Over half way through the competition and Bake Off turns over a new leaf this week with a theme that’s (to quote the divine Ms B) ‘totally original’. Yes, following on from the success of last year’s unexpected addition of Victorian week, we now have the tent hosting a flowery flour show as the bakers go ‘Botanical’.
We join our baking bunch on what appears to be a day that’s lovely weather for waterlilies. It’s not ideal conditions for cultivating the stiff peaks of meringue needed for the signature bake of a citrus meringue pie. In case you were wondering, that’s like the perennial favourite, a lemon meringue pie, but with (barely a handful of) fruity variations.
Mary’s particularly picky about the crispness of the meringue topping, favouring the good old-fashioned oven-bake over any fancy pyrotechnics with blowtorches.
Mary and Selasi compliment each other on their fittingly floral outfits. He’s baking a grapefruit and orange tart with a classic French meringue. There’s a bit of a debate with Paul about the correct pronunciation of physalis – Mary just calls it a Cape gooseberry. I fancy that Mary has some wonderfully retro names up her sleeve for all sorts of ingredients, like when avocadoes were once ‘avocado pears’ and Paul was once called ‘loyal’. Ah, those were the days. Anyway, back to Selasi’s curd, which she calls ‘stiff and cloying’.
Benjamina is also using grapefruit, which she gingers up and tops with Italian meringue. Sensibly baking and torching, Mary says it’s ‘a very good job’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Andrew also goes ginger, with a tangy tart that takes inspiration from a key lime pie. The lime curd is judged to be ‘beautiful’ but his pastry is too thick.