The Great British Bake Off: Dessert Week
October 4, 2019 1:51 PM - Season 10, Episode 6 - Subscribe

After two weeks featuring brand-new themes, the GBBO returns to a well-worn classic: Desserts Week.

Challenges included a layer meringue cake for the signature, a verrine for the technical, and a bombe for the showstopper.
posted by miss-lapin (46 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I found this episode really painful for a lot of reasons. The criticism of both judges was incredibly harsh. Prue was more present this week, but that was not an enjoyable thing for me. She's supposed to be a counter pint to Paul's smug and she was just as harsh if not worse.

Noel's constant hectoring of Priya about being on time and his comment that she's "always late and can't stop talking" pissed me off to no end. In addition, Noel had to be told twice by Henry to basically go away. The bakers are under so much stress and having a host that adds to it is really uncool.

Henry was the best for me this week. With his little spider web pin in homage to Helena and his calling Paul cheeky for suggesting that he didn't make his own jelly for the signature, he was my star baker.

Oh and happy birthday to Michael!
posted by miss-lapin at 1:58 PM on October 4 [8 favorites]

Oof. I feel like the show has been *so unfair* to Priya with how unkind the personal comments about her have been. I don't understand why the hosts and judges have felt the need to remark on her (as far as I can tell, completely unremarkable) affect so relentlessly, but I really dislike it. Thinking about her sweet exit interview, I can only wonder how she's felt actually watching the show.

Such a relief to see a mostly competently done technical, if only because of how disheartened everyone was after the signature challenge. But relief that the judges weren't going to get an opportunity to tee off on a bunch of already demoralized contestants is not why I watch this show.

(How OT3 am I allowed to be about Steph, Henry and David, though? Because their bench cuddle could not have been any more adorable and that kind of camaraderie *is* why I watch.)
posted by merriment at 2:06 PM on October 4 [10 favorites]

The contestants are great and if it wasn't for that, I would have already noped out of the show especially after this episode.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:11 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]

When most of the contestants turn away from the judges looking as if they've been slapped, do the judges and producers need to be reminded that these are "amateur" bakers; and, that's why we are watching?

I remember in an earlier series thinking that Lucy, was it, wanted off the show so badly that she baked a homely Cobb loaf and threw some tomatoes on it just for the relief of being disqualified! I can understand that! :(

I would never want to be spoken to like this, and certainly not for the joy of winning a glass plate!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 2:45 PM on October 4 [1 favorite]

I have been wanting to ask this question for 9 seasons: contestants bring favorite spoons, knives, gadgets, etc.

Are they not allowed to bring a calculator to help with the math? I know I would need one. It is painful to watch them struggle when they are so stressed. It's almost as if embarrassment is encouraged.

Okay I am going to go read a book now and shut up!
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 4:03 PM on October 4

Dear British People,

Please note that I am a fan of both your Bake-Off and your fine language. However, I do have a question:

What is with you people and meringues? I am four decades old and as far as I can remember, I have only ever consumed meringue from atop a pie of some sort. Is this really a thing, where you make some sort of brittle pancake and make it into some sort of dessert?

Yrs, the other HP
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:29 PM on October 4 [7 favorites]

Henry made me so happy with his (1) spider-web pin for Helena, and (2) Welsh flag pin for Michelle (I thought Michael maybe also had some sort of pin on, but couldn't see it), and then later with his list of things he was planning to nick.
posted by damayanti at 6:44 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]

his comment that she's "always late and can't stop talking"

Noel actually said it reminded him of his own school report - always late and can’t stop talking.

I’m not sure that makes it better, but I do feel like he was trying to be self deprecating rather than targeting her.
posted by anastasiav at 7:19 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]

Is that really how the British say celebratory?
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:51 PM on October 4

I am disappointed we didn't get a chance to see Helena's inevitable skull bombe.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:33 PM on October 4 [9 favorites]

Is that really how the British say celebratory?

I had the same reaction the first time I heard the British pronunciation of the word, "controvery"
posted by acidnova at 8:46 PM on October 4

Desserts with meringue: well, there's Eton Mess (much referred-to lately as shorthand for the current Government) and Pavlova, although that's really Aus/NZ that's come over to the UK.

