The great frustration of reality is with all the issues that might, if we had made slightly different choices, simply not exist. Fair do not scatter fake ballot boxes across the country. If we just had ignored New York’s flamboyant real estate con artist, he may have disappeared decades ago. We could all just wear masks! So many difficult and complicated things don’t have obvious solutions, but instead we are all drowning in a deluge of direct and stupid mistakes.
All this to say: its chocolate week in the Great british baking tent. After the healthy subtlety exercise that has been the bread and butter of the last week, this week is, like Dana Bash could put it, a shitshow. The brownies melt! The babkas are falling! White chocolate is as horrible as everyone says it is! This is all a bit exciting also exciting, if you ask me.
For this Signature Week, everyone is supposed to be making 18 brownies. It’s very easy, threatens Paul Hollywood. If you can’t make a decent brownie, there will be problems. Everyone takes it as a challenge to invent problems. Oh, the stress, the stress is too much! Lottie moans, putting her chocolate and pecan brownies, topped with underbaked raspberry cheesecake, in the freezer, where they end up drizzled with freezer juice. The Lauras chocolate hazelnut brownies with giant puffs of Italian meringue are also undercooked, but the problem is, they are also extremely sweet. Not to be outdone, Sura drops a box of her swirling ruby and dark chocolate brownies in the oven. Peters Fig Pistachio Upside Down (with dates) brownies are oppressive with cinnamon, while Daves Honeycomb Blast Brownies lack all the qualities of brownies. Prue praises Irish Mark: it tastes like a brownie. Then she tells him that she is avoiding the marshmallow filling. The other Marc is really sorry.
We’ve all made it harder than we need to, Lottie sighs. Everyone has lost sight of the whole point of brownies, that is, they don’t contain any dates.
It’s less fun than you might think, seeing everyone fail at the same time.
Luckily, every challenge is a new day (metaphorically; literally, it’s always the same day), and so bakers are all dusting themselves off and moving towards technique, where their hopes will immediately be dashed. This is, I think, a true portrait of existence. Every morning I also wake up with great hope to do better, and every day at noon I’m on Twitter trying to figure out how to prepare for it. lunch with a rotten lemon. But that’s not what I want the Great British Bake Off. It’s a show at its best when at least more people are firing at all cylinders, they are doing their best, they are at their peak and they are downcast not by the circumstances but by their own mistakes. Bumbling is not a drama. The drama sees someone setting their oven to the wrong temperature with intensity and purpose.
Anyway, I was making chocolate babka. I don’t know what it is, I never did, Linda said briskly. I wish I knew what it looked like! Prue got it in New York, but no one in the tent seems to know what’s going on. Their twists do not fit in their boxes. How long does a babka have to get up? There are no answers, and very few reasonable guesses, and one wonders if it would be more satisfying if perhaps we could have given them a little more information? There are also doubts if the time has come for a UK-based bakery chain specializing in babka. There seems to be a market opportunity
Lindas babka is the best babka is, according to Prues, a model babka so she wins, followed by Laura, whose babka is less shaped, but rather good, for a regular babka, and Irish Mark is third. Her babka was delicious, but she just didn’t have the height to be modeled. Lottie is the last, because of the way his babka sank, Dave is almost the last and the Suras lead loaf rounds the bottom.
Both of these challenges failed, Sura says, speaking for herself, as well as for several others. She really hopes the weather will cooperate tomorrow.
Time does not cooperate. It’s hot. It is so hot. Do you know how hot it is? It’s okay, they’ll keep telling you that. We’ve arrived: babkapalooza has now become the annual hot episode of the shows.
The Showstopper challenge is to make a white chocolate three tier celebration cake designed for a particular celebration. One thing you need to understand about white chocolate, says Paul Hollywood, is that it has a very high fat content, so it will spoil your texture unless you reduce the butter in your sponge. Prue agrees: white chocolate is frankly a nightmare to work with. Did they mention that it is very hot and everything will most likely melt?
This is the kind of shit I’m talking about. Heat is a problem that we have solved with the wonder of air conditioning. I understand that the British have a different opinion of this particular technology; I don’t want to be a cultural imperialist. But. This spectacle is by no means rustic. They have endless ingredients and premium proofing drawers. You can air-condition a tent, if necessary. Ask a Texan wedding planner! I might have felt differently at another time, but given the state of the world, my patience is at an end: just buy an air conditioner! These are not obstacles that twist their hands!
However, Channel 4 and the show producers disagree with me, so it will be important that everyone puts their adorable sea foam-colored freezers to good use.
Laura makes something with Italian meringue buttercream and dark current jam for her two-year wedding anniversary, and Sura uses strawberry and lemon jams and tempered chocolate frills for her 36th parents. To celebrate her sapphire grandparents’ wedding anniversary, she bakes a very complicated white chocolate geode cake. Remember, Prue reassures her. Just don’t be the worst!
Peter pairs chunks of white chocolate with mango curd to toast his newly graduated brothers, Marc calls in Swiss raspberry meringue buttercream in honor of his daughters, and Hermine does something with the sponge sponge, entirely replacing traditional butter with liquefied white chocolate. Linda bakes an emotional cake in memory of her daughter, using mascarpone and raspberry. Dave bakes a strawberry cake and Irish Mark celebrates his wife’s birthday (in absentia) with white chocolate, pistachio, lemon and Amarula fruit liqueur, which the elephants get drunk on.
Here’s the other thing about white chocolate: it turns brown very quickly, due to its high sugar content, which suggests it’s done when it’s extremely do not fact, which is a fact Sura doesn’t know.
Despite the temperature, which is the opposite of cold, it seems that everything is fine. Marks cake The Amarula-pistachio-lemon mix is beautifully made, even if it’s a bit weak in punch. The abstract extravagance of Lotties geode is overcooked but very cool. Paul thinks Daves’ cake looks burnt, but it isn’t. The Lindas Memorial Cake is sufficiently buttery and the Marcs cake is very pastel. Peters’ graduation cake is smart, and while Lauras cake is too dry, Paul can tell she thought about it a lot. Hermines cake is delicious. Deliiiiiiiicccious Prue raves, on several occasions.
There is just one problem, and the problem is a catastrophe, and the catastrophe is that the sura cake is raw. It’s deeply raw. It’s deeply raw. Mmmmmmmmmmm observes Prue, British. Paul tells her she’s done wrong. In addition, it is unbalanced.
There is nothing to do. Did Sura really fail this much that she has to go? wonders a melancholy Paul and viewers in at least two different nations. Yes, that’s the answer. Lottie also had a bad week, but remember you just don’t have to be the worst, and the Suras cake was so raw. No one wants this to happen. Paul says it’s a classic case of having a weakness.
The only salvation, in the show and in the world, is that next week we can all try again.