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Athena

S09.E07: Vegan Week

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It's a Bake Off first with Vegan week, including a savoury pastry Signature without butter, a cracking Technical, and a risky but spectacular Showstopper

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I didn’t love it but then I’m not really a fan of their “free from” or odd ingredient week. That said I will be trying to make chickpea water meringue in the very near future. That was just fascinating.

Im happy Ruby made it through this week after the cake collapse. Jon was the right one to go, he seemed over it from the start.

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Neat idea for a week. I'm not vegan but I do try to make lighter versions of things so I've played around with substitute ingredients. As such I can't say I'm surprised the cakes had so many stability problems. Eggs (especially yolks) provide stability and binding. Substitutes can compensate but I guess in this case they didn't.

John went much like Dan: mentally defeated the whole time. He just had it in his head he wasn't a vegan baker.

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Although I'm not vegan, I like trying alternatives just to see if I like them. I use the more common stuff like coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. but I haven't tried aquafaba meringue yet!

Briony's french onion tartlets with vegan goat cheese, oat cream, and ground almonds sounded delicious. Her celeriac and prosecco apple tartlets with sweet potato looked so pretty! Loved the rose on top. I loved that she made sure to ask how that flexible pastry tasted and Paul said it was actually fine!

Jon's garlic mushroom tartlets with vegan cream cheese looked like a mess. His falafel and hummus tartlets with purple sweet potato mash wer  very pretty thanks to the bright purple. He must have REALLY underestimated how much filling he needed because he was well short of the required number he was supposed to make. He blamed his issues on not being into vegan food, but his mistakes had little to do with that. His pastry was underbaked and he didn't make enough filling.

Manon's summer ratatouille tartlet with aubergine and courgette were so pretty. Her winter tartlet with rosemary, cashew milk bechamel, chestnuts, and mushrooms aka the mouse beds looked nice too. She always manages to add sweet little details like the tiny pastry clovers.

Rahul's coriander, posto, and veg tartlets with cashew nut paste looked nice. I liked the vegetable rose. His ghugni chat tartlets with chickpea curry and vegan yogurt sounded tasty. I loved how much Prue loved them. Poetry!

Ruby's sage and butternut tartlets looked nice. The tomatoes added a nice bit of color. I disagree with Paul’s hatred of anything green on top of tomatoes. Her cheesy greens tartlets with cashew milk, broccoli, and arrowroot cheese looked nice too. I've had nutritional yeast on other things for a cheesy or ranch flavor and I think the taste is close. Oh, Paul. Too much heat?

Kim-Joy's broccoli and tomato quiches with nutritional yeast were so pretty. I love tofu! Her mascarpone squirrel tartlets with balsamic beetroot were whimsical without being too cutesy. I love mascarpone too. I'm glad she got a handshake because she made a lot of smart choices with these tartlets.

The tropical fruit pavlova with mergingue technical sounded pretty good. Mmm, coconut milk! I enjoyed hearing the bakers say that the various elements tasted good/similar to the non-vegan version. Another thing I liked about this technical is that everyone seemed to be on even footing because none of them had experience with the chickpea meringue or the coconut milk pastry cream. Rahul, Manon, and Ruby all did so well. Congratulations to Rahul winning his first technical challenge!

Kim-Joy's lavender and lemon fox cake with aquafaba royal icing was a strange mixture of cute and messy. I thought the green and white frosting looked messy but the foxes were cute. The flowers were so beautiful. I'm not a fan of lavender flavored stuff, but Paul said she did a good job with it.

Jon's chocolate fudge cake with agar agar fondant, orange curd icing, and a meringue pineapple looked very unfinished and messy. I think he came in with the attitude that he couldn't do vegan stuff and it became self fulfilling prophecy. Paul said the flavors were good so he IS capable of making something vegan. It was his presentation that really let him down and that had nothing to do with the vegan aspect of the challenge.

Briony's hazelnut mocha cake with raspberries and coffee liqueur ganache was pretty good. I agreed with the judges this week - her cake looked very neat both inside and out. It wasn't the most impressive looking showstopper we've ever seen on the show but it was one of the better ones this week.

Manon's spiced apple cake looked like something I've seen professional bakers do (as much as I dislike naked cakes, they're EVERYWHERE and at least the chocolate drips distracted me from the naked look). Loved that she used beetroot powder, matcha, and turmeric to color the flowers. She didn't say what she used for the blue colors, but I'm guessing butterfly pea for the dark blue and spirulina for the turquoise? It's a shame that the cake wasn't good.

