This week in the tent the poor contestants’ stress levels were sent soaring, as the judges turned up the heat and set them the challenge of three bakes originating from Victorian times. If they thought they’d been out of their depth so far, the week’s theme was the most alternative one yet (and least appetising can I say…).
The Signature Challenge was a Victorian game pie. They ranged from Paul (not Hollywood’s) ‘Not a Boaring Pie’, which the judges decided was in fact, pretty average and not in the least exciting from a man who made the infamous lion bread just a few short weeks ago (keep it together Paul!!), to Tamal and Nadiya’s attempts to spice up the past with ‘Arabian Nights’ and Chinese themed flavours respectively. Ian as usual gave a quirky, if definitely creepy, edge to the challenge with his ‘Roadkill Pie’ which he went on to reveal was born out of his ‘hobby’ of collecting ‘bumped’ (not flattened) road kill for his culinary delights. His (slightly misplaced) enthusiasm was what then flattened, with his decorative efforts coming up short in Mary’s book – and mine, and the rest of the Britain’s, because let’s face it, no one wants Ian to be Star Baker again. I can’t take another smug, satisfied smile from him. I can’t.
Flora’s hugely exaggerated thermometer panic (“My pie’s not hot enough!”) brought few repercussions, as her pie breezed through the round virtually unnoticed, as did Mat’s lacklustre pie. Hollywood insisted it needed more bacon (as would any discerning foodie) and this minor error marked the beginning of the end for last week’s star baker as Mat positively plummeted in the next two rounds.
Mary’s completely random choice of Technical Challenge, the ‘Tennis Cake’, was everything you would imagine it to be; no joke, in the 1890s a fruit cake with a tennis court on top was all the range. I could only be thankful that last week’s evictee Alvin was not there to partake, as his poor time-keeping skills would surely have reached new levels of disastrous in this tedious challenge. Raw fruitcakes reigned supreme by the end of the round, with Mel and Sue’s tennis puns and Nadiya’s ace bake being the only saving graces, as she continued to affirm her place as, in my opinion, the top seed this year.
Mat’s woes only continued, ten-fold, as he had a complete ’mare with his icing. The colour, consistency and overall appearance was all wrong, and after all that bother, once he finally got it right with a second attempt he committed the ultimate unforced error and put his icing in the oven – the oven. I don’t get it; when you’re struggling as much as he was, would you not try a little glance over to any other contestant to see what they’re doing? No, I won’t use the freezer like Paul, Nadiya and Flora; instead I’ll pop it in the oven. The result: what Paul Hollywood described as ‘Hades’ tennis court’. Doh.
The Showstopper turned out to be the final nail in the coffin for Mat, and he saw his elimination coming, calling out “TAXI!” before he’d even finished the bake. His split ladyfingers and pretty dull ‘Charlotte Russe’ (which is a mousse-y, jelly, lady finger concoction that had me very confused throughout) did little to impress the judges. His lack of confidence with the week’s theme, and ‘That’ll do’ attitude throughout a difficult weekend meant he slipped from top of the pile last week to eviction this week.
Much to my delight though, Tamal was announced as this week’s Star Baker, as Ian’s 3D crown Charlotte Russe (which he was pretty smug about, and everyone begrudgingly applauded him for) was not enough to swipe away the top spot. Finally it was Tamal’s turn, and I loved his chuffed reaction was almost as much as I loved Ian’s grimace in defeat.
Luckily next week, its back to the traditional sweet treats from this century, as this week’s diversion was not my cup of tea, which was only saved by Mary’s usual boozy appreciation of any alcohol infused bake (this week it was Flora’s champagne jelly), plus Tamal and Nadiya mixing it up with their flavours to make me wish I could lick the bowl through my screen. ’Til next week!