This week’s cakes were baklava, baumkuchen, aka schichttorte (which appears to be pronounced shittertort – don’t start) and entremets. Baumkuchen and shittertorte? I really do suspect the judges of having a laugh. Possibly they have a bet on with Sue and Mel to see how many rudely-named cakes they can get into this series. On being faced with the technical challenge of making a schichttorte, all of the contestants remarked “I’ve never grilled a cake before”.

Paul Hollywood’s recipe required the bakers to build up the cake by cooking successive layers of batter under the grill. He required twenty layers; Louis remarked “He’ll count them, just you wait and see.” He did. Since each layer needed to be pancake thin and took about five minutes to cook, the whole exercise required the bakers to watch the grill for over an hour, which was definitely a baking challenge but still seems like a bit of an exercise in futility. 

The original schichttorte or baumkuchen is a German invention which was eloquently described on Twitter as “a cross between a cake and a kebab”.  It’s made via a technique which involves building up layers of cake mix on a spit to form a sort of cakey fir tree roughly the size of a small child. Having produced an extremely passable schichttorte, Richard said firmly “I’m never cooking it again”.You do have to wonder who first thought of doing it like this.

Perhaps, like my cousin, they did not have an oven. The good news for her, of course, is that no longer need the absence of a functioning oven prevent her from taking part in the Lido’s regular winter cake-fest. I’m sure she will be more than delighted to get up at six am on winter mornings in order to spend two hours producing something which presumably tastes not unlike a pile of pancakes with chocolate sauce, and I look forward enthusiastically to eating the results.

As for entremets, they are, of course, French, but despite sounding like something unmentionable served with gravy, they are those little cakes that decorate the windows of French patisseries. It took the contestants five hours to produce twenty four, twelve each of two different types. You could almost hear Paul and Mary’s fiendish laughter. God knows what they’ve got planned for next week; possibly a show in which the contestants have to sculpt life-sized replicas of the judges out of individually flavoured petits fours. I can scarcely wait!!