Rahul's chocolate and coconut cake with raspberry jam, coconut syrup, and coconut buttercream was a mess on the outside which is too bad because the flavors sounded good. Drizzling cakes with sugar syrup to keep them moist is a common trick but Rahul just went overboard and soaked the cakes with too much syrup.

Ruby's ice cream inspired chocolate, lemon, and coconut cake with raspberries was a fun idea. I found it sweet that everyone covered their faces in horror when her top cake fell off. On other shows, there would have been contestants laughing in glee at someone else's disaster. Her flavors really saved her.

Although Kim-Joy didn't do well at the technical, her signature and showstopper were both great. If Rahul's showstopper hadn't been so soggy, I think he would have won.

Jon did terribly this week so I'm not surprised that he went home. He seemed convinced that he was going to fail.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo · Reason: Typo
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Poor Jon. He wasn't into it. The week was not him and like Dan, I think the ongoing pressure was not helping much.

Rahul is now the last man and he's still very strong in flavours and technique.

I've use nutritional yeast before and it's a good popcorn topping, but I can understand why it wouldn't show up in baking or a tart. It does have a cheesey flavour but it's not got the pungency or strength of a cheese.

Minor speculation for next week:

Spoiler

All the contestants seem to be wearing a floral Hawaiian style shirt which I totally see as a nod to Jon. Awww.

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I'd never choose to eat vegan, so, this week was interesting to see baking with all of the different plant-based alternatives. Chickpea broth meringues, who knew?

Kim-Joy's decorating is delightful. According to Wikipedia, she is the first person to be last in the Technical and end up as Star Baker.

I'm totally craving Briony's cake. Mocha with raspberry, yum. She saved herself.

A shame Manon's cake looked so good, but, tasted bad.

I was crushed for Ruby as her cake collapsed.

Rahul had Star Baker in his sights, were it not for his soggy/collapsed cake.

Jon was the correct choice to send home. He had an awful Signature, 4th in the Technical, and his cake looked very amateurish. It seems like he had a defeated attitude from the start.

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Legit I am totally goi to make one of those meringues just because I want to see how it works.   I mentioned this to my mom and she told me trader joes garbanzo beans were the best flavor for that application.  She'd apparently googled it because she also wanted to see how it worked.   So I guess i know what I'm doing this weekend.

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I'm totally with Ruby. Who ever thought "I'm going to save this garbanzo bean liquid and beat it and plop it in the oven."

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It was interesting, but I don't really care too much for the weeks where the majority of bakers struggle and don't shine. Maybe for the first two bakes, but I want to see my showstoppers! ...and not in pieces! 

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On 10/10/2018 at 7:54 AM, Athena said:

 

Minor speculation for next week:

  Hide contents

All the contestants seem to be wearing a floral Hawaiian style shirt which I totally see as a nod to Jon. Awww.

 

I thought so too from the preview and couldn't help but smile warmly. What a cool group. 

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Well that's sweet. They must go shopping while they are at home practicing their bakes. Cool group indeed.

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I actually made the vegan meringues.  I did both vegan and traditional (using a Mary Berry recipe) meringues in two separate pavlovas.  Honestly, I always hate when they do pavlovas because they always look a mess and they've never seemed all that tasty to me, but they were both really delicious.  In a blind taste test I could tell the difference but like I totally see no downside in popping off some vegan meringues any time I make hummus.  It costs literally nothing extra and it worked well.

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I hate Vegan and Free from weeks because all they do is moan and mock (especially during Extra Slice).

Vegan bakes can be great, but you have to know what you are doing - merely replacing eggs and butter and expecting a similar taste is wishful thinking only. The chemistry in baking with alternative ingredients is totally different. And it often does not have longstanding history that classic, French or Viennese, style recipes have.

And as we saw with the aqua faba Pav, it can be a proper alternative if you know how to handle the right ingredients.

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The preview of the cake collapse was painful to see, especially for the bakers outside the tent. 

Loved seeing the croquet game between Noel and Sandi! (The most memorable croquet game I ever saw was in Kirkwall, Orkney in Scotland. I was exploring the Earl’s Palace, looked out the ruined back wall, and enjoyed the sheer Britishness of a very intense croquet game with lots of players on a gorgeous field behind the building.)