This was an interesting technical in that everyone did pretty well and the judging was on minor departures from the ideal standard, which of course the bakers don't get to see. It might be that the recipe wasn't as cut-down as it usually is, or maybe the skills involved were ones the bakers were more familiar with. That said, I was surprised at the problems some of them had with pouring layers; have they never made Irish Coffee before?

The show-stoppers were amazing; I'm seriously tempted to try doing one at some point, but looking at the recipes on the show website they are most-of-a-day affairs.

By the way, I missed doing the technical last week as I was doing a couple of cakes for work. I'm aiming to do last week's and this week's this weekend.
posted by Major Clanger at 5:53 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]

I think I would have taken Noel's comment as self deprecating if he hadn't kept hectoring her about time in addition to Paul doing the same thing. It seemed like a nasty pile on and I was not pleased.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:25 AM on October 5 [2 favorites]

Yeah, and Noel’s comment to Henry about his matchy-match red tie and shirt, as he was carrying his precarious technical to the table, was not something Mel or Sue would ever have done. They’d be quietly murmuring words of encouragement.

Sort yourself out, Bake Off.
posted by Automocar at 7:57 AM on October 5 [11 favorites]

The weirdest thing about the Priya vs. Time motif is that it didn't seem relevant to the results. The complaints I remember were too much amaretto in one bake and the judges disliking the look of some purplish cream in another (or the same one? Can't remember exactly). Neither of which seem like time-related mistakes, more like things that could have adjusted in the planning stages before she arrived in the tent. Nothing looked horribly unfinished in the "clearly ran out of time" fashion that we've seen before on the show. If it's not the reason that she got sent home, why include it?

More fuel for the "bad editing" complaints: at one point Prue said to Priya, "You're usually so good with your flavors," which seems like it would have been relevant info in previous weeks when people wondered why Priya stuck around. The only praise for Priya's flavors that I remember making the broadcast are the mishti in Dairy Week.

Noel’s comment to Henry about his matchy-match red tie and shirt, as he was carrying his precarious technical to the table, was not something Mel or Sue would ever have done

Henry's terse but effective "NOT NOW" was yet another reason to like him this week.
posted by creepygirl at 12:39 PM on October 5 [13 favorites]

I have to admit I gave up on the last 2 episodes and maybe will give up the season after this one. This isn't the GBBO I enjoy. The editing and judges are mean this year. I was delightfully surprised at the first year of the switch to new hosts and no Mary and was liking Noel but this year just mad I guess. I just want to watch home bakers baking something and getting feedback that's comforting but stern when needed. I feel like all my fav comfort TV is going this way... ugh...I hope we get a new season of top chef soon and that that is a least decent.

What's wrong with pleasant TV of people doing a skill they are good at without the drama?
posted by kanata at 1:51 PM on October 5 [7 favorites]

I’m surprised by the comments here. I agree that the editing seems off, but I don’t agree that the show has become some sick theater of pain, where contestants are brutalized for the amusement of Noel et al.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 4:14 PM on October 5 [14 favorites]

I keep wondering in the technicals, where none of the bakers seem to have ever heard of the things they're making, if the collective youth of this year (and recent years) aren't having an effect. I think of people like Brendan, who had seen a lot of foods the younger bakers had not and traveled as well. It sometimes seems like the older contestants have read the judges' books, as well, but that none of the younger ones have done, or maybe they're just not showing it on the episodes. But myself, if I knew I was going on GBBO, you can bet I'd have been researching the crap out of all things baking related before I got in that tent.

But I also wonder if the fact that GBBO is an established, years-old hit now and many of the people who were probably already experienced bakers at home have appeared or tried out isn't factoring in, and the pool of new bakers selected for the show actually only started because of watching earlier seasons of GBBO. Articles have extolled how it revived baking in Great Britain, so I wonder how many of the later seasons are populated by bakers who haven't brought in experience, I guess.

