Baking

My heart broke watching Carole Struggle on ‘The Great British Baking Show’ ‘Dessert Week’

Major spoilers, but The great British pastry fair “Dessert Week” was a welcome return to form for the Netflix show after the “Mexican Week” disaster. Forget tacos and tres leches cake. This week, British bakers were asked to prepare British dishes such as steamed puddings and lemon meringue pie. Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were looking for perfect technique and brilliant flavors. They even seemed to favor the classics over the more adventurous recipes. All in The great British pastry fair tent was back in place except Carole Edwards. In many ways, it felt like Carole was reliving the chaos of “Mexican Week” and it was heartbreaking to watch. Not just because we love Carole, but it once again raised the question: Did Paul and Prue launch The Good Bakers last week?

From its earliest days, The great British pastry fair asked its bakers to try their hand at traditional “desserts”. By this, producers usually mean puddings, pies, tarts, meringues, mousses, etc. This year’s “Dessert Week” called for eight individual steamed puddings, a perfect lemon meringue pie (without the help of a recipe!), and a mousse dessert with “a surprise.” As Paul himself pointed out, the bakers were fairly evenly split between top and bottom. Sandro, Maxy, Janusz and Abdul all excelled in the tent this week, while Dawn, Syabira, Kevin and Carole waded through. Carole’s troubles not only led to her eventual elimination, but also felt a bit like the deja vu of “Mexican Week.”

Before entering the tent, Carole told the cameras she felt heartened by Paul and Prue’s decision to keep her after last week. They must believe in her! Therefore, when they visited her, they very kindly threatened her not to make a single mistake. Carole was already busy for burnt plums. It was not a good sign, but rather an omen of the mess to come.

Matt Lucas comforting Carole in episode 5 of The Great British Baking Show
Picture: Netflix

First, poor Carole poured warm water into her steaming trays instead of boiling H20. This meant that his steamed puddings were “crushing”. (That’s a technical term, I’m sure.) As she said herself, it was a “disaster.” Paul and Prue pointed out that her puddings weren’t cooked. Carole fared slightly better in the Technical Challenge, finishing sixth out of eight. However, her success is largely due to Malaysian-born Syabira’s complete ignorance of lemon meringue pies and Dawn’s weak filling.

Clearly, then, Carole had to knock the Showstopper Challenge out of the park to stay in the competition. To save herself, Carole used about thirty sheets of gelatin in her dessert mousse with a black velvet strawberry sponge cake in the middle. Paul and Prue were clearly concerned when they learned how much gelatin she was using, and rightly so. Most bakers have struggled to balance the texture of their mousse desserts with good taste. In the end, Carole’s Showstopper wasn’t really bad, but it wasn’t really good either. One mousse flavor was delicious and the other tasted like gelatin. The decorations were from the 70s. It was fine.

What I didn’t find good was having to watch the sweet and charming Carole stressing about every step of every recipe this week. The sweet baker from Dorset was completely out of her depths this week, and not because she was being unfairly accused of becoming a Mexican chef overnight. As I postulated last weekend, Paul and Prue probably should have launched Carole with Rebs Lightbody at the end of “Mexican Week” and saved James Dewan, whose biggest crime was overextending himself in the Showstopper Challenge. . Prior to this, Carole and Rebs had constantly struggled in the tent. James hadn’t. Logic would suggest that Carole and Rebs would continue to struggle to get ahead, while James would have a better chance of bouncing back. (But that’s just one woman’s opinion…)

Paul and Prue were right to eliminate Carole this week. She just couldn’t keep up with the other bakers in the tent. More concerning to me as a fan of the series, however, is the fact that the bakers are already heavily divided in terms of skill and talent. It’s not fun to see the same handful of bakers struggle as the same trio overwhelms all the praise. Mistakes and missteps are meant to be part of the The great British pastry fair journey, but in the best seasons the bakers fought through their struggles. Carole’s run over the past two weeks has been a heartbreaking portrait of an amateur struggling to keep up with the stiff competition. I’m comforted to know she’s proud of the experience, but I wish Paul and Prue had eliminated her after her first week on the skids. Two weeks of disaster are harder to watch than one.