We’ve reached the quarterfinals of “The Great British Baking Show” and it’s Dessert Week! We’re forced to ask ourselves “hasn’t every other week been dessert week?” Have we fundamentally misunderstood something essential about this television programme (we can write British but not speak fluently).
My name is Daniel Trainor and I fundamentally misunderstand most things!
Whereas I am famously Sam Stone, and while I grew up speaking British, I’ve forgotten most of it by now :/
Let’s dessert ourselves!
DT: All five remaining contestants have won Star Baker during the season, the first time that’s happened in the show’s history. It does feel like anybody’s game at this point. It also feels like Lottie could have steamrolled to a victory in this group if she had, you know, tried.
SS: We will not stop talking about Lottie, so if that’s something you need from us…I don’t know what to tell you. Lottie hive continues to eat.
DT: Baking wunderkind Peter says at-home practice hasn’t gone well and he’s nervous about this week. With all due respect, Peter feels like the kind of person who would murder everybody inisde the tent upon elimination.
SS: Our Signature Challenge begins, and our bakers are asked to make twelve miniature cheesecakes. Peter flatly announces that he has an “aversion to cheese,” which, in America, we would call “domestic terrorism.”
DT: There’s a common theme among many of the cheesecakes and that theme is passion fruit. Who’s passion fruit’s manager? Is she interested in taking on new clients?
SS: Passion fruit as a cheesecake topping is such an interesting choice because it’s what experts and amateurs alike would refer to as “bad.”
DT: Dave is making a “celebration of citrus” cheesecake, which is just full-on pandering to Paul and his weird palette.
SS: Marc is making a New York-style cheesecake — I’ve never understood what exactly makes a cheesecake New York style. Is it just a cheesecake that’s seventeen dollars a slice? Is it a cheesecake you find on the floor of the subway platform but you try a bite because no one’s around and it looks pretty good?
DT: It’s the water! Marc’s decision feels like an easy home run in the midst of this passionfruit nightmare. It’s like the bakers were asked to do something pretty simple and Hermine was like “I’m gonna put mine in a jar!!!!!!!,” Dave was like “I’m gonna put meringues on the top!!!!!!!,” and Marc was like “I’m gonna make cheesecake.”
SS: We simply must emphasize Hermine’s choice to make her cheesecake in tiny jars. “I like everything to do with jars,” Hermine declares. Suddenly it’s 2010 again and Hermine is our BoHo queen.
DT: In many ways, this Signature Challenge harkens back to the haunted brownie challenge when the contestants really struggled with the concept of baking, timing, and common sense.
SS: Do they have The Cheesecake Factory in the UK? Do they call it something beautifully ridiculous like “Ye Olde Cheesecake Makery?” What a stupidly whimsical country. Anyways what are we talking about?
DT: PASSION FRUIT!!!!!!! When it comes time for judging, Peter stares at his sunken cheesecakes like a father who really wanted a boy looking at his newborn daughter.
SS: For what seems like the twelfth challenge in a row, Laura’s final products are an absolute mess. In a twist, however, they fall head over heels with her flavors. Laura keeps finding interesting ways to stay in the game.
DT: Marc’s New York-inspired cheesecakes neither look “New York” nor like “cheesecakes.” Marc, sir, why is there a dusty ass apricot on top? WHAT ARE WE DOING?
SS: Dave’s cheesecakes, for all of their eccentricity, also get high remarks. Peter, meanwhile, gets dinged for appearance and flavor. Everybody in the tent should be nervous.
DT: For the Technical Challenge, the bakers are asked to make two Sussex pond puddings which, if I may say delicately, look absolutely disgusting.
SS: Sussex pond puddings, for the absolute brutes who haven’t had this 18th-century “dessert.” are a steamed pudding made of suet pastry crust, a sugar and butter filling, a whole lemon (?!), and the nightmares of children. It’s not entirely clear where this dessert came from, but it sounds like a thing children must eat as punishment in a Roald Dahl book.
