Claire: How do you make a sausage roll?
Mel: You just push it.
Claire opens the episode asking what the difference is between a bakery and a patisserie, which is something I tried to explain when people would walk into Bakers Delight asking for pies and doughnuts. Patisserie is an interesting week because it encompasses both pastries and fancy cakes. Marcus talks about how much he likes making pastry, and Raeesa says it's a labour of love. I'm perfectly happy buying it from the supermarket, which is probably how you can tell the difference between a Bake Off contestant and a Bake Off recapper.
Signature Bake: Sausage Rolls
This is the best challenge. You know when you're at a fancy party and they're passing around oyster shots but all you really want is a sausage roll? This party is all sausage rolls and they look delicious. I would have been hungry about 10 minutes into this episode, but I'd just eaten.
Robert is the only contestant to make a full puff pastry for his spinach, ricotta and feta rolls. Matt wonders if it's a bit basic, and I really want him to expand his vocabulary. On the other hand, the MasterChef staple “it’s a bit pedestrian” is really pretentious. When the judges taste the rolls, Maggie says you could put anything in that pastry, and Matt says the lamination is fantastic. No comments about whether or not the filling is too basic. It doesn't matter.
Marcus tells us a story about how he burned his face because he stuck his head in the oven. and then we learn about his sausage rolls, which will be filled with pork, carrot, celery and fennel seeds. His pastry didn't chill for long enough, so the butter started to melt in the oven and the sausage rolls collapsed. He didn't have a great morning in the shed, because he also forgot the fennel seeds. The judges weren't impressed with the presentation, but Maggie liked the way the fennel seeds were sprinkled on top of the sausage rolls.
Chris made pork sausage rolls with grated zucchini and carrot. He was going to put cheese and bacon on top, but Matt warned it could ruin the integrity of the pastry. Heeding the judges advice, he put the cheese inside the pastry, and the judges loved it, which we don't really find out until later in the episode.
Dave moved to Australia 10 years ago, and fell in love with the sausage roll. He's only human. His pork sausage roll is inspired by his heritage, and is flavoured with soy, honey and char siu sauce, which gives it a balance of sweet and savoury flavours. The judges comment that they look identical, and they love the flavour and crispness of the sausage rolls. Matt wants the recipe, and then Mel puts some in a Tupperware container to take home. This is something we'd all do, it's just that Mel has a Gollum-ish expression on her face as she takes them.
Claudia talks about how important it is to get meat from your local butcher, because it's the best meat and you know what's in it. Her pork sausage rolls are flavoured with apple and celeriac and topped with toasted fennel seeds. She has some issues with time management, and the pastry doesn't cook as well as she'd like. Matt says the flavours are fantastic, and that they'd be raving about it if the pastry was properly cooked.
Raeesa made cheeky chicken sausage rolls, flavoured with feta, chilli and Indian spices. Matt asks whether she's using the feta as her fat, since chicken mince has a tendency to dry out. Unfortunately the filling is too dry, but Maggie loves the crispness of the pastry on the bottom of the sausage rolls.
Michelle made Moroccan lamb and harissa sausage rolls with crushed coriander and fennel seeds. Her pastry got too warm in the oven, and there's a little too much harissa for Maggie, but the flavours of the other spices were good.
Barb likes making pastry, even after last week's pie disaster. Her kid-friendly sausage rolls are spicy lamb served with homemade chilli tomato sauce. Matt tastes the sauce before judging and says it's perfectly balanced. The judges would have liked a little more colour on the sausage rolls, but it doesn't matter because the flavour is great and it goes well with the sauce, which is a little too hot for Maggie.
Technical Challenge: Fraisier Cake
When this week's technical challenge is revealed, there were a few Frasier jokes, and I got sad about John Mahoney again. Before Matt and Maggie leave the shed, Matt's tips are "even distribution is important" (he's not talking about distribution of wealth, but that's also true), and "patisserie is perfection." Then we see Matt's Fraisier cake, and it's stunning. There are two layers of genoise sponge, filled with a mousseline cream and strawberries, and topped with marzipan and strawberries in a flower pattern.
