Week 6 Botanical Recap: The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge
July 24, 2017 Leave a Comment
Seven contestants on The Great British Baking Show took on three very different challenges inspired by nature. All tested technique, creativity and patience. One person made quite the rebound to land Star Baker, despite magnificent creations by the more consistent bakers.
Our local bakers took on the botanical challenge with enthusiasm, tapping their gardens, markets, CSAs, farmers markets and friends for fresh ingredients. And, we were pleased to see the Wisconsin state tree and flower be honored in their creations.
Here’s our recap of both the show and all the submissions we received this week in The Great Wisconsin Baking Challenge. Read to the bottom to find out who our local featured bakers are for Week 6!
And as always, here’s our spoiler alert!
ROUND 1: CITRUS MERINGUE PIE
Kicking off Week 6 was a Signature bake that could set the stage for anyone to shine – yet no one looked happy with this challenge. Easy as pie? Not quite. Using citrus was a must and the right proportion of pastry, filling and topping was key – a balance that depends on the sweetness of the meringue and the tartness of the curd. And the finale is certainly in the light crust browned perfectly across the top. Mary says this pie, if made correctly, is “sheer heaven.” Since living in Wisconsin is heavenly, we all know what she means.
Flavors swirled inside The Tent. Mandarin orange. Ginger. Coconut. Lemon. Mint. Lime. Tequila, too? Yes, please!
Key Desire: Wanting it stiff.
Best Floral Shirt: Selasi
Favorite Question: “Do you think the blow torch could be the difference between you and Selasi?”
Obvious Flirtation: Benjamina accusing Selasi of hacking her computer to copy her pie recipe.
Not New: Tom attempting to try an extremely unique blend of flavors. Can he win Paul back?
Key Philosophical Dilemma: Should you use a blowtorch when Mary says not to use a blowtorch?
The Takeaway: If you close your eyes and it tastes divine, then you shine!
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
Marie in Sun Prairie, who has baked with us all six weeks, finally used the botanical challenge to give a nod to her favorite football team. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to pay homage to the Legendary Green Bay Packers by adding my green and gold twist!” She said she had never made a pie like this one, and was honest about being humbled. “Please don’t let the photo fool you … underneath my very shiny, yet still mediocre, meringue, lies a lemon-lime soup!”
Baking in the hometown of the Packers, Molly in Green Bay said she rocked her Lemon Meringue Pie, noting her crunchy meringue and filling that tasted like lemonade. Also baking in Green Bay, Nancy’s Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Meringue Pie was a perfect treat on a muggy, hot Wisconsin summer day.
Bren in Green Bay found inspiration in a lemon meringue pie recipe from Greater Green Bay Cook Book published in 1896 by the Ladies Aid Society. Her local touch once again took us back in time: “My Wisconsin twist is that I baked in the Belgian Farm House at Heritage Hill in Green Bay using a kitchen equipped as it would have been in 1905. So, my meringue was hand beaten, my filling was cooked on top of the wood stove and my pie baked inside.”
Lost in daydreams of an upcoming trip to Wisconsin, Bennett in Brooklyn joined us for the first time baking his “Waiting for Wausaukee” Lime Chiffon Meringue Pie. He explains: “Each summer, we take our big vacation in the north woods near Wausaukee, where the pie, cake and cookie consumption is legendary.” Count us in!
In another quest to quench summer, Ralph in Madison had the idea to make a Gin Fizz in pie form. Sounds amazing! He tapped Wollersheim Garden Gate Gin for the lemon filling, explaining that “the gin is distilled with Wisconsin grown wheat, chamomile, rosemary, lemongrass and lavender.” He captured all the goodness in detail in his video. Mary Jane in Eau Claire also took an edge off the summer heat with her Summer Cooler Meringue Pie flavored by lemon, lime and orange.
Kim in Hudson used a violet elixir and culinary lavender from Door County in her Lemon Violet Lavender Meringue Pie. Also incorporating lavender, Rebecca in Stevens Point added dried blossoms to the crust for an “extra botanical flare” for her Lavender-crusted Lemon Meringue Pie, decorated with fresh viola flowers.