Count me as one of the people repelled by some recent behavior from judges and hosts. Of all the things to model yourself after, American reality competitions is not the one to choose. That meanness for effect, that kind of overaggressive fault-finding, reminds me why this has always been comfort watching for me and why I don't watch reality competitions on American TV, usually. I wish they'd stop it, I don't want to peace out on this program.

I'm so glad the bakers themselves aren't engaging in that--David really wanting Steph to win a third star baker despite Noel needling him about it, them sitting on the benches together holding each other, Michael rushing to help Henry with the fridge...that's one of the things I watch it for, not Paul's forced Mr. Grumpypants McSternface garbage so you think he's going to lay into someone, or Prue's weird backhanded compliments and opinions, or the way they've made the technical increasingly diabolical.

(Also: raspberry doesn't go with chocolate and cream is almost as WTF-inducing as blueberries have no flavor. I get that I'm in a minority in that I think chocolate with orange is disgusting, but FFS, saying it doesn't go with raspberry is bizarre.)

I didn't think it'd get worse for Priya than these uberwhite people telling her that a thing she loves and is part of her culture wasn't colorful enough and good enough, but oh look, it did! It seemed like they really came to play this week, they were gunning for her, and I never felt like they backed up their reasons for that.

posted by emcat8 at 5:14 PM on October 5 [6 favorites]

Yeah, count me as very disappointed in the judging and hosting this week and this season in general. Agreed about the mean-spirited comments about Priya in general (which just seemed to come out of nowhere? It seemed like they were trying to make a thing out of her time management with very little evidence - poor editing again?).

I think the biggest factor in terms of lack of enjoyment for me is that it feels to me like the hosts are ranging themselves on the side of the judges now, whereas Mel and Sue were firmly on the side of the contestants, offering an encouraging word or hand, or a hug or comfort as needed, certainly not needling them when they were transporting their precious creations. I think Mel and Sue tried to be funny, but never at the expense of the contestants and they took the bakers' bakes just as seriously as they did. I miss them :(
posted by peacheater at 6:36 PM on October 5 [6 favorites]

emcat8 I also deeply dislike chocolate and orange. I do think it's a more popular flavor combination in Britain. i would want no part of that.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:55 PM on October 5 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it's deeply weird that they were harping about Priya talking too much and running out of time when we... really haven't seen that? (At least as far as I recall). Also Prue's comments about the color of her meringue thing seemed wildly mean and off-base.
posted by LadyNibbler at 7:29 PM on October 5 [6 favorites]

I thought Priya's mauve meringue was a perfectly nice color, I don't know what Prue's problem was.

My son and I watch Bake Off every Saturday with breakfast and he was so disappointed that "Dessert Week" apparently means meringue (though this did give him the opportunity to boysplain to me what Italian meringue is) and fruit cups. I had never heard of a "bombe" before either and was afraid it was going to entail some sort of horrifying gelatin-containing blancmange affair, but actually most of what they made seemed pretty appetizing.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:42 PM on October 5

I actually think the unappetizing color of the blueberry creme au beurre was the one legit criticism that Priya got. I have no doubt that it tastes good, unless the U.K.’s commercial blueberries are as terrible as US commercial strawberries, but it’s not a very appealing color for food.
(All the rest, though, ffs.)
posted by janell at 7:49 PM on October 5

Surprised no one has mentioned THE BULLHORN yet.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 7:08 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]

I didn't mind the bullhorn. The bakers seemed to think it was funny. But I noticed that there seemed to be less Sandi this week. To me, Sandi is the Mel and Sue in the tent. She's the one offering hugs and a "don't worry, darling, it will be fine" while Noel is teasing them and Paul and Prue are bitchy. Earlier in this series, she was shown doling out hugs to everyone and I imagine she still is doing that, but they don't show it. They are showing more of the bakers outside the tent supporting each other, but I'd like to see more of it in the tent from the presenters. I'm sure it's happening because the show has included footage of it before, but not seeing it just makes everyone seem mean-spirited.
posted by ceejaytee at 7:27 AM on October 6 [3 favorites]

Oh yes the bullhorn. Definitely a change from Mel and Sue actually helping when a baker was in the weeds. The bullhorn siren-thingy was obnoxious, and seemingly out of character for Sandi.
posted by janell at 8:36 AM on October 6 [1 favorite]

I've been thinking about this paired with how little we know about the bakers this season. They've cut back on the bakers at home segments, which used to be sprinkled throughout the episodes. Now we just get a bit of introductory footage early on and then whatever bakers manage to say during the challenges or in the before/after challenge snippets.