The other bakers all trying to get Rahul to celebrate his good bakes was so sweet. Manon’s Rahul Dance was great!

Oh, Ruby’s cake collapse was even worse than the preview. Jon’s was on the verge of collapse. But Rahul’s collapse was the big surprise for me—I had no idea it was at risk to fall. Just adding that drizzle was his downfall there.

Briony’s cakes were gorgeous, with the flowers. I preferred the look over Manon’s. 

I appreciated their end of show assessment with the rankings shifting around. Jon really had the wrong attitude all weekend.

Edited by Sharpie66
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Sorry to see Jon go, I'm sure his attitude didn't help matters but he was so obviously out of his element that I think he couldn't find the balance of expanding his horizons with being true to himself. His showstopper also had no chance of winning me over, in the debate of whether citrus and chocolate go together, for me orange and chocolate is the worst offender.

I'm wondering if the handshake has just become a gimmick for the show now. Still nice to get for the contestants but Paul doesn't even seem to be fighting it anymore.

I also thought Ruby should've switched the order of her cakes but that's because I thought the top cake looked bigger than the bottom one.

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My coworker’s son has an egg allergy, and I’ve benefitted from his wife (trained pastry chef) experimenting. Tasty is tasty whether it’s vegan or not! 

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On 10/10/2018 at 2:54 AM, Amarsir said:

John went much like Dan: mentally defeated the whole time. He just had it in his head he wasn't a vegan baker.

Yes, you could see it right from the beginning when he said he had been researching vegetables all week, he really talked himself into being eliminated, though I thought his showstopper was a cute idea. 

I can't decide about Rahul. On one hand, he's obviously a really good cook with a great understanding of flavors, but on the other hand, he's so insecure that I can't imagine that he won't talk himself out of winning.  

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I noticed that Jon had meringues on his show stopper (which I imagine was the same technique as for the technical). So presumably he at least had done that once before!

I loved the look of Rahul's little rosettes of veggies that he pre-roasted in his tarts. He seems like the guy to beat, low-confidence or not.

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I found this week really interesting. I have several friends who are either vegan or have Celiac disease. I've always been too intimidated to bake for them. I would love to try to make those pavlovas for our community group one week. 

Jon seemed determined that he was going to fail this week. I was sad to see him go because he's always been super pleasant. At this point, though, I'd be sad to see any of them go. 

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I have a 5 year old granddaughter with a severe egg allergy, so our family has been looking into vegan options when they are here. We've learned that products and recipes marked vegan are always egg free, therefore safe.

Aquafaba thickened a bit with cornstarch with a little maple syrup makes a decent fake egg wash for breads and pies. There are good recipes online for vegan macarons as well. I'm going to try meringue cookies as well.  

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On 10/10/2018 at 11:21 AM, ShortyMac said:

Kim-Joy's decorating is delightful. According to Wikipedia, she is the first person to be last in the Technical and end up as Star Baker.

I was crushed for Ruby as her cake collapsed

I don't think thats true.  If I recall  (spoiler tagging just for those who haven't seen)

Spoiler

Ryan in Season 3 won Star Baker on Pastry week for his Key Lime Pie despite finishing last in the technical.  I remember Paul and Mary deliberating for a while whether the pie was good enough to override his technical and a big deal was made of it being a GBBO first.

 

I'm glad Ruby's flavors saved her.  I've stayed unspoiled during my Netflix binge but I don't know if I see her making it to finals with her inconsistent results.  She hasn't really had a bad week but she'll do ok in signature and technical then bomb showstopper or she'll save herself with a showstopper after  bombing technical and being down to five we're at the point where consistency is a must and one bad challenge can be it. 

Then again I never expected Briony to last this long but she pulls it out when she needs to.  This season really has been all over the place.  Rahul might be the most consistent but no true front-runner has emerged.

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On 12/1/2018 at 2:40 PM, kittykat said:

I've stayed unspoiled during my Netflix binge but I don't know if I see her making it to finals with her inconsistent results. 

I’ve stayed unspoiled too but I think this is my frustration with this season - all the bakers except Rahul have been so inconsistent and he’s just so joyless that I now find myself rooting for him to fail. I think overall this is really not the best bakers left, they are there because better bakers were taken down by whatever the challenge was in a particular week. With Jon following Dan, I think Rahul winning is a forgone conclusion because no one else can seem to put 3 good bakes in a row together.

