It’s botanical week, everyone! What better than an hour of fragrant, flavorful flora for getting into a very chipper British mood after last week's snoozefest? Then again, droll snoozefests are pretty British, aren’t they? I mean, Colin Firth keeps making movies and someone out there is watching them.
Signature round: Citrus Meringue Pie
One of the loveliest parts of watching this show in America is that oftentimes we’re exposed to a recipe we’ve never even heard of before, much less tasted. This is what we thought was an American classic—the bright yellow lemon meringue pie that sits atop diner counters from coast to coast. But we were wrong, because our hubris has been unchecked for centuries. 2017 is a really bad year for us, but a great year for comeuppance.
The contestants have a pretty good handle on this, which makes their little tableside chats forced and pathetic. Rav is making his pie with mandarin orange and a bit of tequila, which raises Paul’s eyebrows as if this was a startling development. “Wow, tequila. Tequila’s going to be fascinating,” he says, as though he hasn’t gotten ripped on margaritas while chilling on a yacht in the Mediterranean. If you are over the age of 19, you have gotten ripped on margaritas, whether it’s on a yacht, in an inflatable pool in your backyard, or in the bathtub.
Then shit gets crazy because Andrew tells us he’s using FOUR limes! Can you believe that?! He's obviously not fucking around this week. Know who else isn’t? Tom, who once again decided to make a recipe that is altogether unnecessary: blood orange pumpkin pie. Another non-surprise: it’s not good. It’s like he WANTS to get kicked off the show or something.
Technical round: Fougasse
Finally something I can’t pronounce! I’ve had this bread before, and maybe you have too, but I’m not positive any of us knew what it was called. Even if we did, the way the British murder some of these foreign words is so remarkable that it sometimes take a few minutes before I have any idea what they’re actually talking about, like with last year's “pidda” bread challenge (pita), or any time they make a “gen-oh-ease” (genoise). Fougasse is flat bread that is cut to resemble a leaf, and is very similar to a “foh-cat-cha” (focaccia). It also contains herbs like “oar-ay-gah-no” (oregano). I spent the entirety of this round making fun of everyone’s accents, and trying to figure out how in God’s name Rav has no idea what a leaf is supposed to look like.
Tom wins, which is good, because now he has a little breathing room to do something stupid in round 3.
Showstopper round: Three-tiered Floral Cake
Now THIS is what we need from our showstopper challenges: not tiny little appetizers or perfectly identical churros, but huge over-the-top creations with a solid probability of disaster for us to participate in. No one is jumping up and down on the couch because they’re worried about churros being a little undercooked.
We’re certainly going to see some lovely floral decorations, but it’s also imperative that there’s strong flower flavor inside the cake. That means rose, lavender, elderflower—basically anything that smells like your grandmother’s bathroom.
The only person who seems to have any grasp on what “showstopper” means is Candice, who asserts her dominance by doing a four tiered cake, with each layer representing one of the four seasons. An utterly brilliant concept and an utterly brilliant cake. She has a great bake, as do Selasi (who kills with his beautiful piping skills), and our old buddy Tom, who executes his three tea-infused cakes perfectly.
Everyone else's cake is some sort of disaster, not because of toppling or timing, but because they're just flat out shitty. Andrew flavored his cake with elderflower, but completely overdid it so it didn't smell like a grandma’s bathroom but like an actual grandma instead. After the judgement he finally cries, which is something I’ve been waiting for all season long, because I’m a terrible person. Now that I’ve seen it, I can start rooting for the kid. He really is adorable.
Rav’s cake is awful and he goes home, which makes me happy because, even though his flavors were occasionally spot in, he was like a boring black hole sucking everything interesting out of the tent. When I remember she's even on the show, I cross my fingers Benjamina goes home next.
NEXT WEEK: Desserts! That could mean anything, so Tom is going to probably do something spectacularly stupid you won’t want to miss!