Battle of the Bakers Week 2
Round 3 of Battle of the Bakers Hong Kong took place on November 08 at Umami Concepts elegant kitchen studio on historic Bonham road. Each of the 16 contestants brought with them 4 cookies that they had made during the week based on their instruction last Saturday from Anouska of The Rose Petal Cakery. The judges were impressed if not overwhelmed by their level of progress and creations, including 3D cookies, all based on the theme of The Battle of the Bakers.
Chelsea, whose previous fortnight had been inspired by the Dr Seuss novels, retained the battle theme with a military inspired cookie. While her orange ombre icing was impressive from a technique perspective, her green tea "khaki" biscuits may not have been to everyone's palette. Tea was a dominant flavour across the group, with most opting for earl grey as their leaf of choice. This was used by Christine, whose "Wit-tea Cookie" appeared professional from its icing albeit hiding an overworked biscuit. Jeanne’s "Desserts is Stressed Spelt Backwards" also hinted Earl Grey but while the decoration wowed with the level of skill demonstrated, the cookie was better described as cakey. From tea to coffee, we were pleased to taste espresso in Paridhi's creation, and appreciated the effort made to avoid bleeding in icing. However, compared to other efforts, there were more professional looking biscuits. Coffee was also used in the Grace’s "Bake Off" cookies, undoubtedly one of the judges’ favourites from a taste and finishing perspective, involving vodka and gold lustre dust in the making. From “Bake Off to “Bake On”, contestant Jacilyne baked a presentable round, striped cookie but the judges felt it was a mistake to combine the sesame in the dough with the green tea flavouring in the icing.
In terms of 3D, there were several clearly out to win the judges' attention. A 3D noughts and crosses game, with a large cookie serving for the board and smaller ones for the pieces, was the result of a hard week's work from Cicely. Although at first glance they looked great the mint flavouring overpowered the “cross” cookies, raining all over the parade of its “nought” brothers. Luisa created a shield biscuit with oven glove biscuits on hooks which stood by itself on a biscuit frame. This was clearly an immense feat of engineering, but it disappointed the judges that she had not veered from last week's flavourings. Contestants should know that they can’t hide behind gimmicks as the judges are looking for a wonderful tasting creation foremost.
At the 2 dimensional level, we enjoyed the rolling pin made by Jasmine whose almond based ingredients were reminiscent of Bakewell tarts and cute heart design was the only of its kind amongst the contestants. There were two cupcake designs by Gillian and Veronica, which were well presented but possibly a little too simplistic for this level of the competition. While November is the new Christmas, Britney brought two festive designs which made the judges smile, although did not follow the theme given. Whilst Karina who remained safe form elimination after her win at the initial Bake-off continued to impress with a marbled and piped dragon cookie which was striking in terms of techniques used.
One of the most surprising flavours came from Jessica who of Caribbean heritage used Malibu and coconut in her piping bags creation. And despite bring only a week on from Hallowe’en, pumpkin was another interesting ingredient used by Sunshine, whose lightly spiced biscuit was the perfect counter to the sweet icing. Cora’s chefs were the final addition to the fruity flavours where apple and strawberry powder were used to lend her baker shaped biscuits a more fleshy skin tone. The use of negative space and the detailed line icing provided an outstanding result.
Having presented their cookies to the judges, the contestant then spent some time with Chef Nolan Ledarney where they learnt to make Pâte à Choux with Streusel and how to plate up desserts to restaurant standards. He explained how he liked to pair very sweet desserts with alkaline herbs such as the Japanese shiso leaf as well as basil and thyme.
There was also a presentation from Homegrown Foods who talked about their organic farms in the New Territories and kindly donated vegetables to the contestants for this week’s task. This is to create a cake/quick bread based on their produce, which ranged from asparagus to fennel and carrots. Each contestant selected a vegetable with which they would like to work.
Finally, there was the difficult task of eliminations … Stay tuned for the judges’ decisions!