The Great British Baking Show: Walton Edition, Episode 48 – Layer Cake Week

Welcome back, friends, to The Great British Baking Show: Walton Edition! This week was marred by three baking disasters, but was rescued from the ashes by one baker who made what may be the single best bake any of us has produced for ANY of these competitions. Click the pic and join us for Layer Cake Week!

MARK: The Leaning Tower Of Disappointment. That’s his name for this, not mine. This was chocolate cake with ganache/pudding filling, raspberries, and powdered sugar. “None of which compensated for the fact it looked like shit,” Mark adds.

During the judging, the Leaning Tower Of Disappointment finally toppled, spilling berries here and there, and revealing that it had been held together all along by a splintering, broken chopstick. Mark did not win. But in the spirit of good sportsmanship I have altered the following photo to show what our group bakes would have looked like if Mark’s entry stood up straight.

Nailed it.

DAN: Lemon & Chocolate Layer Cake With Chocolate Ganache And Lemon Frosting. Dan was very unhappy with the way this cake looked, but not as disappointed as he was in how it tasted.

No one can scowl at a failed bake like our Dan. The exterior looked rough, almost like his frosting had been overbeaten and had broken. The interior was problematic as well. The crumb was extremely dense, and the chocolate and lemon flavors did not meld. The lemon cake had an astringent, almost synthetic flavor, while the chocolate was just bitter. This didn’t taste like one cake, it tasted like two bad cakes fighting with rusted knives. It was unusual, to say the least, especially because Dan has become a baker not to be taken lightly.

CHRIS: English Jam Cake. My jam filled spice cake was supposed to be rustic, but not this rustic. It was a very wet dough and failed to rise while baking. It is possible I did not use enough baking soda, but I really thought I had measured every ingredient just so. But despite letting it bake for almost twice the time the recipe called for, my cake never dried out and never rose. It tasted alright, but structurally was a dense, wet mess.

Not only did I fail to cut the cake on the level, resulting in embarrassingly uneven layers, but I screwed up the filling. I was convinced I had blackberry preserves at home, so I didn’t buy any when I was shopping for the rest of my ingredients. When the cake was “done” and I cut it, I was hoping some blackberry goodness would mask some of the problems. So I went to the cabinet to discover that the jar was, in fact, grape fucking jelly. Not very British at all. To make matters worse, the cake was so dense it wouldn’t cool before I headed to the competition, so I had to assemble it warm. The grape jelly melted into the crumb, making it even more soggy than it already was. Total fail.

MANDY: The Best Fucking Carrot Cake Ever Made. We three hopeless males placed our bakes on the table for the group photo, and you could see on our faces that none of us were pleased with our work. If you were to somehow combine the very best elements of each of our cakes, the guys’ contribution to this week’s competition would have been, at most, 80% edible. And then Mandy unveiled this masterpiece. We all knew immediately that she had won. Mandy made and mixed the frosting in different autumn colors, and piped it to make this edible work of art. My photos here do no justice to the vibrant colors she created. But as beautiful as this was on the outside, what awaited us when she cut into it was even better.

If you ever hear me refer to something as perfect, you need to understand that I have weighed that word very carefully. I rarely use it. I don’t really believe in perfection. It’s an imaginary absolute which, in my experience, has very little basis in reality. But if there has ever been such a thing as a perfect carrot cake, this was it. Mandy’s layers were perfectly even, her cream cheese frosting was the perfect balance of creamy, savory, and sweet without ever becoming cloying or heavy, her decorations were perfectly piped colored, the texture of the crumb was perfect, and the flavor of the cake brought all these elements together to form what is, in my experience, the closest to perfection any carrot cake has ever come. Needless to say Mandy was unanimously voted this week’s Star Baker!

Congratulations on the win, Mandy, you definitely earned it! Until next time, bon appétit!

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