DT: I can’t really explain why, but Peter knowing exactly what “suet” is makes me absolutely hate his guts. Peter is the kid who always reminded the teacher that they forgot to assign homework.
SS: Unsurprisingly, everyone except Peter is completely lost. Hermine has a suet breakdown, throwing her head back and yelling “Why? Why?”
DT: The challenge becomes as much about science and architecture as it does baking, as they are forced to figure out how to construct the correct contraption to bake their puddings. This feels like way too much work for what essentially amounts to “a whole ass lemon encased in sugar.”
SS: Dave runs behind the other bakers as he struggles to…tie a knot? Wait, that can’t be right. No, no, I just checked my notes again, and Dave could not tie a knot. He sticks his pudding into the steamer last, and for some reason also pulls it out before any of the other bakers!
DT: It’s unclear why any of this happens, but that’s Dave for ya! The bakers all struggle with the challenge, which is what this nasty pudding deserved. There’s not much variation between the lot, but Laura manages to win. This is what Laura does!
SS: Laura is our patron saint of failing upwards!
DT: I am sorry to announce, dear reader, that these were indeed some wet ass puddings.
SS: Topical! Pop culture!
DT: The Showstopper Challenge is a “jelly art design cake” and, at this point, I think the producers are just fucking with us. Dave, however, aims to prove 2002 Beyonce Knowles wrong, as he proclaims to be “ready for the jelly.”
SS: I thought jelly art design cakes only existed in the swirling imagination of my Instagram Discover page, but as I took in the syringes, food colorings, and mountains of gelatin the bakers planned to use in this challenge, I realized they were very, very real.
DT: During the challenge, we find out that Dave’s dad has a dog named after Patrick Swayze, which raises many more questions than it answers.
SS: Dave, I have it on good authority, was named after Dave Franco.
DT: As the bake commences, Hermine absolutely drags Laura to fucking hell for not even attempting to say “genoise” correctly. There’s something so beautiful about how Hermine totally despises everybody in the tent.
SS: Marc has ambitiously set out to make a four layer jelly monstrosity, while the rest of the bakers keep it simple, fearing that their time will be monopolized by botoxing their gelatin.
DT: At one point during the challenge, Peter blurts out “righty-o, rinky dink, okey dokey.” Somebody get the syringe out of his man’s hand. Or stab him with it. One of the two.
SS: Actually, fun fact about that phrase — that was what British soldiers shouted as they landed on the beach at Normandy on D-Day.
DT: That’s beautiful. Laura, constantly on the verge of utter collapse, has her cake go flying off the stand and she calls for help, a request that falls on absolute deaf ears. Should have said “genoise” correctly, bitch!
SS: Dave, who calls himself the “jelly Picasso,” sits around eating an apple while the other bakers frantically finish their cakes.
DT: Despite this, however, our gelatinous artiste receives raves for his cake’s appearance, but not so much its taste.
SS: Prue goes out of her way to laud Dave’s jelly decorations, which felt strange to me because Dave’s cake looked like it was decorated by a precocious toddler with an affinity for gelatin. Am I crazy? Sound off in the comments below.
DT: Cake slippage aside, Laura does more than just stick around this week, she excels. Meanwhile, in contrast to Dave, Peter’s snow globe cake disappoints visually, but gets rewarded for its flavor.
SS: Marc, however, fucks up the entire thing! It’s a wobbly, shoddy mess that couldn’t look less appetizing if it tried. Sorry, Marc, I call it like I see it. Xoxoxo.
DT: The best critiques are saved for Hermine, whose cake truly looks stunning. Syringe queen!
SS: Unfortunately, it’s Marc who must say farewell this week. His performance was as wobbly and unappetizing as his jelly cake, and as we enter our final rounds there’s no room for error.
DT: That’s curtains for Dessert Week! It turns out that Marc was not, in fact, ready for this jelly. Goodbye!