate and black sesame on the top. Matt warns that there are a few flavour combinations, so the risk is that they all work well together. Antonio’s slices aren’t identical, but the tang of the passionfruit is great, and keeps the slice from being too sweet.
Olivia‘s cheesecake brownies have a chocolate and pecan brownie as the base, cherry cheesecake filling, and chocolate ganache on top. She says the slice is her husband’s two favourite things smashed together, which seems like a good plan after making her husband’s favourite quiche last week before winning Star Baker. Maggie and Matt both love it, but it’s a bit too sweet for Maggie. Everything else is great though.
Monica is making a S’moreish slice: chocolate biscuit base, caramel filling, marshmallow, and topped with white and dark chocolate. Sorry Antonio, this is my new favourite recipe. All Maggie and Matt can taste is the marshmallow, they’re not getting the biscuit or the caramel.
Fiona is also making a s’more slice, so there’s going to be some competition! I think I might like the sound of this one better. Fiona is toasting her marshmallow to go in the filling with salted caramel, and her slice will have a biscuit base and dark chocolate on top. She’s using molasses, but she’s not quite sure what that is. Maggie loves the marshmallow, because it’s been toasted. It goes very well with the salted caramel, and I would like some now, please. Matt loves it, and acknowledges they’d be perfect if the weather wasn’t so warm.
Bojan is going with classic flavours, making a choc-orange slice. Chocolate biscuit, orange custard and a dark chocolate ganache. Let’s hope it all works out for him. His custard is set, which is something I wasn’t expecting. Maggie needs more separation of texture. Matt says the flavours are good, but the orange could come out a little more.
James is also doing orange slice! The difference is that he’s making an orange curd rather than a custard. His base is made of coconut biscuit, and the top is white and dark chocolate. Two double-ups, this is exciting. Matt’s observation is that they look simple. He got his three layers Matt, what more do you want? It doesn’t matter though, because the simplicity paid off, and the flavours work so well together.
Liesel‘s Zserbo slice is inspired by a Hungarian dish her grandmother makes. The slice alternates layers of pastry with chocolate, walnut and coffee filling and is topped with dark chocolate ganache. Matt says it tastes good, but it’s a bit dry. Also that they look better than they taste. She seems to be feeling much better than she did last week, which is a good sign.
Technical challenge: French chocolate dacquoise
This week’s technical is a Matt Moran recipe. A dacquoise is a French dessert with alternating layers of whipped cream or mousse (in this case chocolate mousse) and meringue, topped with glaze, which Matt Moran would like to be very shiny. The bakers try to pronounce dacquoise, and Antonio concedes he sounds like a bogan.
“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, çe soir?” Monica asks, before asking the editors not to put that on television. Too late! What happens in the shed is fair game for post production. Monica sees that Bojan might not finish his dacquoise on time, so she helps him. It’s stressing her out, you see. The shed is such a friendly place.
When the judges get to Bojan’s messy dacquoise, they say that it looks like it was thrown together at the last minute, which means it could be anyone’s – except Antonio’s. I’m a messy baker too.
And now, from ninth to first: Bojan, Liesel, Olivia, Noel, Fiona, James, Antonio, Monica, Jeremy! He’s turned it around from last week.
Showstopper: Miniature Cakes
36 identical miniature cakes! Matt is a big fan of uniformity, so this could be a tough one. The cakes have to contain milk, dark and white chocolate, and they have four hours to complete the challenge.
Bojan‘s feeling the pressure after coming last in the technical challenge, and hopes that his chocolate passion squares will redeem him. His milk chocolate sponge is filled with white chocolate ganache and passionfruit curd, and topped with dark chocolate.
James addresses the judges as beautiful people, confessing that it’s an attempt to butter them up early. James is in my Top 3 contestants at the moment, and this is one of the reasons why. James’ cakes have four layers of sponge, filled with alternating layers of milk chocolate, white chocolate and hazelnut ganache and topped with a dark chocolate glaze.
