RECAP: Professionals bake or break on ‘Bake Off: Crème de la Crème’
With Great British Bake Off fans up and down the country suffering withdrawal symptoms, the new Bake Off offshoot on BBC Two, Bake Off: Crème de la Crème, should hopefully fill the gaping cakehole for a little while.
This is the professional end of the game. We saw three teams of professional patisserie chefs pit their skills against one another in the grandiose surroundings of stately home Welbeck Abbey. The presenter is Michelin starred chef, Tom Kerridge. His flat, monotone delivery in the background was rather grating, and could have been livened up by a little more enthusiasm.
The three judges, casting their highly critical eyes and enhanced tastebuds on the professionals were Cherish Finden, Executive Pastry Chef at the Langham Hotel; Claire Clark MBE, Pastry Consultant and Supplier; and Benoit Blin, Executive Pastry Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Tom referred to them as three of the finest pastry chefs in the world. As expected it was all very serious business – none of Mel and Sue’s jolly innuendos to make us titter, and no Mary Berry/Paul Hollywood pantomime ‘death stares’ to send chills down our spines. Instead we saw professionals battling to not fall down flat on their faces, or see their careers tarnished under close scrutiny by those at the top of the pastry game.
The first challenge was mini bakes in which the chefs had to make 108 mini pastries in three hours. Last night’s bakes were Framboisier (a raspberry cake), Paris Brest (choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream), and Petite Gateau cylinders. The bakes looked fantastic to our untrained eye. How we wished we could reach in and grab a few of the colourfully bejewelled morsels. Unfortunately though, the judges were not so easily swayed. One unfortunate chef was chastised for having a chocolate splattered uniform(!), whereupon Tom Kerridge helpfully explained that pastry making had to be precise and exact – in other words, no messy spills in the kitchen.
The second challenge was to create a show piece and present an original re-imagination of the humble apple crumble. Showing off their baking, sugar and chocolate skills, the teams created fantastical edible tableaux of apples and trees.
While some may miss the fun and warmth we’ve come to expect from the Bake Off proper, this new spinoff show really did help us to appreciate the hard work, talent and skills required to bake beautiful works of art in cake form, and should serve as great inspiration for would-be pastry chefs out there. We look forward to seeing more new teams and their baked creations next week and watching them battle it out to be the best of the best.
Bake Off: Crème de la Crème continues next Tuesday April 5th at 8:00pm on BBC Two.