Following the challenge of sugar-free baking last week, the bakers were put through their paces once again this week with frangipane tarts. With Paul Hollywood having struck soggy-bottom fear into the hearts of our competitors, tensions were high and ovens were carefully tuned. As soon as the clock struck 6pm on Monday, our bakers rushed from their desks to their kitchens in a frangipanic and set about prepping their pastry.
Come Tuesday morning, the welcoming scent of baked almond wafted through the office. Bleary eyed after much midnight baking (Photography Director Tom Gormer was still going at 1am!), our competitors produced an array of golden crusted tarts, ready for inspection by Richard Burr, the former Great British Bake Off finalist.
Having gathered everyone around the judging table, Richard revealed that the bakes had all been very impressive (audible sigh of relief). But the world of baking is a cutthroat one, so it was necessary to crown a winner.
Richard maintained the tension by announcing the losing bake first. Unfortunately for Shopping Editor Lucy Reber, her Rhubarb and Pistachio Frangipane failed to impress. The sharpness of the rhubarb coupled with the sweetness of the frangipane made for a great combination, but sadly it wasn’t enough to keep her in the running. It was a dramatic result after Lucy’s two week victory run, having beaten the other bakers to the top spot in Week Two with her dried chilli and feta cheese soda bread, and an impressive salted caramel cheesecake with butterscotch chocolate crunch saw her retain her title for Week Three. But alas, every baker has her day.
Sub-editor Jenny Tregoning fell into the syrupy trap of packing her tart with too much juicy fruit. The pears and apricots in her tart soaked through the pastry, resulting in a bake that was a ‘bit wet!’ (it’s a technical term, apparently). Using pear halves from a tin rather than chopping them into smaller segments meant the fruit retained its moisture. In Jenny’s defence, her efforts were jeopardised by a broken oven which meant setting the temperature was guesswork, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘blind bake’.
Meanwhile, Art Director Natasha Tomalin pulled what’s known on the Bake Off as ‘Doing a Jordan’ (a reference to former contestant Jordan Cox), which means baking two cakes in one. Her Lemon and Raspberry tart was a bit overwhelming for Richard, who concurred that it tasted ‘fabulous’ nevertheless.
Once again, Tom proved himself a solid competitor with a ‘brilliant’ classic raspberry. He did, however, commit what Richard considers the cardinal sin of baking - failing to chill the pastry properly, resulting in a sunken bake. Should have stayed up until 1.30am Tom.
And finally, the winner was announced. To nobody’s surprise, Deputy Production Editor Amy Adams once again claimed the crown with her Poached Pear Frangipane tart. She was praised for her perfectly poached pears and for producing the lightest frangipane. An excellent flavour made up for a slightly singed crust.
So that wraps up another week of the competition. While our bakers take a breather (and get their ovens fixed), here’s next week’s challenge: the classic Victoria Sponge, Queen of cakes. Layers of sponge sandwiched by cream and fruit – what could possible go wrong?...