James mentions that both he and Jeremy ‘are into the idea of being Star Baker this week,’ which of course they are! Who doesn’t want to be Star Baker? They’re both doing pretty well, so there could be some competition. Jeremy’s chocolate and raspberry cakes – milk chocolate sponge, white chocolate and raspberry butter cream and dark chocolate lace decoration – will look spectacular if it all goes well, so I hope he manages to get everything done. Matt suggests that 36 identical cakes will be difficult, but is he really going to inspect the lace on every single cake?
Noel‘s Naked cakes have a chocolate and hazelnut sponge, a white chocolate, coffee and salted caramel butter cream, and a dark chocolate and raspberry ganache. Matt mentions that there are a lot of flavours going on there.
Liesel is worried about her place in the competition, so the showstopper is important. She has a big task ahead of her. Her white chocolate sponge will be filled with milk chocolate and mandarin ganache, and topped with mandarin jelly and a chocolate truffle. That’s a lot of work for four hours. She’s also surrounded by mandarins.
Olivia is going back to the dacquoise well. Her chocolate cakes will be filled with caramelised white chocolate and a hazelnut dacquoise, and topped with dark chocolate ganache and tempered chocolate.
Monica is also very ambitious with her bake today. Her chocolate and espresso cake is alternated with layers of milk, dark and white chocolate mousse, and decorated to resemble a coffee cup. Good luck Monica!
Antonio is focusing on his presentation today. His cake will have a dark chocolate and macadamia brownie base, a raspberry and dark chocolate ganache, white chocolate mousse, and will be topped with tempered milk chocolate.
Fiona‘s chocolate and passionfruit cakes sit on a dark chocolate biscuit and are topped with white chocolate flowers. We’re also informed that they contain an ‘explosive surprise’ in the form of pop rocks. Fiona warns Claire against putting an entire spoonful of pop rocks in her mouth…
James gives Liesel some advice regarding balance, and Maggie visits Antonio, because she cannot believe his station is so neat. Maggie also tastes Noel’s cake mix and raspberry conserve, and apparently they taste great. Maggie Beer is my kind of judge, and I hope Noel is less scared of her by the time this episode is over. Liesel’s jelly isn’t set, but James says she can just crumble it on top. Liesel had better stay, I’ll be sad if the show’s best friendship is broken up this week. James says that someone’s batter tastes amazing, I assume it’s Liesel’s. I love the friendships that come out of these shows. Mel does her best impressions of the judges while tasting James’ cakes.
As the contestants hurry to finish their bakes, Claire has to turn around because she’s too stressed to watch.
Monica only has 19 espresso cakes, but Matt says they look good. The flavours are good, but there’s not enough texture there for Maggie. Liesel has successfully put up 36 identical cakes. The chocolate and mandarin work well together, and Maggie loves the jelly. Bojan has also put up 36 identical cakes, and the passionfruit is great. The cake is unfortunately a little dry, and Matt suggests that they’re too simple. Jeremy has 36 cakes, but he’s missing the dark chocolate component because he didn’t have enough time to temper the chocolate. They taste good, but they might be a touch too big, which is a strange complaint in a baking show, but the brief was miniature cakes.
Noel has 36 identical cakes, and he’s left out the caramel thanks to the judges’ advice. Maggie loves the bottom layer, but Matt says there are still too many flavours there. James didn’t have time to cut his sponge into 38 identical squares, so he has some miniature cakes and a giant slab. The cake is a bit too tall, but the flavours are all great. Olivia‘s chocolate is perfectly tempered, and there are definitely 36 cakes there. Fiona has 36 cakes, but they’re not all finished. Antonio‘s cakes look so good that the judges feel like they’re at high tea. They taste great as well, and Matt wants to take some home. Surely he wins Star Baker this week. And he does! He says that he thinks his mum will be in tears when he tells her. Never change, Antonio.
Bojan is going home, which isn’t surprising. He didn’t have a great week. I’ll miss you Bojan, you made the quiche and lamingtons I most wanted to eat.
- As always, you can find this week’s recipes here. The link wasn’t up halfway through the episode, so I hope it works. I’ll check tomorrow.
- #wildlifewatch: Dogs, kookaburras, magpies, and the small birds I can’t identify. It’s the one on the right of this screenshot:
- All images courtesy of Foxtel, Fremantle Media and BBC Worldwide.