To cover this deficit of material, there is a lot more of Noel. And yeah he's not supporting the bakers. He's doing bits of "comedic business." Predictably this isn't what a lot of people want out of GBBO.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:03 AM on October 6 [2 favorites]

I do feel quite vindicated that I've never liked Noel Fielding or found him funny (not on Boosh, not on Buzzcocks, not with a fox, not in a box) and was pretty put out when he was announced as a new Bake Off presenter and thought he'd be totally wrong and hey look, he's totally wrong. I think even Sandi, as much as I like her, is wrong for the show. The presenters need to be warm, self-deprecating, and huggable. What Bake Off doesn't need is a posh stiff upper lip and her edgelord sidekick.
posted by soren_lorensen at 2:30 PM on October 6 [3 favorites]

Sandi is kind of a non-entity to me on the show. She's like barely there. (About the same as flavoring in a La Croix seltzer.)

We need Mel and Sue back.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:28 PM on October 6

soren_lorensen, I also did a doubletake when they announced him for the show. My first thought was "wow, his energy is totally not right for that program" and I never really got the love for him, either. His jokes are just so painful to me most of the time, they're worse than dad jokes. But I love the show so much I was willing to get through it, and I did think it was cute when he was bonding with Helena.

It's weird, when I first started the show, I didn't get the point of the presenters at all, but by the end of the season I was ride or die for Mel and Sue. Now I'm back to not getting the point of the presenters at all if their only reason to be there is to make flat, corny jokes, announce time, and be a pest to the bakers when they're stressed out.
posted by emcat8 at 4:13 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

I agree with other that the energy seems to be off this season. I actually like Noel and Sandi as presenters (not as much as Sue and Mel) but Noel's quirky, fun energy has morphed into annoying and patronizing and Sandi just isn't there. I think what is actually throwing me off more is 1) we have no idea who the contestants are. We haven't had much in way of the 'back at home' clips. The focus seems to be much more about the relationships in the tent. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the relationships and the scenes this week when we saw the group out on the lawn was very sweet and touching, but I still have no clue who any of them are. It has also made it difficult for me to specifically cheer for a specific contestant (though I have a soft spot for Alice because I have a BS in Geography and wished my professors brought me cake to show stratification). I usually have my favorites by this point, but no one stands out. 2) The bakers seem very amateurish this season. I mean, they are amateur bakers, but there seems to be not only a lack of baking knowledge as shown in the technicals and signatures but also a lack of artistic ability from previous seasons. Paul's general compliant has been 'style of substance' but this season, there hasn't been much style or substance. This last episode seemed to be an exception all of those bombes looked beautiful.

As for Paul and Prue's critiques this week, I think they only sounded harsh because they were giving the bakers actual constructive criticism rather than just 'that's scrummy!' or 'that's awful!' like they had been in previous weeks.
posted by wasabifooting at 4:49 PM on October 6 [1 favorite]

I’m surprised by the comments here. I agree that the editing seems off, but I don’t agree that the show has become some sick theater of pain, where contestants are brutalized for the amusement of Noel et al.
posted by Don.Kinsayder

I don't think people are saying its a Theatre of Pain, just that in comparison to what the show has been for many seasons, it is meaner. I absolutely love Noel, but his energy is not clicking on the show for me this season, moreso than previous ones. Sandi seems to be getting colder and colder and less of a presence. One of the great benefits of Mel and Sue was that they were a comedy pairing before the show and their comfort and chemistry was well established. Noel and Sandi don't have that and it shows. Someone mentioned upthread that they seem to be on the side of the judges instead of the bakers and that seems to be true to me. The producing / editing is also a big fail for me. They have removed multiple elements that made up the show (history lessons, family stories) and I guess they need to fill it in with something else. The judges decisions seem capricious and that is 100% the fault of editing.