And one more thing: I cannot believe they did not catch a video of Rahul finding his cake in two pieces when they came back inside! That seems like a wasted opportunity for tv gold in terms of maximum drama, especially from him!

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Well, that was fun.  My diet is about 90% plant-based at this point so I've done a fair amount of vegan baking.   A couple of people mentioned wanting to try aquafaba merengues and there's a FB group called Aquafaba (Vegan Merengue hits and misses) that has a ton of good tips.  For instance, AF benefits from being reduced and chilled prior to whipping.   I don't do much with aquafaba, I've done breads but I haven't had success with cakes.    Post Punk Kitchen (it has changed its name numerous times but it's the chef who did Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) is a great source for vegan baking.  They rely heavily on forming curds with vinegar in plant milk (that provides the protein structure that eggs normally would) and they're great recipes.  But Vegan baking is fussier and a little difficult.  

So, I really enjoyed the week and was glad enough to see Jon go.  I'd previously liked the guy but he face-planted on this week and it really isn't that it is just that difficult to do plant-based baking, it isn't.  He just was very disdainful towards the concept and it's a shame because there are tons of people with allergies who benefit from it.  It doesn't have to be because of that scolding Vegan we've all met.  

I like Rahul, I like all the remaining bakers.  Manon is a favorite because she's a dead ringer for my son's girlfriend and so I sort of have to cheer her on for that alone.  But they're all fun and I think Rahul is pretty clearly the most talented.  I hope doing so well on this show helps his self-esteem.   He's a perfectly nice and incredibly talented man but he always looks as if he expects to be beaten about the head and face during judging and braces for it.  

I absolutely want to make that plant-based creme above, thank you for linking to it.  

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6 hours ago, stillshimpy said:

 So, I really enjoyed the week and was glad enough to see Jon go.  I'd previously liked the guy but he face-planted on this week and it really isn't that it is just that difficult to do plant-based baking, it isn't.  He just was very disdainful towards the concept and it's a shame because there are tons of people with allergies who benefit from it.  It doesn't have to be because of that scolding Vegan we've all met.  

Yes, this! I didn't understand it, since earlier he had shown himself to be into the science-y side of baking. I thought that would make vegan baking really interesting to him, to figure out what each ingredient brings to the bake and how to get the desired result using other ingredients and methods. Oh well.

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On 10/10/2018 at 5:11 AM, dippydee said:

That said I will be trying to make chickpea water meringue in the very near future. That was just fascinating.

 

I made aquafaba buttercream for a cake I made for my ex-brother-in-law's wedding reception (his now-stepson is allergic to unbaked eggs). The reception was postponed, so we had the cake for my parents' anniversary, instead. Nobody could tell the difference in flavor between the aquafaba buttercream and my usual. Then again, since nobody was vegan, I used butter for the fat, so I'm sure that helped. It was really fun to see the chickpea water do its thing. It's kind of a miracle the way it imitates egg whites; you really do get a glossy meringue.

Naked Cake (Anniversary).png

Edited by spaceghostess · Reason: ETA: Lest I totally embarrass myself, the reception was supposed to be at the top of a scenic overview in a state park. Very intimate and casual, which is why the cake is so "naked" and informal. :)
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Meant to say earlier how relieved I was that Ruby didn't go home. Her energy is great; I imagine her as the friend who seems 20x times more productive/perfect than everyone else at all times, but you don't care because she makes YOU feel so good. Also? I think she looks like Taylor Swift (or, rather, Taylor Swift looks like Ruby). Am I crazy?

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On 11/30/2018 at 2:55 PM, Deskisamess said:

Aquafaba thickened a bit with cornstarch with a little maple syrup makes a decent fake egg wash for breads and pies.

Thank you. I freakin' hate egg wash (makes things pretty and brown but taste like egg). I'm fascinated by the whole aquafaba thing and good to know it makes a decent fake egg wash! I usually just use milk (I'm not vegan, just flexitarian) or butter. I also plan to lay in some TJ's garbanzos and give the meringues a go.

FYI: for those who are wondering, here's the history of aquafaba: credit goes to Goose Wohlt, a software engineer experimenting with hydrocolloids. I find it fascinating! But it is due to science, not goofiness.

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I loved Noel's song in the beginning. It cracked me up!

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