The Great British Bake Off: Chocolate Week
October 18, 2023 3:42 PM - Season 14, Episode 4 - Subscribe

It's Chocolate Week, and the bakers take on a tricky torte and a showstopping chocolate box. Who can smoothly make it through to the next week, and who'll have a meltdown?
posted by ellieBOA (17 comments total)
As usual, chocolate week manages to fall on the hottest week of bake off so far. I hope Tasha feels better, I recognized that look when they walked her off.

The result was not surprising, but c'mon bakers, you can really give one to Paul and Prue by having someone _else_ drop out of the kitchen sick next week! Then three bakers will have to depart in episode six!

(Although that said, British Hot Summer is what, anything over 20C? I mean, Noel and Dana were wearing sweaters.)
posted by Kyol at 5:31 AM on October 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

(Although that said, British Hot Summer is what, anything over 20C? I mean, Noel and Dana were wearing sweaters.)

It reached over 30C this summer, and inside tents with 11 ovens on is always hotter. Noel loves a sweater as his look. Migraines suck, hope Tasha felt better quickly!
posted by ellieBOA at 5:59 AM on October 19, 2023 [2 favorites]

I felt for Nicky, missing star baker by inches. Matty seemed really happy, though, which was nice.

Really hoping Saku does better next week! And that Tasha recovers well.

Alison rolling over the table was probably my favourite moment.
posted by Pallas Athena at 8:45 PM on October 19, 2023 [5 favorites]

That said, once again it was an annoying architectural chocolate showstopper. I dunno, when I think of chocolate that grabs my attention, it isn't a box made out of chocolate. On the other hand, I know I am absolutely a sucker for cheap chocolate tricks like sparklies and silicone molds, so... I dunno. Just make the best chocolate-based baked goods you can, maybe? New and interesting applications of ganache? Interesting flavor pairings? Like, who was it, Nicky I think, commenting that her salted caramel was overheating and would have ended up more like toffee? I dunno, maybe salted toffee would be great!

But no, let's see who can make big ol' architectural panels. Ho hum. At least Rowan's woodgrain panels were kind of interesting in theory if not necessarily execution. And adding insult to injury, honestly more often than not the "please make us something ridiculous" part of the showstopper doesn't really factor into the end result more than "ok, you ticked this box, well done - how's the bake?"

And yeah, Alison has been a treat. I think both Alison and Noel are doing a better job of comforting the bakers when things get tough than they had for the past few years though, but Alison is really bringing it.

I mean, I'd be happy if they never did bread or chocolate weeks again. Just biscuits, cakes, pastries, custard, and patisserie on a loop. Or "Surprise, All Patisserie!" one year, just to see the glorious wrecks you'd get in the first few weeks.
posted by Kyol at 12:34 PM on October 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

It reached over 30C this summer, and inside tents with 11 ovens on is always hotter.

Large event tents have had full-on HVAC systems for decades. Why they can’t use such a thing in this show is beyond me.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:43 PM on October 20, 2023 [5 favorites]

It's so dumb that they don't help keep the temperature down. Like when they force the to use a freezer and make them share. Have a damn chest freezer for everyone! It has to be intentional at this point, I think because the producers think it's good drama?
posted by Carillon at 6:36 PM on October 20, 2023 [4 favorites]

I believe they’ve mentioned in earlier seasons that the freezer and oven choices are intentionally made to reflect an “average” British home kitchen, rather than the industrial appliances you see on some cooking competitions.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 11:10 AM on October 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

The Great British Baking Show Recap: Chocolate Kisses [Vulture / Archive]

TIL! The second is that black currants are a berry that the English love but, again, has never been seen on American shores. I still have no clue what they are, though every single cough syrup in the pharmacy is black currant flavored. Weird.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Why they can’t use such a thing in this show is beyond me

Heard somewhere that they just cannot get the audio functional with fans running, which makes sense. HVAC in an enclosed space can be pretty quiet because the motors can be walls away, but in a tent, yeah, you'd never be able to eliminate the noise.

Maybe they should rent a fucking building. Because bad chocolate is super annoying, but contestants going out for heat-related medical problems is unacceptable
posted by restless_nomad at 3:47 AM on October 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

I love black currant and have always been frustrated that it's a common fruit flavor in Europe, but not the US. I remember reading an article that during WWII, with all the shortages, the British Government encouraged increased use of black currants as a source of Vitamin C, and the flavor stuck (as it should, it's wonderful).

The US never had that incentive and push for its use.
posted by jkosmicki at 9:01 AM on October 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

It's actually weirder than that! Currants (and gooseberries) carry white pine blister rust and growing them was banned in the US federally until the '60s.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:04 AM on October 22, 2023 [5 favorites]

At least the technical directions told them to use the microwave to caramelize the white chocolate. Prue was describing what they needed to do to Paul, and I was ready to go HULK SMASH at a cut to everyone trying to caramelize theirs on the stovetop.

I was, however, furious when Josh was trying to pipe out his leaves for the signature and Noel came over and hugged him? And then Alison joined in? Let the man work!

I was pleased for Nicky that she had such a good week, and I hope Saku does better next week.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:37 PM on October 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

Regarding tents: I think what the producers of the show were going for, in deciding to use one - is a replication of the traditional country show or fair which would have a marquee where baked goods would be judged and given prizes. In the traditional British climate the priority would be something to keep off the rain rather than the heat - and, of course, nobody would be actually baking their goods there: the tent is for judging only. No sane baker, surely, would ever sanction the idea of actually preparing the food in the tent.
posted by rongorongo at 11:46 PM on October 22, 2023

I attempted to caramelize white chocolate in the microwave last night (it sounds delicious) and felt a great wave of connection with the bakers when it seized. I'll try the other half of the bar tonight.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:51 AM on October 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Would love to hear how the caramelized white chocolate works out if anyone does try it, because I absolutely am not attempting that.

The Not-So-Great Defector Bake Off Is Ill-Tempered For Chocolate Week: When we got this recipe, I jokingly said “caramelized white chocolate? You mean browned butter?” And I fucking stand by that. This could have been browned butter. The whole point, theoretically, of doing this process was to make the white chocolate have a “nutty” flavor. Which you could do in four minutes with regular butter! I am so angry about this and I will never move on.

Archive link if needed for anyone.
posted by the primroses were over at 4:42 PM on October 27, 2023 [2 favorites]

I tried again and absolutely did not succeed - it was maybe barely starting to brown when it also started to seize.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:45 PM on October 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

The defector bakeoff is always so good, even late I was so happy it came back.
posted by Carillon at 7:28 PM on October 27, 2023

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