And so, the technical! Since this was the semi-final, the technical involved baking something foreign that no-one in their right mind would ever make if Paul Hollywood didn’t make them. In this case, a Saverin. “Saverin” sounds more like an expensive men’s shoemaker than a cake. “Ooh, lovely loafers!” “Yes, Saverins.” “Wow!” Or perhaps an ointment. “That looks a bit sore. I should get some Saverin on it if I were you.”
In fact, as Mary and Paul revealed, a Saverin is a yeasted cake soaked in orange syrup and topped with whipped cream and fruit. How Continental! None of our contestants had ever heard of it, unsurprisingly, since they are scions of a country which prefers its cream cakes separate and individual. I’m sure there’s a PhD thesis to be written on this topic (“Cake and class – sexual and social signifiers in post-War British baking”), but I’m guessing it’s something to do with the fact that the French eagerly embrace the opportunity to share a creamy treat with others whilst the British look askance at such communal squishiness, being drawn instead to the more Protestant cup cake.
Saverins also come with the challenge of deciding exactly how long to let the dough prove to ensure that it exactly fills the tin. As Paul pointed out (“Mwah-hah-hah-hah!!!!”), too little proving and the cake won’t rise sufficiently, too much and it will puff over the top of the tin and lose the delicate indentations around the brim. Cut to many many shots of the bakers trying to work out how long to prove the pesky dough for.
Once they had made this possibly decisive decision (Oh, top writing! Go me! My goodness, I bet Hilary Mantel is jealous), it was time to make the syrup (thick? thin? in between?), and to agonise about when to take the cake out. Timing was critical, since it needed to cool sufficiently not to melt the piped cream, whilst being, of course, cooked to perfection. Whilst all this was happening the bakers needed to melt chocolate and make a “seven inch oval” in dark chocolate, with the word “Saverin” piped on it in white chocolate. Pah! Easy! I can’t believe they even mentioned it! Then it was just a matter of preparing the fruit, piping the cream, popping the seven inch oval on the top and sitting back.
To be frank, when I watch the Technicals, I’m always astonished that the contestants produce anything. And yet they do, managing each week to create something which closely approximates to the required end product. In this case I would happily have eaten any of them, despite The Baker* critiquing everything – the rise, the crumb, the depth to which the syrup had soaked in, aided and abetted by Mary, who pointed out that Selassi hadn’t removed the membrane from his orange. Well, shoot him now.
In the event it was Jane who took pole position, despite having crystallised caramel (the shame!). Poor Selassi was not looking good, despite having Sue mopping his brow and suggestively tucking the handkerchief back into her jacket each time. Women around the country prepared to mourn.
*Paul Hollywood’s super-villain name.