Still tapping a stash of brandy, Team Shlimder rocked their Brandy Old Fashioned Meringue Pie. Will the jug last through week 10?!
Adding berries to the blend was Kimberly in Madison, with her Lemon Blueberry Meringue Pie made with blueberry preserves from Brennan’s Market, and the Lime & Blackberry Italian Meringue Pie made by Jill in Hollandale.
And a shout-out to Jean in Madison who was interrupted from baking her Lime and Toasted-Coconut Meringue Pie by having to saw a large limb that fell in her rain garden. And if you observed a suspicious person out with a flashlight last night, it was her: “Flashlight in hand, I could not locate any blooming violets in our yard (wonder what the neighbors thought was going on), so I adorned the pie with Hyssop growing in the rain garden (happily it did not get crushed by the tree limb).”
Fact: Local Wisconsin butter makes a darn good crust. Especially if you use three sticks.
ROUND 2: LEAF-SHAPED HERB FOUGASSE
Rav was a bit nervous re-entering The Tent after the first round. The botanical Technical turned out to be a French classic, which caught many of the bakers off guard. The most interesting part of the challenge was during the proofing pause, when the contestants got out their sketch pads to dream up the shape of their fougasse. Andrew’s engineering background offered an important insight (which might just have saved him in the end). And things got a bit steamy in the baking phase.
Best Advice From the Whimsical, Yet Maniacal, Uncle Paul: “Be patient and remember the shaping. … Use your fingers and stretch it out.”
Best Awkward Quote: “Bread makes me feel happy and comfortable.” – Tom, who proved his bread baking forte once again.
Favorite Sound: Selasi slapping that dough on the countertop. Ya, baby, yeah!
Audience Question: What is the windowpane test anyway?
The Takeaway: Patience doesn’t guarantee perfection. Here is Selasi being patient … all the way to last place.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
As Mary Berry pointed out, fresh herbs make all the difference. And several of our local bakers took that advice to heart and tapped their gardens and farmers markets.
Sharon in Columbus accepted our challenge to incorporate the Wisconsin state flower by modeling the shape of her bake like its leaves in her Wisconsin Wood Violet Leaf-shaped Herb Fougasse. She blended recipes from Paul Hollywood and The Little French Bakery Cookbook from North Freedom. For never making a fougasse before, it looks fabulous!
To honor the Wisconsin state tree – the Sugar Maple – several bakers shaped their fougasse into maple leaves, including Jeung Hwa in Australia, Taylor in Madison, and Stephanie in Stephens Point. We love it!
We were thrilled by the variety of flavors mixed into fougasses (fougassi?) across the state. Sue in Oregon featured garlic and chives. Elizabeth in Athens mixed Wisconsin cranberries with sage, thyme, and rosemary. Joshua in DePere used fennel and citrus (and obviously understands the window pane test that Andrew used).
Team Kramer in Wauwatosa picked fresh rosemary and thyme from their herb garden. With just a tad of fine sea salt, they were convinced that butter wasn’t needed! That’s blasphemy in Wisconsin! (Actually, there wouldn’t have been any butter to use anyway, because the pie bakers used it all up!)
Dottie in Eagle River combined fresh herbs and local honey (from their own apiary), garnishing the dish with the only violets she could find. (Sorry bees.) Erin in Superior said her Summer Shandy Basil Fougasse paired well with honey mustard and beer!
Kathy’s Roasted Tomato Pesto Fougasse made her kitchen smell like an Italian restaurant. We would imagine that was similar to the fragrance in Robyn’s kitchen in Lexington, Kentucky, when she baked her Garden Tomato and Herb Fougasse.
Kirsten and Annika used oregano, sage and rosemary and added Wisconsin parmesan to the top. And we’re thrilled to see that Sandy in Appleton shaped her fougasse like a cheese wedge!
ROUND 3: 3-TIERED FLORAL CAKE
Flowers in it. On it. Decorate with them. Fill the cake with them. Paul and Mary definitely wanted to taste a botanical accent in ALL the cake layers. Creativity, color, layered flavors, and good piping was a must!
