If you’ve just seen the first episode of Bake Off: The Professionals 2019, you will either be crying for me, or laughing till you’re crying. Either way, I’m sure you’re crying, as I was! On paper...it was just two dozens of linzer tortes and Bakewell tarts, and a red velvet cake showpiece...hang on - If you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want any spoilers, PLEASE STOP READING NOW and come back after you’ve seen it to really get the most of what I would probably call Bake Off history.
Soooo...let me just take a deeeeeep breath before I SCREAMMMM!! Oh my god, wtf, what happened there?!? I can’t even believe we are still in the competition, that I lost 3 lbs by the end of those two days and gained 4 new wrinkles. Geeeeez.
We practiced a lot for the first episode, for days and days rolling the doughs for the linzer tortes, and batch upon batch just to get the mousse right for the tarted up Bakewells. We struggled with equipment and kind of pinned our hopes on the blast freezer, ie a monster freezer that freezes stuff at super speed, to help us along with speeding up setting times etc.
One of my early attempts at the Linzer Torte pastry plaiting...don't judge - gotta start somewhere!
So when we got there, we knew things could go either way for us, but for them to go THAT bad (yes, THAT BAD - no exaggeration, underbaked linzers served in their tins, less than half the amount of tragic looking bakewells, it was Richter scale 7), it was not an eventuality we could prepare for. The tension and tears were all real. The judges comments weren’t even cutting, because the disappointment I felt in ourselves was so much worse. Failing is so hard, but picking ourselves up after is even harder as we had another day to go through.
How the Bakewell Tarts SHOULD have looked - like in our practice runs!
There were a million worries going through my head at that point - X-Ray not coping well without me, what would my customers and followers be thinking after seeing this, can I even go through another day with an even bigger challenge?! I’m amongst really great patisserie chefs, what am I even doing here. I was battling severe imposter syndrome. My worst nightmare of going out first was coming true and I was crushed. MY WORST NIGHTMARE on NATIONAL TV!
Ahh lovely baked Linzer Tortes...WHY DID IT HAVE TO GO SO WRONG ON THE DAY?!
But from somewhere we got The Juice. The metaphorical Juice that gave us that much-needed kick up the proverbial - if we are going home, we are going home hard. As desperate as I was to NOT be first to go out of the competition, I was trying to not compare myself to the other competitors and just do what we worked so hard at, basically try our best at doing our best. We had our confidence crumbled in the first day but we focused on learning from the day and reassessing our practice runs of our red velvet showpiece inspired by Red Riding Hood (and there was LOTS of practicing after struggling to get the wretched thing red without using faux food colour and crushing up bloody bugs that were literally bloody).
Red Velvet Charlotte Royale Showpiece Dessert
At the end of the first challenge there is a golden hour where we could prepare things that need setting overnight etc. My team mate tempered ten kilos of chocolate like no tomorrow and we cast all of our main structure and pre-prepped even more than we had at practice and ran from the word Go the next day. I don’t know where the four hours went but I did know wearing thermals under my chef whites AGAIN was really stupid as by the end of it I was a sweaty wreck again. We finished everything we wanted to do. And I was drained.
Red Velvet Showpiece Challenge practice run - with chocolate showpiece, moulded details, and Red Velvet Charlotte Royale
After judging, where we got mixed reviews on our showpiece - commended for our energy but my darn Red Velvet Charlotte Royale got slated, I was convinced we were going home. It would really suck to go out first as that is every contestant’s worry I’m sure, but every contestant there had their right to be there - they were all great. So imagine my shock at when we were saved?! I didn’t even think I heard the order of contestants correctly and thought our name wasn’t called out because we were the ones going!
The whole process was a shock to my system. More due to the fact that I was leaving X-Ray for the first time ever, staying away from him for two nights and having to also deal with stopping breast-feeding cold turkey because of it. And as sod’s law would have it, he got sick. The poor mite and poor husband got a real raw deal with me being away, so in terms of perspective, the tumble drier I went through at the competition was nothing in comparison to what my husband and baby had to go through without me. But at the same time....
WTAF, WE MADE IT THROUGH the first round!!! AOH MAH GADDD!
And now everybody knows and we can talk about itttttttt.
I hated red velvet cake before, but I hate it even more now.
What did you think? Tell me, did you think we were gonna pull through? What are your predictions? Fancy a Linzer Torte or Bakewell Tart, or dare I say it, a red velvet cake after watching that??
Lots of love,
Ps: Tune in next week same time, same place!