Chocolate fondant with nougatine biscuit and toffee sauce

Great British Bake Off 2014, Week Four - Dessert Week

by Urvashi Roe 28 August 2014

9 bakers. 3 challenges. 2 judges. 1 tent. Who would get their just desserts? And who wouldn't? Discover the drama in Great British Bake Off.

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Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life. She is a freelance writer and stylist for various publications including Good Things Magazine, and The Foodie Bugle. She was also a former contestant on BBC2's Great British Bake Off. She shares vegetarian and allotment inspired recipes on her Botanical Kitchen and Gujarati Girl blogs.

With the antics of Mel and Sue taking us back to Carry On films, I think half the UK population were rather hopeful the baking would be abandoned this week in favour of a bit of sauce with Paul. Now would he be a Sid James or a Kenneth Williams I wonder? that would make for a great Comic Relief spin off don't you think?

Anyway back to baking. After much 'ooooooh matron' style references to sauce and saucy we discovered that the bakers had to produce 8 identical, individual proportioned, self saucing puddings. The saucy bit could ooze out of the middle (a classic fondant) or sit on the base of the sponge

Paul wanted to see a nice, light sponge. Mary was after some sauce. I expect the contestants were too. There were a couple of pitfalls for them to worry about and share their expert techniques on

- the light sponge could easily over bake and result in something a little too hard making it difficult to get to the sauce inside

- the sauce could overcook and not ooze from the middle

I am very sad to say that there wasn't a spotted dick amongst them. We had three camps.

The chocoholics

- Martha - a chocolate sponge with a peanut butter and chocolate molten centre

- Nancy - a chocolate and pistachio sponge with a molten chocolate centre

- Kate - a chocolate and nut sponge with a salted caramel centre

- Iain - a chocolate and lime sponge with a raspberry centre

- Richard - a chocolate sponge with a fruity cherry centre

The Tutti Frutties

- Chetna - a rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry pudding

- Diana - an orange sponge with a lemon curd centre

The Pudding Pair

- Luis - Pear Puddings with a cinnamon spiced sauce

- Norman - Sticky Toffee Puddings

All the ideas were wonderful but the most beautiful looking were the pears from Luis. He used individual pears sticking out of a sponge in mini casserole dishes. Sadly his sauce was not thick enough at all. It was more of a puddle of water for Paul and for this his precision of baking the pears with little foil hats to prevent them burning was a little overlooked sadly.

For everyone else, it was a little tick, tick, tick exercise during the judging. No-one seemed to have any issues on flavours and that is a pattern emerging this series. The only others to receive any negative critique were Martha for over peanut buttering her molten centres leading to that 'it's stuck to the roof of my mouth' feeling and Nancy for overbaking her sauce resulting in no sauce.

It was really hard to see a stand out leader in the pack this week after this round.

Rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry
Chetna - a rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry pudding
Paul unveiled what the bakers were aiming for this week. It was an absolutely perfectly square, perfectly layered, perfectly coloured Tiramisu Cake

Tiramisu Technical Challenge

Wow! Is all I could say when Paul unveiled what the bakers were aiming for this week. It was an absolutely perfectly square, perfectly layered, perfectly coloured Tiramisu Cake.

The judges wanted to test precision this week. Each layer needed to stack neatly on even layers of mascarpone with an even distribution of coffee flavour throughout.

For this kind of challenge I had my bets on Richard and Luis with their builder and design backgrounds but it did not start well for Richard. His sponge was too thin (a little too much air beaten out he thought) and so he made another. Iain did the same. Are they allowed to do that?! Second attempts seemed satisfactory and then it was all about the horizontal cutting. How to cut a thin sponge into two thin sponges? A steady hand and a long knife was the only solution as those super precise cake slicey gadget thingies did not seem to be on hand.

And then the coffee and brandy mixture. There was a lot. How much to put on each sponge. Logically Luis led the pack in dividing it into four equal measures for each of the four sponges. While Martha delicately daubed the sponge with a brush for an even distribution of flavour, others poured with a less than precise aim.

Finally a little temper trick. In a hot tent, the contestants had to temper chocolate so that the decorative twists on the top would not melt. They all seemed dab hands at this or maybe it was just luck.

