When it came to the judging, Swiss meringue won out over the myriad Italian versions, in a culinary reproduction of the current Swiss Bank/Italian Bank divide in credit ratings. Jane’s crispy bottomed, crunchy topped coconut infused delight was Credit Suisse to Tom’s soggy bottomed pumpkin Banco di Siena. Pumpkin! What was he thinking? Pumpkin doesn’t have meringue on it, it has whipped cream, for a reason, and the reason is that both pumpkin and whipped cream are large, hearty, and in your face, like pasta, unlike meringue and citrus curd, both of which are delicate and lovely like the workings of a Swiss watch. Poor Tom! My heart melted as he slunk behind his bench, tail between his legs, and lay down with his paws over his eyes.
Even Clarice crashed a bit on this task, living, like so many before her, the Curse of Star Baker. She had planned lovely swirly roses, but a rainstorm and massive humidity was causing all the bakers to struggle with keeping their peaks stiff, a problem we’ve all experienced from time to time. Hubris, Até, as in all the best tragedies, and Clarice’s roses collapsed into an unappetising greenish mess like a bouquet presented by Fungus the Bogeyman. Even her makeup played along, as she sported a look less like a Forties film star and more like the heroine in that difficult second act before the wheels totally come off, her drinking escalates, and she finally realises that Hank ain’t never coming home.