Genoise sponge is a difficult cake to make, since it relies on air as a rising agent. Meanwhile the mousseline cream is also difficult, because it needs to cool before the butter is added at the end. Raeesa's sponge hasn't risen enough, and Dave and Michelle have issues with their mousseline.
From last to first, we have Michelle, Dave, Raeesa, Chris, Marcus, Robert, Barb and Claudia.
In the pre-showstopper pow wow, the judges identify Claudia and Barb as the top two, and also comment on Chris and Robert having solid performances. Marcus and Michelle are both having a little trouble this week.
For the showstopper this week, the contestants have been asked to make 36 viennoiserie, which are rich pastries either made from yeast leavened dough or puff pastry (thank you to Maggie Beer for that description). They each need to make three kinds of viennoiserie (twelve of each), and one of them has to be a laminated puff pastry croissant. Mel and Claire do a Viennese waltz to open the challenge. Matt wants them to look as if they came from a patisserie.
Chris is using the same dough for all three of his pastries: a croissant filled with raspberry jam, a pain au chocolat with pistachio praline and palmiers rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Matt got some tips on making pastry from our dearly departed Max, who said he shouldn't fold it more than three times. I'll keep that in mind if I ever get the urge to make pastry. The judges loved Chris' pastries because they're crisp and flaky, and Maggie tells Chris he's 'done something extraordinary.' Claire makes it rain with pastry flakes, and Mel offers Chris a bite of his own croissant.
A thing we learned this week is that Barb has a love-hate relationship with her mixer. As it falls on the floor while it's still on, Michelle says "not again," which indicates this has happened before. Barb is making butter croissants and almond croissants, as well as cream cheese danishes with fresh raspberries. Midway through the challenge Barb realised that she only had 10 almond croissants instead of 12, so she cut them in half. The judges could tell she didn't have a good day, and her pastry was a bit dense because it didn't prove properly.
Dave made apricot pinwheels, sour cherry danishes and chocolate filled croissants. While they were presented beautifully, the judges said they didn't taste great, and they didn't get the texture they expected from the croissants.
Michelle made three different kinds of pastry for her butter croissants, fig and frangipane danishes, and her blackberry brioche filled with lemon verbena. The pastries were more cakey than cakey, and the judges were looking for more flavour from the brioche, which was over-proved.
Robert is under a little pressure after he made the best pastry of the signature challenge. He's using a yeasted dough for his orange and almond croissants and pain au chocolat, and a sfogliatelle for his orange and ricotta sfogliatelle. The judges said that the presentation was underwhelming, but the croissants tasted better than they looked. Unfortunately the sfogliatelle was too tough, even though the flavours were good.
Claudia made chocolate and mandarin croissants, apple and lemon verbena danishes and a brioche filled with almond frangipane. Claudia's the second baker to use lemon verbena in this challenge, which has me wondering exactly what it is. The chocolate croissant was crispy on the outside but a bit soft in the centre, but they loved the lemon verbena custard in the danishes.
Raeesa made coconut, almond and cardamom croissants, as well as two types of danishes: passionfruit, and cream cheese and cranberry. The judges say they look superb. The croissants have a great crunch, and love the flavour of the passionfruit danishes.
Marcus would like to open a combination bakery and dental practice, and we can immediately see where he's going to get all his patients. Remember the biscotti? Marcus is making butter croissants, cherry danishes and escargots (snails) filled with custard and cointreau soaked raisins. Matt says that the snails look fantastic, but the croissants and danishes were more cakey than crisp.
This week Chris wins Star Baker (not using a yeasted dough was a good decision!) and Michelle is going home. Farewell Michelle, you are our favourite Maggie Beer lookalike.
Leah Rocke is a television blogger based in Melbourne. When not writing about her favourite television shows, she's extolling the virtues of Mad Max: Fury Road to anyone who will listen.
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