The end results were all rather pretty in the end. There was more oozing. There was mostly layering. Martha came top of the stack closely followed by Luis and Chetna. Diana's cake had started to seep coffee on to the table and with what looked like a moat around the cake stand, she was bottom of the challengers this week followed by no, no, no Norman. He had had no layers, no flavour, no precision. I think Paul had been rather harsh but nothing seemed to phase Norman. On camera anyway.

A Retro Showstopper - Baked Alaska

I thought the little interlude this week would tell us all about the origins of Baked Alaska as this was the Showstopper challenge this week. But instead we learned about the Paignton Pudding Riots with 18,000 trying to get a piece of a giant spotted dick. Hmmmm.

If you are interested a Baked Alaska is said to have been created by a chef in New York in 1867 to commemorate the purchase of the state of Alaska from the Russians. The ice cream is to signify the cold and the meringue represents the snow.

Paul was very excited about this one as he pointed out how the contestants would need to think through which sponge, which ice cream, which showstopping meringue design would be the most impressive.

The contestants all set about making their ice cream centres. Some custard based and some sorbets.

And then their cakes. Some sponges, some frangipanes and some buttery biscuit bases. (Oops wrong show!)

And then their meringues. Some Swiss, some Italian and some French. My highlight was Luis adding sugar syrup at the same time to whirring meringues in two yellow KitchenAids. I'm sure we will see plenty more of this action on stage soon. Go Luis!

I think the one to watch was Martha's Key Lime Pie interpretation. We already know what a fan Paul is of this combo after Ryan Chong's stunner in series 3. She had a biscuit and sponge base with a lime curd and coconut ice cream centre. But by far the flavour combos for me were Iain's Black Sesame Seed Ice Cream on a 100% cocoa sponge. Genius idea from the "Russet Gandalf" as Sue likes to call him.

It was all going very well. There was no fretting. There was no panicking. There was no faffing. And then there was ICE CREAM GATE!!!

Never before have we seen a contestant walk out of the tent mid way through a challenge. Never before have we got this far into a series without any tears. Never before have we seen an entire bake go in the bin. Yes. In. The. Bin.

It all went wrong as the contestants started the final phase of piping meringue onto their ice cream topped sponges. Iain went to the fridge and discovered no chocolate cake topped with sesame ice cream. Where could it be? He looked around and then we saw his eyes rest on Diana's table where a speckled custard was oozing out of it's sponge tin. Diana had taken it out of the freezer and left it on the table. You could almost feel Iain's fury raise the temperature in that tent as he picked it up, walked (very calmly I might add) back to his workstation, popped the entire thing in the bin and walked out of the tent.

Gasps. Double takes and incredulous looks from all except Diana. She seemed to shrug it off with a "you had your own freezer over there, why use mine" look and got on with putting her finishing touches to her bake. No-one went after him. No-one dared make comment on the situation.

Meanwhile the clock was ticking and the meringues were slopping. When it came to presenting the bakes, Richard came top with a Tiramisu inspired creation using coffee ice cream, soaked sponges and a fabulous meringue topping. Nancy's was also a beauty as she had piped the meringue in double colours of red and white resulting in a stunning centrepiece. Luis and his rectangular, Bakewell Tart inspired stunner was commended for flavours and as expected was Martha's. Chetna's ice cream had sadly started to melt but the judges commended her for flavours and presenting all three elements.

But to be honest all the comments washed over my head this week because I was eager to see what would come of Iain. He walked across the tent carrying the bin containing his bake. Would Paul and Mary fish it out? I've seen Paul scoop cake off the floor to eat it (remember Rob's fall on the floor disaster in series 2?) but would he reach into the bin?

No. Sadly Iain had nothing to present to them. We didn't get a peek in the bin but it was a shame he had not held on to the different components so the judges could get a taste of each. The cake looks fabulous and that molten ice cream - gloopy though it was - would still have given some indication of a stunning flavour no doubt. Poor Iain. Would they take pity on him as they had done with Rob?

On to the final judging. This week was about precision and the one who has precision as the first thing on his job title walked away with a second Star Baker award. Well done Richard.

In the line up, all cameras were on Iain. There had been no mention of Diana removing another contestant's work. Had it been intentional? Twitter was awash with critique last night. What would you have done? Would the judges take her actions into consideration and disqualify her? I think that's what Twitter wanted but it was not to be. Sadly we saw goodbyes and hugs for Iain. Too too early to see him go. I'm so sad at this week's result because he was finally starting to find some shining moments with the judges. Farewell Iain and good luck!