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The Great British Bake Off Episode 4: dessert disasters

27 August 2014
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After bidding farewell to Jordan last week, the eight remaining bakers in the GBBO entered the marquee to face their toughest challenge yet, Dessert Week.

Testing their multitasking baking skills, Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry asked the contestants to first bake eight, individually portioned self-saucing puddings in two hours.

"Keep your sponge nice and light…something that will bake in very little time," advised Paul.

"Timing is everything," he warned.

group five

In order to make a fondant dessert, it is essential to leave enough time for the sponge to chill so that it forms a crust on the outside but keeps the sauce molten inside. The sponge must be light enough to bake quickly but strong enough to encase the sauce. Flavours ranged from Martha's family-favourite, peanut butter-centre sauce encased in a chocolate sponge, decorated with caramelized peanuts to Nancy's pistachio pudding with chocolate sauce, to Ian's adventurous chocolate lime and raspberry dessert adorned with mint leaves. Luis, Chetna and Norman challenged themselves and opted against the classic fondant pudding.

Luis decided to pipe pears into his desert while Chetna opted for a strawberry, raspberry and rhubard pudding with sauce lining the bottom of her dish. Nancy and Martha fell short on the signature bake as they had left their puddings in the over too long, resulted in stiff sponges and solidified sauces. Meanwhile, Diana's great flavours and Kate’s chocolate and salted caramel puddings impressed the baking royalty.

In the end, it was Richard's blackforrest desserts that wowed the judges. "That’s what I call a sauced pudding," praised Mary.

For the technical challenge, baking extraordinaire, Mary Berry, set the culinarians her famous tiramisu cake. The bakers had two and a half hours to create an adaptation of the Italian bake.

Paul and Mary wanted to test the contestants’ precision but as always, kept the instructions to a bare minimum.


"Every layer needs to be soaked evenly in coffee and brandy," asked Mary while Paul demanded that the bakers create even layers of the mixture with a nice blend of flavours.

The flour in a tiramisu cake needs to be sifted and folded gently into the mixture, creating a smooth and silky batter. In the tent, the horizontal cutting of the sponge proved difficult with the added pressure of creating neat layers in the bake. The lack of detail concerning the amount of coffee and brandy to soak the sponges in proved troublesome for the hopefuls, as did the stiff layers of mascarpone that are needed to stop the pudding from falling.

5 tira

Ultimately, Diana’s pipping decoration proved too eager while Chetna impressed with her layered tiramisu. However, it was Martha who wowed the judges with her precision, "even layers and perfect flavours."

The next day, as the sun blazed upon the tent, the bakers were hopeful that their show-stoppers would wow the judges and allow them to steal the crown from last week's Star Baker, Luis. However, baking on the hottest day of the year so far proved challenging for the contestants, which intensified the pressure in the final challenge.

Paula and Mary asked that the bakers create a show-stopping Baked Alaska in four and a half hours.

Paul highlighted that several things can go wrong with a Baked Alaska as the sponge must be baked perfectly, the ice cream cooled down precisely and coated with a perfectly decorated meringue; timing and temperature were key.


Diana decided to create an adventurous swan shaped Alaska, while Nancy opted for a summer pudding dessert consisting of two flavours of ice cream. However, as the temperature rose throughout the day, cooling the ice cream and meringues proved difficult for the bakers. By mistake, Diana removed Iain's Baked Alaska from the fridge meaning that his dessert collapsed when it was removed from its casing. The drama continued as Iain reacted by placing his pudding in the bin, much to everyone’s disappointment, and walked out of the tent. In judging, Nancy's lovely summer fruit flavours and precise pipping impressed the judges, as did Chetna's mango and cardamom Baked Alaska was deemed "gorgeous." However, Norman was told that he was playing it too safe competing against such high standards of baking.

When it came for Iain to present his Baked Alaska, the contestant carried over the bin containing his disastrous bake to the judging table and apologized to Paul and Mary.

iain bin2

Obviously disappointed, Paul highlighted that although the ice cream hadn't set, they could've tasted the sponge which Iain had created.

In the end, Richard's tiramisu-flavoured Baked Alaska was deemed better than his technical challenge, resulting in him being crowned Star Baker, for the second time this series.

Unfortunately, it was Iain's frustration and lack of a show-stopped pudding which saw him leave the marquee.

"If you don’t present something to taste, you can’t stay," remarked Mary.

The heat is certainly heating up in the kitchen, with Richard seeming to be the series' firm favourite.

Episode five promises an evening of drama as the baking contestants must face a week of pies and tarts next Wednesday at 8pm on BBC One.

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