It’s only week two, but there’s already a pattern forming at stately Welbeck Abbey – and it’s not just the Countess of Oxford’s decorative plasterwork. Whilst Bake Off proper has a different weekly theme, the heats format of Crème de la Crème promises little variation, at least until the semi-finals, so we begin with another ‘miniatures’ challenge. This time it’s slices of opera aux fruits, little babka knots and the petits gateaux cylinders of last week are transformed into this week’s petits gateaux spheres. Judge Cherish says she’s looking for the spheres to contain ‘texture, texture, texture, multiple internal layers, explosions of flavour and top notch decorating’. Indeed.
First up this week is a team from the armed forces – Liam, Andrew and Ian. We’re told they’re more used to daily catering for 1,700 troops, and Liam says he once cooked for the Queen. He never actually saw her, but thinks she liked it. They are the self-confessed underdogs.
Team number two is Felicien, Irina and Loic from the Savoy Hotel, where the camera crew has filmed Felicien carefully putting the finishing touches to perfect pastries – It’s a high tease of the team’s potential. In the third team, Kumiko and Anais from La Pâtisserie des Rêves are joined by Jennie, a chef from the Royal Albert Hall. Jennie confesses she is a little clumsy, then ably demonstrates this by putting a fist-sized hole in her joconde.
Deprived of a Sue to partner his Mel, Tom Kerridge often seems a little lonely. He puts on a brave grin and chats away to himself but he seems to miss someone to talk to. With an aloofness clause written into their contracts, the judges are cold comfort, while the contestants just want to get on with baking. The tension is palpable as Tom wonders if Jennie will return a borrowed pastry brush.