I do know that the last two seasons have been getting increasingly less enjoyable for me. I rewatched a few episodes from Nadiya's season and it honestly felt like a palate cleanser to the current one airing.
posted by Julnyes at 7:39 AM on October 7 [3 favorites]

his little spider web pin in homage to Helena

THAT'S what that was. Thank you for sharing. I was trying to figure it out--closest I came was that this group was doing the thing they did a few seasons ago where they passed a little sheriff's star around (the star baker of the week before got to wear it in each episode, and I always loved that it was completely low-key and never commented on). But then, there I was trying to remember if Henry was star baker the week before and pretty much concluding no so I was still mystified. I didn't see his flag pin, either.

(But the tiny moment where he was sitting on the bench with his head on David's shoulder was everything.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:19 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]

Henry's red shirt and tie combo has made the entire show for me, I cannot handle how cute it was!!
I really liked the challenges this week, they actually made me want to eat them.
I usually really like Noel and Sandi but I agree that the energy is a bit off this year. However I really don't think the judging is especially cruel?
What about Paul telling Steph that her bombe was one of the best things he'd ever eaten? I thought he was considering giving her a handshake but actually felt it would cheapen the moment by making it more about him and his schtick.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:46 AM on October 7

However I really don't think the judging is especially cruel? What about Paul telling Steph that her bombe was one of the best things he'd ever eaten?

In previous years there was both effusive praise for the best bakers AND kinder and less nit-picky criticism for the bakers who struggled. Mary in particular made an effort to find something to praise in even the worst efforts. I watched a Series 3 episode last night and the contrast was pretty clear.
posted by creepygirl at 10:36 AM on October 7 [1 favorite]

I still think it isn't Sandi that's the problem, it's the editing. Sandi is a known hugger (there's a 10 hour video of her hugging people on QI). She has been hugging people since she started on Bake Off, this series giving Michael many hugs in the early weeks, but she and her hugs have disappeared from the show. They seem to be editing to take the heart out of the show and adding more harsh criticism and bad jokes, and it's really disappointing.
posted by ceejaytee at 12:20 PM on October 7 [5 favorites]

I dunno, I thought Sandi was pretty horrible in the semi-finals last year where she opined that the most "emotionally resilient" baker would make it to the Finals. She implied that Kim-Joy was not "emotionally resilient" because K-J shed a few tears of frustration in the technical challenge, and said that Briony (very clearly Sandi's favorite) was the most emotionally resilient. The editors didn't make her say those things.

That was first moment where I thought "Mel and Sue would never do that." I feel like the chief difference is that the old crew celebrated the things that bakers do well, and the current crew is just looking to pounce on every perceived fault.
posted by creepygirl at 1:03 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]

Belatedly catching up on my Bake the Technicals project, as I was too busy last week, I've done the Beignets Soufflé and the Mango, Coconut and Raspberry Verrines. Pictures here (4 on that Instagram post).

The Beignets were not too difficult to make, although I found it took a few to get size consistent. The sabayon really does need to be made immediately before you serve it as even with thorough whisking it starts to settle out after a few minutes.

The Verrines were by contrast very fiddly, and I'm glad I spread them out over an evening and the following morning, which at least meant that the layers had time to set properly. The flavours were delightful! You really need to take care with the presentation though; its very easy to smear the compote on the side of the glass, which is very obvious when you later add the panna cotta layer. Also, if I did them again, I'd use a smaller nozzle for piping out the chocolate. The gold on mine was edible gold spray; I wasn't going to try to find catering gold leaf just for this!
posted by Major Clanger at 3:08 PM on October 7 [13 favorites]

Rather than giving the baketestants dishes they've never heard of for the technical, I think it might be fun to give them a dish that they have almost certainly heard of and no instructions beyond "Make this. Here's a bunch of ingredients that might be useful".
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:38 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

What about Paul telling Steph that her bombe was one of the best things he'd ever eaten? I thought he was considering giving her a handshake ...