Everyone was on edge because this Showstopper challenge was an opportunity to rise to the top tier. The battle for Star Baker was hard fought. The competition to skip out of last place was a close call between Rav and Andrew. It was shocking how many bakers failed to bake a decent cake. Paul and Mary almost choked on some of the slices.
Overachievement Award: Candice and her 4-tier cake. (Extra points for her off-kilter layering. It looked inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.)
Failed Shortcuts: Rav’s decision to flavor all layers the same. Jane opting out of flower flavors. Did she really think this would wow the judges?
Ouch Moment: Jane mashing her first cake down the drain.
Rav’s Moment of Truth: “I am not much of a floral guy at all,” Rav admitted. “Looking at everybody else’s [cakes], I’ve got no chance.”
Major Fail: Mary can’t find flavor in Andrew’s cake. In ANY of the three layers. And to top it off, she wasn’t impressed by his simplistic decor, calling it “not creative.” Ouch.
Happy Moment: Every single layer is perfect! Selasi’s smile made us smile inside.
New Word: “Samey”
Cry Baby Award: Andrew. Jeez. Maybe Neenah should send over a box of Kleenex for him to have handy in the next round.
Key Philosophical Question: Can a good decoration cover a multitude of sins?
The Takeaway: Essence and accent. That is key.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
Kat in Viroqua rocked her Provence Gâteau sans Gluten, a lavender cake layered with lavender cream cheese. She found lavender at a local farm and the butter, milk and cream cheese came from Organic Valley, a nearby cooperative. Decorations included flowers from her yard, including native cornflowers and wood violet leaves. The hardship: “Whisking lemon curd almost tore my rotator cuff.” Yikes!
Also baking a fruit-infused bake in Viroqua, Kevin layered his Three Colored Cake with rose pistachio, hibiscus mango pineapple and lavender. This is a mix of flavors that would make Tom proud!
Aileen and Grace in Madison dreamed up their Fruit Explosion as a way to incorporate many types of fruit grown in Wisconsin: cranberries, apples and cherries.
Elizabeth in Madison admitted that this challenge incorporated a bunch of things she had never tried before: using flowers for flavor, piping, candying flowers on her own. In homage to the state flower, she used powdered hibiscus flowers to tint the cake a deep purple. Wow, we wish we could see a photo of a slice!
Michaleen in Portage thought her Lavender Lemon Bomb Cake was absolutely lovely, adding edible lavender from Rowley Creek Farm outside of Baraboo to her lemon curd.
The Three Petals cake made by Ruth in Oshkosh looks flowers tumbling down a delicious sugar Wisconsin waterfall. The flavors of her layers were based on lavender, chamomile and rose, infusing flavor into syrups.
Star Baker: Tom (Do you think he deserved it?)
Kicked Out of the Tent: Rav. Poor Rav.
Meet our Featured Local Bakers for Week 6: Botanical!!
Kim in Hudson
Lemon Violet Lavender Meringue Pie
In a delicious bout of kitchen wizardry, Kim infused violet elixir and culinary lavender from Door County into lemon meringue.
Mary Jane in Eau Claire
Summer Cooler Meringue Pie
Hot Wisconsin summer days call for a tart classic recipe, Mary Jane blended lemon, lime and orange in a fashion inspired by a past show contestant.
Sarah in Wisconsin
Wisconsin State Flower Wood Violet Fougasse
Sarah mixed in violet flowers she had dried this spring, never dreaming she would ever add them to bread. We love it.
Sharon in Columbus
Wisconsin Wood Violet Leaf-shaped Herb Fougasse
Inspired by living in the woods, Sharon beautifully shaped her fougasse like Wood Violet leaves. Beautiful – and heart shaped!
Kat in Viroqua
Provence Gâteau sans Gluten
After blending locally grown lavender into the cake and cream cheese, Kat capped the cake with native coneflowers and wood violets.
Elizabeth in Madison
Wisconsin Flower Basket
Powdered hibiscus flowers gave her cake a purple tint, homage to the wood violent. Crystalized edible flowers added a sweet touch.