Actually I wondered if that was a logistical problem with the showstopper brought up to the table. (I believe) I have only seen Paul shake hands when he is visiting the baker's benches for the signature challenges, so maybe the camera or something else makes it harder for a handshake at the front of the room. His comments and attitude really suggested handshake to me!

I don't think Noel is purposefully being jerky, but he does seem clueless at times. I still love Sandi as much as ever but agree she seems to get less camera time. (Also, I don't remember the Sandi incident from last year mentioned by creepygirl.)
posted by Glinn at 10:25 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]

Rather than giving the baketestants dishes they've never heard of for the technical, I think it might be fun to give them a dish that they have almost certainly heard of and no instructions beyond "Make this. Here's a bunch of ingredients that might be useful".

That was the technical for the season 5/Netflix collection 1 final: lemon tart, scone, and ??? It was great!
posted by JawnBigboote at 2:24 PM on October 11

JawnBigboote - I recall another technical challenge that was a repeat of a challenge given earlier that season. The instructions were essentially non-existent (even more so than usual) because it was assumed that they remembered it from last time.

I like that.

Instead of giving them some dish they've never heard of and complaining when they don't do something that they didn't know they had to do, isn't it a better challenge if they know the destination, but have to use their intuition and memory to get them there?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:15 PM on October 11

What about Paul telling Steph that her bombe was one of the best things he'd ever eaten? I thought he was considering giving her a handshake ...

Actually I wondered if that was a logistical problem with the showstopper brought up to the table. (I believe) I have only seen Paul shake hands when he is visiting the baker's benches for the signature challenges, so maybe the camera or something else makes it harder for a handshake at the front of the room.

He shook Rahul's hand after a show-stopper, at the presentation table. He said it was the first handshake he'd given for a show-stopper. So there's precedent and I thought he was going to give Steph one too. I was almost pissed that he didn't.
posted by tzikeh at 6:57 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

lemon tart, scone, and ??? It was great!

Victoria sponge, if I remember correctly.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:28 AM on October 12

Also, I don't remember the Sandi incident from last year mentioned by creepygirl.

I went back and re-watched to see if I misremembered. It's at about the 25 minute mark of the American Netflix version, right before the showstopper.

Here is my transcript:

Prue: It’s extraordinary, because if you think what happened yesterday, Rahul and Ruby just flipped, didn’t they?

Sandi: You don’t mean they went crazy, you mean Ruby did very badly in the Signature and then did brilliantly in the Technical.

Prue: In the Technical, and Rahul the other way round.

Paul: Kim Joy’s in a slightly stronger position because she’s been the most consistent. Briony’s probably in the weakest position.

Sandi: But I think it’s going to come down to personality. Kim-Joy had a real wobble yesterday and it’s whether she can hold it together. Rahul doesn’t believe in himself. See, I think the steadiest one of the four is Briony.

Prue: She has the personality. She’s come back fighting and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she did go through.

I was wrong about the words "emotionally resilient." Sandi actually said "steadiest" with respect to Briony. But it seems very clear to me that Paul and Prue were talking about the actual baking that the bakers had done, and Sandi very clearly got the ball rolling on judging the bakers' personalities rather than their baking. (I had forgotten she'd thrown in a little dig at Rahul, too.)

Not only did it feel mean, it added nothing to the analysis, because she was dead wrong about everything! Kim-Joy finished SECOND in the technical, after her "wobble" that was supposedly such a big deal! The "steadiest" one substituted salt for sugar in the Showstopper and the judges actually cared that it made the pastries taste bad! The guy who "didn't believe in himself" won the whole darn thing, after having to start over after a scary freak accident with glass!

I watch the show for amateur baking, not amateur psychology.
posted by creepygirl at 8:37 PM on October 17 [2 favorites]

I’m a little sad to come in this thread and find no one else doing what I came to do: celebrate Michael’s delightful habit of nearly every word coming out his mouth being a double entendre.

A cheeky wink at the bottom! On his birthday! He is my most adorably favorite.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:23 PM on October 19 [4 favorites]

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